2003 Statement



Ambassador of Japan in charge of Afghan Aid Coordination

At the open briefing of the Security Council on the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Ex-combatants in Afghanistan

24 February 2003

Following 23 years of war and devastation, and one year after the cessation of the latest hostilities, Afghanistan is still replete of weapons and armaments. Despite some notable progress, there is a high level of tension between the armed formations.

Nation-building cannot succeed under these conditions. Nor is national reconciliation achievable. And most crucially, the people who have suffered so much and for so long cannot enjoy genuine security.

The lack of security is a source of great concern to the Afghan people as they toil so hard to reconstruct their country. Restoring peace and the rule of law in their country is their greatest aspiration.

Indeed, soldiers and officers also share that aspiration; they are tired of life in army, they yearn to go home and resume their normal lives.

The international community is also deeply concerned with the lack of security as it mobilizes resources, not just in Kabul but in the remote regions of the country in order to help all Afghans in their reconstruction effort. The lack of security prevents donors’ resources from reaching remote areas.

The lack of security is therefore the most serious challenge confronting Afghanistan today. It is no wonder, then, that there is unanimous agreement among all parties concerned that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of soldiers and officers (DDR) is the highest priority. Fewer soldiers mean greater security. More ex-soldiers in workplaces mean more peaceful development.

Nevertheless, DDR alone is not enough to provide security. Security in Afghanistan can only be assured when the state exercises the sole enforcement capacity. This of course means the creation of a new national army and national police force.

Counter-narcotics measures are also critical in ensuring security. An independent judiciary is likewise necessary. All these elements must be in place in order for the nation to be able to exist under the rule of law rather than the rule of the gun.

Mindful of these considerations, on December 2nd of last year President Karzai issued an important decree broadly outlining principles and conditions with respect to security, the military, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.

The decree specifically states that a new Afghanistan National Army (ANA) will be created of not more than 70,000 soldiers. It will be an ethnically balanced organization. More importantly, the decree also stipulates that military formations, armed groups, and any other military or para-military units that are not a part of the ANA shall be prohibited.

This will be a defining moment in the Government’s effort to assert control nationwide. A new national army will be built and all regional military formations must disappear. It will be a remarkable development indeed.

On January 11th of this year, President Karzai took further steps to move ahead with DDR by issuing decrees establishing four government commissions.

And as recently as last Saturday, on February 22nd, President Karzai announced in Tokyo his intention to disarm his nation within one year after the commencement of the disarming process. He said he would announce the detailed DDR program on March 21st of this year.

With all these recent and remarkable developments in place, today I can report to the Security Council:

  • —that in Afghanistan a solid foundation for DDR is being laid,
  • —that DDR, it is hoped, will soon commence, promising to change the profile of Afghanistan as a nation in conflict to one that is developing peacefully,
  • —and that the entire international community is committed to support the program.

Mr. President,

The DDR process in Afghanistan is not different from DDR in other countries. Yet it is anticipated that DDR in Afghanistan will be especially difficult in view of the heavy legacy of factional rivalries. The fact that a new national army must be built in parallel with DDR adds to the complexity of the undertaking.

All soldiers to be disarmed must first pass through the Disarmament Commission and will have to decide to either join the new national army or demobilize.

Those wishing to join the new national army must pass some tough recruitment tests.

Those who fail the tests, as well as those who choose to get out of their armed formations will be registered. They will be offered a variety of reintegration packages, including:

  • —vocational training
  • —credit scheme(s)
  • —employment through public works
  • —land grants
  • —cash compensation
  • —community-based development projects, and so on.

Additionally, demobilized soldiers will be able to take advantage of a wide referral network, which will allow them to seek job opportunities anywhere in the country.

As to the administrative mechanism, the Afghan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) will be created as the main executing body.

With offices established in nine cities across the country, the ANBP will register individuals, assist them in choosing the most appropriate job training options and provide the necessary follow-up over a period of three years.

Mr. President,

Let me just briefly explain what the Government of Japan, as the lead DDR nation, intends to contribute to this program.

First of all, Japan is totally committed to the success of DDR. We will continue to play a cooperative role throughout the entire process in cooperation of another lead agency, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).

On the financial side, the GOJ has pledged a contribution of 35 million dollars to jump-start the Partnership for Peace Programme, which is the basic component of the DDR.

In addition to its financial contribution, Japan will consider extending assistance for the establishment of a large database, which will be indispensable for the implementation of DDR.

Another major area in which Japan is cooperating is vocational training. We will provide extensive training, again in addition to the above financial contributions.

Moreover, we are looking at as many job-creation aid projects as possible to meet the requirements of DDR. It is our hope to employ as many ex-combatants as possible in those public works type projects.

Mr. President,

The task ahead of us is truly daunting. We can expect to be met with numerous challenges and setbacks. But I am confident that the Afghan Government, Afghan people as a whole, and the international community will remain united and rise to the challenges.

Nonetheless, today, realist that I am, I can anticipate some of these challenges.

First, we will have to deal with the problem of how to reach an agreement on the number of soldiers and officers to be released from the armed formations. The number of soldiers under arms is difficult to estimate. The definition of a combatant is itself problematic.

Developing a mechanism for the collection of light and heavy weapons and maintaining transparency in the process of weapons collection will also be a difficult issue.

Very careful consideration will have to be paid in all phases of the program so as to ensure a strong sense of fairness and impartiality. In the country where there is a strong legacy of strife and competition among various groups, any attempt which benefits one to the detriment of another is bound to fail. Confidence building among all parties concerned will be key to the success of DDR.

Therefore, a sensitive approach is absolutely necessary. But at the same time, a practical attitude is also important. The task of disarmament must start where it is most likely to succeed, so that it can build momentum for further successes.

The timeline is another important factor. President Karzai said in Tokyo last week that, once it begins, the disarmament process would take one year. The idea behind this timetable is to have DDR play a role, of course a positive one, in the context of the upcoming general election scheduled for June next year.

There is another thorny technical problem, namely, how to treat commanders who still hold sway over large numbers of people and communities.

And of course, as always, there are problems of a financial nature. The donor contributions that have been committed will not be sufficient for the immense task ahead of us.

At the recent Tokyo conference on DDR, Japan pledged $35 million. The US pledged $10 million, UK, $3.5 million, and Canada, $2.2 million. This total of more than $50 million for the kick-off is a good record. Yet future prospects are not necessarily encouraging and we must keep working on securing financing throughout the process.

And finally, the success of DDR will ultimately depend upon the economic capacity of the country itself. How the Afghan economy and the international community will be able to generate enough job opportunities to absorb everyone is a very serious problem.

All these and other problems are sensitive ones which will ultimately require political decisions. Without broad political agreement, DDR will be most likely not succeed. The single most important factor for the success of DDR is the steadfast commitment of all political and regional leaders.

For the Government in Kabul and all regional leaders to achieve and maintain this commitment, it is absolutely essential that the international community as a whole remain committed to Afghanistan and provide it with all possible support and encouragement.

In fact, the principal motivation which compelled the GOJ to organize the Tokyo Conference on Consolidation of Peace (DDR) in Afghanistan just three days ago was to reinforce this solidarity and support.

As the chair of the conference, I urged all participating countries and agencies to join hands and embrace the Afghan people as they strive to rebuild their nation by restoring the peace and achieving genuine reconciliation.

Mr. President,

In the view of Japan and UNAMA, DDR is absolutely crucial for the rebuilding of the nation of Afghanistan. The international community must stay engaged and give every support to our Afghan friends as they begin a courageous struggle, this time in order to achieve genuine peace and reconciliation.