UN Security Council extends Afghan force mandate

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Friday, September 21, 2007

An ISAF humvee overlooks Khost, Afghanistan.

The United Nations Security Council has voted 14–0 to extend the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by another year.

The resolution says the Security Council agreed to, "extend the authorization of the International Security Assistance Force, as defined in resolutions 1386 (2001) and 1510 (2003), for a period of 12 months beyond October 13, 2007."

Although Russia has veto power on the Security Council, it abstained during the 14-0 vote on September 19th.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told RIA Novosti Russia abstained because of what he called, "the unexpected inclusion in the document of a sentence expressing appreciation to NATO .... "including its maritime interdiction component." "

Part of Resolution 1776 (2007) reads, "Expressing its appreciation for the leadership provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and for the contributions of many nations to ISAF and to the OEF coalition, including its maritime interdiction component."

Media reports indicate this section of the resolution provides support to Japan in a domestic dispute in that country over refueling of U.S. and other ships in the Indian Ocean. Japanese government spokesperson, Kaoru Yosano, told Reuters the resolution was welcome, adding, "It is very important that Japan's refueling activity was evaluated highly by the United Nations and members of the U.N. Security Council."

"A decision was made to give priority to domestic considerations of some members of the United Nations," Churkin told Agence France Presse. "The unity of the Security Council has been sacrificed to undue haste."

Even before the Security Council vote, Japanese officials hoped the resolution would clear the way to extend a naval mission assisting U.S.-led Afghanistan military operations, showing support for Washington and averting a conflict in the Japanese in parliament as a new government begins its mandate there.

The leader of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, Ichiro Ozawa, has opposed extending Japan's mission to refuel coalition ships in the Indian Ocean, in part because he says the activities lack a direct U.N. imprimatur.

Although expressing concerns about the resolution, and calling for future decisions on the issue to be made "by consensus", China supported the resolution.

The resolution extends the ISAF mission mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter until October 13, 2008.

Expressing its concern about all civilian casualties, the resolution, condemns "in the strongest terms all attacks, including Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, suicide attacks and abductions, targeting civilians and Afghan and international forces and their deleterious effect on the stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan," as well as "the use by the Taliban and other extremist groups of civilians as human shields."

The resolution also calls for ISAF coalition members to, "sustain their efforts to train and empower the National Police and other Afghan forces."

ISAF currently has approximately 39,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. Its mission, as stated on the ISAF web page, is to, "conduct military operations in the assigned area of operations to assist the Government of Afghanistan in the establishment and maintenance of a safe and secure environment with full engagement of Afghan National Security Forces, in order to extend government authority and influence, thereby facilitating Afghanistan's reconstruction and contributing to regional stability."


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