"THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN"
Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
 
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN

Security Council, New York, 25 August 2004

 

Mr. President,

 

I take this opportunity to express the Brazilian Government’s sorrow to the people and Government of the Russian Federation for the tragic deaths as a consequence of last night’s aerial disasters, and also to extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.

 

I would like to thank you for convening this meeting.  My delegation is grateful to SRSG Jean Arnault for his valuable presentation of the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan, which covers the period since March 19th last.

 

The SG’s report describes the state of affairs in Afghanistan in all its complexity.  Its Paragraphs 53 and 54 may well be the synthesis of the present situation: on one side, the Government is making commendable progress in areas such as public administration, fiscal management and aspects of private sector and economic and social development; on the other, there is timid advance in areas such as the rule of law, land management, disarmament and counter-narcotics.  The report makes it very clear that difficulties arise whenever “the reform process comes up against entrenched informal actors and networks whose interests are abetted by a weak State that is unable to apply force or to impose formal rules throughout the country”.

 

Mr.President,

Success depends ultimately in promoting an increased legitimacy of the Government – thus the core importance of the electoral processes – and the effectiveness of its organs and institutions, including the police, courts and armed forces.  It is the responsibility of both the Afghan themselves and the international community, working together, to create the conditions for a better future.

 

Preparation for elections has made sizable progress, even against the unfavorable backdrop of violence and terrorism.  The registration of voters, closed last Friday, totaling more than 10 million Afghans, and the significant proportion of women (41,4%) among them, is indeed a positive, although uneven, development.  Also, the accreditation of 18 candidates for the 9 October Presidential elections, as well as the registration of 30 political parties, seems to reflect the interest, diversity and the mobilization of the Afghan people regarding the political process.

The accomplishment of a truly representative vote will depend, however, on the provision of adequate security for the five thousand polling sites operating across the country.  We concur with the Secretary-General that a net increase in international security assistance is, therefore, indispensable, in time to protect the electoral campaign in early September and beyond the holding of the parliamentary election.

Mr.President,

It is no secret that the already fragile security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating in the last months.  Terrorist attacks in the whole territory against targets of the Transitional Authority, the Afghan Army and the international presence have become commonplace and risk undermining the peace effort.  An eloquent reminder of how lack of security is compromising the viability of humanitarian assistance was given last month when ‘Médecins sans Frontières’ felt compelled to interrupt its humanitarian activities in the country.  Further deployment of troops by NATO, following the recent summit in Istanbul, is taking place, as it seems that the expansion of the ISAF presence in Afghanistan is needed.

 

Yet we note with satisfaction the gradual strengthening of the Afghan National Army, and the commitment of the international community to increase its support to the National Police reconstruction.  National capacity building in the enforcement of the rule of law is a key factor for long-term stability and should be carried out in parallel with the actions taken by the international community.


A thorough DDR process also is required for any improvement on the security field, and to tackle the power of warlords and terrorists determined to sabotage the peace process.  The report shows, though, that DDR is facing considerable challenges and remains behind schedule.  Containment of rising activities by militias throughout the country depends on some vigorous progress in this area.

 

Growing Drug trafficking became a thriving and lucrative activity that finances acquisition of illegal weapons and the formation of militias, with all kinds of destabilizing consequences.  The alarming drug situation requires further action.  Eradication initiatives have had very limited success, and drug traffic still accounts for more than half the gross domestic product.  More effective strategies to combat drugs must be urgently devised and pursued.  The recent issuance by the Council of Ulemas of a religious decree condemning narcotics and other related activities can be instrumental in discouraging the cultivation of opium poppy.  Also, we welcome the follow-up in the implementation of the ‘Declaration on Counter-Narcotics within the Framework of the Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighborly Relations’.

 


Mr. President,

Unfortunately, disquieting reports point out that systematic human rights violations continue to take place. The situation of women has shown little progress.  We reaffirm our conviction that the programs of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan are key in dealing with systematic human right violations that still occur in the country, and that such programs must be reinforced and supported by local and international authorities.

 

Persisting problems in the security area, as well as in the promotion of human rights affect the commendable role of UNHCR in repatriating hundreds of thousands of Afghans still internally displaced or taking refuge in neighboring countries.  This has been the case, last week, when some 13,000 Afghans were prevented from returning home due to the clashes in western Afghanistan.

 


Mr. President,

Promoting security and stability in Afghanistan remains a vital challenge.  The new heightening of violence, factionalism and of the narcotics industry expose the frailty of the achievements reached since the Bonn Conference.  These achievements risk being reverted if effective responses are not provided.  The current state of affairs, being so complex, demands the energetic engagement not only of Afghans themselves but of the international community in living up to the many commitments made in the past.  The upcoming elections certainly constitute a crucial test in the road towards democracy and peace in Afghanistan.