Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Canada meddles in Afghan politics again

Pajhwok Afghan News reports on a Canadian proposal to appoint a UN "super envoy" to Afghanistan, representing both the UN and NATO. While Afghanistan and the UN Secretary General oppose it, the US and UK are behind the idea. Critics say it will undermine the Afghan government and set a serious precedent.

Aversion to 'super envoy' idea snowballs
Pajhwok News
By Lalit K Jha

UNITED NATIONS - While a final decision on the appointment of a new UN envoy to Afghanistan is yet to be taken, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is believed to be reluctant about naming a super envoy in his place.

Present UN envoy to Afghanistan Tom Koenigs' term expires at the end of this month, before which Ban has to appoint his successor. Reports in the western media this past week suggested several western countries and NATO and European Union have been asking for Koenigs' replacement with a powerful super envoy.

Their argument is the super envoy, besides heading the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as well as NATO operations in the country, will help accelerate the war against terror and the reconstruction effort. Several names bandied about for the job indicate the appointee will have the power overriding the decisions of Afghan government.

But diplomatic sources at the UN told Pajhwok Afghan News the secretary-general was not in favour of such a proposal, which first came from Canada some two months [ago]. Now the idea is being backed by countries like Britain and the United States.

The basic question asked by the office of the secretary-general is that if the UN can lend its official to represent NATO and European Union in Afghanistan. Won't it set a wrong precedent? Or is it within the mandate of the United Nations?

It is also understood the Afghan government - through its own informal channels - has conveyed its aversion to such a proposal. Kabul believes a super envoy would undermine the power and authority of the duly elected president.

Further, such an appointment will send wrong signals to the people of Afghanistan and Taliban insurgents that the Karzai administration is not the final authority. An impression like this among the people is bound to erode the powers of the president and Parliament.

Several other countries, including Security Council members, are also opposed to the idea. Member nations argue it will set a wrong precedent. They say the UN should not allow its envoy to represent other organisations. (link)


Unknown said...

Better coordination of aid and development expertise will help expedite the efforts of the United Nations, NATO and over 35 countries engaged in delivering assitance to the people of Afghanistan, some of the neediest on earth.

To oppose better coordination of international relief and development assistance is difficult to understand, unless of course you don't beleive we have any role to play in helping Afghans in the first place...

Knee-jerk opposition to any Western effort in Afghanistan undermines the argument that we can and should be doing many things better than we have been. Your position is untenable.

Josh McJannett
Canadians for Afghanistan

Dave Markland said...

Josh M:
You accuse me of "knee-jerk opposition" and say my position is "untenable". Did you read what I wrote? I take precisely zero positions - tenable or not - in this post. I merely (re)state the facts presented in the article.