Security remains 'serious challenge' to Afghan peace process, Annan says

Security remains the most serious challenge facing Afghanistan, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says in a report issued today on progress made in the reconstruction efforts and transition towards a fully representative national government.
"Afghanistan's peace process remains fragile," Mr. Annan states in a report to the Security Council and general Assembly. "Insecurity and the lack of law and order continues to impact negatively on the lives of Afghans everyday, whittling away at the support for the transitional process."

The report describes progress in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement which paved the way for Afghanistan's political transition, with support from the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). It also coincides with the completion of UNAMA's initial one-year mandate.

Mr. Annan stresses that creating a national army and police would be key in achieving "more control over the continuing problem of security and lawlessness." He says the overall disarmament, demobilization and reintegration would also help to promote an improved human rights environment, economic development and the ability of the Government of Afghanistan to enhance its authority and legitimacy.

"The constitution-making process set for 2003 is another State-building exercise fundamental to the Bonn process," he adds. "It will therefore be vital that the process of drafting, consultation, debate and decision-making be at all times driven and led by Afghans, who alone can properly gauge and reflect in their constitution the wishes of the people." There were, however, some "spoilers" intent on thwarting the peace process, he adds.

"At present, there remain clear signs that, despite President [Hamid] Karzai's statesmanlike example of national leadership, elements of the transitional administration continue to be seen by Afghans as serving primarily one Afghan constituency or another," Mr. Annan says, adding that those undermining the peace process "must be left in no doubt that the authorities in Afghanistan and the international community stand ready to protect and see the peace process through to the end."

Urging donors to continue to meet their commitments to Afghanistan, the Secretary-General warns that without considerable political and financial engagement from the international community, "the progress made thus far might not only slow down, but indeed, be dangerously reversed."