H.E. Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At The Public Meeting Of The Security Council On The Situation In Afghanistan
25 August 2004
With the approach of the presidential election in October and parliamentary elections next year, the Bonn Process is reaching its final stage. The rebirth of Afghanistan as a democratic state is at stake in these elections. I therefore would like to welcome the initiative of the President to organize this meeting, in order to provide the Security Council and the UN membership as a whole with an opportunity to reconfirm their commitment to Afghanistan at this very critical moment in the Process. I would like to comment on the three points which I consider important for the success of the Process.
First, the elections. The registration of voters numbering more than 10 million, 41.4 % of whom are women, clearly demonstrates the strong determination of the Afghan people to create a new nation through the democratic process, and we certainly welcome this sign of progress. We also appreciate the fact that many presidential candidates, in appointing their vice presidential candidates, are giving due weight to achieving ethnic balance, with an eye to promoting ethnic reconciliation. We pay tribute to the JEMB and all concerned for their efforts to date to prepare for these elections. We are delighted at the signing of MOUs with Pakistan and Iran with regard to out-of-country registration and voting, and request the further cooperation of these countries for the successful conduct of voting in their respective territories. In order to facilitate the successful holding of elections, Japan, for its part, will continue its support and assistance.
Second, it goes without saying that free and fair elections require that the security of voters be guaranteed. In this connection, we are much concerned over the security situation in Afghanistan, which has deteriorated since last year as a result of the subversive activities of residual Taliban and Al-Qaida elements, clashes between warlords, and the narcotics trade. Now, the security of aid workers and people engaged in electoral preparations is gravely threatened. The unstable security conditions in the south and southeast in fact caused delay in the voter registration process, which demonstrates the continued determination of extremist groups to impede the electoral process. Japan strongly condemns the activities of such groups but at the same time is much encouraged by the decision of NATO to send additional troops to Afghanistan. We look forward to the improvement of the security situation with the rapid deployment of those forces.
Third, with respect to the DDR process, despite the efforts of the Afghan government and the assistance of the international community, the level of soldiers who have entered the DDR program so far remains at only 20% of the total target for the program, a situation which is far from satisfactory. Modification of the target number and the timetable for DDR is currently under consideration based on the decision to organize the presidential and parliamentary elections separately and the experience of the program up to this point. Japan, as the leading country in the DDR process together with the United Nations, continues to make efforts to support direct negotiation between leaders of the transitional government and regional commanders, implementation of the commander incentive programs and promotion of the reintegration programs, so that momentum for DDR can be maintained even after the Presidential election. All parties concerned must realize that they will never be permitted to achieve their objectives by force; they must abide by law and due process. We welcome in this regard the decision taken by President Karzai in July to illegalize rearmament after DDR, remobilization of discharged soldiers, maintaining of armed militias and possession of heavy weapons outside the framework of the Ministry of Defense and the new National Army (ANA). It is also essential that the international community continue to be united in its determination not to create a power vacuum after DDR by accelerating the formation of the national army and police force and the deployment of the international forces.
Afghanistan is, for the United Nations and for the international community as a whole, a major touchstone to demonstrate what we can do for countries in need of assistance for the nation-building process in the aftermath of conflict. The Bonn Process is still fragile, and the security situation remains precarious, but with the support of the international community and above all the strong determination of the Afghan people, we have now reached the stage of organizing the presidential election. We remain strongly committed to the national reconstruction of Afghanistan and are confident that the upcoming elections will serve as a first step to an enduring and positive cooperative relationship between Afghanistan and the international community.
Thank you very much.