Address by Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan at the Award of the Hessian Peace Prize

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Hessian Parliament and in particular to you Mr. Speaker, Hartmann, to Mr. Gerhard Oswald, to the Oswald Foundation, Chairman Karl Starwatcher and his colleagues on the Committee for the Hessian Peace Prize, for honoring me with this year’s 9th Hessian Peace Prize Award.

Allow me, also to express my gratitude to Her Excellency Frau Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zoel, the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, who has accepted to grace this ceremony with her presence. She was far too generous and I am indebted to her.

To receive this Prize is a special honor and a privilege, which I value greatly. I have read that the late Mr. Albert Oswald, having himself experienced the horrors of war, was eager to contribute to the promotion of a culture of justice, tolerance and peace in the world.

I believe we all wish to contribute to the realization of this noble ideal and that like him, and even if we are lucky to live in peaceful societies we are all very much aware of the devastating effects of war on humanity, the suffering they inflict, especially on the most vulnerable and the damages they cause to people, to infrastructure and to the environment.

As I stand here, amongst you, to receive this Award, my thoughts go to those communities have had the opportunity to approach in the course of my activities in the service of peace. I think of Lebanon in the eighties and early nineties as its people struggled to extract themselves out of a nightmare of devastating conflict, which lasted 17 years.

I think of South Africa in the early nineties as its black and white communities at long last joined hands to build a country for all after the decades of injustice, oppression and inequalities.

I also think of Haiti in the mid-nineties when the international community went there to rescue a whole nation from military dictatorship and terror.

I think of the Congo, of Yemen, of other places in African when I went to convey message, to attend a meeting, to help facilitate a negotiation.

And I think of Afghanistan, where I am still working, to try and assist, along with others, the consolidation of the fragile peace which was initiated, here in Germany, in Bonn, to be precise, in November-December 2001.

I thinking particular of men and women who were also working in Afghanistan, to help-consolidate that fragile peace and who have had to make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the cause of peace.

Their list is already far too long: It includes the definers, those quiet heroes, Afghans for the most part, who risk their lives every day to clear playground for children to play in, a field for a farmer to plough, a road for people to travel.

This long list also includes those 62 Spanish soldiers who were returning home after a tour of distinguished duty in Afghanistan when their plane crashed in Turkey.

The list further includes Ricardo Mongolia, from the International Committee of the Red Cross who was murdered in cold blood on the 27th of March, and the 6 German soldiers who died in a helicopter crash, as well as Stephen Kaman’s, another German solider whom we lost to a land mine on 29th May.

And the list includes, last but not least, Jorge Bausch, Andrej as Belo, Helm Jimenez-Parades, and Carsten Kühlmorgen, the four young German soldiers who were killed by that suicide-car bomb on the 7th June, less than three weeks ago.

On this special day when we are assembled here in Wiesbaden to speak about peace, we must pay a very special tribute to all these men and women who died in the service of peace and we must present again our condolences to their families.

And I feel a profound emotion as I receive this prize here, in Germany, time honored friend of Afghanistan who was again there for the people of Afghanistan and for the international community when the opportunity arose to try to end the conflict and rebuild the country.

In today’s globalized world, the threat to world peace rarely comes from conflict between states. It comes – more and more often – from conflicts within states.

Helping to contain such conflicts – even in faraway places – is not only an exercise in human solidarity and international responsibility. It is also an act of self-protection. The 11th September 2001 has taught the United States as well as the rest of us that even a small, poor and isolated country such as Afghanistan will be abandoned to internal strife and outside interference only at our peril. Terrorism as well as narcotics thrive on such a terrain and will travel far and wide to kill and maim the innocent, to subvert societies, to corrupt large numbers amongst the youth of the world.

Yet, Ladies and Gentlemen, helping a country and a people on the path to peace maybe a risky undertaking. When one tries to provide assistance to a people to put an end to conflict, one is entering a difficult, half-way ground between the destruction and distrust of war and the stability and order that one hopes to find when peace and justice are, at last restored. On this middle ground, there are always risks that those who do not want peace will pull you backwards. And even those who do want peace may not be able to move forward as fast as one would wish them to.

Perhaps it is appropriate that I take this opportunity, here in Germany, to reflect a bit on how the peace process in Afghanistan came to be launched at Bonn.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the rout of the Taliban by the United States in October 2001, provided an opportunity to bring Afghans together to discuss how to build a consensus for peace. In fact, when we came to Bonn, we had no expectation that we would achieve an agreement. Rather, we thought we would bring as many of the Afghan parties as we could together, and start the discussion of how to achieve peace. There were many gaps. For one, unlike in most “classic” peace conferences, the defeated party was not there. Nor were all major Afghan constituencies and interest groups fully represented. But taking advantage of the opportunity– and the need – to fill the vacuum after the fall of the Taliban a number of Afghan groupings including the Rome group, the Cyprus Group, the Northern Alliance, and the Peshawar Conference were brought together to consider what sort of government would be acceptable.

The fact that an agreement was reached had to do with a number of factors. First, the Afghans involved were tired of war and truly wanted to take this opportunity. Second, the international community was united in supporting the negotiations, and different countries played a critical diplomatic role to help convince and cajole the negotiating parties whenever necessary.

The Agreement tells you, in broad terms, how Afghans would build, stage-by-stage, increasingly legitimate government institutions. First, a six-month interim administration selected by the Bonn participants, followed by Loyal Jirga representing the broad Afghan population that appointed the current Transitional Government; then constitutional and electoral exercises to put in place fully representative government. At the same time, an ongoing reform of the administration and building of national security structures to buttress the new state. What was arrived at, in the Bonn Agreement, was not a peace agreement with fixed undertakings by all parties, but rather a process of transition where each stage must be continuously negotiated. At each point Afghan commitment and international support remain the vital ingredients to keep the process moving. And I think, I hope, this commitment and this support will continue to be there. For as this process unfolds, we learn again and again that there is no substitute for a solid partnership between the international community, as a whole, and the Afghans.

In some ways, the Bonn Agreement and the peace process in Afghanistan provide further evolution in the way we look at peace building and the requirements for its success. I was associated with the report of a special panel convened in 2000 by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review how the United Nations carried out peace operations. That review and the deliberations afterwards by the General Assembly and Security Council, allowed the United Nations to pause and reflect on the lessons that had been learned through the 1990’s. These lessons had been drawn from the experiences of that decade, when the demands on peace operations had grown and changed, when both success and tragic failures starkly defined the limitations that existed in UN peacekeeping as an instrument, as well as in the decision-making systems of the United Nations as a whole.

In Afghanistan, we tried to put some of these lessons into practice. For example, after the fall of the Taliban, there were calls in some quarters for a Transitional Administration to govern Afghanistan. The Secretary-General told the Council that in view of the history, size and complexity of Afghanistan this course would not be well advised, and, in the end, both the Council and the participants at Bonn opted for a transitional process that vested sovereignty in Afghan structures, with the UN in most areas playing a supporting role.

What the Bonn process is also showing is that the success of peace processes does not ultimately depend upon the efficiency and strength of the Uno other multilateral organizations that assist them, important as that is. The UN can and should implement its mandates better. The Security Council and General Assembly can and should provide an important degree of legitimacy, and in many cases this will be necessary.

We also had an excellent team of German diplomats with us at Petersburg and their help was invaluable. Their intervention with the parties in Bonn and their discreet diplomatic demarches elsewhere were very effective on more than one occasion. What is really decisive, in the end, is the unity of purpose among the international community, behind a common political strategy, with the resources and security support to implement that strategy. Whether the instrument used is the UN or not, the international community must take up the peace process as a mandate that it accepts, and that it will implement as well as possible.

This unity of purpose was one of the key reasons why the negotiations at Bonn succeeded, where others’ attempts had failed.

Bonn drew on the determination of the United States and the international community to respond to September the 11th and not to allow Afghanistan to continue to be a base for terrorism. We also benefited from diplomatic lines of communication established earlier, in the so called “six plus two” forum of key member states. During Bonn, we were able to ask these countries and others to use their good offices to help in building the confidence and consensus among the Afghan negotiating partners. Being the host country to the Conference, Germany’s role was critically important. First of all there was the generous hospitality and the patience of our hosts. The Conference lasted almost double the time estimated at the onset. My colleagues on the UN team and myself were acutely embarrassed to impose on our hosts in that manner. And so were the Afghan participants. After Bonn, there came the strong commitment of donors to support the peace process, including a number of countries that are not usually donors such as Iran and others who are actually receivers of aid themselves such as India and Pakistan. And up to now, this broad international consensus has held up well.

Afghanistan shows us that the United Nations, as an implementing organization, more often than not hasn’t got the means for supporting a peace process entirely in its hands. In Afghanistan, the UN does not have the military means, nor does it have control of most of the levers of economic aid. These lie in the hands of other organizations and member states, as they often have in other peace processes.

So if one looks at whether a peace process is succeeding or faltering, one must look at the international community as a whole. One should ask if it’s taking up the mandate for peace, collectively, or not. What does it mean to take up this mandate? Here again, Afghanistan has some lessons for us. First and foremost, as I mentioned, there must be a clear political strategy that the local actors and the international community agree on. Bonn provides this in broad terms, but as we negotiate the process at each stage, the international community must be careful to ensure its contributions are mutually supportive and work together to build the institutions of the central government.

Second, there must be the resources to match. Afghanistan has received generous support, albeit less per capita than many other post-conflict situations. What is most worrying, however, is that as time goes on, there are signs that the flow of aid and the delivery on pledges may become slower.

And third, there must be a commitment to meet the security challenges that emanate from the remnants of the conflict and threaten the peace. Here, perhaps, lies the biggest challenge facing the peace process at the moment.

Unified political strategy, resources, security. Without these broad parameters fixed, any programmer launched to support a peace process in a post-conflict environment, be it a UN operation or a donor’s development aid package, will see its chances of success lowered dramatically. In the Afghan peace process, millions of dollars of the international community’s expertise, in finance, planning, programmer implementation are available to build the institutions and systems of accountable government. Thesis a painstaking, long-term, and ultimately indispensable exercise. But we are also learning that these technical contributions to institution building must be anchored in a viable, secure political environment. Our technical assistance will not get far if we do not first help create that environment. A state is more than the sum of its institutions. It is a political idea. A state cannot be built without institutions, but building a stable state is first about reaching a viable political compact, a political order that will be legitimate and so confer that legitimacy on its institutions.

The international community is more and more reaching the conclusion in Afghanistan that we must help our Afghan partners complete what Bonn started, but did not fully achieve – a broader sharing of political power so that all Afghans feel the government represents equally their interests.

The importance of this consensus has been made apparent in the approach we have taken to the reform of the Afghan institutions that are responsible for security and law and order. In 2002, a number of countries generously offered to take a lead role in mustering international support to different elements of Afghanistan’s security institutions. Germany took the lead role in police, US on the army with French assistance, UK on drugs control, UN and Japan on DDR, Italy on Justice. We were a group, but our programmers were only loosely united around the notion of strengthening security institutions. With all the best intentions, we set about developing technical assistance programmers, training systems, and management structures.

A lot of important work has been done on what I would call this technical side of the security reform effort, which will serve Afghanistan in the long run. However, experience tells us that without political reforms, our security sector reform effort would not really make a real change. It would not provide Afghans with what they wanted, one army and one police to protect them instead of the multitude of forces that exist today more to prey on the people as protect them. If the institutions we are trying to build – in particular the national army, police and the ministries that command them – do not reflect the society they serve in a broadly acceptable manner, they will be met with resistance from whichever part of society believes itself to be threatened by them. If they do, however, they can provide a platform of security and national unity that will help the rest of the state-building agenda go forward. This is why we are working to augment the very good work done by the United States, Germany and others in training the army and the police, with reforms in the Ministries of Defense, Interior, Intelligence and others to ensure that all Afghans see in these institutions a truly national composition and character. As of today, they are still seen as dominated by factional interests.

This is why Security Sector Reform can be said to be the first, the most important development project in post-conflict Afghanistan. If a truly national army and police can be built to replace the factionalized use of force that has plagued Afghanistan for decades, then the space for the rest of the institutions of state can be ensured.

Of course, it will take time to build the new army and police, and in the meantime we need to begin to make the space across Afghanistan for the government to assert itself, indeed for it to build its own security institutions. This is why we have been calling for the expansion of ISAF. To build peace, one must restore security for the Afghan men and women who Cando this, the people who will rebuild the civic and peaceful economic life of their country. In Kabul, ISAF has provided that space. The rest of the country still desperately needs it. It is in danger of being left out of the peace process and if so, support in those areas will build for the “spoilers” – those who oppose the government in Kabul and seek to destroy the peace process. We continue to call for ISAF expansion, and, in the meantime, hope that countries will engage in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are being established in regions beyond Kabul, as a contribution to security.

The peace process in Afghanistan will continue to require the unity of purpose that the international community has so far demonstrated. We must remain vigilant that as time goes on, countries in the region and beyond, like some of the Afghan parties, do not forget that no good came of the competition and conflict that was played out in Afghanistan in the 1980’sand 1990’s. Continued peace will depend upon continued support to the government of President Karzai, particularly from the neighbors of Afghanistan. His government, in term, will have to continue its efforts to open up the political space it holds to all who want to participate in the state-building enterprise.

The international community has approached Afghanistan so far as a partnership, and I hope, it will continue to do so. Through the UN, through direct undertakings of individual Member States, the mandate for building peace in Afghanistan belongs to the international community as a whole. If peace is to last, we must not fail our mandate

Wiesbaden, Germany