Welcoming Afghanistan Government’s Renewed Commitment to Ensuring Stability, Peace, General Assembly Encourages All Partners to Back Afghan-Led Kabul Process
Welcoming Afghanistan Government’s Renewed Commitment to Ensuring Stability, Peace, General Assembly Encourages All Partners to Back Afghan-Led Kabul Process
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
44th & 45th Meetings (AM & PM)
Welcoming Afghanistan Government’s Renewed Commitment to Ensuring Stability, Peace,
General Assembly Encourages All Partners to Back Afghan-Led Kabul Process
Adopting Consensus Text Following Annual Debate on Afghanistan, Assembly
Cites Linked Challenges, Urges Support for Fight against Extremists, Drug Trade
Reiterating the urgent need to tackle the interconnected challenges in Afghanistan – from increased extremist violence, to the development of sound institutions and strong democratic processes - the General Assembly today adopted by consensus a broad based resolution appealing to the international community for continued support for a coherent, Afghan-driven strategy that would help the Government keep the war-torn country on the road to recovery.
Adopting the text at the end of its annual debate on the situation in Afghanistan, the Assembly welcomed the Afghan Administration’s renewed commitment to bolster the well-being of its people and bring peace and development to the struggling nation. It also welcomed the renewed commitment by the international community to Afghanistan expressed in the communiqués of the London and Kabul Conferences, held on 28 January and 20 July 2010, respectively.
The resolution encourages all partners to constructively support the Kabul Process, “building on a […] broad international partnership towards increased Afghan responsibility and ownership in security, governance and development”. The aim, the Assembly stresses, should ensure a secure, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. It should also strengthen constitutional checks and balances that guarantee citizen rights and obligations, and implement structural reform to enable an accountable and effective Afghan Government to deliver concrete progress to its people.
Stressing the responsibility of Afghan authorities to hold free, fair, transparent, credible, secure and inclusive elections, the Assembly urged on support for the relevant institutions as they worked on long-term election reform.
Commending the Government for holding the Afghan National Consultative Peace Jirga, it supported the peace and reintegration programme open to those willing to renounce violence, have no links to terrorist organizations and respect the Afghan Constitution. It also called for full implementation of commitments from the Kabul Conference to increase international resources through the Government budget, while improving procurement procedures and due diligence in international contracting.
Yet even as it welcomed the Government’s anti-corruption commitments at the London and Kabul Conferences this year, the resolution called for further action to fulfil those commitments and noted deep concern the effects of corruption with regard to security, good governance, combating the narcotics industry and economic development.
Deeply concerned about the continued increase in violence in Afghanistan, and the high number of civilian deaths at the hands of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, the General Assembly condemned all such acts and stressed the need for the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to continue to work closely together in countering the challenges of terrorist attacks, which threaten “the democratic process as well as the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan”.
This year’s 17-page resolution touched on regional cooperation, the expanding drug trade, the refugee situation and the advancement of women’s rights. 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-sixth session.
During the debate, Afghanistan’s delegate noted that President Hamid Karzai had set forth an ambitious national agenda, calling for all willing to renounce violence and accept the Afghan Constitution to join the peace process and embrace national reconciliation, while he committed to fighting corruption. “The President’s national agenda marked a new beginning for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet,” he said.
The July Kabul Conference had crafted the Kabul Process, which was the new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan Government. This […] Year of Refocus was one marked by hard work and rewarded by notable progress”, in areas of economic growth and human rights, he said. For example, average income had quadrupled since 2001, and Government revenue in the past year surpassed $1 billion for the first time.
The continued support of friends and allies was also essential to efforts, and Afghanistan appreciated their commitments and sacrifices, despite economic struggles of recent years. Yet regional cooperation was also vital for peace and security in Afghanistan, and he said sincere cooperation was needed to stamp out sanctuaries where terrorists continued to receive training, financial and logistical support.
Pakistan’s representative agreed that Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours had a special role to play in security in the country’s stability. In that regard, he said Pakistan was engaged in a number of regional initiatives with a view to promoting economic and commercial cooperation and rooting out the “menaces of narcotics, terrorism and extremism”. Further, he believed the “vexing question of security” in a society suffering from four decades of war, could not be addressed by imposing another war. A viable reconciliation process was vital for long-term peace in Afghanistan. To that end, Pakistan supported an Afghan-led and inclusive reconciliation process to bring the opposition groups in the country into the political mainstream.
He said Pakistan had also housed more than 3 million Afghan refugees over the past three decades, and despite isolated spells of voluntary return, was still currently hosting some 1.7 million refugees. It was committed to their safe and dignified return, yet expected the United Nations and the international community to assist that endeavour with all necessary resources.
During the debate, many speakers praised the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan, supported the Afghan Government’s efforts toward reconciliation and expressed optimism it was on the right path to take responsibility for all of its own affairs, condemning all attacks and attempts to undermine that process. The representative of the United Kingdom noted that although the security situation remained serious, steady progress was being made in violent areas of Helmand and Kandahar, and progress in areas under control of the Afghan national forces was increasing.
But the representative of the Russian Federation, speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said operational interaction between his body and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to fight narcotics trafficking was long overdue to stabilize Afghanistan and the region. “It becomes increasingly clear that today’s fragmentation of international anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan yields no result. The arguments used to justify the rejections of coordinated activities in this area are well-known, and yet they are unconvincing,” he said.
For her part, the representative of the United States supported Afghanistan’s sovereignty and reiterated its long-term commitment to their partnership. Since January 2009, the United States had tripled its number of civilians working in Afghanistan from 320 to 1,000, she said, noting that efforts focused on trainers and funding to develop and support of the goal for Afghan security forces to take the lead in security by 2014.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of Germany emphasized the need to focus on bringing about tangible results in the area of education, medical assistance and access to food and water, especially in rural areas, where 80 per cent of Afghans lived.
Also speaking today was the Director General of International Economic and Specialized Organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran.
Representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Kazakhstan, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Tajikistan, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Romania, India, Poland, New Zealand, Canada, Slovakia, China, Montenegro, Turkey, Lithuania and Libya also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 8 November to discuss the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
As the General Assembly met today to consider the situation in Afghanistan, it was expected to take action on a similarly titled draft resolution (document A/65/L.9), which would have it reiterate the urgent need to tackle increased terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida, illegal armed groups and those involved in the narcotics trade, and condemn in the strongest terms all attacks — including by improvised explosive device, suicide and abduction — targeting Afghan and international forces.
By other terms of that text, the Assembly would stress the need for Afghanistan and the international community to continue working together in countering terrorist attacks by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist and criminal groups, which were threatening the democratic process and reconstruction efforts. It would call for the full implementation of commitments made at the London Conference, reaffirmed at the Kabul Conference, to channel more resources through the budget of the Afghan Government and in greater alignment with Afghan priorities. It also would stress the need to ensure the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was adequately resourced to fulfil its mandate.
For its discussion, it had before it the Secretary-General’s report entitled the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/64/922-S/2010/463), which provides an update since the 16 June 2010 report on key political and security developments, as well as on United Nations activities, including those of UNAMA.
The 20 July Kabul Conference, building on the January London Conference, initiated the Kabul Process. The Conference, co-chaired by the Government and the United Nations, represented a milestone in the country’s transition towards the full exercise of its sovereign authority, according to the report. Through the Kabul Process, Afghans will gradually assume full responsibility for their own security, governance and economic and social development. In preparation for the conference, the Government drafted national priority strategies and programmes, including the national security policy and the Afghan peace and reintegration programme. It also designed a strategy for the transfer of lead responsibility for security on a province-by-province basis.
Preparations for the 18 September parliamentary elections were also a major political focus, the report says. The Independent Electoral Commission had established a wide-ranging set of fraud-mitigation measures, while the Electoral Complaints Commission had addressed the need to establish provincial Commission offices which adjudicated complaints, while the Commission itself only heard appeals. Widespread intimidation of candidates, particularly women, was reported. As of 30 August, four candidates had been killed, while on 29 August, five agents campaigning for a female candidate were found dead in Herat.
The report notes that the security situation has continued to deteriorate in many parts of the country, with a 69 per cent increase in the overall number of security incidents versus the same 2009 period. The number of incidents using improvised explosive devices had increased by 82 per cent. Anti-Government elements significantly increased their assassination campaign, primarily targeting Government officials, civilians and members of the Afghan National Security Forces, as well as members of humanitarian non-governmental organizations. In January, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) initiated the deployment of 34,000 additional troops. Large military operations are focusing on Helmand and Kandahar.
Addressing security sector reform, the report states that community-based defence initiatives were intended to stem the spread of insurgency and mitigate challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of Afghan National Security Forces. UNAMA provided advice to the Government and ISAF in the development of an overarching framework within which all those initiatives would be linked to reintegration efforts. UNAMA received assurances from both ISAF and the Government that the recruitment of Afghan local police units would reflect the country’s ethnic and tribal composition. UNAMA also continued to monitor the evolution of the joint Government-ISAAF transition plan, including the Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board.
On 29 June, President Hamid Karzai launched the peace, reconciliation and reintegration programme, which, among other things, established a financial oversight committee to support a peace and reintegration trust fund. A Detention Release Committee was also established. The High Peace Council, which would guide Government efforts to build on the outcomes of the Consultative Peace Jirga, was established on 4 September. The Security Council’s Al-Qaida/Taliban Sanctions Committee concluded the review of its Consolidated List of Individuals and entities subject to sanctions on 30 July. Although the de-listing process was welcomed in Afghanistan, a representative of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission warned that that process might lead to impunity.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative continued to support regional initiatives and cooperation programmes through his good offices, the report says, in particular through the Kabul Silk Road initiative. President Karzai attended the fourth trilateral summit meeting between Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan, in Tehran on 5 August. Other regional cooperation meetings have been held on criminal, counter-narcotic and border management-related matters.
UNAMA was committed to supporting the Government’s initiatives for greater aid coherence and effectiveness, as well as aligning aid behind the Government’s priorities, the report states. UNAMA would thus facilitate a coherent Afghan-led agenda in security, governance and development. It continued its close cooperation with its partners to enhance the functioning of aid cluster, the standing committees and other relevant coordination mechanisms, and the monitoring and evaluation of the decisions of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, which is intended to provide the required robust aid framework. UNAMA continues to convene the weekly donor coordination meetings to encourage donors to take forward the “Operational guide: criteria for effective off-budget development finance”.
As the Kabul Process could be successful only if it included all segments of Afghan society, UNAMA continued to advocate for and support the participation of civil society, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the private sector in the implementation of the commitments made at the Conference, the report observes.
The Secretary-General states that the United Nations is committed to contributing to enhanced aid effectiveness by increasing the system’s coherence and ability to deliver as one. The Special Representative is leading a United Nations country team effort to put in place an integrated strategic framework by December 2010 that would define priority areas for United Nations support of Afghanistan’s transition and practical measures to enhance collective impact in the field.
In his report, the Secretary-General observes that much of the progress achieved was fragile and continued to be overshadowed by deterioration in the security situation. Government efforts to implement the peace and reintegration programme are of particular importance. The challenge would be to ensure sustainable momentum while maintaining the national consensus achieved at the Peace Jirga.
The Secretary-General is encouraged by the continuing dialogue between Afghanistan and neighbouring countries on regional cooperation in several areas, and encouraged the Government to continue strengthening its coordination with its regional partners, with the support of UNAMA.
At the same time, he remains concerned by the increasing number of civilian casualties. In particular, Afghan children and women are increasingly being killed and injured in their homes and communities. The human impact of the conflict highlights the fact that measures to protect Afghan civilians effectively and to minimize the impact of the conflict on basic human rights are more urgent than ever. “All concerned must do more to protect civilians and comply with their legal obligations under international law,” he writes.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
Introducing the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/65/L.9), PETER WITTIG (Germany) said that by its terms, the Assembly would welcome the renewed commitment by the Afghan Government to its people, as well as by the international community to Afghanistan, as expressed in the communiqués of the London and Kabul Conferences. Regarding security, the Assembly would welcome the Government’s plan for a phased transition to full Afghan responsibility for security, based on mutually agreed criteria and conditions, and urge Afghan authorities to take all possible steps to ensure the safety, security and free movement of all United Nations development and humanitarian personnel.
By other terms, the Assembly would commend the Government for holding the Afghan National Consultative Peace Jirga in June 2010, he said, and express support for a Government-led process of peace and reconciliation. It would further call on the Government to ensure that the reintegration programme was implemented in an inclusive manner, consistent with the Afghan Constitution and international legal obligations. Recent parliamentary elections held entirely under the responsibility of Afghan authorities would be welcomed as a crucial step towards consolidating democracy, and steps taken by relevant institutions to address alleged irregularities would be commended.
Finally, the text would have the Assembly reiterate the call for full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, recall the need for more international and regional cooperation with Afghanistan to address drug production and trafficking, and express serious concern at the high number of civilian casualties.
Speaking next in his national capacity, he recalled that Germany was among the biggest contributors in Afghanistan, providing troops and development for civil reconstruction. “This process, as it began in 2010, will lead to a more stable, sovereign Afghanistan,” he said, noting that the solution could not be military. To achieve lasting peace, the global community could only complement, not replace, engagement by the Afghan Government.
The United Nations would need to play a significant role in the long term. For its part, Germany would continue to support the Afghan people and cooperate fully with the Afghan Government, he said. Urging Afghan authorities to continue their cooperation with international training missions, he emphasized the need to focus on bringing about tangible results in the area of education, medical assistance and access to food and water, especially in rural areas, where 80 per cent of Afghans lived.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that Afghanistan had been on the Assembly’s agenda for the last three decades, during which time Afghans remembered their country as a stable and tolerant nation at the crossroads of cultures and civilizations, which some called a “golden age”. “We come here today in the conviction that this will not just be the country’s past, he said, declaring: “ Afghanistan’s best days are ahead.” The past decade had seen a concerted effort by the international community and Afghanistan to turn the country around.
It was not just the Afghan people who stood to gain from a stable, free and prosperous nation. “We all do,” he said, underscoring, to that end, that tackling global and regional threats, such as terrorism, militant extremism, illicit narcotics and transnational crime would require engagement in Afghanistan. “Both the heart and mind compel us to do our part,” he said, as an expression of humanity and a security interest for all. During the past year, the partnership between the international community and Afghanistan had evolved into a new phase. After the London Conference had established the strategic framework and a series of new commitments, the subsequent Kabul Conference had outlined how they would be fulfilled by the Afghan Government and the wider international community.
The Kabul Conference was a milestone on Afghanistan’s road towards enhanced ownership and leadership, and the European Union welcomed the new resolution before the Assembly today, which accurately reflected the new leadership between Afghanistan and the international community. Yet, despite the importance of resolutions and action plans, ultimately, success was up to the aspirations of the Afghan people. The recent parliamentary elections, in which many Afghans, among them a growing number of women and young people, took risks to cast their ballots and had contributed to Afghan’s democratization. While the elections were not perfect, the Afghan authorities must now judge whether the first Afghan-led elections were transparent, inclusive and credible.
He went on to say that the Kabul Conference also established a new relationship between the Afghan Government and its people, who expected results, including safer streets and roads, and a renewed respect for human rights of both men and women. They also expected a Government that fought corruption, created jobs and delivered basic health and education services, among others. Despite the daunting challenge before the Afghan Government, the international community, including the European Union, was there to help support its policies regarding good governance, rule of law and development. In that regard, the European Union would channel funding through the Afghan Government or multi-donor trusts to fight corruption and improve the management of the country’s finances.
Further, he said the European Union would fulfil its role regarding the rule of law through the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), and would contribute to private security companies and the transition of Afghan’s responsibility for security. In closing, he reiterated the European Union’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan and support for UNAMA. While meeting the needs of the Afghan people would not be easy, he echoed the words often heard by the Afghan people, “There is a path to the top of even the highest mountain.”
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said milestone events this year, such as the Conferences in London and Kabul, the Peace Jirga and “generally successful” parliamentary elections, had laid the foundation for Afghanistan to become a peaceful, independent, prosperous and neutral State. However, more must be done in that country, including, among others, suppressing extremist threats; achieving durable reconciliation; building competent security forces; protecting borders and curbing drug-related criminal activity. Those were preconditions for effective governance and restoring economic potential and developing democratic institutions. The international presence in the country helped fulfil those tasks, and could only be withdrawn when they finished implementing their mandate, he added.
In all that, CTSO was concerned about the rising death toll among civilians — there had been progress by foreign military in minimizing casualties among the civil population, but greater efforts were needed for progress in normalizing the situation. As four members of CSTO were in Central Asia, along with Afghanistan, the organization was particularly concerned about growing instability in northern Afghan provinces. Ineffective tactics in squeezing militants from combat zones, allowing them to maintain fighting power and relocate to other parts of the country, must end. National reconciliation was important, but should be transparent and any contact with the Taliban behind the scenes was unacceptable.
“Our collective position on this issue is utterly clear and logical. A dialogue with the Taliban can only be conducted by the Government of Afghanistan and only if Taliban show repentance and recognize the Afghan constitution, renounce violence and break all ties with Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups,” he said. Continuing, he said it was also important to fight Afghan drug trafficking, which had spread beyond the region and transformed into a real threat to international peace and stability, and he urged the Afghan Government and the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) to fight the industry more vigorously.
Operational interaction between CSTO and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on narcotics was long overdue, and CSTO could be very useful suppressing drug trafficking. On that point, he noted that CSTO’s large-scale preventative operation, codenamed “Channel”, identified and blocked routes of illegal transportation. “It becomes increasingly clear that today’s fragmentation of international anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan yields no result. The arguments used to justify the rejections of coordinated activities in this area are well-known, and yet they are unconvincing,” he said. Long-term stabilization of Afghanistan was impossible without an integrated international approach and calibrated transfer of responsibility to Afghan authorities.
ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan) said that last year, President Karzai had set forth an ambitious national agenda, calling for all willing to renounce violence and accept the Afghan Constitution to join the peace process and embrace national reconciliation. That call had thus asserted the country’s determination to take the lead ensuring security and stability with continued international support. The President also committed to establish good governance and fight corruption, and had reaffirmed that the Government would focus on economic development and the well-being of the Afghan people while aiming for greater regional cooperation and furthering partnership with international allies. “The President’s national agenda marked a new beginning for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet,” he said.
The London Conference in January was an opportunity to establish concrete plans for transforming Afghanistan’s commitments into realities; mutual security goals were set and specific measures for governance and national reconciliation were presented, he continued. In May, the Presidents of Afghanistan and the United States had met in Washington to strengthen their partnership, while in June, the National Consultative Peace Jirga jumpstarted the Afghan reconciliation process as 1,600 delegates from a wide segment of the society called for an end to the miseries of this war.
The July Kabul Conference, hosted by the Afghan Government and co-chaired by the United Nations, had secured a significant increase in international funding to be channelled through the Afghan Government, and had crafted the Kabul Process, which was the new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan Government. As for other highlights, he said that in September, Afghanistan had its second parliamentary election which, as the first Afghan-led poll, represented a significant transition to leadership and responsibility. Millions of Afghans had cast their ballots to choose 249 members of the Parliament, shaping the nation’s future by strengthening Afghan institutions and building momentum for stabilization.
“More than 1 million votes were discounted in this election, reflecting the seriousness with which the Afghan electoral institutions attribute to fairness in this election, and marking a courageous demonstration of regulating and protecting democracy,” he said. Throughout the year, he continued, the Government had also made strong efforts to enhance trust and cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional partners in peace and security, as well as trade, development and economics, with the President and other officials participating in a number of international summits and meetings.
“This […] Year of Refocus was one marked by hard work and rewarded by notable progress”, in areas of economic growth and human rights, he said. For example, average income had quadrupled since 2001, and Government revenue in the past year surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Women would also make up a quarter of Parliament after the election and were currently 18 per cent of Government employees, he said, while noting that women and girls had equal access to education. The 71 per cent student enrolment rate was also a sign of improving education, while basic health services were now provided to nearly 90 per cent of the population.
“Our fight against narcotics has also seen progress over time. The number of poppy-free provinces has maintained at 20, and there has been a major reduction in the production of opium this year,” he said. Meanwhile, the Governments efforts to fight illicit drugs continued, as it worked with regional and international partners to tackle all aspects of that global challenge. He said there had also been important steps promoting rule of law, including strengthening of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, he said, stressing that the commitment to good governance was demonstrated last year by the prosecutions of dozens of corrupt officials.
However, the Taliban and its allies continued to attempt to spread violence to new parts of the country, killing thousands of innocent men, women and children and further destroying the economy we had worked so hard to build for the last decade. “Despite challenges, we continue to make important strides in the fight against terrorism. During this year, Afghanistan’s partners and friends increased the number of forces and engaged to disrupt and defeat the murderous activities of the Taliban and Al-Qaida,” he said.
The Afghan Government was also committed to take the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014, through a gradual and condition-based process, he said. National security forces had been significantly increased, but strengthening and development of the Afghan armed forces largely depended on the immediate end to parallel private security structures. Reintegration of former combatants was also critical for security, and “the Government embraced the reasonable and responsible policy to open the door for reconciling those who would like to join the peace process.”
“Outreach to the armed opposition has led to their inclusion in peace talks, as an effort for achieving peace and security, while our Government and international partners continue to end the armed activities of the enemies of peace and progress,” he said. Throughout the reconciliation process, human rights, including the rights of women, remained a high priority. Afghans from all segments of society should be more actively involved in the political arena and made to “feel that they are the masters of their own destinies”.
Regional cooperation was also vital for peace and security in Afghanistan, and sincere cooperation was needed to end sanctuaries where terrorists continued to receive training, financial and logistical support. The continued support of friends and allies was also essential to efforts, and Afghanistan appreciated their commitments and sacrifices, despite economic struggles of recent years. The current resolution on the situation in Afghanistan reaffirmed the international community’s commitment. “We know all too well the seriousness of the challenges ahead, but with the strength from enduring and now overcoming decades of war and tragedies, and the sustained support of international partners, our nation can emerge, united for peace and prosperity,” he said.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan), speaking on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, expressed the group’s high commitment to making a contribution to the overall international effort to address the existing problems in Afghanistan. The group had addressed the situation in that country at a recent meeting held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in June, and adopted a declaration there which underscored the importance of attaining peace and stability in Afghanistan, as well as the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating those efforts.
Her delegation confirmed its consistent commitment to Afghanistan becoming a peaceful, self-sufficient, stable and democratic State, free of terrorism and narcotics, and supported the Government-led peace process, in particular the implementation of the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme. It also noted, with satisfaction, the direct assistance of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the process. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization called for the implementation of the commitments made at the International Conference in Kabul in July 2010, which had aimed at further strengthening the stability of Afghanistan. In addition, the group welcomed the Parliamentary elections which took place in September 2010 and commended the preparations undertaken for conducting them under “very difficult” conditions.
The members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization considered the strengthening of regional security and stability in Central Asia as one its highest priorities in the context of its own efforts to counteract terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking and organized transnational crime. It was seriously concerned, therefore, about the current situation in Afghanistan, “from where those threats originated.” Drawing attention to the Secretary-Generals’ report, she noted that the overall number of security incidents had increased by 69 per cent. Also of concern was the stark increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and she stressed that all parties to armed conflict must take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civilians.
Finally, she called on the international community to take urgent action and prompt measures to particularly combat the illicit trafficking of narcotics, which financed and supported the “powerful network of international terrorism”. She urged the international community to develop a global strategy to effectively counteract narcotics trafficking and called on the Afghan Government to cooperate in that effort, as well as to persevere in implementing the National Drug Control Strategy.
CLAUS GRUBE, Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said that as yet another important milestone in the development of a stable Afghanistan was being approached in the NATO summit in Lisbon in two weeks’ time, his country’s Government “is not about to leave Afghanistan”. In line with the conclusions of the Kabul Conference, Denmark would focus even more on strengthening the capability and capacity of Afghan National Security Forces and broader civilian capacity-building, while gradually becoming less engaged in direct combat operations.
He supported and encouraged the transition of lead responsibility to the Afghan authorities, but stressed that such shifts would occur based on the conditions on the ground and the overall capacities of Afghan institutions, not least the security forces. Fully supporting the international partnership with Afghanistan, he said it was through such cooperation that Denmark would continue to assist the build-up of Afghan capability to manage its own affairs. As a demonstration of its commitment, Denmark would also strengthen its support for the rule-of-law sector and within the area of governance, both at the national level and in the Helmand Province.
That said, he reiterated that sustainable transition hinged on the ability of the Afghan Government to ensure security, demonstrate progress in governance and provide basic services. Therefore, the Afghan Government had to demonstrate results in socio-economic development as well as in institutional reform, including increased transparency and sustained efforts to fight corruption. Taking note of the Peace Jirga and its conclusions on reintegration and reconciliation, he said Denmark supported that process and encouraged all countries engaged in Afghanistan, including its neighbours, to play an active and constructive role.
TINE MØRCH SMITH ( Norway) said that her country was pleased to co-sponsor the resolution before the Assembly and considered the text a manifestation of common responsibility and commitment to support the Afghan people in securing a brighter future. The text also recognized the important progress Afghanistan had made to rebuild its country, while acknowledging that there was more work to be done. The resolution reflected that the Afghans should take increasing responsibility for their own affairs, and that a steady and responsible transition to Afghan leadership was the key to its sustainability. Further, it reflected an evolving partnership between Afghanistan and the international community based on trust and joint commitments. However, it was a reminder that a successful transition would require hard work, political will and systematic efforts by all actors, and most notably, a robust Afghan leadership.
In that regard, she said the resolution reflected the message of the Kabul Conference, which had called for a renewed partnership between Afghanistan and the international community reinforced by a deepening contract between the Afghan Government and its citizens. Going forward, stakeholders and partners should respect Afghanistan’s own vision and priorities and demonstrate better unity and coordination. That would include providing additional funding to the Afghan budgets, to enable a shift from quick impact projects, among others, and to enable Afghan institutions to design and implement their own programs. In return, the Afghan Government must bring real change to the lives of its people, by delivering justice, good governance, combating corruption and improving public services. Afghan leadership must enable a political process that is inclusive and truly national in its nature.
Further, she said a durable peace required a political settlement, and in that regard, the Peace Jirga expressed a national consensus to fight injustice, corruption and weak government. Norway supported an Afghan-led political process, based on dialogue and inclusiveness, particularly of the Afghan women, and one that emphasized civic education, as well as efforts to strengthen the Parliament as an institution. In closing, she said Norway condemned the recent attacks on the United Nations’ facilities in Herat, which had been a “brutal reminder that security and safety in Afghanistan is still a long way off”. To that end, she reaffirmed Norway’s commitment to assist Afghanistan achieve peace, security and independence.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) welcomed and supported the international community’s moves to assist Afghanistan’s transition to autonomy, stability and democracy in line with the principles of effective partnership agreed at the Kabul Conference, saying that Italy’s focus was on training and mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces and on developing institutional capacities at the local and central levels. Italy was convinced that the growth, governance and stability of Afghanistan were closely linked and mutually reinforcing, and therefore, encouraged prompt implementation of the National Development Programmes endorsed at the Kabul Conference and a renewed effort to address shortfalls in governance, rule of law and transparency.
Italy looked forward to the outcome of the parliamentary elections, as they represented a crucial test of Afghan ownership and accountability and a further step towards a functional democratic dynamic, he said, and acknowledged the efforts already made to ensure the transparency and credibility of the entire process and commended the increasing democratic awareness of the Afghans. Along the same lines, he reiterated the urgent need for overall and inclusive long-term reform of the electoral process, under the aegis and with the assistance of the United Nations.
In that regard, he expressed appreciation of UNAMA for its pivotal role in coordinating the numerous initiatives in support of those elections and in ensuring the coherence of the international effort in Afghanistan. In preparation for the upcoming transition process, he reaffirmed Italy’s long-term commitment to facilitating the achievement of non-reversible and credible objectives in the fields of security, governance and development.
SIRODJIDIN M. ASLOV (Tajikistan), joining the statements made by the representatives of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, noted that it was a co-sponsor of the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan which was currently before the General Assembly. He called attention to a recent visit of President of Tajikistan last week to Kabul, during which he had met with President Karzai, and to a package of bilateral agreements which emerged as an outcome of the visit. Tajikistan fully supported efforts of the Afghan Government to pursue reconciliation under the Peace Jirga, as well as the recent elections held in the country, and welcomed the work of UNAMA.
Tajikistan was committed to offering support to its neighbour, particularly in the form of specialized training. It had created training and re-training centres for Afghan authorities. However, military activity alone could not create a lasting peace. Support for agriculture and infrastructure initiatives was also needed, and energy was critical to restoring the devastated economy of Afghanistan, he said.
In particular, Tajikistan supported efforts to utilize hydropower and other clean energy systems, as well as agricultural efforts, throughout Afghanistan. He further supported the building of a pipeline through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and other States, which would supply renewable sources of energy. In the context of globalization, he said the value of Afghanistan’s location as a crossroads could only increase. Tajikistan also supported several related transportation and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including rail lines and bridges, some of which were under consideration or were expected to be carried out in the near future.
MAHMOUD BARIMANI, Director General of International Economic and Specialized Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said the United Nations central role in coordinating efforts in Afghanistan was of paramount importance and deserved full support. He was pleased at progress achieved by Afghanistan in the security sector and in the formation of representative political institutions. The recent election had been very much an Afghan-led process, but such progress had been overshadowed by challenges of insecurity, a lack of infrastructure, and narcotics and refugee issues.
In the nine years since foreign forces had entered Afghanistan with the aim of restoring peace, insecurity had increased as compared to last year, according to many official reports. “This is a clear indication that increased foreign troops and military operations do not necessarily contribute to solving the problem in Afghanistan,” he said. Rather, it added to the violence, as people were disenchanted by the conduct of foreign forces. Further, according to Afghan officials, 9 million Afghans lived in extreme poverty today; two years ago, they numbered 5 million. Rising costs of rice, cooking oil, and meat had pushed many into a high risk of food shortage.
In other areas, he found it odd that a United States Government audit had shown that $18 billion received by United States firms to rebuild Afghanistan had gone unaccounted. He wondered whether that money had perhaps gone to fill the pockets of big weapons manufacturers. It was high time to assess developments since the military take over of Afghanistan. In that context, he urged avoiding the use of “stereotyped or imported prescriptions” and admitting that security and development were interlinked. “Our approach should be based on realities on the ground,” he said. It was clear that the hearts and minds of Afghans could not be won by military operations. There was a need for foreign forces to leave. The Afghan army and national police must be strengthened with a view to taking charge of security.
Moreover, narcotic drugs were still among the most serious challenges to development and security in Afghanistan, he said. Iran had been at the forefront of a full-scale war against drug smuggling, having spent billions of dollars to combat drug traffickers, and called on those in the international community charged with combating drugs to take measurable steps to curb that threat. On the issue of Afghan refugees, Iran had extended hospitality to 3 million Afghan nationals over the last 30 years. One million Afghan refugees were registered in Iran, along with many unregistered, who enjoyed Iran’s education and welfare services.
Despite the challenges, Afghanistan had achieved much on its journey to stability, he said, noting that the Government’s new approach to transition the country towards development was a great achievement. Iran had a vital interest in a secure and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with its neighbours. In recent years, it had undertaken reconstruction projects, among others, that amounted to $500 million. Also, a conference on a regional approach to development in Afghanistan had been held this week in Tehran. Iran intended to work within that regional framework and had taken part in several high-level meetings with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Also, UNAMA’s efforts to encourage regional countries to help halt narcotics trade and illegal movement of people were welcome. In closing, he expressed hope for a more prosperous future for Afghanistan and extended Iran’s full support for achieving it.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said there was no more serious — or difficult — work than building peace, and therefore, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to help build a more secure and stable Afghanistan. He encouraged the Afghan Government to continue to address commitments made at the recent London and Kabul Conferences, including the determination to support its people, combat corruption and provide access to justice for all Afghans. He also encouraged international support for the Kabul Process, with its focus on Afghan leadership and ownership, as was recently reflected by parliamentary elections and efforts made by national institutions to enact measures to ensure credible, transparent and legitimate elections.
In that regard, the Afghan Government’s commitment at the Kabul Conference to initiate a strategy for long-term electoral reform within the next six months was an important first step in strengthening its democracy, he said. Australia would also support Afghanistan’s transition towards full responsibility for security by the end of 2014. Echoing the words of Australia’s Prime Minister, he said, “ Australia will not abandon Afghanistan.” In addition to military action, ending the conflict in Afghanistan would require reconciliation between the Afghan Government and insurgents, which must be consistent with the conditions set, including accepting the Afghan Constitution, renouncing violence and severing links to terrorist groups.
He went on to say that Australia’s $25 million commitment to the Afghan Government’s Peace and Reintegration Program was conditional on the establishment of appropriate governance and a role for donors to manage the fund. It remained the largest non-NATO donor to ISAF, and since the London Conference, had delivered a 50 per cent increase in its civilian commitment. Further, Australia increased its aid to Afghanistan by 50 per cent, for a total of $123 million, half of which would be channelled for assistance through Afghan Government systems. Noting some of the progress to date in Afghanistan, he said, that in primary education, school enrolments had increased from 1 million in 2001 to around 6 million today, with girls making up some 2 million of those enrolees. “Nothing better symbolizes the fall of the Taliban than these 2 million Afghan girls learning to read,” he said. In closing, he said Australia encouraged others to protect the citizens of all nations by standing firm against international terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaida, “so they will not find a safe haven again in Afghanistan.”
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) noted significant developments since the last debate in efforts to strengthen Afghanistan’s responsibility for its security, governance and development, especially the holding of the first international conference on Afghanistan — on Afghan soil — in decades. The Kabul Conference had renewed the partnership between the Afghan Government and the global community, and its outcomes deserved the strongest support. Among the most important elements was the transition to full Afghan responsibility for security, on the basis of mutually agreed conditions. Progress would depend on improving recruitment and training of Afghan forces, and providing them with the necessary equipment. Deeply regretting increased numbers of civilian casualties, she said: “There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.”
Brazil supported the Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration process, she said, with the Consultative Peace Jirga demanding that political and social achievements not be jeopardized in such work. The principles of effective partnership recognized at the Conference had marked a significant breakthrough in the international cooperation with Afghanistan. Brazil looked forward to the timely implementation of the commitment to increase aid channelled through the Afghan budget and realigned with Afghan priorities. Counter-narcotics remained a serious concern and, as everywhere, required a shared responsibility. Countries of production, transit and consumption must play their roles, with cooperation founded on respect for Afghan sovereignty. In closing, she noted that Brazil had decided to open a resident Embassy in Kabul and recently sent a technical mission to identify areas for cooperation, including in agriculture and mining.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) expressed his delegation’s wish to see Afghanistan as a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous homeland for its people in full accordance with their aspirations. In that regard, Indonesia both supported and had co-sponsored the draft text before the Assembly. He noted the forward progress made due to national assembly elections that took place in September 2010, which had been a “positive step in the strengthening of democracy”. Indonesia hoped that the Electoral Commission, with the assistance of the United Nations and other partners, would continue to improve the electoral and monitoring process. Indonesia’s experience in promoting national peace also led it to share the values reflected in the “Vision for Afghanistan 2010,” articulated in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
Continuing, he said Indonesia had and continued to conduct several training and capacity-building programmes for Afghan officials, including in the areas of agriculture, public health, waste management, public administration reform and others. It was critical for the Afghan Government to succeed, among other ways, with the aim of its national security forces leading and conducting military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014. Indonesia was mindful of the need that all forms of international assistance, including security assistance, should take into account the views of the Afghan people and Government. National ownership was critical, said the representative.
Indonesia remained deeply concerned about the deteriorating conditions of security in Afghanistan, and continued to deplore the increasing activities of militants and insurgent forces, including their attacks on innocent civilians. It also condemned the “wanton attacks” on workers of the relief community and UNAMA. In order to tackle those issues, a cooperative and strong partnership between Afghanistan and its neighbours was crucial. Finally, while Indonesia supported the continued role of UNAMA in assisting recovery and rehabilitation, it remained concerned about the obstacles posed by deteriorating security in the country which continued to hinder the implementation of its mandate.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) urged the international community to continue to support Afghanistan by adopting the draft resolution before the Assembly by consensus. Japan welcomed the preliminary results of the Independent Election Commission of the Lower House Election, and praised the Afghan citizens’ participation in that poll, in spite of the security risks, so they could have a hand in deciding their own future. He commended the efforts of the Electoral Complaints Commission, which was conducting adjudication of complaints and reviewing the candidates that were allegedly involved in electoral violations, and stressed the importance of longer-term election reform.
He went on to note the progress made at the recent Kabul Conference, most notably in the areas of stabilizing and reconstructing Afghanistan. In that regard, it was essential that the Afghan Government made the necessary reforms to strengthen its financial management capability, reduce corruption, and enhance coordination and monitoring aid through the Joint Coordination Monitoring Board (JCMB). Japan’s assistance to Afghanistan would focus on three areas: security, reintegration and development, and financial assistance, for which Japan would provide up to $5 billion to Afghanistan over five years.
Japan would also continue to provide assistance for the salaries and equipment of the Afghan National Police, and to provide funding to train Afghan police in Turkey. Japan also disbursed $50 million to the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, and called for swift implementation of the corresponding programme through effective use of the funds. Regarding development, Japan’s assistance focused on human resources, infrastructure and rebuilding the agriculture sector and rural communities. Finally, he said Japan remained committed to nation-building efforts in Afghanistan.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said that as the Afghan Government assumed greater responsibilities in the areas of security, governance, economic and social development, it would need the continuous support of the international community. To sustain peace and development in the country, a stable political system based on popular support and the participation of the Afghan people was essential. Pakistan greatly valued the recently held elections in Afghanistan, which showed the commitment of the Afghan people to democracy and democratic institutions, despite numerous challenges.
Pakistan believed that the “vexing question” of security, in a society suffering from four decades of war, could not be addressed by imposing another war. A viable reconciliation process was vital for durable and long-term peace in Afghanistan. To that end, Pakistan supported an Afghan-led and inclusive reconciliation process to bring the opposition groups in the country into the political mainstream, and welcomed the establishment of the high-level Peace Council in the country, as well as the installation of a Peace and Reconciliation Trust Fund.
Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, including Pakistan, had a special role to play in security in the country’s stability. In that regard, he said Pakistan was engaged in a number of regional initiatives with a view to promoting economic and commercial cooperation and rooting out the “menaces of narcotics, terrorism and extremism”. Bilaterally, Pakistan and Afghanistan had successfully concluded the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, and in September, President Karzai visited Pakistan. A joint statement, issued following the visit, outlined a detailed course of action to further strengthen the partnership between the two countries in five key areas: security and counter-terrorism; economic cooperation, transit trade and investment; infrastructure development and connectivity; energy linkages; and capacity-building in education, health and agriculture.
Additionally, Pakistan was engaged in several reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan, including building hospitals, roads and educational institutions. An increase in the number of extended scholarships had brought some 6,500 Afghan students to Pakistani colleges and universities. In the area of security, he said Pakistan’s engagement with Afghanistan and its international partners was robust, said the representative. The Tripartite Commission, which also included the United States and the International Security Assistance Force, had made recent gains. Pakistan had established 1,000 border posts, with more than 120,000 Pakistani troops deployed on the border.
He said Pakistan had also housed more than 3 million Afghan refugees over the past three decades. Despite isolated spells of voluntary return, Pakistan was still currently hosting some 1.7 million refugees, and was committed to their safe and dignified return. However, the delegation emphasized the need for more diligent and sustained efforts in this regard, and the need for strengthening reintegration programmes for refugees within the Afghan development strategy. Pakistan expected the United Nations and the international community to assist that endeavour with all necessary resources.
SIMONA MICULESCU ( Romania) said the discussions around the situation in Afghanistan provided an excellent opportunity to underline the instrumental role of the United Nations in stabilization and reconstruction processes. Romania was honoured to be a co-sponsor of the draft resolution introduced by Germany, and she asked that the Assembly adopt it without a vote. Such a show of consensus would be a clear reiteration of the international community’s commitment, she said, expressing hope that Afghanistan would continue to make progress in achieving a better life for its people.
With the Conferences held early this year in London and Kabul, the new Afghan Government and the international community entered into a new phase of partnership concerning the way to ensure full ownership of sovereignty by the Afghan authorities and people. In that vein, Romania was heartened to learn the Kabul process was on track, she said. At the same time, there were challenges faced by Afghanistan and the international community, and Romania fully shared the Secretary-General’s opinion that the progress was fragile and continued to be overshadowed by the security situation.
Yet failure was not an option, she declared, and for the Kabul Process to advance, it was paramount that all stakeholders were on the same page. Since 2002, Romania had been actively engaged in the international efforts in Afghanistan. Currently there were over 1,600 Romanian soldiers on the Afghan territory, and that number was predicted to reach 1,800 troops by the end of the year. Romania’s presence in Afghanistan meant more than troops, however, for success could not be guaranteed through military efforts alone. There was no security without good governance, social and economic development, which is why Romania was assisting Afghanistan, through contributions to EUPOL or offering scholarships to Afghani nationals. Romania contributed to bringing peace and security to Afghanistan and did not recoil when its soldiers made a heroic tribute to liberty. In conclusion, she stressed that a comprehensive approach toward Afghanistan was more important than ever.
KAKOLI GHOSH DASTIDAR, Member of Parliament of India, expressed support for the resolution currently before the Assembly, which her Government was co-sponsoring, as it had done for several years. She also noted its appreciation for the holding of the national assembly elections in Afghanistan in September 2010, as well as for the “critical supportive role” played by the United Nations and the international community towards organizing that vote. India’s relationship with Afghanistan was multi-faceted and was characterized by civilizational, trade and cultural exchanges stretching back to antiquity. Today, India was committed to the unity, integrity and independence of Afghanistan, and had contributed to those goals through its Development Partnership, which was implemented entirely in accordance with the priorities of the Afghan Government and people.
India’s assistance programmes were active throughout Afghanistan and covered all sectors of development, including humanitarian, agriculture, institution- and capacity-building, and others. She said the ultimate aim of the assistance, which stood at over $1.3 billion, was to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan state and people “to stand on their own feet” in the areas of governance and services for the Afghan people. Afghanistan’s greatest economic potential lay perhaps in its role as a trade, transport and energy hub and as a bridge linking Central, West, and South Asia and the Gulf. India believed that the international community should expand, rather than hinder, trade, transit and transport ties in the region, including overland transit and trade, and should “come together to forge greater cooperation” in trade and transit.
Growing economic interdependence would also help in weaning disaffected youth away from insurgency and militancy and in creating a zone of co-prosperity in the region, she continued. Adequate capacity of the Afghan security forces and other Afghan institutions were necessary for protecting the country’s sovereignty, plurality and democracy, she said. Gains of the last nine years stood to be squandered if those aspects did not receive the attention they deserved as the international community pondered its next steps in Afghanistan. In addition, security and stabilization of the country would remain a distant goal unless the syndicate of terrorism, including elements of Al-Qaida, the Taliban, Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) and other extremist groups were isolated and rooted out.
PHILIP JOHN PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said the Kabul Conference had been a key step, “an unprecedented event for Afghanistan”, and he commended both the Afghan Government and the United Nations for that achievement. The Conference showed the world that Afghanistan was increasingly able to run its own affairs, and the Kabul Process, as an outcome, was a major achievement. It was an accomplishment in itself that international donors, including the United Kingdom, had committed additional funds to Afghanistan while it lacked security. The Afghan Government had already made progress in the Kabul process, including the opening of a human rights unit in the ministry of justice, he said.
Although the security situation remained serious, steady progress was being made in violent areas of Helmand and Kandahar, and progress in areas under control of the Afghan national forces was increasing. Yet, while the insurgency had been slowed, the situation remained challenging, and he paid tribute to Afghan and international forces who had lost their lives. While it was essential that partners worked together to transfer all security responsibilities to Afghanistan by 2014, that did not mean Afghanistan’s partners were looking for an exit from the country — the United Kingdom was clear it wanted an enduring relationship.
The United Kingdom also deeply regretted civilian casualties, and would continue to work to further minimize such deaths in the future, but he pointed out that, according to recent United Nations, some 86 per cent of civilian deaths came at the hands of militant forces. He went on to welcome economic developments such as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and other regional agreements and cooperation that would help build links. He also reiterated the United Kingdom’s continued support for UNAMA, “which does essential work”. For its part, the United Kingdom would see through its commitment to Afghanistan with “rigour and determination”, he said.
PAWEŁ HERCZYŃSKI ( Poland) stated that his delegation had always found it necessary to ensure the international community’s continuous support for Afghanistan, especially in the field of strengthening the capabilities of Afghan security forces. Poland’s involvement in Afghanistan demonstrated its sense of responsibility for the situation there, which it said still posed “numerous threats” to international peace and security. He expressed hope that the decision of the Polish Government this year to increase the number of its troops to 3,000 would significantly contribute to building a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
The recent conferences in London and Kabul had formulated a realistic framework for the transfer of responsibility for the security situation in Afghanistan to that country’s own authorities, he said. Poland, being actively engaged in the Kabul Process, took into consideration Afghan aspirations, expressed by President Karzai, including, among others, that the transfer of responsibilities should end by 2014. The success of the Afghan-led process of reconciliation and reintegration would be one of the factors leading to the creation of a stable and secure Afghanistan. In that regard, he noted the debate in the framework of the Peace Jirga last June and the recent nominations for the High Peace Council.
He went on to note that since 2008, Poland had been responsible for the security of the Afghan province of Ghazni. In that role, it had cooperated with central and local authorities to build the conditions conducive to the transfer of responsibilities, and stood ready to continue its support through training, contribution to capacity-building of Afghan security forces and development aid. To date, more than 20 per cent of Poland’s military personnel had been engaged in training and mentoring activities. Poland also stood ready to share its own experience in the field of a successful political transition.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) recalled that nearly 10 years had passed since his country first committed its Special Forces to Afghanistan and then provided a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan province. Afghanistan had come a long way since then, but areas of concern remained. One had to do with the recently conducted parliamentary election, which had been successfully carried out by Afghanistan itself with the level of violence kept well below that which many had feared.
Yet, while admitting that Afghanistan could not be held to the measure of mature democracies, he was disappointed that in some areas, voting had not been conducted because of security concerns or other deliberate obstruction of the polling process. The elected officials must now ensure that the will of the brave people who had endured intimidation was carried out. They must work for all Afghans and be accountable to them and the central Government and the provinces must work together as a cohesive whole, he stressed.
Moving on, he said an essential element of good governance was the elimination of corruption. “Corruption is corrosive,” he stressed, adding that corruption undermined domestic and international confidence, destroyed capacity, hindered growth and sorely tested the capacity of contributing nations to maintain or enhance contributions to Afghanistan. Agencies of the central Government and of the new Parliament must come together to prioritise issues in the search for eliminating corruption. Further, he said the security situation was of concern and a political solution still remained to be achieved. That process involved the continued increasing isolation of hard-core insurgency leaders while the majority were integrated into mainstream society. The High Council for Peace would have a role to play, as would Afghanistan’s many neighbours.
ROSEMARY DI CARLO ( United States) said she was pleased join other Member States in co-sponsoring the resolution, which recognized the progress made by Afghan people, and acknowledged that much work remained. She noted the crucial role of the Secretary-General, UNAMA and other agencies in helping end the violent attacks by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups that threatened the Afghan Government’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful country.
The United States echoed the international community’s firm condemnation of all such violence, she said, including the recent attack on the United Nations compound in Herat. Further, her country applauded the transition of international and Afghan security forces and welcomed United Nations’ unwavering commitment to Afghanistan, even in the face of such violence. Furthermore, her country supported the Afghan Government’s efforts toward reconciliation and urged it to cut ties to Al-Qaida and ensure that insurgents laid down arms and abided by the tenets of the Afghan Constitution, including guaranteeing the rights of women and respect for ethnic groups in the country.
In closing, the United States supported Afghanistan’s sovereignty and reiterated its long-term commitment to their partnership. Since January 2009, the United States had tripled its number of civilians working in Afghanistan from 320 to 1,000, she said, noting that efforts focused on trainers and funding to develop and support of the goal for Afghan security forces to take the lead in security by 2014. Turning to the recent Kabul Conference, she noted that more than 50 nations had recommitted their efforts toward building stronger peace and stability in Afghanistan. Continuing in that spirit, the United States and its international partners were continued to work with the Afghan people to build a more stable and prosperous future.
GILLES RIVARD ( Canada) said that his delegation remained concerned by the security situation in Afghanistan, but noted that, in spite of continued challenges, the National Security Forces were growing in confidence, capacity and capability. Canada would continue working with the Afghan people to set up the conditions for a successful transition to greater Afghan leadership on security. The delegation further strongly supported the Kabul Process in charting the way forward in Afghanistan’s sustainable development, as well as the supporting role of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB). Canada looked forward to working with the Government and its partners in realizing the objectives of the process.
Promoting and protecting human rights, including women’s rights, was a core element of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, he continued, welcoming the Afghan Government’s recent decision to provide the Independent Human Rights Commission with core budget support and urged it to do so in a manner which preserved the independence of that body.
He noted that the recent parliamentary elections were a step in Afghanistan’s ongoing democratic transition as the Government continued to strengthen governance and democratic institutions. However, he said his delegation was concerned by allegations of electoral irregularities and fraud, and looked to the Afghan electoral institutions to address such charges in an open and transparent manner. Canada looked forward to the release of final, certified results by the Independent Electoral Commission, following the adjudication of complaints by the Electoral Complaints Commission.
MILOŠ KOTEREC ( Slovakia) said Afghanistan was an “unchallenged priority for all of us” and his country was committed to contributing to its stability and security within the ISAF operation as well as civilian and development activities. As agreed at the Kabul Conference, Slovakia considered phased transition of the security to the Afghan leadership its primary task. In spring this year, Slovakia increased its troops in ISAF to 300, and yesterday its Government agreed to a new military contribution to focus on the transition process.
The Slovak Government, non-governmental organizations, universities and private sector had recently worked on projects such as reintegrating of displaced persons, establishing a gastroenterological centre in Kabul, building capacity at Kabul’s Polytechnic University, supporting development of rural communities in the Parwan province through involving women, expanding urgent-care capacities of the hospital in Lodin and educating inhabitants of rural communities on more effective ways to profit from agriculture. Through targeted projects well-coordinated with priorities of the Afghan Government, Slovakia aimed to improve daily lives, he said. “We need understanding and trust of the Afghans to fulfil our common goal of a secure, stable and prosperous country,” he said.
WANG MIN ( China ) stated that, in recent years, thanks to the Afghan leadership and people, as well as to the efforts of the international community, reconstruction in Afghanistan had made headway. The recent Kabul Conference had marked an important step and had pointed the direction for the Kabul Process, while the September parliamentary elections were additional proof of progress underway. Nonetheless, the international community should not lose sight of the fact that Afghanistan faced challenges that required sustained attention.
In that regard, China wished to highlight five key points: first, in order to achieve peace, stability and development, the Afghan people needed to be “in the driver’s seat” and to achieve ownership over their country’s affairs. To that end, China supported efforts in capacity-building. Second, a balanced effort was needed in financial matters, good governance, the rule of law and other areas. Third, the international community should help the Afghan Government build its security capacity, he said, stressing that China was very concerned about high civilian casualties and increased security incidents.
Fourth, on the basis of respecting Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty, he said the international community should align its assistance with the country’s own national strategy and priority areas. Fifth and finally, the “tumour” of narcotics was a major threat endangering the country and spreading to its neighbours. The international community should pay more attention to controlling narcotics and should adhere to related international strategies in this regard, said the representative.
As a friendly neighbour, China followed Afghanistan’s development closely and had engaged in its reconstruction. From 2002 to 2009, China contributed hundreds of millions of Yuan to many projects in areas including reconstruction, health care and education. Additionally, China would continue to step up training of Afghan professionals, with a focus on the country’s areas of highest need. The Delegation believed that the continued efforts of the Afghan Government and people would rid the country of the shadow of war, and would continue on path to regional peace, security and prosperity.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that the situation in Afghanistan called for active engagement and that even small countries such as his had their share of responsibilities in the international effort. After its independence in 2006, Montenegro had donated light weapons and ammunitions to Afghanistan. Recently, infantry and medical teams had been stationed in northern Afghanistan as part of the ISAF operation. Although in terms of actual numbers, Montenegro’s contribution was “symbolic”, he pointed out that those personnel represented 2 per cent of its armed forces, which was also experiencing a dynamic reform process.
Continuing, he said that Montenegro and Croatia had just launched an initiative to investigate developing a joint team of instructors that would provide assistance to the Afghan security forces. To that end, he invited other Balkan States to join this project. Concluding, he said that the draft resolution on Afghanistan, of which his country was a co-sponsor with a large cross-regional group of States, sent a “clear signal of support” for the international community’s efforts to assist the Afghan people in building a prosperous and safer country based on the rule of law. In that light, he expected to see the resolution adopted by consensus, reflecting unity and solidarity both in the United Nations and in the international community.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey), praising Afghanistan for holding its second parliamentary elections since 2001 amid difficult security conditions, condemned all attacks and attempts to undermine that process. Turkey was heartened that the United Nations was determined to do its utmost in the face of such violence and he condemned the 23 October terrorist attack on the world body’s compound in Herat. Calling the elections another step forward in consolidating Afghanistan’s democratic institutions, he was confident that Afghan electoral bodies would keep up their good work in weeks ahead to determine the final results.
The Kabul Conference was a turning point in empowering Afghans, he said, and the focus now should be on implementing the Kabul Process. Turkey was pleased that the Government was showing strong political will to take that process forward, and the global community should be steadfast in its pledge to assist it in a manner that conformed to requirements on the ground. For its part, Turkey was continuing the most comprehensive assistance programme in its history, with civilian and military capabilities supporting Afghanistan’s transformation, which included a focus on education, health and agricultural development.
Moreover, the second Turkish civilian-led provincial reconstruction team in Jawzjan had been launched on 21 July, immediately following the Kabul Conference, he said. Turkey had trained 3,000 Afghan National Security Forces in the first half of the year, both in Afghanistan and Turkey - a number that was expected to double by year-end. Regionally, Turkey was working to reinvigorate cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours with a view to encouraging countries to jointly address challenges that affected them as a whole. Before the year ended, Turkey would have hosted no less than 20 major international meetings in support of such cooperation, including the Fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan. Turkey was confident that Afghanistan’s stability would grow in the future and, with that in mind, was ready to do its utmost.
DALIU ŬEKUOLIS ( Lithuania) in aligning itself with the statement made earlier by Belgium on behalf of the European Union, said the support of the international community and ISAF in Afghanistan was essential to support the efforts of the Afghan people in building a stable and secure country. The London and Kabul conferences had set a clear agenda and criteria for the transition to full responsibility by the Afghan people, he said, noting that the parliamentary election showed the potential of the Government to take responsibility.
To that end, he said that dealing adequately with the enormity of the tasks ahead demanded that continuous and balanced attention be given to all provinces, in order to ensure that gains in some areas was not undercut by lack of progress in others. In fact, Lithuania had experienced that in the Ghor province, where it had been leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team since 2005. The lack of the Government’s attention to its needs had created tensions within communities and between the local people and the Government.
In that regard, he called on UNAMA to vigorously encourage the Afghan Government to focus on programmes at the regional level in all areas of the country. The missions’ presence in the provinces would benefit the Afghan people and better prepare them for taking full responsibility for their country. For its part, Lithuania was poised to assume the chairmanship for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2011, and was considering how to enhance its role in Central Asia and regions bordering Afghanistan. Its upcoming development cooperation ministerial conference, “The Road to Successful Transition in Afghanistan, Province by Province”, held in Vilnius, would foster success of Afghanistan’s transition to a peaceful, secure and democratic country.
Mr. ASHOUR ( Libya) said that despite repeated calls to end the ongoing suffering and murder of Afghan civilians at the hands of the Taliban and international forces, the viscous cycle of violent acts against innocent victims continued. He called on the international forces to swiftly bring an end to those crimes, and called for impartial inquiries to ensure that the perpetrators did not go unpunished. The failure of international efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan was due to the fact that the strategy was to use military force, which encouraged Afghans who felt socially marginalized to join the ranks of those wishing to foment instability.
To that end, he reiterated Libya’s belief that military force was not a comprehensive solution for national reconciliation and development, and endorsed calls by Afghan leaders for a ceasefire with Taliban movement, in order to bring stability to the country. It was evident that the amount spent on the war to date - had it been spent on development, not war - would have brought about peace and security. The international community should instead assist the Afghan people to build a democratic and stable prosperous state, he said.
For that reason, he said, the international community must enact programmes that enabled the Afghanistan to shoulder all its responsibilities as a sovereign State, which could provide security for its people and establish the right climate for the withdrawal of international forces. Further, a precondition for national reconciliation was to swiftly strengthen the role of the ISAF mandate and define a broader role for the United Nations, in particular on development and rebuilding projects. Finally, he said national reconciliation was not possible with foreign occupation, and therefore, Libya hoped the international community would continue to support Afghanistan in a more effective way so it could enjoy full stability and economic development. As demonstrated at the Kabul Conference, Afghanistan’s capacity to take up a leadership role and take charge of their future should happen as soon as possible.
Action on Draft Resolution
Following its debate, the Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/65/L.9).
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