Today’s first guest is Mr. Grant Kipper. He is the Chair of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) the independent organization responsible for adjudicating electoral complaints. He will talk to you today about the ECC and the candidate’s challenge process that is currently underway.
Today’s second guest is Mr. Giuseppe di Genaro, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He was the coordinator of the Italian Justice Lead in Afghanistan, and he currently chairs the workshop on prison law and its relationship to Human Right’s principles. He will speak to you today about the rule of law and justice reform issues in Afghanistan.
UNAMA welcomes back released aid worker, Clementina Canton
I cannot start this briefing without saying how much the UN family and the international community are relieved and happy with the safe release of Clementina Canton last Thursday evening.
As you know, Clementina had been abducted in Kabul while driving home three weeks earlier. She had been in Afghanistan for almost three years. She was widely respected and loved for having dedicated herself to helping Afghan widows to survive the hardship of post-war Afghanistan.
Although a few days after the release of Clementina, UNAMA wants to welcome her back, and UNAMA would like to thank the Afghan authorities for making this happen. UNAMA also wants to thank the Afghan people who expressed clear outrage at the kidnapping of Clementina, and offered wide-scale public support for her safe release.
The disarmament of former combatants reaches 60,000 mark
A significant milestone has been reached today as Afghan New Beginnings Programme (ANPB) figures showed that more than 60,000 military personnel have disarmed. This represents a major achievement for the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme (DDR) of former soldiers and officers of the Afghan Military Forces (AMF).
A total 60,076 ex-combatants have formally disarmed, while 51,353 have been demobilized and 49,431 have entered the reintegration process.
In terms of the reintegration choice, the agricultural sector continues to be most popular and has attracted 41.8%, whereas vocational training and job placement has attracted 25.3% and business options a further 22.4%.
With reference to heavy weapons, there is no change to the figure last reported (9,085).
The disarmament of AMF will conclude at a ceremony on 28th June. Although many have disarmed and joined the program, efforts continue to ensure that all those entitled to join do so before the program closes.
Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups starting
The day before yesterday, Saturday, the Government of Afghanistan announced the official start of the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups, also known as DIAG. DIAG, which coincides with the completion of the disarmament and demobilization part of the DDR Programme, will represent the next crucial step in the disarmament of all irregular forces in Afghanistan. DIAG will be led by the Government of Afghanistan with the support if the international community, including the UN.
During the launching press conference held Saturday by Vice-President Khalili, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan (DSRSG) Filippo Grandi said, “We are grateful with all those who cooperated with DDR and especially the commanders. The struggles now to make renewed efforts to build a prosperous and democratic country. This will need the cooperation of all the people of Afghanistan”
Vice-President Khalili and other speakers at the press conference launching DIAG, including DSRSG Filippo Grandi, also echoed the recent Joint Electoral Management Body statement. This statement announced that weapon collection facilities are being offered to electoral candidates who are assessed as having links with illegal armed groups, and who must disarm in order to avoid disqualification from the electoral process. Weapon collection sites are being set up in all provinces and notified candidates will have until the end of June to consign weapons, in order to comply with the electoral law.
As provided by article 35 a) of the Electoral Law, but also the Code of Conduct and the declaration signed by candidates when they filed their nomination documents, candidates are prohibited to participate in the electoral process if they have links to illegal armed groups.
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005
Last Thursday, June 9th 2005, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Millennium Development Goals Progress Report at UN Headquarters. The 44-page publication contains up-to-date UN statistics for the 8 goals and 18 related targets, on income poverty, health, education and gender equality; environmental sustainability and slums; and on trade, aid and debt.
There port features regional and global averages on progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is the most comprehensive accounting to date on how far the world has come since the adoption of the MDGs. It represents the most complete official UN data set on the development goals, before the next September summit.
Overall the report shows that if current trends persist, there is a risk that many of the poorest countries will not be able to meet many of the MDGs. As the Secretary-General puts it, “considering how far we have come, such a failure would mark a tragically missed opportunity. This report shows that we have the means at hand to ensure that nearly every country can make good promises on the Goals. Our challenge is to deploy those means”.
The new Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals Reports is currently in preparation, under the leadership of the government, and will be released before the September summit.
For more information on the MDGs report, consult the website at: http://milleniumindicators.un.org or click here for the press release.
Transitional Justice Conference in The Hague, Netherlands
An international conference on peace, justice and reconciliation in Afghanistan, was held in The Hague, in the Netherlands on 6th and 7th June.
Hosted by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conference was attended by an Afghan delegation headed the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and including the Minister of Refugees and representatives of the President’s Office and the Supreme Court.
Other key participants included the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Jean Arnaut, the Special Representative for the European Union, representatives from major donor countries, as well as experts of the International Centre for Transitional Justice and the Afghanistan Justice Project.
Ideas put forward by the Office of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, based on detailed discussions with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and UNAMA, resulted in the conference support for the adoption of a comprehensive action plan for peace, justice and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
The action plan is to be based in countrywide consultations amongst the Afghan population on how to deal with the legacy of two and a half decades of conflict – with the aim of moving towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. These consultations called for a wide range of transitional justice measures, such as public symbols, institutional reform, truth-seeking and documentation, reconciliation and accountability.