A continuing review of the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:
5.6 Redesign Canada’s role in Afghanistan
The overall political and security situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen even as progress on security is made in specific districts. Continued heavy combat involvement from a narrow group of Western nations, and the heavy emphasis by the NATO/U.S command on military tactics and operations, stimulates rather than dampens the insurgency given the history and culture of the region.
The NATO/U.S. reaction to greater insurgent recruitment and fighting further unbalances the mission as ever more resources are channelled to security rather than development. The Taliban benefits from and intends this self-perpetuating cycle of violence, because their strategic time frame is much longer and their month-to-month operational costs substantially lower. Most disturbing, there is less and less real difference between the oppression of women and abuse of power by some powerful factions within the Afghan government and the Taliban they replaced.
Despite this disheartening situation, there is also a very high risk that the immediate removal of all foreign troops would lead to the outbreak of a full-scale civil war and a humanitarian catastrophe. Accordingly, the Green Party believes we need to shift as rapidly as possible away from the current U.S.-led NATO command mission, to a United Nations command effort with more regional representation, more appropriate socio-economic development, and a greater security role for the Afghan National Army. This transformation in the composition/command of the international effort in Afghanistan will improve the probability that, over time, conditions will emerge for a viable political settlement.
Events in neighbouring areas are creating the dangerous risk of a larger regional war. It must be remembered and understood that it was outside influences that gave rise to the Taliban and their eventual triumph in Afghanistan.
The Green Party does not consider NATO to be the appropriate force for security operations against an insurgency in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Accordingly, we do not support further Canadian participation in the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan, but neither do we believe that all of our troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan. We support, as part of our withdrawal from the NATO mission, a continued small Canadian security presence, to further the development of the logistics support functions of the Afghan National Army, in order to accelerate their independent operational capacity.
Crucial to success will be innovative and appropriate development and diplomatic strategies that target deep structural poverty and gain the good will and support of Afghans. That is why we fully support the recommendations put forward by the international Senlis Council to create a legal poppy-growing economy in Southern Afghanistan that would supply low-cost narcotic medicines to developing countries as part of a renewed international aid effort. Together with this support of the Senlis Council recommendation for Poppies for Medicine (P4M) is also the need for increased support of other traditional agricultural products and harvests.
Although it is a slow and long-term process, diplomatic efforts must be increased to improve domestic governance mechanisms and democratic institutions. The Afghan government also needs to be strengthened institutionally and practically so that it no longer succumbs to the corruption of drug lords.
Green Party MPs will:
- Invest in more robust diplomatic efforts focusing on improving domestic governance mechanisms and democratic institutions and protecting the slowly emerging democracy and civil society in Afghanistan. Expand diplomatic and intelligence efforts to identify Taliban strongholds in Pakistan and press the Pakistan government to act in concert with the UN to bring Taliban insurgents to justice.
- Promote the Senlis Council recommendations that Canada take the lead in implementing a comprehensive strategy to break the cycle of illicit poppy growing and violence that has kept Afghanistan in turmoil for decades with a licensing and quota system for growing poppies and selling the products to legal drug firms that produce morphine and codeine for legitimate legal painkilling use. This legal opium market will produce essential medicines to help the millions of people in developing countries (including Afghanistan itself) who are unnecessarily dying in pain because they don’t have access to these medicines. Green MPs will also urge Canada to purchase such opiate drugs and distribute them as part of our health and poverty-related ODA programs.
- Focus and strengthen CIDA efforts on poverty alleviation, reconstruction and development programs to supplement opium cultivation in Afghanistan. We will expand economic assistance and technical support for agriculture in the south and east of Afghanistan through access to credit, loans, and grants, for the purpose of developing multi-use farms with the further development of water infrastructure for irrigation and potable water supplies.
- Protect the right of Afghans to maintain the control over and the right to ownership of their resources and infrastructure and oppose privatization of natural resources in Afghanistan as part of reconstruction programs.
- Extend an offer to the Afghan government to provide up to 200 Canadian military logistics and legal experts to assist in accelerating development of the Afghan National Army. Capacity-building will also include training in international human rights law and the Geneva Convention. This will be outside of NATO command, subject to a bilateral agreement between Canada and Afghanistan, and limited to two years. They will be mandated to document human rights violations with a commitment to bring any breaches or war crimes, including rape, to the appropriate military and/or war crimes tribunal.
- Push for a UN-brokered regional peace conference to help bring stability to the region through non-aggression and respectful co-existence, with regard for the semi-autonomous history of the region. Such a conference should be broadly inclusive of all nations and tribal leaders in the large surrounding area.
We must work to end the international plundering of Africa’s natural resources and turn our attention to supporting the emergence of strong African nations with full respect for their sovereignty. We need support the African Union’s leadership role in establishing cooperative peace and security treaties between countries, and reinforce solutions created by Africans for Africans. Now is not the time to abandon the African continent by withdrawing our support.
The Canada Fund for Africa has come to an end. Some programs will continue but the Harper government is very vague as to what our real commitment is to Africa.
At a time when Canadians are being told not to allow Afghanistan to regress into chaos we have the Canadian government withdrawing from Africa. Not only withdrawing financial aid but peacekeeping operations. Africa needs a renewed commitment from Canada both financially and through peacekeeping.
5.8 Stopping the genocide in Darfur
The Darfur crisis in western Sudan has claimed perhaps as many as half a million lives since it began in 2003. More than 2.5 million people have fled the area and are now refugees. The ethnic groups that are the subject of targeted joint attacks by the Sudanese government and Janjaweed, a rebel militia force, face genocide.
In Southern Sudan, more than 98% of voters cast their ballots in favour of independence from Sudan in the January, 2011 referendum. Southern Sudan borders on Darfur. It is feared that the democratic success of the recent referendum has taken world eyes from Darfur. The situation, already deemed by the United Nations ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’, continues to deteriorate.
In August 2006, the UN Security Council approved sending peacekeepers to supplement the African Union (AU) Stabilization Force there already. Sudan strongly objected, deeming the UN personnel ‘foreign invaders’. The combined UN-AU group continues to be plagued by serious lack of resources. Canada has provided a limited amount of equipment, and, as of April 2010, 34 Canadians were among the peacekeepers.
We must stop the catastrophe unfolding in Darfur. Climate change and environmental degradation are at the origin of the conflict. The crisis is crying out for global intervention and Canadian statesmanship. The Rwandan genocide must not be repeated through a failure of political will and heart. Canadian Greens believe Canada should assume leadership in rapidly organizing an international emergency initiative to deal decisively and effectively with the situation.
Based on the Green Party’s holistic approach to international affairs, we reiterate our consistent pleas for action of past years but now urgently call on Canada to assume leadership by taking an immediate ‘whole of government’ approach to bring a stop to the fighting and provide humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis.
Green Party MPs will:
Demand the government of Sudan fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions.
Press the UN Security Council to apply sanctions against any violation of negotiated ceasefires or attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers or peacekeepers, and interpret and enforce its mandate to the fullest extent possible.
Provide new, increased financial, political and logistical support to the UN/AU mission in Sudan, to help quickly strengthen its capacity to protect civilians at risk.
Ensure Canadian diplomatic assistance, as determined by the African Union, to keep all parties negotiating towards a new comprehensive peace agreement that delivers democracy, shared power, shared wealth and stability, while securing adherence to existing agreements.
Mobilize additional emergency humanitarian aid and support organizations struggling to deliver essentials to those in desperate need both in Darfur and nearby.
Support women’s effective participation in governance and sustained support to building women’s capacities and visibility in the political sphere, based on the joint North-South women’s agreement, ‘Sudanese Women Vision of the Referendum Scenarios’.
Recognize the larger regional factors of the conflict, and offer diplomatic and development assistance to accelerate further peace-building and cooperation among neighbouring nations and through existing regional organizations. • Engage and encourage the AU and the Great Lakes Pact signatories to declare and enshrine access to water as a basic human right within their respective agreements and constitutions.
Refocus long-term aid on efforts to cope with desertification, drought and climate change.
Recognize the larger collective need for development throughout the region, and the futility of and excessive financial burden of military solutions, and immediately move to accelerate poverty alleviation and development of sustainable communities and strong, sovereign governments on the African continent.
Comments and discussion are welcomed. I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.