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Long-Range Goals For Afghanistan Needed

Top UN Envoy Calls For Quick Agreement On Long-Range Goals For Afghanistan

Afghanistan and the international community must agree as soon as possible on a broad agenda of strategic priorities that go beyond the political transition, ranging from fiscal sustainability to regional cooperation to strengthening the protection of the human rights of ordinary Afghans, the top United Nations envoy in the country told a donor forum today.

“In recent years, much has been said in international circles about the frequent failure of the world community, in dealing with conflicts, to address the gap between short-term post-conflict recovery and the longer-term development of state capacity to perform effectively and responsibly,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Jean Arnault said.

“Because of the thorough destruction to which Afghan institutions were subjected during the war and the destitution prevailing in much of the country, this gap is particularly daunting in Afghanistan,” he told the opening session of the three-day Afghanistan Development Forum (ADF) in Kabul, the capital.

“We must not, therefore, take progress for granted. Perhaps nowhere in the world today is the consolidation of peace so tightly dependent on sustained institutional and economic reconstruction. Let us be aware of this circumstance and let us remember that while the establishment in a few months’ time of fully representative political institutions will facilitate the process of state building and recovery, it will not be a substitute for it.”

ADF, the first international donor forum for Afghanistan’s democratically elected new government, is particularly important given that donors still fund more than 93 per cent of the national budget. The Forum is being attended by members of the new Afghan cabinet, representatives of over 40 countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Other priorities mentioned by Mr. Arnault included the need to balance social spending and investing in economic infrastructure.

He noted that progress made last year in strengthening domestic security agencies would soon translate in enhanced stability and there was every reason to hope upcoming parliamentary election would further entrench democratic practices.

“But we must remain keenly aware of the great fragility of these gains,” he warned, citing the need to extend genuine security across the country; demilitarization of local power structures; the full resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); the rehabilitation of key social and economic infrastructure and the gradual eradication of the narcotics economy; and the establishment of minimally functional government institutions.

In addition, he added, a number of essential peace building tasks have hardly begun, including the settlement of land claims, a pervasive source of violence; the restoration of property rights, and more broadly that of the rule of law; the rebuilding of trust among those whose lives were shattered by the war; and the rebuilding of unity between the groups that have been involved in the conflict of the past decades.

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