19 March 2009International priorities in Afghanistan – including security, long-term institution-building and stability throughout the coming elections – remain valid, but what is lacking is adequate resources and political will, the top United Nations envoy to the strife-torn country said today. In a briefing to the Security Council, Kai Eide, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for the country, said he hopes the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan, to be held in The Hague and to be attended by Mr. Ban, will be a new departure point.He said the meeting could provide “a new energy and a shared readiness – not to re-examine our agreed priorities, but to demonstrate readiness to implement them and use our resources in a flexible and coordinated way.”“It is an occasion for us to push the doom and gloom atmosphere aside, roll up our sleeves and support the positive trends that we now see emerging in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Eide, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA).Such positive developments, he said, include the fact that the Afghan Government is “today better and more competent than ever before,” with the provincial governments improving as well.In the area of security, he said that cooperation between key elements inside the Government has improved, resulting in an enhanced ability to uncover terrorist networks and to prevent attacks from taking place.In addition, he said, economic ministries are working in a more coherent way, comprehensive police reform is underway, a national agricultural strategy is ready to be launched, and the new team at the Ministry of Commerce is addressing the challenges of private sector development.Finally, he said, there were indications that there will be a significant decline in poppy production across the country. “That would be a turning point in our counter-narcotics efforts,” he noted.Effective international support in those areas will contribute to political stability and to economic growth, and will be critical components in any international exit strategy, he said.Mr. Eide said he realized that those areas are so often overshadowed by more dramatic developments such as, at the moment, the security situation and the intense debate about the provincial and presidential elections.Both were critical, he said, but both relied on building a viable country with strong institutions, working together with the Afghans. “The sense of ownership is crucial – for the strength of the Government in the eyes of its public, for its confidence in itself and, ultimately, for our success in defeating the insurgency,” he said.