16 January 2004

Secretary-General Congratulates Afghan People on Adoption of Constitution, Urges Immediate Action on Key Challenges of Security, Reconstruction

NEW YORK, 15 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Security Council meeting on Afghanistan in New York, on 15 January:

You have before you my latest report on the situation in Afghanistan.  Since its release, an important and very encouraging development in the implementation of the Bonn peace process has occurred: the adoption on 5 January by the Constitutional Loya Jirga of Afghanistan’s new Constitution. 

The Constitution, which has now entered into force, provides a permanent foundation for re-establishing the rule of law in Afghanistan.  It defines a political order through a strong Presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature.  It establishes a judicial system in compliance with Islam. And it includes provisions aimed at ensuring full respect for fundamental human rights, including equal rights for women.  I would like to congratulate the people and the Government of Afghanistan on this major accomplishment. The delegates to the Loya Jirga showed wisdom, flexibility, and sensitivity to the needs of all Afghans -- a spirit which bodes well for the hard work ahead.

Of course, the Constitution will not, by itself, guarantee peace and stability. Afghans -- with the necessary support from the international community -- must now go on to address the impediments to the peace process that existed before the Loya Jirga. That means tackling the deeply troubling security situation, ensuring an inclusive and broadly representative Government, and quickening the pace of reconstruction.  Indeed, if the next step in the Bonn process -- elections -- is to be credibly achieved, these key challenges demand immediate action.

I would also like to thank the international community for its sustained commitment to peace in Afghanistan.  At the same time, I think we can all recognize that for all the gains made under the Bonn process so far, there is a need to reinvigorate the process.  With that in mind, and as mentioned in my report, I have suggested that the international community, the Afghan Government and all Afghans committed to peace in their country should come together, assess the progress made and make the necessary commitments to complete the transition.  Mr. Brahimi will have more to add on this when he takes the floor.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to my Special Representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, for the superb job he has done in Afghanistan these past two years.  Lakhdar, you have richly earned your honorary Afghan citizenship. You are also, of course, one of our leading global citizens, and the international community is that much stronger for having your skills and judgement at its disposal.

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