- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

A Nobel weekend
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other U.N. officials were in Oslo for a weekend of celebrations surrounding the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize, which has been jointly awarded this year to Mr. Annan and the United Nations.
Mr. Annan said the rebuilding of Afghanistan could take at least a decade of international support, and added, "I only hope that our attention will not wander."
This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the peace prize, created by dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel to honor leaders and organizations that have made the world a better or safer place.
The prize is to be presented today, and will be followed by days of speeches, receptions and a concert headlined by Paul McCartney and pop sirens Destiny's Child.
But with the Middle East imploding and the war against terrorism threatening to spread beyond Afghanistan, Mr. Annan did not sound the hopeful message that officials of the Norwegian Nobel Institute might have preferred.
The secretary-general told reporters it felt "almost indecent" to be receiving the prize while so many conflicts still raged around the globe.

New regime, old envoy
Afghanistan is about to get a new government and that at least theoretically means a new ambassador at the United Nations.
Because the United Nations never formally recognized the Taliban, Afghanistan's seat in the world body remained, by default, with the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a coalition regime that took over after the 1992 collapse of the Soviet-installed Najibullah. The squabbling factions were driven from Kabul in September 1996 by the fundamentalist Taliban militia.
By 1997, Mr. Rabbani's government essentially ethnic Tajik and Uzbek armies from northern Afghanistan held 10 percent of the country and its U.N. seat. This mattered little, as Afghanistan millions behind in its dues hasn't had a vote in the General Assembly for years.
During this time, Afghanistan's representative at the United Nations, Ravan Farhadi, attended receptions, gave Afghanistan's annual speech to the General Assembly and pleaded for assistance against Taliban.
It was a twilight sort of posting, and now it appears to be winding down.
Or maybe not.
Mr. Farhadi said last week he hopes to stay on in New York to represent the interim government. He said that because the new foreign minister is from the Rabbani government, there should be no change.
"The minister for foreign affairs will be the same man, [Abdullah] Abdullah, and I've been asked to stay here," Mr. Farhadi told reporters Thursday. "I hope to stay for the next phase, which is for six months or so."
He spoke outside the U.N. Security Council, which had just formally endorsed the Bonn agreement by Afghan factions to create the interim administration. Later, council members voiced discomfort at having Mr. Farhadi in the room. "We are not sure exactly whom he represents anymore," said one member. "He is putting us in a difficult situation."
Mr. Rabbani, clearly eyeing a return to power, has for weeks tried to delay and diminish the U.N.-sponsored negotiations to create the framework for an inclusive, representative and democratically elected Afghan government. But last week he instructed Mr. Farhadi to endorse the efforts and to quell fears that the Northern Alliance, which now calls itself more inclusively the United Front, would resist the Bonn accord.
"Let me assure you that the recent gaining of ground by the forces of the United Front would in no way reflect an intention on the part of the government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to monopolize power," Mr. Farhadi told the General Assembly last week. "Rather, it is our sincere hope that the people of Afghanistan will democratically decide in the near future what form of political system they desire."
The General Assembly does have a special committee on credentials that meets only when a seat is challenged.
But this doesn't happen often. In most cases when there is a change of government, the new administration simply recalls the old ambassador and dispatches someone new to formally submit his (it is almost always a man) credentials to the secretary-general.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at UNear@aol.com.

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