Statement by H.E. Hamid Karzai
President of Afghanistan

Tokyo Conference on Consolidation of Peace:
Disarmament, Demobi1ization, and Reintegration
Tokyo, Japan
February 22, 2003

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Please allow me to express my profound gratitude to the Government and people of Japan for being at the forefront of the international community's efforts to help rebuild our country. The organization of this conference, one year after the historic Tokyo Conference, is yet another example of Japan's enduring commitment to strengthen peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

A year ago, Afghanistan literally started from zero, and has achieved many attributes of a responsible government and a free society. The process of building governmental institutions has gained significant momentum, and the stage is set for much greater progress this year. Last summer, the people of Afghanistan manifested their consensus for democracy, freedom and rule of law by convening the Emergency Loya Jirga, the Afghan Grand Council. During the proceeding of the Loya Jirga, hundreds of delegates voiced their opinions and desires for security, peace, national unity, reconstruction, democracy and good governance. Their principal demand was security, which is the most fundamental requirement for sustainable peace and prosperity. The real key to maintaining security lies in building a national army and a national police force, coupled with a comprehensive program of demobilizing the ex-combatants. Our National Defense Commission has reached agreement upon the size, makeup and training of the new army and the demobilization of armed groups.

The focus of this conference is at the heart of our national agenda. Indeed, achieving disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of soldiers and officers answers the deepest aspirations of the Afghan people, who are eager to move away from war and violence toward a peaceful, safe and civil society. DDR also answers the aspirations of most soldiers and officers, who, after many years of dangerous and precarious life under arms, are keen to go home and embrace the opportunity of a purposeful life offered by the restoration of peace. Demobilization is also a key factor for the success of our efforts to build new security forces. As described in the decree on the national army that I issued on December 1, 2002, my government has made the strategic choice of building a small, mobile, well-trained and well-equipped army of 70,000 soldiers and officers. The new Afghan National Army and Police will replace the multiplicity of armed formations. By offering a dignified alternative livelihood to the soldiers and officers that make up these armies, we will expedite the process of building of the new professional national army, and a national police force. The new police force, too, will require only part of the manpower currently reporting to the Ministry of Interior. The process of demobilization and reintegration will he the key to the success of that process of reform and professionalization of defense and security forces. DDR is the integral part of our endeavor to restore security, the rule of law and the full exercise of human rights to Afghanistan. Its success will improve conditions for economic and social reconstruction and provide a security environment that is conducive to the holding of free and fair elections in 2004.

Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been involved in defending their homeland, and fighting off foreign invasion and terrorism. Huge numbers have made extraordinary sacrifices in this process. The country owes them an immense debt of gratitude, and we will not forget this debt as we rebuild our country. We intend to seek ways and means to acknowledge their suffering and pay tribute to their contribution to the salvation of our culture and our nation. The DDR program itself, however, is not meant to provide compensation to all former combatants. We view DDR as a very focused exercise. Our goal is to enable the armed groups throughout the country to opt voluntarily for a dignified reintegration into civilian life. And for this, we want to mobilize the capacities of our administration, with the support of the international community, to provide attractive opportunities for the Mujahedin and incentives for the communities into which they will re-integrate. Please allow me to share with you briefly the measures that we have taken and those we plan to take to make this process successful:

We want to make sure that demilitarization is all encompassing, not selective. We will establish mechanisms to insure that DDR is impartial and will not benefit one group to the detriment of another. We want to make sure that the institutions involved in the process of DDR are a reflection of the diversity of the Afghan society. This is the case of the National Defense Commission that supervises the process of DDR as well as the creation of the new national army. This is also the case of the two commissions directly responsible for the implementation of the DDR process, namely the Disarmament Commission and the Demobilization and Reintegration Commission. This is, finally, the case of the Ministry of Defense itself. In line with the decree on the Afghan army of December 1, 2002, the Minister of Defense, Marshall Fahim is in the process of completing a plan for restructuring of the Ministry of Defense with a view to significantly enhancing its efficiency and representativety; and streamlining its organization. The appointment, a few days ago, of 15 new generals to key positions in the Ministry of Defense is a first step in the direction of the objective we wish to achieve. Similarly, the terms of reference drafted by the Disarmament and Reintegration Commissions, enshrine the principles of transparency, and accountability and are aimed at further building the confidence of the Afghan people in the national character of the DDR program.

We have also been keen to tap the experience of, and to establish a solid partnership with the international community in implementing the DDR program. The Advisory Committee, whose creation was provided under the December 1,2002 decree, has been established. It brings together, on the Afghan side, the Minister of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Interior and my National Security Advisor, and the chairman of the defense commissions responsible for the national army and DDR, and, on the side of the international community, representatives of United Nations, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. I am certain that this forum will provide for continuing dialogue and enhanced coordination.

Ahead of us lie a few weeks of hard work before the launching of the program itself, the date of which I intend to announce on the 21 of March, on the occasion of the Afghan New Year. Our strategy will be to move forward with a phased approach, first establishing programs in certain provinces or areas, building on our success, and then proceeding to new areas until the task is completed. We believe that the first phase of disarmament should not exceed one year.

During the next four weeks, we intend to finalize preparations in the following key areas: First of all, the reintegration options. As under the policy of voluntary demobilization, our main tool for reintegration is to provide attractive reintegration packages to the armed forces. The Reintegration Commission is mandated to coordinate the inputs of the Ministries of Reconstruction, Education, Rural and Urban Development, Agriculture, Public Works, and Defense to ensure that these options are provided effectively and in a timely manner, and that they are consistent with the development strategy defined in our National Development Framework adopted last year. The option that we are looking into include vocational training; credit schemes; public works-generated employment; land grant; cash compensations; community-based development projects; and vouchers among others.

In order to implement demobilization and reintegration throughout the country, we have decided, in consultation with the Japanese Government and the United Nations, to establish a new program called the Afghanistan's New Beginning Program (ANBP). ANBP is based on the suggestion made by Her Excellency Foreign Minister Kawaguchi. When she visited Kabul, a few months ago, she appealed to former combatants to "register for peace". The Program's mission is to match the skills, background and aspirations of the soldiers and officers with the reintegration options available in their respective provinces.

My government is committed to the full implementation of DDR; and I would like to express my gratitude to our international partners, particularly Japan and the United Nations, for their continued support for this undertaking. The United States, United Kingdom and Canada have been steady supporters of this effort. Today, I hope that their commitment and the continuing leadership of the Government of Japan will encourage all our friends to join in a broad partnership to further consolidate our plans to build a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Thank you, Excellencies.

Back to Index