After President Obama's strategy announcement for the troubled Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Madeleine Albright and 19 other former foreign ministers provide an exclusive step-by-step proposal for securing the region.
The following is a statement signed by 20 former foreign ministers. The group recently convened in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the Aspen Atlantic Group, an organization that brings together former foreign ministers from across the globe and the political spectrum to develop concrete, nonpartisan recommendations to help the two sides of the Atlantic address the next frontier of global challenges.
We, former foreign ministers from 20 countries, met December 4-6, 2009, under the leadership of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The international community must remain focused on protecting the rights of women.
We agree on the following:·
- A long-term peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan is vital for regional and international security; ·
- We endorse the expanded troop commitments by the United States, NATO’s European members and other nations in the International Security Assistance Force, as necessary to build peace and stability; ·
- We all believe that the entire international community must do more in Afghanistan to build an effective civilian effort to match the military efforts on the ground. Without this, there will be no effective counterinsurgency strategy.
To build such an improved civilian effort, the international community should: ·
- Agree at the London conference in January on a “civilian surge” by all countries to extend much greater and more effective assistance and to put economic power and greater capabilities back in the hands of the Afghan people. ·
- As part of this civilian surge, the international community should agree upon a single, powerful civilian to oversee all assistance and be a counterpart to the ISAF commander on the military side. ·
- Create a World Bank-led international group to stimulate economic assistance and greater trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Specifically, we need to help the Afghan people take greater advantage of their natural resources to produce jobs in mining, construction, and agriculture, thereby reducing dependence on opium production. With this in mind, we should continue to advocate large-scale infrastructure projects to provide the basis for long-term economic growth. ·
- Encourage a greater commitment to education in both countries. In addition, the international community should consider what it can do to promote more effective political institutions and the rule of law. ·
- Renew and rebuild the U.N.-led civilian efforts.
We also believe that more attention needs to be given to the challenges of educating each of our publics about the long-term imperative of sustaining international involvement in Afghanistan/Pakistan. With this in mind, we need to foster a more vigorous public dialogue in each of our countries.
We believe the international community must remain focused on protecting the rights of women and improving the standards of living and opportunities available for women in both countries.
Finally, as a long-term measure, because we believe there needs to be a regional solution to Afghanistan’s problems, we should consider forming a wider international contact group, to include Afghanistan’s neighbors and other countries actively involved, to contribute greater political and economic support to the international effort in Afghanistan.
Madeleine Albright – United States Halldór Ásgrímsson – Iceland Lloyd Axworthy – Canada Shlomo Ben-Ami – Israel Lamberto Dini – Italy Jan Eliasson – Sweden Joschka Fischer – Germany Rosario Green – Mexico Igor Ivanov – Russia János Martonyi – Hungary Don McKinnon – New Zealand Marwan Muasher – Jordan Ana Palacio – Spain Niels Helveg Petersen – Denmark Surin Pitsuwan – Thailand Lydie Polfer – Luxembourg Malcolm Rifkind – United Kingdom Jozias van Aartsen – The Netherlands Hubert Védrine – France Knut Vollebaek – Norway