Press Releases

    19 November 2002



    NEW YORK, 18 November (UN Heaquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the panel on "Afghanistan: One Year Later", delivered by Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, in New York on 18 November:

    It gives me great pleasure to welcome all participants of this panel on "Afghanistan: One Year Later". I would also like to commend the President of the General Assembly for organizing this panel on a subject with critical lessons for the work of the United Nations.

    For almost a decade prior to the Bonn Agreement, the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) sought to bring peace to Afghanistan. Even if it was ultimately unsuccessful in ending the war, its day-to-day diplomatic efforts on the ground to secure ceasefires and to bring the parties back to the negotiating table may well have saved thousands of lives. The UNSMA was also the core of what became, last April, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).

    The Bonn Agreement set an ambitious schedule for 2002. An interim government was to be established, a Loya Jirga to be held, a number of commissions to be created. All this, along with the provision of humanitarian assistance, was to take place in a land where infrastructure, both physical and institutional, had been destroyed. And yet much of this has been accomplished. The Interim Administration was created on schedule. The process of convening the Emergency Loya Jirga was another major accomplishment in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement. It elected President Karzai and created a Transitional Administration. Aid is now being provided. Salaries of government officials are being paid. Roads are being rebuilt. A record number of refugees have been assisted to return home. The list is long, and is one everyone associated with the work of the United Nations in Afghanistan can be very proud of. To the extent that we have achieved some success over the past year, I would like to note the excellent work of my Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, and his team in Afghanistan.

    This is not a time to rest on our laurels, however. The challenges facing Afghanistan remain immense: from security to development to creating the political and social institutions necessary for a stable, free and prosperous society with equal rights for all. I look forward to an engaging and interesting panel today. I hope, and expect, that in examining the past year you will also help us to light the way forward through the next year.

    * *** *