- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

Rebuilding Afghanistan
The U.S.-led military assault in Afghanistan appears to be a success with the weekend surrender of Taliban forces in Kunduz. The political track may get under way with a meeting of Afghan military, religious and political leaders scheduled to start tomorrow outside Bonn.
That means it's time to think about rebuilding the war-ravaged nation from the ground up, the better to sow the potential of peace for Afghans and stability for the region.
Last Tuesday, representatives of 21 nations and the European Union sat down in Washington with U.S. officials to begin planning what likely was to be a five-year, multibillion-dollar commitment.
Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell attended the meeting, which was co-sponsored by Japan.
Mark Malloch Brown, the executive director of the U.N. Development Program, will head the fund-raising for the reconstruction effort that he indicates probably will exceed the five-year, $6.5 billion effort to assist Mozambique.
Mr. Malloch Brown, a veteran of the World Bank, said governments indicated they were willing to pitch in generously but they hadn't necessarily appreciated how long they would have to be engaged.
Afghanistan has been at war for so long that it has little in the way of infrastructure, industry, agriculture or education. Priority reconstruction efforts are likely to center on quick-impact projects such as road building, food production and home construction.
Tandem projects such as sanitation, schooling, health and institution building are also important to bring long-term gains to a tumultuous country. Germany has offered to host a meeting in December to better define projects, to be followed closely by another donors' conference in Tokyo. International lending organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund also will be involved in the reconstruction.
Governments had been unanimous in wanting the United Nations to play a major role in the nation-building an idea that was, until recently, often used with a sneer. Mindful of failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Kosovo, the most seasoned U.N. officials repeatedly have demurred. Mr. Malloch Brown was one of many officials who said that the organization wanted at most to guide and support a reconstruction, not administer the details.
Aid workers will face a desperately poor failed state with competing religious and ethnic factions, unforgiving natural conditions and inflamed borders.
The development program's leader says the truest model for Afghanistan is Mozambique, the southern African nation of 17 million gutted by nearly a decade of fighting. East Timor a tropical demi-island with fewer than 800,000 people, presents little precedent for an undertaking as massive as Afghanistan.

Defining terrorism
The omnibus convention against terrorism hit the wall last week, with legal envoys unable to agree on a definition of terrorism. Arab and some Islamic states want an explicit exemption for "freedom fighters" who say they are fighting to throw off an unjust foreign occupation a clear reference to Israel's territorial disputes with its Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese neighbors.
The United States, Europe and many African, Asian and Latin states said in the recent General Assembly debate that no cause justified political attacks on civilians. President Bush said in his remarks that there was no such thing as "a good terrorist."
The proposed 27-article comprehensive treaty will combine the key elements of more than a dozen terrorism-related agreements, few of which have entered into force. U.N. legal analysts hope that a single omnibus agreement will be easier for national legislatures to accept.
Some legal analysts say it will be difficult for governments to adapt their own laws when such an important term is left open to interpretation.
For example, they ask, will the treaty apply to military actions that cause civilian deaths or dislocations? Does it matter if the civilian impact is accidental or deliberate?
The sixth committee of the General Assembly, which deals with legal affairs, will reconvene in late January to take another stab at creating a universally accepted definition of terrorism.

Second term for Toepfer
Klaus Toepfer last week won a second four-year term as executive director of the U.N. Environment Program. The executive director is the highest-ranking U.N. office in Nairobi. A former German parliamentarian and academic, Mr. Toepfer, 63, has long been active in urban planning and development.
Betsy Pisik may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]aol.com.



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