International Conference on Afghanistan (2010)

International Conference on Afghanistan (2010)

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On January 28, 2010, an International Conference on Afghanistan was held at Lancaster House
Lancaster House
Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London. It is close to St. James's Palace and much of the site was once part of the palace complex...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, where members of the international community discussed the further progress on the Petersberg agreement from 2001 on the democratization of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 after the ousting of the Taliban regime. The one-day conference, hosted by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, and the Afghan government, meant to chart a new course for the future of Afghanistan and brought together foreign ministers and senior representatives from more than 70 countries and international organizations. The conference was also attended by the Afghan president Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

, the Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Spanta
Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta was the foreign minister of Afghanistan.He was appointed to that position by Hamid Karzai during a cabinet reshuffle on March 21, 2006 and approved by the 249-seat lower house on April 20, 2006. He was previously the Senior Advisor on International Affairs to President...

, the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

, UN envoy Kai Eide
Kai Eide
Kai Aage Eide is a Norwegian diplomat. He was appointed the United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on 7 March 2008, a position he held until March 2010 when Staffan de Mistura took over.Eide has previously served as...

 and the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

, as well as the former Afghan minister of finance Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani
Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a prominent politician in Afghanistan and the former chancellor of Kabul University. He is also the chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization set up in 2005 to promote the ability of states to serve their citizens. Before returning to...

  and the British prime minister Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

. Afghanistan agreed to timetables to take control of certain military and police functions, and launched a program to lure Taliban insurgents
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

 back to mainstream life with financial incentives.

Preparation


In early September 2009, even before the publication of the results of the Afghan presidential election, 2009
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

, the UN Peacekeeping Department announced that it would organize an international summit in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 in the spring of 2010, aiming to bring the new government of Afghanistan and leaders of the international community together to discuss the further strategy for development and democracy in the near future. This announced summit would then be the first international Afghanistan conference to be held in the country itself.

Near the end of November 2009, it was decided that the conference would take place in London and not in Kabul. Additionally, a firm date for the conference was announced: January 28, 2010. The date of the conference in London was announced by the British Prime Minister together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 during a press conference at the bi-annual meeting of government leaders of the British Commonwealth in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

. The conference would be presided by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

 and supported by the UN. Ban Ki-Moon would also attend the conference, as well as Afghan president Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 and representatives of many of the 43 countries involved in the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Before the conference took place, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and also the UN Security Council expressed concerns about the security threat in Afghanistan.

On January 4, 2010, Ban Ki-moon pointed to the Security Council "We are now at a critical juncture" in his report after the flawed presidential election in 2009
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

 and the adverse effects of the increased Taliban suicide and other attacks for the Afghan government’s ability to deliver basic services, as well as that of the international community to provide aid. The report cited an average of 1,244 incidents per month in the third quarter of 2009, a 65 per cent increase over 2008, with armed clashes, improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s and stand-off attacks constituting the majority. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 784 conflict-related civilian casualties between August and October, up 12 per cent from the same period in 2008, with anti-government elements responsible for 78 per cent of the total, of whom 54 per cent were victims of suicide and improvised explosive device attacks. Ban noted the insurgents’ intimidation of civilians in the elections, targeting community leaders and clerics in particular, as well as increased attacks against the aid community. On average nine people were assassinated per week in the third quarter, one of whom on average was a community leader.

On January 6, 2010, the Security Council discussed the situation in Afghanistan, while Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to strengthen the government’s role while coordinating "broader and more effective" international civilian efforts under the UN umbrella to spur economic and social development: the conference in London would offer "an important opportunity for fresh impetus, both to the international effort as well as that of the newly established government in Kabul to provide greater stability and support to the security and developmental needs of Afghanistan". Kai Eide, the departing United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, also warned the Security Council for negative trends. An emphasis on security matters over social issues would doom international efforts to stabilize the country. Rosemary A. DiCarlo, the American envoy addressing the Security Council, noted that the United States planned to triple the number of civilians sent to help with reconstruction and economic and agricultural development; the number would grow to 1,000 experts from 320 at the present moment.Eide noted that 80 percent of the aid flowing into Afghanistan went to projects financed directly by foreign governments, thus weakening the ability of the local authorities to deliver services and speed crucial economic development. Eide and the Afghanistan ambassador Zahir Tanin
Zahir Tanin
H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin , born on 1 May 1956, is the Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He presented his Credentials to H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations on 19 December 2006.-Education:Mr. Tanin is a graduate of the Kabul...

 talked about the need to try to reconcile with moderate elements of the Taliban.

Goals


The aim was to draft plans to hand over security responsibilities from ISAF
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 to Afghan forces and to lure Taliban members to renounce violence. The conference was held 10 months after the International Conference on Afghanistan
International Conference on Afghanistan, The Hague (2009)
On March 31, 2009 an International Conference on Afghanistan was held in the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague where members of the international community discussed the future of Afghanistan...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 in 2009, where representatives of 72 countries made a commitment to further efforts in the country, pledging pledged a stronger military offensive against the Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

, to invest in civil reconstruction, to tackle the drug trade and to stabilise neighbouring Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

During the conference, a schedule was drafted for the improvement of government in Afghanistan. A follow up-conference would then be held in Kabul with existence of Taliban's representative, to evaluate the results.

The conference laid out a plan for what was hoped to be "a new phase" in the Afghan conflict, in which the government in Kabul would take over, province by province, responsibility for security over the next five years. The Afghans would take the lead in securing the most volatile parts of the country within three years, with the first provinces probably passing to Afghan control end of 2010. Afghan forces will take control of physical security of the whole country within five years, a promise Afghan President Hamid Karzai made in his inauguration address in November. The transition would run in parallel with a two-tier peace process in which Taliban followers would be lured out of the insurgency with jobs and rural development, and Taliban leaders would be invited to peace negotiations.It is possible that NATO members sign a security agreement with Taliban that will lead NATO members efforts in the past 9 years in question and also will influence the main objectives of the war.

Results


The more than 70 countries and international organisations present agreed with the government of Afghanistan:
  • To develop a plan for phased transition to Afghan security lead province by province to begin, provided conditions are met, by late 2010/early 2011.
  • Targets for significant increases in the Afghan Army and Police Force supported by the international community: 171,000 Afghan Army and 134,000 Afghan Police by the end of 2011, taking total security force numbers to over 300,000.
  • Confirmation of a significant increase in international forces to support the training of Afghan forces. In total, the US have increased levels by 30,000 and the rest of the international community by 9,000, including the German contribution taking total force levels to around 135,000.
  • Measures to tackle corruption, including the establishment of an independent Office of High Oversight and an independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mission.
  • Better coordinated development assistance to be increasingly channelled through the GoA, supported by reforms to structures and budgets.
  • A civilian surge to match the military surge, including new civilian leadership of the international community’s programmes, with the appointment of Mark Sedwill, previously British Ambassador to Afghanistan, as NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative, a new UN representative plus more civilians on the ground to support governance and economic development.
  • Enhanced sub-national government to improve delivery of basic services to all Afghans.
  • Support for the Afghan National Peace and Reintegration Programme, including financial support for a Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, to offer economic alternatives to those who renounce violence, cut links to terrorism and agree to work within the democratic process.
  • Support for increased regional co-operation to combat terrorism, violent extremism and the drugs trade, to increase trade and cultural exchange and to create conducive conditions for the return of Afghan refugees.
  • Support more security by increasing 37,000 NATO soldiers from 36 countries of the world.

Military and civilian transition


The conference decided that in "a number of provinces" the security responsibility would be transferred from NATO to Afghan security forces, increased in strength to more than 300,000, by late 2010 or early 2011. An agreement on the criteria and mechanism to transfer the security responsibilities was left to another conference in Kabul scheduled late Spring 2010.

At the beginning of the conference, the Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal
Omar Zakhilwal
Dr. Omar Zakhilwal , is an economist and a prominent politician in Afghanistan. He is the current Finance Minister as well as the Chief Economic Advisor to the President of Afghanistan. He is also the president of the Afghanistan Cricket Board.-Early life:...

 complained that 80% of development funds for Afghanistan were disbursed without any Afghan government control. The conference agreed that, within the next two years, the Afghan government had to get control over half the total funds spent in its country. The final communique said this depended on Kabul's own progress in improving its performance, in particular in the fight against corruption.

Reconciliation and reintegration


The Afghan government was to set up a "national council for peace, reconciliation and reintegration". This new institution would oversee the channelling of development funds to provide alternative livelihoods to lure insurgent fighters away from the Taliban. This programme would be financed by an international fund, to which $140m was pledged to cover the first year. At the same time, the government was to reinvigorate peace overtures to more senior Taliban members, with the help of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

's King Abdullah
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is the King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. When Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1998 to 2005...

.

Karzai planned to hold a peace council, a Loya Jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 in the Spring of 2010, to which tribal elders from around the country would be invited, including those with Taliban links. Karzai pledged that peace deals would not affect basic human rights, including women's rights, which he said "shall never be compromised". At the conference, president Karzai declared: "We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers, who are not part of al-Qaida, or other terrorist networks, who accept the Afghan constitution." The Afghan government pledged to hold the Peace Jirga
Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
The Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the holding of a consultative grand council called the Afghanistan's National Consultative Peace Jirga or shortly Peace Jirga in his inauguration speech on 19 November 2009, after winning elections for a second term, to end the ongoing Taliban insurgency...

 in the Spring of 2010, to which village elders from across the country, including some with Taliban ties, were to be invited. At the end of the conference, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton hinted that the US was ready to open negotiations: "The starting premise is you don't make peace with your friends. You have to be able to engage with your enemies". The same day it was revealed that Taliban commanders from the Quetta Shura
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

 early January in Dubai
Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

 held secret exploratory talks with United Nations special envoy Kai Eide
Kai Eide
Kai Aage Eide is a Norwegian diplomat. He was appointed the United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on 7 March 2008, a position he held until March 2010 when Staffan de Mistura took over.Eide has previously served as...

, to discuss peace terms. Supporters of former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

 predicted that negotiations could fail because the Karzai government was "too weak", and other critics warned that trying to buy off insurgents created a "moral hazard" of rewarding combatants who had killed Western troops and local civilians. Taliban sources denied that there had been such a meeting and dismissed them as "baseless rumors".

Prospectives


President Karzai said in a BBC interview at the occasion of the conference that even after Afghan forces would have gained control, foreign troops might be needed to continue training and equipping Afghan narional troops, which could take 5 to 10 years. The international community might have to financially support the Afghan army for 10 to 15 years. And besides establish an effective connection with neighbors to minimize costs of replacement or exit strategies of forces and this will be supported by holding frequent conferences with the presence of other neighbors and active NATO members in future.

Controversy


The preparations of the conference led to political disputes in Germany, about which minister would attend the conference (the Minister of Foreign Affairs Westerwelle
Guido Westerwelle
Guido Westerwelle [] is a German liberal politician, who, since 28 October 2009, has been serving as the Foreign Minister in the second cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and who was Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2009 to 2011. He is the first openly gay person to hold either of those positions...

, the Minister of Defence Guttenberg
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg is a German politician of the Christian Social Union ....

, or Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

), and if Germany would promise the deployment of more troops.

Iranian reaction


Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, that did attend the International Afghanistan Conference in The Hague 2009
International Conference on Afghanistan, The Hague (2009)
On March 31, 2009 an International Conference on Afghanistan was held in the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague where members of the international community discussed the future of Afghanistan...

 but stayed away from the conference in London, criticized the "paternalistic" decisions that were made. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said they would "undermine the independence and national sovereignty of nations". Iran refused to attend this conference because it was clear that there would be "behind-the-scenes scheming" and "certain countries" would make efforts to issue "an unconstructive statement" on Afghanistan’s problems.

Links


See also

  • List of international conferences on Afghanistan
  • Politics of Afghanistan
    Politics of Afghanistan
    The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

  • International Conference on Afghanistan Bonn 2001
  • Bonn Agreement
    Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
    Officially the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, the Bonn Agreement was the initial series of agreements intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the...

  • International Afghanistan Conference London 2006
  • Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
    Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
    The Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the holding of a consultative grand council called the Afghanistan's National Consultative Peace Jirga or shortly Peace Jirga in his inauguration speech on 19 November 2009, after winning elections for a second term, to end the ongoing Taliban insurgency...