Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg

 Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN

 Security Council, New York, August 23, 2005

Mr. President,


I wish to thank Special Representative Jean Arnault for the invaluable briefing on the situation in Afghanistan and the preparations for the upcoming elections.


In January2004, when Brazil was starting its present term in the Security Council, Afghanistan was completing an important initial step on its way to reconstruction and normalcy, with the adoption of its Constitution, approved by the Loya Jirga.


Since then, with international assistance, the country has progressed steadily in rebuilding its institutions and in repairing its infrastructure, in promoting disarmament and reconciliation, and in empowering its own society finally to assume entire responsibility for their destiny as a nation.


The peaceful holding of the Presidential elections last year made clear Afghans’ attachment to the democratic process and their determination to leave behind decades of war and destruction and inaugurate a new era of peace and development.


During this time, Brazil has had the opportunity to support in the Council the achievements in fulfilling the Bonn agenda, and in particular the international community’s strong resolve to bring the process about in a free and peaceful environment.


Since the last time this Council discussed the situation in Afghanistan, much progress was made in the preparations for the upcoming legislative elections of September 18, which will mark the completion of the Bonn process. The report of the Secretary-General indicates that the technical preparations for the vote are on schedule. It is encouraging that some 5.800 candidates have been qualified to run for the 249 seats in the lower house of the national assembly and for the 420 seats in provincial councils, which is an evidence of keen interest and confidence in the political process.


Nevertheless, the already daunting obstacles to the electoral process became even more significant in recent weeks. The present upsurge of violence carried out by insurgents and anti-government elements is a threat to the stability of the country. A relentless war is being waged, aimed not only at derailing the electoral process, but also at eroding the legitimacy of Afghan institutions and thwarting the broader effort by the international community for the reconstruction of the country. Meanwhile, the wave of violence in Afghanistan is estimated to have taken more than 1000 lives since last March.


Military insecurity is compounded with many alleged cases of intimidation against candidates, especially women. But no candidates have so far resorted to the protection provided by the system of complaints put in place by the Joint Electoral Management Body, which points to the need of improving the system.


In this context, I stress once again the paramount importance of achieving and maintaining a suitable security environment. The DDR program has achieved a significant success. The training of the national security forces is ahead of schedule. Although the Afghan Government continues to work hard to improve security, much remains to be done, notably the disbanding of the more than 1800 illegal armed groups. The decided international support and the commitment of 30 thousand troops on the ground, matched by an unequivocal support from neighbouring countries, is key to prevent the current security threats from degenerating into an even more serious and widespread problem.


Mr. President,


In spite of the estimated slight decline in the area cultivated with poppy for 2005, drug trade continues to be, along with the action of the insurgency, an extremely worrisome obstacle to putting the country into the track of normality. In our view, the search for alternate livelihoods for poppy growers must be combined with a tougher stance against processors and traffickers.


Mr. President,


To conclude, I would like to stress the need to address specifically the economic and humanitarian problems that have been imposing immense suffering to the Afghan people, and especially to its most vulnerable segments. Indicators regarding health, sanitation, education, human rights and many others continue to be low. The effect of natural disasters has been amplified by a lack of adequate response capacity. Furthermore, the return of more than 3 million refugees added burdens to the effort of improving the socioeconomic conditions of the population.


The reconstruction of Afghanistan will succeed completely only when even the poorest of its citizens will have hope for a better future, free not only from war and violence, but also from plights such as misery, hunger and disease.

Thank you.