Despite the impending drawdown of international forces and chronic challenges in governance and security, Afghanistan remains on the path to a hopeful future, the United Nations envoy to the country said today.
At a press conference in Kabul, Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), briefed reporters on his recent visit to New York, where he addressed the Security Council on the situation in the country.
Mr. Kubiš said that he and Council members agreed that Afghanistan faced a number of “critical” challenges related to good governance and corruption, drug trafficking, human rights violations and an unpredictable security situation.
However, he responded to growing fears that the country’s stability would be compromised following NATO’s planned withdrawal in 2014, emphasizing that Afghanistan continued along the road to progress.
“The main message was the message of hope,” he stated, “and expectations that Afghanistan will fare through this together, supported by the international community and will be able to build its own future after 2014 in cooperation with the countries of the region and being supported by the members of the international community and by the United Nations.”
Afghan authorities are working with the international community so that by 2014 they can assume full responsibility for security in all of the country’s 34 provinces. They are also working towards taking greater ownership of development in a country where more than one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, and one in every two children under five is chronically malnourished.
Mr. Kubiš also dispelled what he said were the “usual predictions of collapsing security” across the country and spotlighted the UN’s role in fostering inter-Afghan reconciliation as part of larger efforts to build national accord.
“Security is much more complex and much broader than just military security and therefore we cannot have improvement of security without improvement in the delivery of Government services, rule of law, justice, economic development and governance,” he said.
Turning to the issue of Afghanistan’s upcoming elections, also scheduled for 2014, Mr. Kubiš addressed the ongoing concerns over the country’s democratic process and suggestions that the elections would be delayed. But he took care to dismiss all such speculation, noting that there had been “a very active series of steps” taken to ensure the holding of the elections and that the vote would proceed according to schedule.
“I am encouraged by a very active focus on the issue of the election both from civil society and the political forces here in the country, from the respective institutions and authorities of the country, including the parliament and different ministries,” he continued, adding that planned measures such as the e-Tazkira, Afghanistan’s new electronic voter identity card, would further guarantee a more transparent voting process.
“The international community is ready to do everything possible to support Afghanistan and, frankly, to help the country avoid this kind of doom and gloom scenarios,” said Mr. Kubiš.
“There is an expectation that Afghanistan will work, will develop, with problems and difficulties, but still will develop.”
Also today, the Security Council extended the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan until 13 October 2013, and stressed the importance of increasing, in a comprehensive framework, the professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector.