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Afghanistan’s Future Discussed In UN Security Cn.

HEADLINES:
- Challenge of Afghanistan at ‘most urgent stage,’ Annan tells Security Council
- Brahimi lays out plan for political transition in Afghanistan
- Welcoming Kabul's release from 'oppressive' Taliban, Annan urges respect for law
- UN officials urge parties in Afghanistan to respect human rights


Challenge of Afghanistan at ‘most urgent stage,’ Annan tells Security Council

13 November – The challenge that Afghanistan poses to the United Nations was now at its most “urgent stage” and the international community must be ready to respond, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council today as it met to discuss the situation in that country.
Addressing the 15-member body at the outset of an open meeting this morning, Mr. Annan said the sustained engagement of the Council would be needed “if we are to help set Afghanistan on the path to a stable and lasting peace, and address the dire humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.”
Among the challenges lying ahead, the Secretary-General stressed that -- “first and foremost”-- everything must be done to help meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, who have suffered from decades of conflict, repression, drought and famine.
“Next, the rapid march of events on the ground requires that we focus on the challenge we will face in a post-Taliban period,” he said. “This means taking urgent action so as to avoid a political and security vacuum.”
The Secretary-General noted that if all the Afghan parties – as well as the neighbours and the wider international community – gave their full support, there was a real opportunity to create the sort of broad-based, fully representative government which the United Nations had long been trying to help the Afghan people achieve.
“A stable Afghanistan, living in peace, carrying out its international obligations and posing no threat to any of its neighbours, must be our common objective,” he said. “To achieve it, any arrangement arrived at must reflect the will, the needs and the interests of the Afghan people, and enjoy their full support.”

Brahimi lays out plan for political transition in Afghanistan


13 November – The United Nations chief envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, today outlined plans for a political transition in the war-torn country and stressed an urgent need for a UN-convened meeting that would bring together the key players to agree on a framework for the changeover process.
Addressing a high-level meeting of the Security Council, Mr. Brahimi, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for the country, stressed that while there was agreement on the goal of establishing a representative and accountable government in Afghanistan, difficulties were encountered in how to achieve this end. Since time was now of the essence, he said, it was indispensable that the efforts of the various Afghan groups be brought together in a single process.
"[T]he Secretary-General thinks that instead of continuing with the shuttle diplomacy from one group to the other in the various capitals, the need for nimbleness in finding a political solution now requires that the Northern Alliance and the representatives of the existing initiatives should meet with the United Nations as early as humanly possible," the envoy said.
Based on ideas widely discussed by Afghans themselves, Mr. Brahimi said the approach might begin with a UN-convened meeting of representatives of the Northern Alliance and the Rome and Cyprus processes, among others, that would be later complemented with representatives of other groups, to agree on a framework for the process of political transition. The meeting would suggest concrete steps to convene a provisional council, composed of a large and representative group of Afghans and chaired by an individual recognized as a symbol of national unity. Deputy chairmen could conduct day-to-day proceedings.
The council would propose a transitional administration and programme of action for the period of political transition, to last no more than two years, as well as security arrangements, he said. An emergency Loya Jirga would then be convened to approve the proposals and to authorize the transitional administration to prepare a constitution. The transitional phase would result in the convening of second Loya Jirga, which would approve the constitution and create the Government of Afghanistan.
Mr. Brahimi stressed the crucial need to have Afghans constitute their own administration. "Parachuting a large number of international experts into Afghanistan could overwhelm the nascent transitional administration and interfere with the building of local capacity," he said. At the same time, he emphasized the need for a "robust security force able to deter and if possible defeat challenges to its authority."
Options included an all-Afghan security force, a multinational force, or a UN peacekeeping operation. He said the first option was the best, but since it would take time to constitute, serious consideration should be given to deploying an international security presence. He also emphasized that a UN force was not recommended.
Mr. Brahimi also called attention to the looming humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, pledging the UN's commitment to assisting all people in need and urging the international community to support this effort. At the same time, he highlighted the need for significant international resources for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
"The processes being proposed are not perfect," he said. "The provisional institutions, whose creation is suggested, will not include everyone who should be there, and it may include some whose credentials many in Afghanistan have doubt about, but let everyone please remember that what is hopefully to be achieved is the elusive peace the people of Afghanistan have been longing for so long."


Welcoming Kabul's release from 'oppressive' Taliban, Annan urges respect for law

13 November - With Afghanistan's capital now liberated from Taliban rule, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today emphasized that all forces in the country must respect international law.
Mr. Annan welcomed the fact that the people of Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan "have been freed from the oppressive and intolerant Taliban regime," a spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement. Spokesman Fred Eckhard said Mr. Annan reminded the United Front and other Afghan forces of the need to adhere strictly to their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
"The Secretary-General reiterates the urgent need to establish a broad-based and fully representative Government in Afghanistan," Mr. Eckhard said. "To this end, he has instructed his Special Representative, Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, to re-double his ongoing efforts."
Asked to comment on the rapidly changing circumstances in Afghanistan, the spokesman said that "the sudden fall of Kabul - that I don't think was predicted by anybody - must also affect our thinking on how quickly we have to move to try to get these parties working on a formula for power-sharing."
Concerning the humanitarian relief effort for Afghanistan, Mr. Eckhard said that if some level of security could be established quickly in the cities recently taken by the Northern Alliance, it would facilitate UN food delivery.
He noted that with international relief workers slated to return to Faizabad in the coming days, followed by UN civil affairs officers, "the idea is to start establishing an international presence in Afghanistan immediately."
Asked to explain why a UN peacekeeping force was not considered the best option for Afghanistan, the spokesman explained that mounting such a force "takes months - we don't have that much time."
He also pointed out that the security situation must be considered. "Peacekeepers can do their best job when there is a nice, firm, political agreement among the combatants on which to base a peace arrangement, and then peacekeepers can go in to bolster that," he said. "When you have an unstable situation, as you have now, where you're not sure whether fighting is going to resume, that's not the environment you put in peacekeepers - that's where you need professional soldiers."


UN officials urge parties in Afghanistan to respect human rights

13 November - With the situation on the ground in Afghanistan changing rapidly, United Nations officials today called for both sides in the conflict to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.
Recalling the history of retaliation and loss of civilian life that has accompanied previous changes of power in Afghanistan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urged the compliance by all forces with humanitarian principles.
In Islamabad, Stephanie Bunker, spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, told a press briefing that according to reports from several sources over 100 Taliban troops, mostly young recruits hiding in a school, had been killed in Mazar-i-Sharif by Northern Alliance forces Saturday evening.
“Overall, the security situation remains somewhat unstable, and the picture is mixed,” Ms. Bunker said. “As of this morning, we heard reports that along with occasional looting there is also ‘punitive action’ that is being carried out. We have also heard that fighting is continuing in and around the city.”
As for the situation with providing relief aid to fleeing Afghans, Ms. Bunker said the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan was asking all parties to the conflict to ensure security to the assistance community throughout the country. “It is essential that staff and property be protected so that humanitarian assistance to the needy civilian population of Afghanistan can continue,” she said.


ENDS

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