posted on Mon 27 Nov 2017 11:07 AM
Arria-formula Meeting on Linking Security, Development and Peace in the Central Asian Region

This afternoon (27 November), Security Council members will take part in an open Arria-formula meeting on “Partners for Afghanistan: Linking Security, Development and Peace in the Central Asian Region”. The meeting is co-organised by Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Germany. Briefings are expected from: Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan); Ambassador Christoph Heusgen (Germany); Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal (Afghanistan); Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča; Barnett Rubin, Associate Director of the Center on International Cooperation; and Jasmin Jahanshahi, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, the Aga Khan Foundation, UK.

As the first Central Asian country to be an elected member of the Council, Kazakhstan is keen to highlight some of the issues pertinent to its region. During its presidency of the Council in January 2018, Kazakhstan plans to focus on the nexus between peace, security and development in the region, particularly the potential role of Afghanistan in contributing to the durable stability of the region, and has initiated this Arria-formula meeting to start this discussion. The concept note for today’s meeting outlines some of the major impediments to achieving long-term security in Afghanistan, such as the presence of international terrorist groups and the growing trade in illicit narcotics. In order to achieve stability in Afghanistan, the concept note suggests the need for well-planned action across the peace and security, human rights and sustainable development pillars. The meeting will explore the ways in which greater regional cooperation and integration of the Afghan economy with that of its neighbours can contribute to development, and in turn create conditions for stability and prevent further development of violent extremism. In addition to regional actors, the meeting will also explore the role of international partners in support of this regional approach.

Participants will be invited to discuss how to formulate a coherent political strategy on stabilisation, peacebuilding and development in Afghanistan and the wider Central Asian region. The concept note invites members to propose ways to: ensure coordinated actions and a regional approach utilising preventive diplomacy; strengthen international and regional cooperation; encourage better cooperation between the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and other relevant UN agencies; intensify efforts to counter terrorism and cross-border crime; strengthen the links between UNAMA and international support for security; and encourage further regional and economic integration of Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbors.

Although the Council discusses the situation in Afghanistan during its quarterly debates on UNAMA, this Arria-formula meeting will provide an opportunity for members to present their views on a more comprehensive and regional approach to this issue. Kazakhstan has been vocal in advocating a new approach to Afghanistan based on the nexus between security, development and peace. Several Council members, including Japan, Sweden, the US and the UK, have been major development partners to Afghanistan since 2002. Co-organiser Germany has also been a major development partner and troop contributor to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission as well as Chair of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan. These participants may draw on their experience to highlight their views on challenges as well as opportunities in fostering development and ensuring stability in Afghanistan.

Since it was established in 2007, UNRCCA has played a key role in addressing some of the main challenges facing countries in the Central Asian region. UNRCCA has promoted dialogue between the countries in the region and has played an important role in preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention. At the Arria-formula meeting, Central Asian countries are likely to emphasise the positive role UNRCCA has played in furthering cooperation in the region and facilitating conflict resolution. Some members might have suggestions for furthering cooperation and coordination with UNAMA and other UN agencies in Afghanistan. Although Council members have been supportive of UNRCCA, since 2015 they have been unable to agree on a press statement following the briefing due to differences over language on cooperation between UNRCCA and regional organisations such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The P3 see these organisations as vehicles for spreading Russian influence in the region. Although Kazakhstan has worked hard to find compromise language on regional cooperation, this has proved difficult.

With Kazakhstan planning to devote significant attention to the nexus between security and development in the Central Asian region during its presidency in January, today’s discussion is likely to provide an insight into Council members’ views on this issue. The co-organisers are planning to produce a summary of the discussion, which will be distributed to all member states and relevant stakeholders, and could be used in preparing for further discussion on linking security, development and peace in the Central Asian region.