Coalition against International Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 16th October 2001.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Foreign Secretary 3:38 pm, 16th October 2001

No. I have to make progress.

The world agrees that any future regime in Afghanistan should be broad based and representative of the great diversity of the country's ethnic groupings. The domination of Mullah Omar's faction and the groupings that produced it cannot simply be replaced by another narrow faction, because no regime will be sustainable unless it commands broad consent among those whom it governs.

We have a common objective with the Afghan people—achieving a stable, durable, representative regime that is committed to eradicating terrorism and to enjoying mature relations with its neighbours, and with which we can work on the humanitarian crisis, the drugs trade, human rights and longer-term economic and social development.

In all that, the United Nations will play a key role. I am sure that the whole House will join me in paying a warm tribute to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and his organisation, as worthy winners of the Nobel peace prize. In Afghanistan, they will have yet another opportunity to demonstrate their value to the world. Only the United Nations has the global reach, the instruments and the expertise to help the Afghan people establish the conditions for successful government in Afghanistan. Our task is to make sure that it also has the resources and the political will to make that happen.

Thirty years of war and five years of not existing as a functioning state at all have left Afghanistan with few serviceable institutions. So, as I have said a number of times already this afternoon, we must be prepared for a lengthy commitment. However, no one should be in any doubt about our will to build a better world for the children of Afghanistan. We will not turn our backs on them again.