The United Nations Security Council strengthened the UN civilian presence in Afghanistan by establishing a new mission to focus on political and humanitarian issues. But the resolution the Security Council passed March 28 does not address security in Afghanistan, confirming that the Security Council is unwilling to expand the UN international peacekeeping force.
The resolution on a civilian mission is based on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's vision of what the next phase of Afghan reconstruction should look like, which he outlined in a mid March report to the Security Council. However, the Security Council's reluctance to back reconstruction efforts with an enhanced security initiative questions the ability of the international community to provide effective assistance to the Afghans, Annan indicated.
Annan's report proposed integrating all existing UN activities into a single mission, to be known as the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA). But while Annan said UNAMA should manage all humanitarian and relief activities and promote "national reconciliation," the secretary general also reemphasized the importance of maintaining security around the country.
"There is a continuing danger that existing security structures, both Afghan and international, will not adequately address the security threats that are currently discernable and are likely to increase as the convening of the emergency Loya Jirga approaches," Annan wrote.
"UNAMA will not be able to carry out its functions effectively unless the security situation is addressed immediately," Annan added.
According to the Bonn Agreement that established the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan, the emergency Loya Jirga is to be convened by June to select a Transitional Authority that will draft a new constitution ahead of national elections.
Despite pleas for a stronger security component from Karzai and some UN and NGO representatives, diplomats contend that deploying peacekeepers outside Kabul is seen as too risky. Thus, UN member states are reluctant to contribute troops to a reinforced peacekeeping mission, known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
"If you have to secure all the main cities and all the main areas in Afghanistan, you need more troops on the ground," a western diplomat said. "There are no countries in favor of, or able to contribute to an expansion. Nobody wants it."
Others say that the new complexion of ISAF will be determined by what Turkey does if and when it takes over command of the force from the British. As a Muslim country and a member of NATO, Turkey was touted when ISAF was created late last year as a logical replacement. But so far, Ankara not shown much enthusiasm for a leadership role.
US officials say the United States has been negotiating with Ankara to alleviate fears they have about deploying troops into areas where the US military is operating and about needing American support should serious fighting flare up.
UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi hit on international reluctance to patrol the whole country when he recently told a group of reporters in Kabul that "the contributing countries of forces to ISAF are much more in a hurry to go than the Afghan people want them to."
A recent report by the British government on the status of ISAF noted that its presence has been "warmly welcomed" in Kabul, but that two major concerns had not yet been addressed: the lack of a functioning legal system and the lack of a disarmament program to demobilize militia group members. If ISAF were to detain or arrest individuals, the report said, "at present there is no established legal system and there is no assurance that their treatment will accord with accepted international norms."
A US official said procedural concerns raised in British report would be addressed by a German program that began in mid-March to train Afghan police officers. The US official added that the international community would continue to emphasize building Afghan capacity to police their own country, and not relying on outside forces to do it.
The British report also argued that although are some 100,000 armed militia in the country, a sustainable Afghan army would only need 60,000 men. To deal with disarmament issues, a working group consisting of officials from the UN, the Interim Authority and ISAF is expected to put forward proposals for demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants at a meeting on security financing in Geneva on April 3.