UN authorizes extension of international force in Afghanistan

The 15-member UNSC extended the authorization of ISAF in Afghanistan for a 12-month period.

Washington: The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Tuesday, extending the mandate of an international force charged with halting potential insurgencies in Afghanistan for a year.

The 15-member Council extended the authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as defined in resolution 1386 (2001) and 1510 (2003) for a 12-month period, underscoring "the role of the ISAF in assisting the Afghan government to improve the security situation and build its own security capabilities."

The ISAF, led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), was established to operate against insurgents in Afghanistan and help strengthen the country`s security forces. The UN first authorized the work of the ISAF in Kabul and the surrounding area before expanding the scope of its mandate to other parts of the country.

Recognizing that an increased number of the Taliban have reconciled with the government of Afghanistan, have rejected the terrorist ideology of Al Qaeda and its followers, and support a peaceful resolution to the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, the Council said, however, "security remains a serious challenge in Afghanistan and the region."

To continue making strides towards security, the Council highlighted the importance of increasing the functionality, professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector, and encouraged ISAF and other partners to sustain their efforts to train and empower the Afghan national security forces.

The Council also "recognizes the need for ISAF to meet all its operational requirements" and welcomed an agreement between the ISAF, countries contributing to the ISAF and the government of Afghanistan to enable a gradual full security transfer to the Afghan government by the close of 2014.

NATO has said it will conduct withdrawal of its troops over the next few years in order to work toward this goal, though some troops will remain to support and train Afghan forces.

Council members also stressed the importance of all contributing states to support the peace process.