|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
STABLE, SECURE, PROSPEROUS AFGHANISTAN BENEFITS ENTIRE GLOBAL COMMUNITY,
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN REMARKS TO PARIS CONFERENCE
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the conference on Afghanistan, in Paris, 12 June:
Allow me to thank President [Nicolas] Sarkozy for hosting this conference. The timing is appropriate; we are at the midpoint of the Afghanistan Compact, and at the launch of the Afghan National Development Strategy.
Let me also thank President [Hamid] Karzai for being here. Once again, Mr. President, you have helped bring together many friends in the international community who are eager to assist your country. This is a tribute to your leadership and to the great importance we all attach to the well-being of Afghans and the potential of Afghanistan.
Three years were spent building and legitimizing Afghan State institutions after Bonn. An additional two and a half years were spent preparing the Afghan National Development Strategy. Today, we must connect the Strategy with Afghan institutions. We must trust these institutions and demonstrate our confidence in what we have jointly created.
This means that the international community must channel its funds more and more through Afghan structures. It means the Afghan Government must be able to account for the use of these funds with transparency and deliver results. We meet in Paris to launch the Strategy, but its success will be tested in the most remote villages of Afghanistan.
The Strategy reflects the complexity of the task. A vast amount of information has been gathered and analysed. Popular consultations were held with 17,000 people in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Afghan professionals and international experts provided technical advice. Compilation all of this data was a monumental task; those who rose to it deserve our gratitude.
The Strategy will draw on a dynamic private sector that harnesses the energy and creativity of the Afghan people. Afghanistan’s development will, in fact, depend upon the aggregation of millions of decisions taken by Afghans every day in every district. The decision by parents to send their children to school or not. The decision by shopkeepers to expand a business or not. The decision by farmers to grow opium or not. The decision of young men to join the insurgency or not.
The Strategy identifies its core policy as one of “Afghanization”. We fully endorse this policy and we understand it in its widest possible terms: Afghanization is not only a process of channelling more international assistance into Afghan institutions; it is a practice of all Afghans participating in the rebuilding of their country.
Among the most important of the myriad of decisions affecting Strategy’s success are inevitably those taken by Government officials. We often speak of corruption as if it were a phenomenon beyond our control or influence, like drought or crop disease. It is not. One can conceivably understand that some low-level corruption is a function of poor salaries or bad administrative habits. But, in the end, every act of corruption is the result of a deliberate decision by someone in a position of authority for his or her personal gain. Its costs are measured not only financially, but in the decline of trust in Government, with consequences and costs that stretch long into the future.
I applaud Afghanistan for signing the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and I urge the Government to take active measures to ensure that it is implemented. I also welcome the strong anti-corruption proposals in the Strategy, including the need to prosecute high-level offenders. The document presents the matter with appropriate clarity, leaving us in no doubt that the responsibility lies with the Afghan Government: “Without good governance and a sustained social contract for the acceptance of the rule of law, the total development strategy that has been developed in the ANDS will fail.”
Finally, let us look ahead to the elections that are scheduled to take place in 2009 and 2010. They will be a crucial test of the institutions that we have created together, and of the confidence Afghans have in them. President Karzai has asked the United Nations to provide technical assistance and to coordinate international assistance. We will of course do so. But, in the end, these will be Afghan-led elections, and a number of decisions need to be taken quickly by the Afghan authority. In particular, the electoral law and the law on the Independent Electoral Commission must be adopted without delay.
We are here in Paris today because we recognize that the cost of development in Afghanistan far exceed its resources. We also recognize that promoting a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan benefits not only Afghans, but the entire global community.
This means that, alongside the process of Afghanization, we need to streamline the process for coordinating international assistance. The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board must be strengthened into an effective mechanism of oversight, policy guidance and mutual accountability. The international community, in particular the United Nations, has been asked to play a more active role, and we are resolved to do so. My Special Representative, Kai Eide, has worked tirelessly in the short time since his appointment to position the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) accordingly. I greatly appreciate the unqualified support he has been given by the Afghan Government, particularly by President Hamid Karzai, and in the capitals he has visited. I will continue to ensure that he is fully supported by the United Nations system.
We can, therefore, go forward with the knowledge that a number of key elements are in place. The Afghan National Development Strategy provides a blueprint. The much appreciated pledges made today provide essential resources. The Afghan Government’s commitment to good governance and transparency provides for real ownership. And UNAMA’s strengthened mandate provides a way to better coordinate international support. These are the building blocks of our new partnership and of a new deal for Afghanistan. Let us get to work to ensure that it succeeds.
* *** *For information media • not an official record