In Consensus Resolution, General Assembly Welcomes August Elections in Afghanistan as First Poll Run Entirely Under Auspices of Afghan Authorities
In Consensus Resolution, General Assembly Welcomes August Elections in Afghanistan as First Poll Run Entirely Under Auspices of Afghan Authorities
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
40th & 41st Meetings (AM & PM)
In Consensus Resolution, General Assembly Welcomes August Elections in Afghanistan
as First Poll Run Entirely Under Auspices of Afghan Authorities
Eight Years after Taliban’s Fall, Member States Remain Deeply
Concerned by Ongoing Violence; Also Adopt Text Backing New or Restored Democracies
Deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan eight years after the fall of the Taliban, the General Assembly today adopted by consensus a wide-ranging resolution that urgently appealed to the international community to keep working with the Afghan Government to funnel all possible and necessary humanitarian, reconstruction, development and other types of assistance to the struggling nation.
Even as it welcomed the first elections run entirely under the auspices of the Afghan authorities and applauded the courage of Afghans who braved violent conditions to head to the polls in August, the resolution stressed the need for the Afghan Government and the international community to work closely together. Such cooperation was crucial to counter the challenges of terrorist attacks by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist and criminal groups that threatened the democratic process and the country’s reconstruction and economic development, the resolution said.
Welcoming the efforts of the relevant institutions to address irregularities identified by the electoral institutions in Afghanistan “and to ensure a credible and legitimate process”, the resolution also urged the Government of re-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai to press ahead with “strengthening of the rule of law and democratic processes, the fight against corruption, the acceleration of justice sector reform [and] the promotion of national reconciliation.”
As it had in previous years, the Assembly acted without a vote. This year’s 16-page resolution touched on the expanding drug trade, the refugee situation, the advancement of women’s rights, efforts to curb child and human trafficking, and the role of the private sector in producing long-term stability. The text also requested the Secretary-General to report back to the Assembly in three months on developments in the country and decided to include an item on the situation in Afghanistan on the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session.
Afghanistan’s delegate said that eight years after the fall of the Taliban, “eight years after we all believed the national nightmare of the Afghan people had at last come to an end,” violence still threatened the lives of Afghans in many parts of the country. Yet while the last eight years had been difficult, the situation in Afghanistan had nevertheless fundamentally improved.
Indeed, he said that while the international community had once debated “how to build what did not exist”, now it was weighing how to improve what had been built: an effective Government, a well-trained army and police, and a productive economy. The Afghan flag now flew proudly across the country, which was a substantial accomplishment, he said.
The re-election of President Karzai had ended a period of uncertainty and the new Government would create and maintain two Compacts over the next five years, one with the Afghan people and one with the international community, he continued. The principal compact with the people of Afghanistan would zero in on national participation, reconciliation, “Afghanization,” and tackling corruption. The resolution reaffirmed the Afghanistan Compact as the agreed upon basis for work by the Afghan Government and the global community.
For his part, the representative of Pakistan said the core of violence and conflict in Afghanistan emanated from terrorist groups, foreign militants such as Al-Qaida, and militant Taliban who were not prepared to reconcile and give up fighting. The nexus with drug traders was increasingly discernable. The key to long-term stability in Afghanistan was capacity-building of the country’s security institutions. Equally important was building the civilian institutions at the central and subnational levels.
Stressing that Pakistan’s economic and trade potential remain untapped without peace and stability in neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan’s representative said it was time for multinational corporations to partake in development projects in Afghanistan. The growth and innovation of the international corporate sector over the last few decades had eluded Afghanistan and large-scale investments in mining, agriculture and infrastructure were necessary to promote development not only in those two countries but throughout the region.
The representative of the United States said the credibility of the new President and the Government would rest on their ability to deliver better security, governance, justice and economic progress to the Afghan people. “We stand ready to support the new Government in this regard,” he added.
During the debate, many speakers praised the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan and expressed sorrow at the 28 October terrorist attack that led to the deaths of five United Nations workers in a guesthouse in the capital city of Kabul. While stressing the need for national ownership and regional cooperation in the country’s development, the representative of Indonesia said the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) still played a crucial role in helping Afghanistan tackle the various challenges to its security and development.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of Germany said States were not deterred by the Taliban’s recent “despicable” acts against the international community in Kabul and the resolution gave Member States the opportunity to renew their message of international solidarity with the Afghan people.
In other business, the Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to consolidate and promote new or restored democracies. That text requested the Secretary-General to look at ways to strengthen the support provided by the Organization to such Governments. It also included support for the President of the Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies to make the conference, as well as its follow up, more effective and efficient.
As host of the Conference, Qatar’s representative introduced the resolution and said her country had set up a national secretariat and provided democracy training. The first celebration of the International Day of Democracy occurred on 15 September 2008 and she said the New or Restored Democracies Movement had been organized to function alongside the Assembly sessions. The resolution’s text invited all interested parties to contribute actively to the follow-up.
Turning to the third issue on its agenda, the Assembly began its debate on the culture of peace and introduced four relevant draft texts. In a draft resolution called the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, (A.64/L.5), the Assembly would invite Member States to observe 21 September as the International Day of Peace each year as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
In a second draft under consideration today, on Nelson Mandela International Day (A/64/L.13), the Assembly would designate 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, to be observed each year beginning in 2010. Introducing the resolution, the representative of South Africa recalled that during the dark days of apartheid, Nelson Mandela had said: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” His leadership through South Africa’s most terrible and triumphant times was enough to make him an enduring hero in the country’s history, he observed. Mr. Mandela’s legacy, however, was even larger than that. Through his extraordinary actions and personality, he had become a moral compass that all could look up to.
In a third resolution on the Alliance of Civilizations (A/64/L.14), which aimed to promote a culture of peace, the Assembly would welcome efforts by the Secretary-General to promote greater understanding and respect among civilizations, cultures and religions.
Finally, by a draft text on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (A/64/L.15), the Assembly would encourage States to consider initiatives that identified areas for action in all sectors of society for the promotion of this dialogue, as well as ideas suggested during the 2007 High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace.
Also speaking today on the situation in Afghanistan were the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Russian Federation (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Norway, Uzbekistan, Poland, Turkey, Kuwait, Canada, New Zealand, Iran, Italy, India, United States, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, Libya, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Australia and France.
Also speaking on the issue of support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote new or restored democracies were the representatives of Brazil, Mongolia, Venezuela, India, Togo, Maldives, Philippines and Benin.
Observers of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance also spoke on this issue.
Following a statement by the General Assembly President, Bangladesh, Turkey, Spain, Philippines, Pakistan, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) and Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), addressed the Assembly on the culture of peace.
Bangladesh introduced the draft resolution on the decade of a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world, 2001-2010; Turkey and Spain introduced draft resolution the Alliance of Civilizations; and the Philippines and Pakistan introduced the draft text on the Promotion of Interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.
The Assembly will continue and conclude its debate on the culture of peace at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 10 November.
The General Assembly met today to consider three topics: the situation in Afghanistan; support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies; and the issue of a culture of peace.
On the situation in Afghanistan, the Assembly had before it a Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (A/64/364-S/2009/475), which reviews the activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) since the United Nations Secretary-General’s report of 23 June (A/73/892‑S/2009/323).
According to the report, the results of the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections have not been certified yet, but the Independent Election Commission’s success in opening, equipping and staffing thousands of polling centres was an achievement in itself, since it was the first time it had run elections entirely on its own, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, voting was unquestionably marred by irregularities, and a campaign of intimidation by the Taliban-stifled voter turnout, particularly in the south.
The level of alleged electoral irregularities has generated significant political turbulence, the report says, noting that the Independent Election Commission began issuing uncertified partial preliminary results as 25 August. The Electoral Complaints Commission ordered the Independent Election Commission to conduct an audit and a recount at numerous polling stations. It is important to allow time and space for those processes to work according to the law. The election results cannot be certified by the Independent Election Commission until all complaints have been adjudicated by the Electoral Complaints Commission.
Insecurity will continue to be a challenge and countering it will remain a priority for the new Government, the report states. Increasing the number of national and international security forces has failed over the past few years, and the recently-appointed Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has begun to implement a new approach that ranks protecting the Afghan population as the highest priority. Human rights issues, in particular those of women, remain high on the agenda of concerns. Every presidential candidate referred to the need for a reconciliation process to end the insurgency. For the level and shape of such a process to be determined, establishing a coherent national strategy must be a priority of the new Government.
The United Nations Secretary-General observes that when the electoral process is completed, it will be of critical importance for the results to be accepted by all so that the election of Afghanistan’s future President can be certified and a new Government formed. There must also be a decisive shift in relations between the Government and the international community. The Government must be determined to assume all the responsibilities of a sovereign State, and the international community must play a clear supporting role. A new “contract” between the Government and its people will be a critical component in that shift. The level of trust that a future Government can build with its people will have an impact on the level of support that Governments of donor and troop‑contributing countries receive from their constituencies.
According to the report, the new Government should demonstrate its determination and ability to address the main concerns of its people, including security, the rule of law and the need for sustainable economic and social development. The new Government will have to include a comprehensive agenda to build institutions and establish an agenda for sustainable economic growth based increasingly on Afghanistan’s own resources. The fight against corruption and the culture of impunity must be key components in that effort.
The United Nations Secretary-General observes that, over the past few months, donor coordination has improved and there is a greater readiness to unite behind well-formulated national programmes. However, much remains to be done to bring the Government and the international community together around a clear, priority-based strategy. UNAMA will do its utmost to fulfil its mandate in that regard, but will need greater resources and specialized personnel, which Member States are urged to provide.
Also before the Assembly was the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A/64/372), which describes initiatives by States, regional and intergovernmental organizations and the United Nations in that field. It highlights the Assembly’s observance, on 15 September of each year, the International Day of Democracy, with effect from its sixty‑second session.
In light of developments over the past two years and efforts to evaluate how best to provide sustainable democracy assistance, the report makes five recommendations, the first of which is to ensure continued support for the International Day. Commemoration must be deepened, to include all levels of society, and broadened, to encompass activities in all corners of the world.
The report also recommends that two movements –- the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies and the Community of Democracies –- actively build synergies in their work, including through the establishment of mechanisms for coordination and strategic partnership. The 2006 International Conference, held in Doha, Qatar, encouraged partnerships to increase technical cooperation, including through exchanging experiences on issues of common interest. The Community of Democracies supported the 2005 Santiago Ministerial Commitment, “Cooperating for Democracy”.
To ensure effective follow-up between conferences of new or restored democracies, the report notes the need to link such meetings to actual democracy‑building efforts on the ground. While the creation of the Advisory Board of the New or Restored Democracies Movement was a step in that direction, the conference process had to make better use of experience-sharing, especially from a South-South perspective. There was also a need to support the Movement’s institutionalization, notably through the creation of national committees on democracy to coordinate national-level actions.
In addition, the report notes that the United Nations would continually consider how best to provide sustainable democracy assistance that builds on national capacities and nurtures a democratic culture, as demand for assistance on issues like capacity- and institution-building, elections and rule of law had grown. It would also improve its ability to take advantage of the “wealth” of analysis on democracy work outside the system. Finally, the report recommends improving the coherence of the United Nations democracy assistance through interactions with stakeholders, partners and the wider global community.
By a relevant draft resolution, Support by the United Nations System of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (A/64/L.12), the Assembly would request the United Nations Secretary-General to examine options for strengthening the support provided by the United Nations for efforts to consolidate democracy and good governance, including support for the President of the Sixth International Conference in his efforts to make the Conference and the follow-up more effective and efficient.
The resolution would also request the United Nations Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session on the implementation of the present resolution and to keep taking necessary measures, within existing resources, for the observance of the International Day of Democracy by the United Nations.
Turning to the issue of a culture of peace, the General Assembly had before it a Report of the Secretary-General on the Interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (A/64/325), which highlights the activities carried out by key United Nations entities involved in the field of interreligious and intercultural dialogue and in the implementation of Assembly resolution 63/22. The report also provides an overview of other major regional and global initiatives take in this field.
It presents the outcome of consultations carried out by the Secretariat, in coordination with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), on the possibility of proclaiming a United Nations decade for interreligious and intercultural dialogue. The report should be read in conjunction with the annual progress report of the Director-General of UNESCO on the International Decade for A Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for Children of the World, 2001-2010.
Also on this issue, the Assembly also had before it a Report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010 (A/64/312), which mentions that pursuant to UNESCO’S report, the General Assembly had commended it for recognizing that it had been summoned with a fundamental mandate: to promote a culture of peace, thus encouraging it to bolster its activities in that regard. The United Nations Secretary-General was asked to submit that resolution to the General Assembly’s sixty forth session.
The report provides an overview of activities carried out by UNESCO alongside other United Nations entities, Governments and civil society. In line with the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, the report is divided into the following eight activities: fostering a culture of peace through education; promoting sustainable economic and social development; promoting respect for all human rights; ensuring equality between women and men; fostering democratic participation; advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity; supporting participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge; and fostering international peace and security. The report also discusses the role of civil society.
The report concludes by encouraging United Nations funds, agencies and programmes to keep focusing on various dimensions of the culture of peace. It encourages Member States to place the funding of quality education at the top of their agenda and not use the global economic and financial crisis as an excuse to allocate fewer funds at the national and international levels.
The report also calls for stronger efforts to remove all forms of negative bias from textbooks and other educational media and to ensure a basic knowledge and understanding of the world’s main cultures, civilizations and religions. It prompts schools to become more child-learning friendly, gender-sensitive and to promote the active role of learners in their communities. Lastly, the report calls for all levels of education to reach out to different segments of society, including women and girl-children through broader access via information and communication technologies.
In a draft resolution International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non‑Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010 (A.64/L.5), the Assembly would invite Member States to observe 21 September each year as the International Day of Peace, a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, in accordance with resolution 55/282 of 7 September 2001.
Further, the text would request the United Nations Secretary-General to explore enhancing mechanisms for the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action and to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session a report on the implementation of the present resolution. It would also request the United Nations Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly, at its sixty-fifth session, a report on the activities carried out in the past ten years by UNESCO and other United Nations entities, Member States, and civil society to promote and implement the Programme of Action.
By another draft under consideration today, on Nelson Mandela International Day (A/64/L.13), the General Assembly would decide to designate 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, to be observed each year beginning in 2010. The United Nations Secretary-General would be asked to take the necessary measures, within existing resources, for the observance by the United Nations of the International Day.
In a draft resolution The Alliance of Civilizations (A/64/L.14), the Assembly would welcome the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General and his High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations in promoting greater understanding and respect among civilizations, cultures and religions. It would also encourage Governments, international organizations and representatives of civil society to participate in the Third Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, which will be held in Brazil in 2010, as well as the upcoming forums of the Alliance, which will be hosted by Qatar in 2011 and Austria in 2012.
Finally, by a draft text on the Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (A/64/L.15), the Assembly would encourage States to consider initiatives that identified areas for action in all sectors of society for the promotion of such dialogue, as well as ideas suggested during the 2007 High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace. It would request the Assembly President, at the sixty-fourth session, to hold an interactive thematic debate that included leaders of the world’s major religions.
Further, the resolution would have the United Nations Secretary-General organize an event to celebrate the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures within existing resources, and to submit, at the sixty-fifth session, a report on the various initiatives on interreligious, intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue. That report is to include issues not included in his report to the sixty-fourth session, and on the possibility of proclaiming a United Nations decade on that topic.
Statements on Afghanistan
MARTIN NEY ( Germany), introducing the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (A/64/L.8), said the global community was committed to supporting the Afghan people’s efforts to shape their own destiny, establish sustainable peace and security and rebuild their country. Adoption of the text gave the Assembly the timely opportunity to renew its clear message to the Afghan people: one of international solidarity. Indeed, States would not be deterred by the recent “despicable” attacks by the Taliban against the international community in Kabul, and he paid homage to the innocent people who had lost their lives.
Turning to Afghanistan’s first presidential elections run entirely under the responsibility of the Afghan authorities, he said the world had witnessed, with admiration, the courage of the Afghan people, who cast their votes despite serious security threats. He welcomed the conclusion of the presidential electoral process and congratulated President Hamid Karzai on his second term of office.
Extending his thanks to UNAMA and the security forces, he said the good performance of the Afghan media and election observers also deserved praise. He emphasized that President Karzai must now move swiftly to form a Government able to meet challenges. All political actors must be encouraged to respect the rule of law and take responsibility for the country’s unity, and in that regard, Germany welcomed the President’s most recent pledge to institute reforms and fight corruption. “We hope that effective measures, such as the strengthening of the anti-corruption commission, will be taken to ensure good governance and create an enabling legal and political environment”, he said.
He said the draft before the Assembly was a well-balanced call to the global community to continue cooperation with the Afghan Government, as well as on the new Afghan Government “…to build a renewed relationship of trust with its citizens by achieving concrete and visible results…”.
Turning to four elements that had been intensively discussed, he said all delegations had underlined the importance of protecting civilians. The text stressed that the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups were responsible for the wide majority of civilian casualties, and also called on the security forces to intensify efforts aimed at ensuring civilian protection. That induced the continued review of tactics, procedures and conduct of after-action investigations.
Also, delegations had recalled the importance of upholding international obligations to advance women’s rights, as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution. They also shared views on the prospects for internal political dialogue aimed at establishing sustainable peace. They agreed that the resolution should encourage the implementation of Afghan-led reintegration, reconciliation and transitional justice processes. The Government should accept the Afghan Constitution and work constructively, within its framework, for peace and security.
Finally, delegates welcomed efforts by the Afghan Government and its regional partners to foster trust, and encouraged further efforts to increase regional cooperation. The second Presidential election marked an important step in Afghanistan’s democratic history and it was time for the Afghan people and the international community to both take stock and look ahead. In that context, France, Germany and the United Kingdom had suggested that the United Nations Secretary-General co-chair an international conference on Afghanistan. “If we want to succeed, it is of crucial importance that we jointly revisit our goals”, he said: security, good governance, rule of law, human rights, and the economic and social development of the country.
Further, he said new, specific and measurable benchmarks should be agreed to establish a joint framework for the transition phase towards Afghan ownership. Germany would continue to support the Afghan people and cooperate fully with the Government, notably in reconstruction efforts. In closing, he fully aligned Germany with the European Union’s statement.
ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan) said that eight years after the fall of the Taliban, “eight years after we all believed the national nightmare of the Afghan people had at last come to an end”, violence still threatened the lives of Afghans in many parts of the country. The resolution before the Assembly today reflected an awareness of the international community’s common responsibility to address the situation in Afghanistan and reaffirmed the membership’s strong determination.
While the last eight years had been difficult, the situation in Afghanistan had fundamentally improved. Eight years ago, the international community had been debating how to build what did not exist: a Government, an army and police force, and a functioning economic and social life. Today, the international community was debating how to improve what had been built: how to have a good effective Government; a well-trained army and police; and a productive economy. The Afghan flag flew proudly across the country, a substantial accomplishment, he said.
Yet, he said, the progress had been insufficient and three opportunities had been missed: first, the chance to wipe out the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other terrorists who had been permitted to regroup and, as a result the situation had deteriorated markedly; second, the chance to properly resource and reinforce the efforts, as Afghanistan had been “starved for resources, attention and troops”; and third, the chance to rapidly empower and enable Afghans to take responsibility for their own destiny.
Thankfully, however, the Afghan Government and the international community had started to craft a common approach and the elections marked the beginning of a new chapter in the country, he said. The elections were held in difficult circumstances, yet voters risked their lives and millions voted. He called those elections “as free as possible, as fair as possible and as transparent as possible”. The people of Afghanistan showed respect for the rule of law.
The re-election of President Karzai had ended a period of uncertainty and the new Government would create and maintain two Compacts over the next five years: one with the Afghan people and one with the international community. The principal compact with the people of Afghanistan would be focused on national participation, reconciliation, “Afghanization,” and tackling corruption.
Security was at the core of all efforts and crucial for progress in other areas. Insecurity was a barrier to good governance or sustainable development and the single biggest threat to human rights, he said. “Insecurity prevents Afghans from putting aside their guns to concentrate on rebuilding their lives and breeds corruption, fear, hopelessness and despair,” he said. Afghanistan’s aim was not to kill every Taliban fighter but use political and military strategies to expand the reach of the Government, train the Afghan army and police and isolate the Taliban from the people while earning the people’s trust.
Turning to the Government’s Compact with the international community, he said that Compact should rest on the strong foundation of shared commitment to pursue security, development and good governance in Afghanistan and the region. He welcomed the call for an international conference to refresh and renew the partnership and build a solid foundation for future work. The recent attack on the dedicated United Nations workers in Kabul showed that the partnership was under external attack. It needed to be strengthened internally. The key to the country’s future was in the hands of the Afghan people. He urged the international community to use today’s resolution to demand more from everyone.
ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the conclusion of the presidential electoral process and congratulated President Hamid Karzai on a second term in office. The European Union supported the elections and the Afghan institutions responsible for conducting them, and would continue to do so. Lessons could be learned and the European Union stood ready to assist Afghanistan to review and improve its electoral system, notably with a view to elections next year. European Union Foreign Ministers, on 27 October adopted a plan for strengthened action in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which reflected the strategic importance attached to the region. His delegation would increase its efforts, notably through the contribution of technical assistance, and expected a credible Government that addressed major challenges would be formed without delay.
The Assembly’s annual resolution on Afghanistan offered a chance to reaffirm international support to the Afghan people on their path towards peace, security and democracy, and the European Union was strongly committed to those efforts, he said. His delegation also would continue strong support for the United Nations Secretary-General and his Special Representative, despite the tragic loss of life during the recent suicide attack on United Nations personnel. In that context, the Union also supported the need to ensure the safety of United Nations staff and looked forward to discussing the United Nations Secretary-General’s proposal.
In other areas, he looked forward to the Afghan Government addressing challenges by developing a reform agenda that included improving governance, combating corruption, addressing security and strengthening the rule of law. He also looked forward to the international conference as an opportunity for the new Afghan Government to lay out its priorities, and for the global community to reaffirm its engagement. New goals, benchmarks and timelines should be agreed.
For its part, the European Union was deeply involved in Afghanistan, he said, spending close to 1 billion Euros a year on civilian efforts and contributing 30,000 people to the ISAF. Maintaining security was a shared
responsibility between the Afghan National Security Forces and the international community, and the highest priority should be to enable those Forces to carry out that responsibility on its own. Building Afghan capacity and enhancing national ownership in the civilian sectors was at the core of the Union’s engagement in the country, and it would boost support in the areas of good governance and rule of law, among others. Human rights, especially for women, had to be improved and the Union was ready to support the new Government in that regard.
Finally, he said the Afghan Compact, the Afghan National Development Strategy and the principles agreed at the Paris and Hague Conferences constituted the framework for political, social and economic development in Afghanistan. He supported the development of a coordinated approach at the regional level and enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours, especially Pakistan, and he welcomed progress made in the bilateral dialogue between the two countries. The European Union would work to strengthen State capacity to promote good governance, human rights and efficient public administration. While the Afghan Government bore the primary responsibility for its development, the European Union would continue to assist the country on its road to security and prosperity.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russia), speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, opened by saying that in recent years, the authorities of Afghanistan had attained progress in State-building and in the strengthening of democratic institutions. The recent presidential and local elections in the country had been an example and thus, his delegation expected that a new effective Government would be formed soon. Regarding the attack on the UNAMA, he decisively condemned it and called on the Afghan Government to guarantee security to the United Nations Mission and other foreign missions accredited in the country.
He went on to say that the new Afghan authorities would encounter unprecedented challenges, especially as positions of the Taliban were stronger than ever, and Al-Qaida activity was high. Further, much work remained to be done to rehabilitate the country’s social and economic sectors. Security was still of key importance from the perspective of further formation and development of Afghanistan. Neither the Afghan authorities nor the international community could abandon efforts to isolate leaders of extremist groups, with the emphasis on those who are on the sanction list of the Security Council’s 1267 Committee. A chance to return to normal political life should only be offered to those who would renounce violence and combat struggle, ties with Al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Turning to the commitment to the fight against drug trafficking, which financed terrorism, he regretted that international endeavours to fight illicit production had been ineffective. The international military presence in Afghanistan possessed all necessary tools for a more efficient struggle against that evil, and he stood for a more complex international cooperation to safeguard full-fledged implementation of resolutions 1735 (2006), and 1817 (2008), which aimed to specifically impose international control over the turnover of precursors
He said it was necessary to significantly intensify anti-narcotic efforts both in Afghanistan and around it by creating “belts of anti-narcotic and financial security.” He touched on other issues, including the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which possessed vast experience to counter illicit turnover of drugs at the Afghan track, and said the number of countries participating expanded. He said that one of the most successful and efficient formats of practical interaction among the Collective Security Treaty Organization countries to cut short inter-regional and international supplies of drugs had been the “Channel Operation”, which had obtained the status of a permanent anti‑narcotics operation last year. Participants in that operation were tasked with several objectives, including cutting short channels of illicit trafficking of Afghan opiates to the territory of Eurasian countries, of synthetic drugs from Europe and of cocaine from Latin America.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) observed that eight years had passed since the Taliban were defeated in Afghanistan. Although there had been some positive socio‑economic developments since then, to many Afghans, there was too little happening too late. The international community needed to ask itself where it could improve its performance, and in that, UNAMA could play a key role. The Government of Norway would welcome the unanimous adoption of the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, through which the international community could send a message of a common wish for improved security, political stability and development for the Afghan people.
He said the Norwegian Government also welcomed efforts taken by the United Nations Secretary-General to protect United Nations staff, and was committed to helping the Organization continue its work in safety. That the United Nations had been hit so hard was tragic; it was crucial that the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) adopt a long-term perspective, for which sufficient, predictable funding was needed. Indeed, only sufficient funding levels would allow UNAMA to implement its mandate effectively. She said: “We should not expect more from the UN than we are willing to invest.”
On the presidential election, she noted that after a “lengthy and difficult process,” a new Government would be formed soon after President Karzai’s inauguration on 19 November. That new Government must demonstrate a genuine interest in fulfilling basic and crucial commitments towards the Afghan people as well as to the international community. Otherwise, it would risk losing support.
Aside from the Afghan people, the international community also had expectations and demands, to which President Karzai and his Government would have to commit themselves to on a larger scale. The new Government needed to take measures to combat corruption and the culture of impunity, improve governance at the local level, protect human rights and women’s rights, improve security and improve the Government’s capacity to deliver basic services. For its part, the international community must stand ready to assist.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) said inseparable bonds of geography, history, faith and culture linked Pakistan with Afghanistan and no other country had suffered more than Pakistan from the consequences of the conflict and human tragedy in Afghanistan. “The people of Pakistan have shared the sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Therefore, in the prosperity of Afghanistan, we see our own prosperity,” he said. Their common strategies and economic interests positioned Pakistan and Afghanistan to play to their rightful role as the hub for trade in raw materials, goods and energy among Central States, South and West Asia, and beyond. Pakistan’s economy and trade potential remained untapped without peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistan valued the presidential and provincial council elections recently held in Afghanistan and welcomed their outcome. He pointed to several examples of the cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the political, economic and cultural realms, such as the third regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, held in May. Pakistan was engaged in security and intelligence cooperation, including through the Tripartite Commission, which included the United States and the ISAF. It was essential to cement gains in the campaign against terrorism and extremism. To interdict illegal cross border movement, Pakistan had established 1,000 border posts and more than 100,000 troops were deployed on the Pakistani side of the border, he said.
Turning to the refugee situation, he said Afghan infants born in refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had now grown to become fathers. Pakistan housed more than 3 million Afghan refugees for the last three decades and its enormous social, economic and security costs should not be underestimated. He stressed the need to strengthen reintegration programmes for refugees within Afghanistan’s development strategy and expected the United Nations and international community to assist in this endeavour.
On the issue of security, he said the core of violence and conflict in Afghanistan emanated from terrorist groups, foreign militants such as Al-Qaida, and militant Taliban who were not prepared to reconcile and give up violence. The nexus with drug traders was increasingly discernable. He agreed with the United Nations Secretary-General’s conclusion that the key to long-term stability in Afghanistan was capacity-building of the country’s security institutions. Equally important was building the civilian institutions at the central and sub-national levels.
He noted that most of the global corporate sector’s growth and innovation over the last few decades had eluded Afghanistan. The country was isolated from the global economy and it was time for multinational corporations and large enterprises to participate in project-developments in Afghanistan, particularly in mining, agriculture and infrastructure. The international community, particularly the developed countries, should leverage their potential behind these projects. Pakistan valued the role of UNAMA, which had an important role in coordinating a comprehensive international effort. Pakistan would welcome the enhancement of this role in the political and security fields.
MURAD ASKAROV (Uzbekistan), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), regretted that the situation in Afghanistan continued to be defined by aggravation and escalation of confrontation, and intensification of terrorist actions by militants. To the extent that confrontation in that country remained one of the main sources of concern for the international community and a serious threat for Central Asia, Uzbekistan, as a neighbour of Afghanistan, realized that the achievement of peace and stability there was the key that would open possibilities for solving problems related to sustainable social and economic development of the entire region.
Noting the deep concern caused by drug trafficking as a source of financing for militants, and therefore of destabilization not only in Afghanistan but in neighbouring countries, he said the dynamics of the situation increasingly indicated that the Afghan problem could not be resolved by military means only. He acknowledged the measures undertaken by the ISAF, and in that context urged ISAF to comply with the international humanitarian law and human rights law and for all appropriate measures to be taken to ensure the protection of civilians. It was important that the deep historical and ethno-demographic roots of the multi-national people of Afghanistan, as well as that country’s traditional and religious values, were fully respected in that regard.
Uzbekistan believed that peaceful settlement in Afghanistan was impossible to achieve without bringing Afghans themselves into that process. With that in mind, he was certain that without promoting national reconciliation and consent, strengthening of the vertical of the power it was not possible to significantly improve and to radically change the situation in the country. In that connection, he said that forming effective mechanisms of multilateral cooperation, capable of consolidating the efforts aimed at stabilization of the Afghan situation with the involvement of its neighbours, all interested States and international organizations would be crucial to the settlement of the country’s acute problems.
In that regard, important steps had been taken by the SCO, he continued, pointing in particular to the outcomes of the special conference held under the auspices of the SCO in Moscow in March this year, as well as the cooperation between the Organization and Afghanistan being carried out under the joint Protocol signed by the SCO and Afghanistan on the establishment of the Contact Group in 2005 in Beijing.
ANDREJ TOWPIK ( Poland) aligned himself with the statement delivered by Sweden on behalf of the European Union. He supported the UNAMA’s coordinating role, as led by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary‑General. He reiterated that Poland was still determined to stamp out all forms of terrorism, especially those that threatened Afghanistan’s security and stability. He hailed the Secretary-General’s recent efforts to step up security measures for United Nations staff.
Agreeing with the United Nations Secretary-General’s recent assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, he praised benchmarks and indicators as tools with which to measure progress, hoping they would boost joint coordination. His country had kept a very close eye on presidential and provincial elections, which had been a milestone for security and State-building, he said. Civil society’s participation in the election campaigns had paved the path for “cautious optimism,” he added. Nonetheless, his country regretted a rise in violence and insecurity throughout Afghanistan, in the south in particular, aligning itself with the notion that an international presence there should be centred primarily on protecting civilians.
Poland had beefed up its overall military presence in Afghanistan with 1,600 more troops joining the ISAF operation in 2008. That included more training and work with a European Union-backed police force. He said Poland had also worked towards redefining effective civil-military cooperation. Furthermore, since 2002, it has been providing development aid to Afghanistan, with $12.5 million, five times more than the previous year, having being earmarked for 2009 alone. He said that joint global efforts would lead to progress in reconstructing and stabilizing the war torn country.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said that Afghanistan was passing through a critical period, and that Turkey was hopeful for the future. “The situation may be difficult, but we have to continue working to assist our Afghan brothers and sisters,” he said. The deliberate terrorist attacks against the United Nations during the recent electoral process should strengthen the determination to assist the Afghan people to establish a lasting peace and stability. Turkey condemned the terrorist attacks on 28 October and extended condolences to the United Nations family and family of the victims. He also shared the grief of the Afghan people.
He said the continuation of a strong United Nations presence was of utmost importance. Turkey trusted that the Afghan people would sooner or later achieve a peaceful and prosperous future. In that vein, the elections were an important threshold in the fight against terrorism and securing stability in Afghanistan. Elections were crucial, and while everyone knew it would not be easy, the most important thing was that the second elections in such a big country had been held. Ultimately, the exercise was a step in strengthening democracy. Now, the new Administration needed to embrace the whole nation.
Turning to the issue of Turkey-Afghan relations, he said that they were unique and based in deep historical and cultural bonds. Turkey participated in ISAF and an intensive assistance programme for the peace and prosperity of the Afghan people. It intended to further expand humanitarian operations. There was a need for a comprehensive approach including security, governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development. Therefore, four areas needed special attention: a comprehensive economic development with a visible impact on the living conditions of the people; a strong Afghan military and policy to lead in national security; an inclusive national reconciliation that would consolidate peace and stability; and a modern education and justice system to combat extremism. Regional cooperation was needed to accomplish the goals in Afghanistan; and thus, in April, the country hosted the Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Third Trilateral Summit.
AICHA SALEM ALRASHOUD ( Kuwait) strongly condemned the recent armed terrorist attack in Afghanistan against United Nations employees, who were assisting election teams and contributing to the maintenance of peace and security. He also decried the targeting of United Nations missions, as that increased the number of victims among civilian Afghans, members of international assistance agencies and those providing humanitarian aid. Welcoming Security Council’s resolution 1868 (2009), and the Council President’s 15 July 2009 statement, Kuwait extended congratulations to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on his election and reaffirmed Afghanistan’s sovereignty.
Stressing the importance of the United Nations’ neutral role in Afghanistan, he noted progress in areas like demining, limiting opium cultivation and fostering the capabilities of the Afghan army and police forces. However, the rate of change in Afghanis’ living conditions was still very slow and source of increasing disappointment. Strong ties between the drug trade and extremist groups seriously threatened security, the rule of law and development. As such, he appealed to all States, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to provide all assistance possible in humanitarian fields, consistent with Afghanistan’s development strategies.
In that context, he said Kuwait had contributed to Afghanistan’s infrastructure reconstruction through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, which had given a $30 million loan. Some $15 million were dedicated for rebuilding the Kandahar-Sabook Baosaldat road and another $15 million for the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Also, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society had provided more than $6.5 million in recent years. With that, he expressed Kuwait’s hope that the United Nations continue to provide assistance to the Afghan Government to consolidate peace and stability, which, in turn, would enable the country to resume a normal role in international affairs.
HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN ( Canada) warmly welcomed the fact that this year’s resolution on Afghanistan would be adopted by consensus, which reaffirmed the commitment of all the United Nations Member States to that country. The resolution expressed the hope and resolve that Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, would continue to make progress in achieving a better life for its people. Conscious of the challenges that Afghanistan and the international community faced, Canada had offered its condolences after the attack on the United Nations in Kabul, to families and friends of all Afghans, and others who lost their lives.
Despite the challenges, he noted progress in education and health care since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. With assistance from ISAF and the international community, the Afghan security forces have increasingly taken charge of their own security. He said that continued progress required a renewed relationship of trust between President Karzai, the Government and its citizens. The elections faced challenges, and Canada acknowledged the Independent Election Commission’s decision not to hold a second round and commended the Afghan people who made their voices heard. “We look to the Government of Afghanistan to undertake serious, credible and visible efforts to improve good governance, combat corruption and promote and protect human rights,” he said.
Canada had successfully transformed its efforts in Afghanistan into a fully‑integrated civilian and military mission, he said. In addition, Canada made progress on three signature projects: school building, rehabilitation of Dahla Dam, and child vaccination against Polio in Kandahar. Canada’s stabilization operation aimed to increase security in Kandahar and increased stability in the pilot project village of Deh-e-Bagh by clearing insurgent elements, initiating basic infrastructure projects, and working with Afghan security forces. The tangible efforts were encouraging, but increased violence by insurgency attempted to derail reconstruction efforts. Thus, he called upon the international community to unite behind UNAMA and give it the necessary tools to continue its work.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) welcomed progress made in Afghanistan since this time last year, and congratulated the Government on the holding of the first elections run entirely by Afghan authorities. Attention must now focus on creating a safe and secure future for the country, and to that end, he called on President Karzai to quickly form a new, inclusive and credible Government. Indeed, President Karzai should work to build a renewed relationship with his people by addressing deep-seated problems in security, governance, corruption, human rights, development, justice and narcotics. In particular, he urged the new Government to ensure that legislation passed immediately before the election complied with its international human rights obligations, notably those protecting women’s rights.
Strongly condemning the recent attack on United Nations staff in Kabul, he agreed on the importance of protecting the Organization’s personnel who were working in often dangerous environments. The security situation, especially in the south and east, hampered development by limiting the reach of the Afghan Government and humanitarian agencies. Afghan military and police capacity must be strengthened to deal with that deteriorating situation and he welcomed the ISAF Commander’s renewed focus on training and mentoring.
For its part, the New Zealand Defence Force had led the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province for more than six years, he continued. That Team was building the capacity of the Afghan National Police to take responsibility for security in that province. New Zealand also had recently redeployed its special forces to Kabul to work alongside the Afghan Crisis Response Unit. In parallel, New Zealand was expanding its civilian assistance, with a focus on agriculture in Bamyan, and continued to support rural livelihood programmes, education and health services. While he welcomed recent progress, a sustained international commitment was still needed to help Afghanistan build a positive future. New Zealand was committed to playing its part.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) welcomed the recent presidential election and congratulated the Afghan Government and people for their active participation. The achievements of the past eight years had been hampered by the deteriorating security situation, which remained the biggest challenge. The increased insecurity suggested that, attempts made by the big Powers present in Afghanistan in the name of national reconciliation, to appease some extremist and terrorist groups were counterproductive and had only emboldened them. Peace and stability would only be achieved if the people of Afghanistan saw the international community’s support show up in their daily lives, with the reconstruction of infrastructure, capacity –building, training, education and the development of important sectors, such as agriculture. Instead of dispatching more troops to the country, the Afghan National Army and Police should quickly be strengthened so they could control the country’s security situation.
Turning to the drug situation, he noted that a recent assessment report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicated Afghanistan remained the largest source of narcotic drug production. That menace adversely affected the country’s security situation and required a multi-faceted and long‑term strategy. Iran had made many sacrifices to combat the drug problem and it expected the international community to become more seriously involved in the fight.
Resolved to overcome the difficult obstacles facing their country, the Afghan people needed the support of the international community. The upcoming conference on Afghanistan would give stakeholders another opportunity to reassure the Afghans as they worked towards stability, security and development. Like other neighbouring countries and the world, Iran had a vital interest in a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Iran had participated in projects to rebuild the country and held trilateral meetings at different levels with Afghanistan and Pakistan to boost the country’s economic and development sectors.
On the refugee situation, Iran had extended its hospitality to more then 3 million Afghan nationals over the past three decades and there were nearly 1 million Afghan refugees registered in Iran. There was nearly the same amount of unregistered Afghans living in Iran, he said. Those Afghan nationals had enjoyed the same educational and welfare facilities in Iran as its own people enjoyed. Iran hoped the international community would help the Afghan nationals return home and create the conditions to ease their voluntary repatriation in a more timely manner.
GIAN LORENZO CORNADO ( Italy), aligning himself with the statement made earlier on behalf of the European Union, said his delegation welcomed and supported the resolution before the Assembly -- which would confirm the membership’s strong, ongoing commitment to help Afghanistan on its path towards peace, stability, democracy and reconstruction -- and looked forward to its adoption. He thanked the German Government for its leadership during negotiations on the text. He also joined previous speakers in welcoming the conclusion of the recent elections, which were the first to be run entirely by Afghan authorities, with international support.
The people of Afghanistan and President Karzai were to be congratulated on the President’s election, and the other candidates were to be applauded for running campaigns that addressed key issues and challenges, he continued. Efforts on the part of Afghan electoral institutions to address irregularities were welcomed, and any lessons learned must be remembered in forthcoming elections. He recalled a statement of the “Group of Eight” (G-8) Foreign Ministers on 3 November, in which the elections process was hailed for paving the way for “a new season of collaboration” between Afghan authorities and the international community, under United Nations leadership. Stronger cooperation among countries of the region was also key in promoting security and development.
He urged President Karzai to form a credible, qualified Government rapidly, for the sake of national unity. Its biggest challenges would be, among others, improving State and local governance, fighting corruption, promoting rule of law, justice and human rights, increasing accountability, and achieving progress on reintegration, security and stability. Italy was one of the largest troop‑contributing countries and its support remained unwavering, especially in fighting terrorism and the cultivation and production of narcotic drugs. Those goals were additional to promoting good governance and tackling acute socio‑economic problems. The Italian Government looked forward to participating in President Karzai’s inauguration and, upon installation of his Government, to intensifying dialogue with Afghan authorities.
KHAGEN DAS ( India) said the successful conclusion of the first Afghan-led presidential and provincial-council elections marked a “major milestone” in Afghanistan’s democratic evolution, and he congratulated President Karzai on his re-election. India appreciated the determination of the Afghan people who participated in that historic process and a new Government assumption of office would provide a fresh opportunity for a renewed international commitment to the country. While determining the contours of a new compact, he urged being mindful of experiences drawn from past compacts, notably those reached in London in 2006, and in Paris in 2008, which placed the duty for institution-building and governance on the shoulders of the Afghan Government without providing adequate resources for such efforts.
Among the challenges was the imperative need for security, as the Taliban and Al Qaida threatened everyone, he said. Asymmetric warfare was being mounted and civilians had been targeted in terrorist attacks. Indeed, security in Afghanistan would remain a distant goal without rooting out Al Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist and extremist groups operating from within and outside of Afghanistan’s borders. As such, the Afghan National Security Forces had to be enlarged and developed more quickly and in a professional manner. Also, they should be given resources, combat equipment and training, and he appreciated efforts being made by third countries in that regard. In the battle for hearts and minds of Afghans, tenacity was critical.
He said reconciliation efforts required strategic clarity and a unity of purpose. Without consensus among the relevant parties over key issues, divisions could be created. “Terrorism cannot be compartmentalized”, he said. History suggested that attempts to strike “Faustian bargains” with terrorists often resulted in such forces turning on the very powers that sustained them in the past. Any efforts that weakened the Central Government’s authority would be counter-productive, and he supported the Government’s efforts to integrate those willing to live and work within the parameters of the Afghan Constitution. That should go hand in hand with the shutting down of sanctuaries provided to terrorist groups across the border.
A sustainable strategy to stabilize Afghanistan must be based on short-, medium- and long-term plans to address the development challenge, and he urged international resources to help the Afghan Government in that regard. Investing in Afghan human resources was crucial and a multi-pronged approach was required to rebuild the economic and social infrastructure, transfer skills and authority to Afghanis and enable them to take full ownership of reconstruction efforts. For its part, India had focused on development. Its commitment had surpassed $1.2 billion in various activities, including a cold storage plant in Kandahar and a 218-kilometre Zaranj-Delaram highway.
Finally, Afghanistan’s stabilization must be a central part of regional processes if that country were to regain its role as the “crossroads” of South, West and Central Asia, he said. That included economic processes such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Trade must be expanded, not hindered. Given the turbulence of the past eight years, the Afghan Government should focus more on security, governance and development, and the international community should do what was possible to assist. All had an abiding interest in defeating the forces that sought to destroy achievements made since 2001. Afghanistan needed a long-term commitment and States must do their utmost to support the country.
RICHARD W. ERDMAN ( United States) joined others in co-sponsoring the resolution, which both recognized Afghans’ progress in rebuilding their country and acknowledged that more work was needed. He recognized efforts by the Afghan Government and security forces to address challenges in security, governance, human rights and the rule of law. He also expressed thanks to the United Nations Secretary-General, his Special Representative, UNAMA and the ISAF for their shared commitment to the Afghan people.
He said the text highlighted the challenges posed by those who sought to disrupt efforts to build a prosperous stable country. The violent attacks by criminal groups undermined stability efforts and efforts of a representative Government. The resolution denounced them. The 28 October attack on a guest house in Kabul underscored the need to stand firm against violent efforts to undermine peace and stability.
The United States congratulated President Hamid Karzai on his election victory and all candidates that had stood in the second Presidential election, in particular, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Indeed, the election had been held under challenging circumstances, but the result was in line with Afghanistan’s laws and Constitution. The credibility of the new President and Government would rest on the ability to deliver better security, governance, justice and economic progress to the Afghan people. “We stand ready to support the new Government in this regard”, he said. With that, he called all States to redouble their efforts to work with the Afghan Government to promote stability and prosperity for Afghans, and peace and security for the region.
Aligning his statement with that made earlier on behalf of the European Union, MANUEL KORCEK ( Slovakia) said his country advocated massive engagement of the international community in Afghanistan in order to help the new Afghan Government take full responsibility for the country in the areas of security, stability, rule of law and development. He recognized the women and men of all nationalities, members of the United Nations staff and the many Afghans who had lost their lives fighting for a better, fear-free and prosperous future.
Slovakia was fully aware of its own responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan and had fulfilled its commitment in the military and civilian fields and was fully involved in the ISAF operation. Just five months ago, the Slovakian Government had extended its mandate of 262 Slovak military personnel to the country and was considering boosting the number of troops for reconstruction work.
Even though security was the primary precondition for the country’s development, the international community could not wait until Afghanistan was secure to address the humanitarian situation. It was crucial to improve joint efforts to promote socio-economic reconstruction projects for the Afghan people’s benefit, he said. Afghanistan had been a priority country of Slovak development assistance since 2003. For example, there were six bilateral development projects worth 850,000 Euros in 2009. This year, Slovakia had funded vaccines again polio, distributed in cooperation with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for 250,000 children in Afghanistan. He hoped the international community, led by the United Nations, would increase its multilateral efforts to assist the Afghan Government.
KIM BONG-HYUN ( Republic of Korea) looked forward to the adoption of the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan. The text was the result of a constructive and active negotiation among Member States, which represented their political will in support of the Afghan people in their political and national reconstruction process. In that vein, Republic of Korea joined the co-sponsorship of the resolution to add political will to international collaboration.
Continuing, he said that for the last few months, there had been an intense political situation unfolding in Afghanistan. “Sometimes we were encouraged by progress, and sometimes disappointed with setbacks.” He was saddened and disheartened by the terrorist attack on 28 October, however, at the same time, they would not be deterred. He admired the courage of the Afghan people in participating in the electoral process and executing the constitutional process in one of the most difficult environments.
President Karzai needed to remember his Government faced the daunting challenge of reform and ensuring good governance in the country. The new Government would have to focus on national reconciliation and the President needed to reach out to different political leaders and ethnic leaders. The Korean Government contributed by launching a Provincial Reconstruction Team and supporting the exiting Korea Medical and Vocational Training Team in Bagram, Afghanistan. The decision was made according to the request of the Afghan Government and in accordance with other relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. Lastly, he expressed shock by the terrorist attacks on 28 October and offered condolences. “This cowardly attack targeting unarmed civilians and workers of international organizations should not be condoned under any circumstances,” he said, and urged the Afghan Government to take all the necessary measures to secure the safety of civilian workers in the country.
AHMED GEBREEL ( Libya) expressed regret at the incident that had led to the deaths of United Nations staff, and expressed his delegation’s condolences to their colleagues and family. As noted in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report, the deteriorating security situation was of utmost concern. He said civilian deaths had been caused by armed groups and air attacks of international forces. He was very concerned by the number of civilians made victims by the action of international forces.
Another source of concern was that efforts to increase the number of international and national security forces had failed to stem the insurgency. Security did not deepen from the number of troops, but a policy based on national reconciliation and development, he said. The aim of the international community was to provide assistance so Afghanistan could build a democratic, stable and prosperous State. It was not the defeat of the Taliban that would bring peace. There had to be a dialogue that included all people, he said. Drug trafficking had to be combated. Programmes to ensure security for all Afghans and creating conditions for the withdrawal of international troops was essential for national reconciliation.
PHILIP JOHN PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said that when the Assembly had met last year, many, if not all speakers, had underlined the significance of the August presidential election and the need for the United Nations to work with authorities to ensure that they were transparent, inclusive and secure. That the country had gone ahead with the elections at all was an achievement in itself, and he welcomed the United Nations support to that end. There were problems, but they had been addressed. The elections were the first Afghan-led elections in over 30 years. They had been characterized by genuine debate on a wide range of issues and millions of people had turned out to vote, which would not have happened under the Taliban. The United Nations had monitored the process from the early-planning stages to the conclusion, providing, among other things, technical expertise and resource coordination.
His Government continued to support UNAMA, which did vital work in extremely difficult circumstances, notably the 28 October attacks, he said. The United Nations Secretary-General and his Special Representative had shown “impressive” resolve to stay the course. In light of the 28 October attacks, the United Nations should improve security and all should carefully examine existing strategic proposals to determine whether they had to be adapted. There was a heartening positive trend in the area of counter-narcotics, with opium cultivation set to fall in one area by 22 per cent. Operations conducted by UNODC provided grounds for cautious optimism at the regional level.
The United Kingdom deeply regretted any civilian casualties. “Any civilian life lost is a tragedy”, he said. Indeed, protecting civilians was at the core of his Government’s mission, in stark contrast to the Taliban, which accounted for vast majority of civilian deaths. Following the announcement by the Independent Election Commission, the British Prime Minister congratulated President Karzai, who, in turn, made it clear he was ready to take firm action to tackle corruption, among other things.
Going forward, he said the global community must now work with the Afghan Government to build security forces, improve local governance, deliver services, expand the economy and build constructive relations with Afghanistan’s neighbours. He urged the Assembly to reaffirm Afghanistan’s young democracy, stability and security, as efforts in that country were vital for Afghans and the international community as a whole. Citing the British Prime Minister’s remarks on Friday, he said: “We will succeed or fail together -– and we must succeed”.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said Afghanistan’s accomplishments were continuously being eroded by serious challenges to its security and stability. The fear of sliding back into a conflict situation was increasing and the activities of militants were getting stronger. He attached primary importance to increasing the capacity of Afghan security forces to address security challenges. All forms of international assistance, including security assistance, had to take the views of the Afghan people and Government into account.
Acknowledging the importance of military measures to meet the security challenges, he nevertheless stressed that the situation also needed a strategy that enveloped good governance, the rule of law and socio-economic development. An Afghan-led reconciliation process was needed to achieve sustainable peace and the insurgents that renounced violence, respected justice and pledged loyalty to the Afghanistan Constitution should be engaged politically in the reconciliation process, he said. There were high expectations for the new Government, which had an opportunity to frame a new agenda and cooperation for Afghanistan as it improved governance and social and economic services. “It is crucial that the new Government deliver positive changes to the daily life of its people,” he added.
A key ingredient for a successful outcome was national ownership, and to that end, each and every Afghan must participate in the political, social and economic processes. At the same time, regional cooperation was important. He also believed that UNAMA would remain pertinent in helping Afghanistan tackle various challenges to its security and development. Yet, he was concerned that the deteriorating security situation was hindering the implementation of UNAMA’s mandate. Indonesia welcomed the expansion of its presence to more parts of the country and the expansion of its capabilities and resources.
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI ( Australia) welcomed the opportunity to endorse and co‑sponsor the Assembly’s resolution and expressed deep sorrow over the deaths of the United Nations staff so callously murdered by the Taliban on 28 October in Kabul. He supported the efforts to meet the security needs of United Nations staff in Afghanistan. The collective task remained difficult and urgent, evinced by a worsening security situation in many parts of the country. The coming year would be critical to the success of efforts by Afghans, with the international community supporting them, to meet the pressing challenges facing their country.
Achieving that required renewed commitment to a focused agenda for action that was capable of delivering real improvements in security, governance and economic governance, he continued. The country was at an important juncture and the difficulty of the Presidential election was well known. The task before President Karzai was to form a Government that could win the trust of the Afghan people. There was growing recognition that the challenges facing the coalition in Afghanistan demanded a comprehensive approach, one that built strong connections between military and civilian spheres.
On the military front, Australia would increase its troop numbers from 1,100 to around 1,550. In addition, it would provide $US200 million over the next five years to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Australian Federal Police officers would be deployed to train the Afghan National Police force. Since 2008, Australia contributed $600 million to aid for the civilian assistance effort, and pledged $250 million in June 2008 for development and reconstruction assistance. The main objectives on the civilian front were to give an effective, credible and durable system of Government extending from Kabul to the district level. Afghanistan needed a trusted Government that could deliver much-needed services. By contributing $87 million to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, Australia has supported significant improvements in the Afghan Government’s public financial-management practices.
PHILIPPE THIEBAUD (France), aligning himself with the statement made earlier on behalf of the European Union, supported the draft resolution and joined others in expressing condolences to the families of those who had lost their lives in the 28 October attacks. He also expressed sympathy to the Afghan people who had been “sorely tested” in the situation. With elections concluded, a new Government would soon be installed and it would need to meet Afghanis’ expectations of progress and good governance. Indeed, President Karzai would have to work “non stop” to bring people together. In view of that, France would stand with Afghans in that process and work with them to redefine their relations. Along with others, France would remain committed as long as necessary to help Afghanistan regain full control of its destiny.
Action on Draft
The Assembly then adopted by consensus the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (A/64/L.8), by which it welcomed the first elections run entirely under the responsibility of the Afghan authorities and applauded the courage of Afghans for their participation in them. Stressing the United Nations impartial role in promoting peace and stability in that country, it reaffirmed the Afghanistan Compact as the agreed basis for work for both the Afghan Government and the global community.
By the text, the Assembly expressed strong concern at the security situation and strongly condemned all acts of violence in the country, particularly in the south and east, underscoring that the global community must continue to counter terrorist attacks by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist and criminal groups. Among other efforts, the Assembly emphasized the need to maintain, strengthen and review civil-military relations among international actors and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to report back to it in three months on developments in the country. It also decided to include an item on the situation in Afghanistan on the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session.
Statements on New and Restored Democracies
Introducing the draft resolution on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (A/64/L.12), ALYA AL-THANI ( Qatar) said the International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, was important, because civil society, among others, had participated in it. As host of the Sixth International Conference, Qatar was interested in follow-up. To that end, her country had set up a national secretariat and provided democracy training. It also had set up a structure to ensure implementation and encouraged information exchange. Qatar had noted the International Day of Democracy, and its first celebration on 15 September 2008. Qatar was working to ensure a good future for new or restored democracies through various mechanisms set up for that purpose.
She said the New or Restored Democracies Movement had been organized to function alongside General Assembly sessions. Ways and means to strengthen that Movement had been sought, notably to ensure the effectiveness of follow-up on the International Conference. Turning to the draft, she said the text welcomed the work carried out by follow-up mechanisms of the Sixth International Conference, meetings of the Conference’s Advisory Board, and the Ministerial Meeting of the Movement, convened on the sidelines of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.
Further, the text invited all interested parties to contribute actively to follow-up. The draft noted various decisions adopted, including to celebrate 15 September as the International Day of Democracy. It also requested the Secretary-General to ensure observance of the Day and urged his continued efforts to achieve the Conference goals. Qatar had had a busy term as Chair of the Conference and she was pleased that Venezuela had agreed to hold the Seventh International Conference in 2010. She hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
Speaking first during the discussion that followed, REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) noted that many political movements had fought for her country’s independence, one of which had adopted a motto of “freedom, albeit late”. Two hundred years later, Brazil was very proud to be a consolidated democracy, as such ideals of freedom and democracy had inspired many visionaries. Brazilians were fully committed to implementing democracy and fundamental freedoms and strongly supported the United Nations, regional organizations and States to strengthen democracy-consolidation programmes.
She appreciated the assistance provided by United Nations bodies to new or restored democracies in their commitment to the rule of law. Welcoming the designation of 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, Brazil believed that commemoration would remind all of the importance of democracy. She also recognized Qatar’s leadership as Chair of the Sixth International Conference and appreciated progress achieved in recent years. She also congratulated Venezuela for taking the lead on the Seventh International Conference.
Brazil was a democracy that was proud of its multi-ethnic population, she continued. With more than 100 million voters, all Brazilian representatives were elected through secret ballots in all levels of Government. The press worked freely, and the undisputed results of the last presidential election were announced just hours after the ballot. Parliamentarians followed their elected mandates and judges underwent public examinations to be appointed. She fully supported the Assembly’s encouragement of Governments to strengthen national programmes that promoted democracy, including through increased bilateral, regional and international cooperation.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on Support by the United Nations system on the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies. There was progress on the issue with Member States, in collaboration with the regional and intragovernmental organizations. As democracy represented a key principle and a core value of the United Nations, underpinning much of its work, the world body’s support was vital to new or restored democracies. Since 1994, when the General Assembly had adopted its first resolution in support of new or restored democracies, assistance in the area of democracy promotion increased in scope and content.
Mongolia enjoyed solid and fruitful cooperation in consolidating its democratic gains with the United Nations system organizations, she continued. This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the onset of democratic revolution in Mongolia. The years had been demanding and rewarding, and had marked the building of solid institutions of democracy. The years had also been marked by a relentless effort to reform the nation’s political and economic systems. Mongolia’s drive towards democratization had been recognized by the international community, including the United Nations, in its membership on the Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund.
The International Conference on New or Restored Democracies Movement had become a truly global movement. Mongolia had recommendations and observations outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, which included: continued momentum and support for the International Day of Democracy, a way of encouraging complementarity between the Conference and the Community of Democracies, effective follow-up between conferences, the practices and experiences amassed in the past, institutionalisation of the Conference, which would ensure systematic follow-up to the recommendations adopted at each Conference, and a study on the United Nations coherence and coordination.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) expressed gratitude that Venezuela had been proposed to preside over the Movement of New or Restored Democracies from 2009-2011, and congratulated Qatar for advances accomplished during its presidency, including the establishment of 15 September as the Day of Democracy. Other accomplishments by Qatar included the holding of the sixth Conference of the Movement, in 2006, and the ministerial meeting during the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on the issue.
He said Venezuela had programmes aimed at revitalizing and rekindling democracy in the areas of health, education, nutrition and employment, among others. According to UNESCO, Venezuela had succeeded in eliminating illiteracy, and according to Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) [statement says “CEPAL”, which is the Spanish acronym], it was the most successful country in South America at overcoming inequality. An organization called Latinobarómetro, which conducted public opinion surveys, classified it as one of the most democratic countries in the region, placing it at the top in terms of economic and social indicators, equality of opportunity, social security and income distribution. Reports by ECLAC and UNDP confirmed the perception of Venezuelan citizens that there was a consolidated democracy in their country. In the past 11 years, under President Hugo Chavez, there were three presidential elections, 5 popular referendums and a presidential recall referendum.
In the spirit of the final declaration of the Movement’s sixth conference, he reaffirmed the richness and diversity of political systems in the world, emphasizing the importance of democratic reforms in accordance with the national, regional, religious and cultural particularities of nations. He reaffirmed his country’s conviction in the sovereignty of popular will when establishing a nation’s democratic institutions. As such, there was no single model of democracy or a single set of democratic institutions. He also reaffirmed the importance of bringing together, in a creative way, the actions of Governments, parliaments, civil society and social movements from all regions, under the Movement. It was a way of strengthening democracy around the world.
JANARDAN WAGHMARE ( India) said the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies process had come a long way since its inception, with only thirteen countries in Manila more than twenty-two years ago. Today, that process had the participation of more than a hundred countries in its activities and with membership open to all United Nations Member States. That underscored the importance of the principles and purposes of the Conference and the success of the initiative. That process had also helped countries to share experiences on democracy, as well as identify means to promote pluralistic and participatory democracy.
For its part, and as the world’s largest democracy, India drew particular satisfaction from the manner in which its elections were conducted. He said the new use of electronic voting machines had allowed the Election Commission to declare results within hours of the start of the counting process even though, on an average, constituencies comprised over a million voters. India was also proud of another democratic process at the grassroots level, he said. India had hosted an institutionalized system of local self-government in rural areas since 1993 through the system of Panchayati Raj, in which one third of elected seats were reserved for women.
Democracy was also a powerful tool in successfully involving people in meeting the challenges of development, he said. It allowed for active participation in and influencing of government actions, as well as ensuring that the weakest and most vulnerable voices be heard. As a developing country, India was in a unique position of understanding the problems facing other developing countries in the process of embracing democracy. In that context, India was sharing its experience, institutional and training infrastructure with nations that shared its democratic values, and was happy to be one of the major contributors to the United Nations Democracy Fund and serve on its advisory board.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said there was growing consensus on the fundamental values that sustained democracy, which underscored the need to proceed with caution in adapting to the “rhythm” of each democratic process. “There is not merely one model” he said, and each model should respect the varied nature of each country’s culture. The United Nations could support that work through different forms of assistance, which all countries needed, as democratic principles must be fully observed. Togo had benefited from such assistance - even before it had achieved sovereignty. It had helped determine Togo’s future, and after independence, contributed to consolidation efforts. A democracy under construction, Togo was committed to a system based on democratic principles, which would lead to a free and prosperous country.
He said Togo was committed to daring constitutional reforms aimed at the strengthening of democracy, rule of law and human rights. A focus must also be placed on Government investments in freedom of speech. The interdependence of democracy and development had prompted Togo to agree on rules that governed elections. Togo’s Head of State, in a 20 July 2007 speech, committed to doing all possible to ensure that elections never led to violence. The 27 October elections were most tangible result of the Government’s efforts.
Togo would again organize presidential elections and all those who met the electoral code would be free to vote, he said. That code had been modified by consensus. An electoral commission would supervise the 2010 elections, which would respect international standards, and the Bureau for that Commission had been established. Togo would spare no effort to ensure that the upcoming elections were successful. “Democracy is a dynamic process; it is fraught with pitfalls”, he said, noting that any social imbalance could imperil it. In that context, he thanked Togo’s European Union partners in the preparation of the elections.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) referencing the electoral experience of his own country in 2008, declared that Maldives understood well that one democratic election was not enough to declare that country “democratic”. With a new Constitution in place, the Maldives was mindful of the urgent need to consolidate the young democratic institutions, as modern history was evidence that there was a trend for new democracies to revert to authoritarian rule. Indeed, the 2002 Human Development Report found that one elected government was overturned by military force almost every year; and people needed the reassurance that the spirit of democracy was there to stay.
Asserting that democracy was intertwined with political stability and economic prosperity, he declared that in financial terms, democracy was expensive. Maldives, for instance, was experiencing the crunch of the global financial crisis and therefore, severe austerity measures had already been introduced in efforts to salvage the country from economic collapse. Legal lacunas existed in important areas that would strengthen the rule of law and guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms. In his view, enhanced mechanisms were needed to fight corruption and ensure accountability and good governance.
Regrettably, he lamented, new democracies were inherently unstable in their infant stages, and Maldives was concerned that its new democracy did not succumb to the extremist seeds that were being cultivated in deep pockets of its society. If unchecked, he warned, those elements posed a grave threat to the smooth functioning of the country’s fledgling democratic system.
He said his country had always had faith in the goodwill of its international partners, and expressed appreciation for the invaluable work carried out by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in assisting his government tackle democratic “spoilers”. He added that heed should also be to the United Nations Human Rights Council for its ability to address emerging issues, saying Maldives believed that the Council strove to perform well and contributed extensively to strengthening human rights worldwide.
LESLIE B. GATAN ( Philippines) noted that his country had convened the first International Conference of New or Restored Democracies after its bloodless revolution in 1986 that ended two decades of martial rule. His delegation would continue to actively participate in the Conference, in view of the need to continue cooperation among similarly situated countries. Commending Qatar for organizing the first Conference Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth general debate, he said that that high-level meeting was historic. It resulted in positive outcomes, including the creation of a secretariat in New York. He congratulated Venezuela in assuming chairmanship of next year’s International Conference.
JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU ( Benin) said that almost a decade ago, Benin had hosted an International Conference. Democracy was seen as a way to promote international peace and security, as well as development. Since that time, newer democracies had been created and the Secretary-General’s report had noted developments since the 2006 International Conference, held in Doha. He welcomed Qatar’s work in those areas, and called the General Assembly’s proclamation of the International Day of Democracy an achievement. Qatar had tried to clarify modalities for institutionalizing the New or Restored Democracies Movement and he confirmed support for that work, as well as the creation of a permanent structure for coordinating implementation. He had no problem with establishing a New York-based secretariat, a Trust fund to support its work, or a tripartite structure to act as an interface with the secretariat. Such efforts would encourage an exchange of experiences and good practices.
He said the United Nations offered a framework for restoring democracy in countries where there had been challenges like anti-constitutional changes in Government. Indeed, there had been problems, which showed the need to boost the United Nations’ rapid reaction response. The Secretary-General had rightly asked how to prevent crises from further deteriorating, and more attention was needed on that issue, as well as on conflict-prevention. Benin fully agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendations, particularly on boosting compliamentarity between the two Movements to strengthen cooperation for democracy. Such efforts would require coordinating machinery.
ANDA FILIP, Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said his organization looked forward to working with Venezuela, host of the next Conference, to ensure a strong parliamentary output. There was a clear need to plan for and carry out work between the New or Restored Democracies Movement conferences, and the creation of a New York-based secretariat, with a mission to engage all partners, could be very effective. Those who had made commitments, contained in the Plan of Action at the Sixth International Conference, should be held accountable. Also, the tripartite configuration of the Movement - Governments, parliaments and civil society - had allowed for an integrated approach to promoting democracy worldwide, and he wished to see further progress towards a more systematic articulation among those components.
There was still public disillusionment with democracy, he said, and to explore public attitudes, the IPU had commissioned a global survey on the theme of political tolerance, which found a perception of a serious lack of political tolerance. It had uncovered other problematic areas and, in that context, the IPU would mainstream issues including the freedom of political expression, role of the opposition and promotion of greater minority representation into its agenda in the months and years ahead. The IPU was also forging a partnership with the United Nations in the area of information and communication technology, and remained committed to building capacity within parliaments, in particular, through advisory services and workshops. Finally, the IPU was committed to its partnership with the Peacebuilding Commission. Parliaments in Sierra Leone, Burundi, Central African Republic showed strong leadership in achieving national healing. “We have a common responsibility to support them in these endeavours,” he concluded.
MASSIMO TOMMASOLI, Permanent Observer of the International Institute for Democracy and Election Assistance, commended Qatar for its leadership of the International Conference on New or Restored Democracies Movement for its progress on the agenda for 2007-2009. This year, there had been multiple anniversaries of democracy’s achievements -- 30 years since the beginning of the “third wave” of democratisations in Latin America; 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall; 15 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, and 10 years since the first elections of the reform era in Indonesia.
At the same time, he warned to remain wary of the shortcomings, insufficient depth and persistent fragility of democracy in many countries. Transition processes often stalled at the stage of ‘electoral democracy,’ stopping short of guaranteeing to citizens a broader enjoyment of civic and political rights, equal access to justice and full freedom of expression. Democratic checks and balances remained weak in many countries. Democracy was a driving force but the distrust of democratic institutions such as political parties and legislatures remained.
The global financial crisis and the ensuing economic recessions were severe and potentially dangerous blows to a number of young democracies, particularly in Africa. Efforts to strengthen international democracy assistance should benefit from the rich lessons learned. Thus, he said, the Movement had great potential to foster collaboration in democracy building, but there was need for effective follow-up between conferences and an importance to share experience on democratisation efforts. Such things could facilitate strategic and operational links between periodic high-level forums, and the mainstream work of agencies engaged in democracy building. Effective experience-sharing could use and capitalize on existing knowledge bases, practitioners’ networks and institutional and capacity building tools.
Action on Draft
The General Assembly then adopted by consensus the draft resolution on United Nations Support for new and restored democracies (A/64/L.12).
Statements on Culture of Peace
General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, said that fostering a culture of peace was at the heart of the United Nations. Such efforts were based on respect for human rights, democracy, tolerance, promotion of development, the free flow of information and the wider participation of women in preventing violence. Sadly, however, the many quiet ways in which the United Nations advanced that culture was often drummed out by conflicts that demanded immediate attention.
It was his deeply held belief that civilizations were enriched - and indeed evolved -- through dialogue with other civilizations. Respect for the diversity of cultures and religions was necessary to prevent conflict and he commended the United Nations’ many initiatives on inter-religious dialogue. Observance of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for Children of the World was nearing completion and the global financial crisis had taken a toll on investments in education, culture and development everywhere.
He urged not allowing such events to weaken the Assembly’s efforts to strengthen a culture of peace. Promoting tolerance should not be limited to today’s debate; rather, it should guide all debates in the Assembly. He thus, proposed organizing an informal thematic debate on the Dialogue among Civilizations at the start of next year.
Introduction of Drafts
ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010” ( A/64/L.5), thanked all stakeholders who had contributed to promoting a culture of peace. While there had been no major change in this year’s text, a new preambular paragraph welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative on Violence against Children and, as a Bureau member of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bangladesh assured the Assembly of that body’s fullest support in the discharge of its activities.
Of the two new operational paragraphs, he said operational paragraph 11 would note an initiative of the Unit of South-South Cooperation of the UNDP during the Shanghai World Expo 2010. Through the new operational paragraph 17, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General provide a report on the activities carried out in the last ten years by UNESCO, among other entities, to promote implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.
For its part, Bangladeshi peacekeepers had laid down their lives in various parts of the world in the pursuit of peace, and, as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, Bangladesh was discharging its duties, he said. Indeed, a culture of peace held the key to sustainable peace in post conflict societies. In that context, he extended his gratitude to all States that had co-sponsored the annual resolutions over the last nine years.
Introducing the draft resolution on the Alliance of Civilizations (document A/64/L.14) Mr. APAKAN said he considered national plans and regional strategies as important instruments for the implementation of the Alliance’s objectives, and that was why Turkey attached particular importance to the inclusion of the Alliance’s goals in national agendas through the implementation of national plans.
He said that Turkey and Spain had launched the Alliance initiative in 2005 in than effort to galvanize international action against intolerance and extremism through intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
As two co-sponsors, Turkey and Spain believed that, having achieved sound progress on the ground, it was now time for the Alliance to have the backing and recognition of the General Assembly; and hoped that the focused and balanced draft resolution would be adopted by consensus by the Member States.
Noting that the draft resolution had already the support of some 73 member States as co-sponsors from all regional groups, he announced additional Member State co-sponsors to those listed in document A/64/L.14, adding that he was encouraged by that wide support and believed that it showed that the Alliance of Civilizations was a noble cause.
Also speaking on the resolution JUAN ANTONIO YÁNEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) opened by saying that one of the main goals of the United Nations was to promote a culture of peace. After the World Summit of 2005, the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to taking action to promote a culture of peace and dialogue at the local, national, regional and international levels. They had welcomed the Alliance of Civilizations and recognized the value of different initiatives on dialogue among cultures and civilizations, including the inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace. It was a great pleasure to present, together with Turkey, a draft resolution devoted to the Alliance of Civilisations, under agenda item 49 on a “Culture of Peace.” The draft resolution that was presented had the support of 95 countries.
Since its early days, the Alliance of Civilisations had grown considerably and further developed its goals. It became a United Nations initiative thanks to the commitment of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Secretary-General Ban. Ki-moon. As the President of Spain had underlined at the opening of the First Forum of the Alliance in January 2008, the goal was to mobilize the “big majorities of peace” of societies and contribute to the prevention of the misuse of diversity for political purposes. The Alliance of Civilizations wanted to help the fight against extremist and intolerant discourse that could give rise to hatred and confrontation by referring to hypothetical cultural and religious conflicts that had no solution. He highlighted the extraordinary work of the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, on behalf of the Secretary-General, to make the Alliance a credible and dynamic initative, which would produce real results.
HILARIO G.DAVIDE JR ( Philippines) presented an updated draft resolution his country had co-sponsored with Pakistan (document A/64/L.15) on interreligious and intercultural dialogue for peace. The text had been inspired by one of the goals enshrined in the United Nations Charter on tolerance and living together in harmony, he said.
Following the approval by the UNESCO of celebrating the International Year of Rapproachment among Cultures in 2010, the updated draft resolution urged Member States and a range of international organizations to do so as a mark of their commitment to interreligious and intercultural dialogue. While praising what had been done in that regard, it would also called on the Organization’s Secretariat to work closely with other United Nations bodies to ensure that there was a broader intergovernmental process on interfaith and intercultural dialogue for peace.
The resolution would also urge for more work to be done on a proposal for a United Nations decade on interreligious, intercultural dialogue, cooperation and peace. Such an initiative would bring about a range of initiatives on a set of objectives that are enshrined by the Organization such as peace, development and promoting human dignity. It went on to call on the President of the Assembly to convene an interactive thematic debate on the topic by inviting faith-based leaders. Overall, he said that the current draft resolution would request the Organization’s Member States to promote reconciliation for long-lasting peace and development, through gestures such as forgiveness and compassion. In conclusion, he said that the Organization had to pursue peace along two parallel lines: politically and through interreligious dialogue.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan), jointly introducing draft resolution A/64/L.15, recalled that the Assembly had adopted the Declaration on a Culture of Peace on 13 September 1999 to reaffirm the goals of tolerance, and unity in the maintenance of international peace and security, and the promotion of social progress. Religion and cultures shared a set of universal values, and religion and culture must not become a source of division. Cooperation must be the paradigm of collective endeavours.
He said Pakistan fully recognized the growing need for promoting religious and cultural harmony and had taken various initiatives to promote dialogue among faiths at the national level. He was confident that the draft resolution, as in the previous session, would be unanimously endorsed. In that way, it would affirm the international community’s shared commitment to advance the goals of universal understanding, harmony and peace among all nations, peoples, faiths and cultures.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa), introducing the resolution entitled Nelson Mandela International Day (A/64/L.13) proclaiming 18 July, the birthday of the first democratically elected President of a free South African, Nelson Mandela, as “Nelson Mandela International Day,” pointed to the fact that on 18 July this year, millions of people from across the globe came together to give 67 minutes or more of their time in community service, their actions inspired by the life’s work of the iconic South African leader.
He recalled that during the dark days of apartheid, Nelson Mandela had said: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” And when the chains of apartheid were severed in South Africa, Mandela embodied those words, showing that both the victors and the vanquished could live in peace. His leadership through South Africa’s most terrible and triumphant times were enough to make him an enduring hero in the country’s history, he observed. His legacy however, was even larger than that. Through his extraordinary actions and personality, he had become a moral compass that all could look up to.
Indeed, Mandela was an international icon and a symbol of hope for the oppressed and marginalized people across the globe, he stated, adding that he had dedicated his life in the service of humanity and had contributed immensely to the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. Nelson Mandela had worked tirelessly in the struggle for democracy and for the promotion and protection of human rights internationally.
Continuing, he said Mr. Mandela’s contribution to conflict resolution, reconciliation, rights of children and the uplifting of the poor had been acknowledged worldwide. He had been bestowed with numerous awards and honours, including the Novel Peace Prize. “But even at such times of great recognition, he had been selfless,” he said, citing the memorable example when Mr. Mandela dedicated his Nobel Peace Award to, “all the courageous people of my country, black and white, who have suffered and endured so much”.
Against such a backdrop, perhaps the only fitting way to pay tribute to that great man was to look back at his public and political life, he stated, and expressed the hope that by the adoption of the resolution the entire membership of the United Nations and the world at large would celebrate 18 July as Nelson Mandela International day.
ANDERS LIDEN ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Associated countries, paid tribute to nelson Mandela’s achievements, saying that he symbolized triumph, justice and peace. Mr. Mandela’s commitment to the ideals of democracy and a free society spoke for all who were still deprived of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In that regard, he hoped that one day all prisoners of conscience would be able to reap the benefits of such freedoms they had been denied for so long. He praised Mr. Mandela’s tireless efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation and his lifelong struggle for justice as well as his efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Above all, he said that Mandela’s resilience, dignity and compassion in the face of adversity had set a glaring example of what human beings could achieve.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, endorsed the initiative to declare 18 July the Nelson Mandela International Day, and noted that Mandela in his life proved worthy of the name he was given at birth: Rolihlahla, or The Troublemaker. Mandela had joined the freedom fighters who struggled against South Africa’s apartheid laws, which had been enacted in 1948 and which institutionalized racial discrimination in his country.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, he initially strove for non-violent resistance. But after he was jailed for 5 years on charges of treason, he saw no alternative to armed struggle against the racist regime, and he became the leader of the ANC’s armed wing, the Spear of the Nation. A year later, he was once again convicted of treason. Mandela’s philosophy was forged in the crucible of Robben Island, the isolated prison island where he spent 27 years behind bars. Once free, he became a mediator, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the first black President of South Africa, and he continued to inspire people to struggle against racism, xenophobia and intolerance.
The ongoing discussions within the Human Rights Council on elaborating complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was inspired by Mandela’s vision and struggle, was crucial. The Non-Aligned Movement believed that it would only be possible to eliminate negative phenomenon such as racism and intolerance through the consolidation of the resolve of the international community. Enhancing cooperation at the international level to promote dialogue, mutual understanding and enlightened education was equal importance, he said, adding that it was vital for all States to continue efforts to promote freedom of expression according to commitments under international human rights instruments, in a manner that prevented the exacerbation of bigotry and hatred and law which encouraged awareness-building.
* *** *