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International support for Afghanistan must go beyond security needs – Ban

By UN

28 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a coherent political strategy to assist Afghanistan in its quest for peace, security and development, noting that the country's challenges cannot be overcome by military efforts alone.

“We must recognize that while security is a major element in the transition strategy, it must not be the main and only focus,” Mr. Ban said in his opening remarks to the International Conference on Afghanistan, which he is co-hosting with President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“We need a coherent political strategy – not as an add-on to the military strategy, but which guides it as part of a balanced civilian and military approach, with peace and reconciliation as an integral component.”

Some 70 nations are meeting in London to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan following last year's elections, in which Mr. Karzai won another term as President.

“This is an extremely challenging time for Afghanistan and for international engagement in the quest for peace, security and development in the country,” noted Mr. Ban. “Today's event is a chance to look forward … to explore how to build on achievements so far.

“It is an opportunity to redefine the relationship between Afghanistan and the international community and its partners … a relationship based on strengthened Afghan leadership and an increased support role for the international community … a relationship where international efforts align with the Afghan Government's priorities.”

The long road ahead towards recovery and institution-building, he said, must be inclusive, must strengthen governance, respect the human rights and meet the basic needs of the Afghan people. It must also foster an environment conducive to justice and accountability, an environment where corruption cannot thrive.

“We must see corruption for what it is: an assault on the integrity of the state and people's well-being. Afghans have suffered for far too long from a culture of impunity and the lack of rule of law.

“If we are to achieve a stable and secure Afghanistan, these ills must be remedied, starting with improving the electoral process ahead of this year's parliamentary elections,” the Secretary-General stated.

He added that despite the increasingly complex security environment, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), together with other UN partners, remains committed – for as long as necessary – to the Afghan people's pursuit of peace and prosperity.

“The United Nations, for its part, will continue to stand with the Afghan people in building peace,” he pledged.

Yesterday Mr. Ban announced that he will appoint veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura, a Swedish national who recently served as the top UN envoy to Iraq, to lead the world body's efforts in Afghanistan.

During his meeting today with Mr. Karzai, the Secretary-General introduced Mr. de Mistura, who will take over on 1 March as his Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, replacing Kai Eide of Norway.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Karzai also discussed the UN's role in coordinating civilian assistance, as well as the issues of good governance and the fight against corruption.

In addition, the Secretary-General underscored the world body's readiness to support the electoral process in Afghanistan, should Kabul request assistance and subject to Security Council approval.