Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 4, Asia and the Pacific
In 2008, the United Nations continued to face significant political and security challenges in Asia and the Pacific, as it worked to restore peace and stability and to promote economic and social development in the region. In Afghanistan, 2008 was the most violent year since 2001, with insurgents continuing their attempts at destabilization through sophisticated asymmetric attacks. Nevertheless, the capacity of the Afghan national army increased, relations with Pakistan improved, areas under opium cultivation were reduced by 19 per cent and nearly 2 million Afghans were peacefully registered for elections. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) coordinated international humanitarian and development assistance, fostered political dialogue and helped the Government build institutions. It reached out to the Afghan public, especially those who felt alienated from their Government but were not opposed to the Constitution or targeted by UN sanctions. In March, the Security Council extended UNAMA's mandate by another year. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a multinational force established by the Council in 2001, continued to assist the Government in maintaining security. In September, the Council extended ISAF's authorization until October 2009. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization maintained its role as lead command for ISAF. In June, the Security Council adopted resolution 1817(2008) on the fight against illicit drugs in Afghanistan. In November, the General Assembly called upon the Government to continue addressing the threat posed by extremist groups and criminal violence, and urged donors to increase the proportion of assistance channelled directly to Afghanistan's core budget. In Iraq, 2008 saw a decrease in security incidents and relative stability, even as United States troops deployed for the military surge were withdrawn. The multinational force progressively transferred security responsibilities to the Iraqi army. On 27 November, the Iraqi Council of Representatives approved a bilateral agreement placing United States forces under Iraq's authority and jurisdiction, with a timeline for their withdrawal from Iraq by December 2011. On 22 December, by resolution 1859(2008), the Council took note of the agreed expiration of the mandate of the multinational force on 31 December. Despite a decrease in violent, high-visibility attacks by militias, insurgents and criminal gangs, indiscriminate attacks by roadside, car or suicide bombs were almost daily occurrences—often with women and occasionally children as suicide bombers. Iraq's efforts to meet internationally agreed development targets, as set forth in the International Compact for Iraq, resulted in cancellation of its debt in December by the Paris Club. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) continued to advise the Government on developing civil and social services, foster human rights protection and legal reforms, and contribute to the coordination of development and reconstruction. In August, the Council extended UNAMI's mandate for another year. The United Nations persisted in following up on issues relating to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait— including the repatriation of the remains of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, the return of Kuwaiti property and compensation for losses and damage. The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) further assisted the country in reforming the security sector, strengthening the rule of law, promoting economic and social development and fostering democratic governance. On 11 February, an armed group led by the former military police commander of the armed forces, Alfredo Reinado, carried out separate attacks against President José Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. The attacks resulted in the nearly fatal injury of the president and in the death of Mr. Reinado. Nonetheless, for the most part, the leaders and people of Timor-Leste made steady progress in all areas. The unresolved grievances of the 600 “petitioners” dismissed from the armed forces in 2006 were settled in August with the petitioners' acceptance of financial compensation to return to civilian life. The pace of closures of the internally displaced persons camps accelerated as a result of the Government-led National Recovery Strategy, supported by UNMIT; by December, most of the internally displaced had returned to their communities or had been resettled. UNMIT supported the rebuilding of the national police through training and institutional development. The certification process for the majority of police officers was completed in 2008, and preparations were made for a gradual resumption of responsibilities by the Timorese police. In the meantime, UNMIT continued to maintain a robust police presence across the country. The professionalism and internal stability of the national security and defence forces remained a concern, among widespread perceptions that they enjoyed impunity. That perception was further entrenched due to the 94 presidential pardons granted to convicted criminals in May, which, while legal, were considered by many as undermining efforts to promote accountability and to combat impunity. In March, the Security Council imposed additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, including the inspection of cargo suspected of carrying prohibited goods, the tighter monitoring of financial institutions and the extension of travel bans and asset freezes. In September, the Council requested Iran to stop uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and to cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. A major accomplishment of UN peace operations in 2008 was the transition in Nepal, where a political mission, the United Nations Mission in Nepal, run by the Department of Political Affairs, helped the country hold nationwide Constituent Assembly elections, which effectively ended the civil war. After two postponements, the Nepalese people turned out in large numbers on 10 April to elect the Assembly, the most inclusive legislative body in the country's history. Following the election, the Assembly voted to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy. Nepal still faced many challenges, however, including the integration and rehabilitation of some 19,000 former combatants. The Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Myanmar visited the country in March to encourage the authorities to promote democratization and national reconciliation. He met with senior Government ministers as well as with detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party, the National League for Democracy. On 2 May, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, leaving more than 130,000 people dead or missing. The United Nations appealed for $187 million to help provide humanitarian relief, and called on the authorities to grant more access for delivering humanitarian aid to the victims. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Myanmar in May and met Senior General Than Shwe, who agreed to allow international aid workers into the country, regardless of their nationality. By June, some 1.3 million people had received assistance. In July, the United Nations launched an appeal for $482 million. The Special Adviser visited the country in August, holding talks with the Planning and Health ministers, the Foreign Affairs Minister and senior Government members. In September, the Secretary-General welcomed the release of political prisoners. In November, he called for all political prisoners to be released and for all citizens to be allowed to participate freely in their country's political future. During the year, the Secretary-General encouraged progress in the six-party talks aimed at the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In July and October, the Secretary-General urged Cambodia and Thailand to resolve diplomatically their border dispute.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. v. 62; Vol. 62
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