Nine Years Ago, Afghanistan Was ‘a Broken Country’, Its Speaker Tells Security Council, Assuring It of Nation’s Desire Now to Stand Solidly on Its Own Feet

18 March 2010
SC/9885

Nine Years Ago, Afghanistan Was ‘a Broken Country’, Its Speaker Tells Security Council, Assuring It of Nation’s Desire Now to Stand Solidly on Its Own Feet

18 March 2010
Security Council
SC/9885
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6287th Meeting (AM)

Nine Years Ago, Afghanistan Was ‘a Broken Country’, Its Speaker Tells Security

Council, Assuring It of Nation’s Desire Now to Stand Solidly on its Own Feet

United Nations Peacekeeping Chief Says Focus Must Be on ‘Afghanization’,

With Sufficient Global Support for Afghan People, Institutions to Take Charge

A new phase of relations had begun between Afghanistan and the global community, and the new Afghan Government was assuming greater responsibility for the country’s peace, security, and economic and electoral reform processes, speakers told the Security Council today as it considered extension and adjustment of the mandate to assist that country.

Afghanistan’s representative told the Council that, nine years ago, Afghanistan had been a “broken” nation, and international support had been a crucial crutch in its slow healing.  “ Afghanistan is eager to stand solidly on its own feet”, but it would take time for the Government and security forces to build the capacity to ensure peace and good governance.  In strong partnership with the international community, “we can succeed”, in the years to come, he said.

His Government had taken up the leadership challenge and, in the coming year, would focus on “Afghanization” -- Afghans and Afghan priorities would take the lead in every area, he explained.  An international conference in Kabul in coming months would focus on how to implement that idea in areas like security, governance and development.  “This transition is not an end, not an endgame, but a new beginning,” he declared.  There was now the chance to end ongoing violence and build a State capable of protecting its citizens.

The first step, he said, was to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and improve security, and the new strategy of General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), had begun to turn the tide.  The second step was reconciliation, and the Government would hold a consultative national peace jirga, with a view to reaching agreement on a framework for understanding with the opposition and creating a mechanism to pursue that understanding.

Also, Afghanistan would hold its parliamentary elections in September, he said, and it hoped to learn from past experience by taking short- and long-term electoral reforms to ensure that polls were transparent and credible.  President Hamid Karzai had determined that two of the seats on the Electoral Complaints Commission would be held by foreign experts.  Assistance would be needed to support the elections.  The importance of the United Nations role in supporting Afghanistan and coordinating international efforts could not be overstated.

Briefing the Council on the unfolding situation, Alain le Roy, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the focus “must remain firmly on ensuring that ‘Afghanization’ actually becomes more than the slogan it has been thus far, and that the political calendar before us is premised upon it”.  The global community had to allow Afghans to be in charge of, and lead, processes, while also provide the capacity-building and support required for Afghan institutions to take on that role.

That “Afghanization” must formally begin with the Kabul conference, he said.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was supporting Afghan counterparts in preparing for the conference, and he encouraged the early formal appointment of lead ministries in those preparations.  President Karzai’s engagement with regional players, and convening of the peace jirga, were significant steps, but to ensure success, such efforts must be coupled with multiple confidence-building measures on both sides and be anchored by embracing the progress achieved since 2002.

Outlining some of those achievements, the United States delegate said the current ISAF operations in Helmand had been conducted with an unprecedented degree of Afghan planning and leadership.  The Government in Kabul continued to staff up critical service ministry positions.  However, the real test would be in the Afghan Government’s ability to meet the expectations of the local population.  As the Government assumed greater security responsibility, it would support Afghan initiatives to provide a path for fighters to leave the battlefield.

Expressing a view from the region, Pakistan’s delegate said his country was committed to supporting Afghan efforts for a secure and stable nation.  The Fourth Trilateral Summit in Istanbul in January had reflected a desire to make the best possible use of the regional approach for peace, security and economic progress.   Pakistan also supported the reconciliation and reintegration process.  “Anyone willing to lay down arms, or consider the possibility, should be considered wholly, without recrimination,” he added.

Pivotal to those and other efforts was the future role of UNAMA, many speakers said, as they voiced support for extending the Mission’s mandate another 12 months.   Italy’s delegate said that any Council resolution on that matter should be centred on the concept of transition, as defined at the 28 January International Conference in London.  Afghan authorities must be encouraged to follow through with their commitments, correct deficiencies in the electoral law and overcome technical difficulties in organizing the elections.  That was particularly important vis-à-vis voter registration, vetting procedures for candidates and recruitment of provincial-level staff to man polling stations.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, China, Austria, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, United Kingdom, Uganda, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Japan, Gabon, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and India.

A representative of the European Union also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:23 a.m. and adjourned at 1:40 p.m.

Background

For its deliberations this morning, the Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/64/705-S/2010/127), providing an overview of developments in the period since 28 December 2009, notably the certification of provincial council elections, holding of the 28 January 2010 International Conference on Afghanistan and evolution of the security and economic situations.  It also contains an annex with benchmarks and indicators of progress in the following areas: governance and institution-building; security; human rights; and counter-narcotics.

The report states that provincial council election results for all 34 provinces had been certified by the Independent Election Commission between 12 November and 26 December 2009: 418 council members were elected to 420 seats.  In total, 122 women were elected, with two seats still empty reserved for women.  The Commission announced that the date for parliamentary (wolesi jirga) elections would be postponed from 22 May to 18 September 2010, in accordance with the electoral law which allowed such postponements for security, financial and logistical reasons.

Two aims of President Hamid Karzai’s peace and reintegration programme were to encourage rank-and-file Taliban members to end violence and join a reintegration process, and prepare the ground for a peace dialogue with Taliban leaders.  The President planned to convene a loya jirga in the spring to include tribal leaders from across the country, especially those who had felt marginalized by the Bonn process.  The programme envisaged the creation of a national peace council to oversee the reintegration of armed opposition fighters and of a trust fund to provide financial incentives for those who renounced violence.

As for the security situation, the report cites 2009 as the most volatile year since the 2001 fall of the Taliban, averaging 960 security incidents per month, versus 741 in 2008.  In January 2010, the number of security incidents was up 40 per cent year-on-year.  Last year marked the worst year for civilian fatalities, with a total 2,412 deaths recorded, a 14 per cent increase over the prior year.  In February 2010, the Afghan army and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had launched a 15,000-troop offensive against a Taliban stronghold in Helmand, which was to be followed by a major governance effort.

On counter-narcotics, the report expects opium cultivation levels to be similar to those in 2009, with eight provinces possibly becoming poppy-free in 2010.  Cultivation in Afghanistan had dropped by 36 per cent in the past two years, owing to market forces that had made cultivation of licit crops more attractive.  In joint operations carried out as part of the “Rainbow Strategy”, 40 traffickers had been arrested and 948 kilograms of opium, among other drugs, seized.

In other areas, the report notes that the humanitarian response remained impaired by a lack of access and increasing movement and operational restrictions, owing to the deteriorating security environment.  The General Assembly had approved a 33 per cent increase in the 2010 budget of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) over 2009, including for the opening of four new provincial offices.  The Secretary-General approved the declaration of security phase IV in the southern region, from 19 February 2010, and recommended that the Mission’s mandate, which expires on 23 March, should be renewed for another 12 months.

The report observes that the next three months presented a “crowded agenda”, with plans for a peace jirga in April, start of election preparations and the continued military surge.  If managed well, those events could form the structure of a transition to greater Afghan leadership, the goal of which would be to ensure that the Government had sufficient capacity and responsibility to exercise actual sovereignty.  That would require a balance between military and civilian efforts, and the Secretary-General cautioned against militarization of the overall effort in Afghanistan.  The tendency to allocate aid according to sites of most heavily focused donor troops must give way to a more nationally based assistance strategy.

Briefing

ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that since renewal of UNAMA’s mandate a year ago, consensus had been reached on the need to transform the relationship between Afghanistan and its international partners to one that saw greater transition to Afghan responsibility and an increasingly supporting role for the international community.  The consensus on that process had emerged clearly at the 28 January Conference in London.

“Now, the tangible shift in that relationship must start,” he said.   “Concrete steps must be taken by the international community to allow Afghans to be in charge of, and lead, processes, while providing the capacity-building and support required for Afghan institutions to take on this role, including in civilian areas.  At the same time, the Afghan Government must concretely demonstrate that it can deliver on the accountability required for a real transition process to be sustainable.”

Afghanistan’s political calendar was crowded, he said, pointing to the military surge, heightened military tempo, the planned National Assembly elections in September, the upcoming peace jirga announced by President Karzai and the Kabul Conference.  There was a risk that the transition could be overtaken by such events.  “Our focus must remain firmly on ensuring that ‘Afghanization’ actually becomes more than the slogan it has been thus far, and that the political calendar before us is premised upon it,” he said.  That process must formally begin with the Kabul Conference.  The United Nations, and UNAMA in particular, was supporting Afghan counterparts in preparing for the Conference.  He encouraged the early formal appointment of lead ministries in those preparations.  He called for following the strategic path set by the London Conference, which called for greater Afghan ownership.

On 6 March, President Karzai had formally requested that the Secretary-General provide technical and logistic support, as well as help to mobilize donor funding for the National Assembly election, he said.  The United Nations and UNAMA stood ready, alongside Afghan electoral institutions and other international partners, to play that role.  To ensure the transition to Afghan responsibility, the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission were responsible for ensuring its transparency and integrity, and should perform their mandates effectively, impartially and with the confidence of all Afghan stakeholders.  President Karzai had informed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Staffan de Mistura, that he would like the United Nations to nominate the two international members to serve on the Complaints Commission.

The upcoming National Assembly election could be another milestone in highlighting the primacy of constitutional imperative in leading Afghanistan’s future, he said.  The focus must not only be on the elections, but also on longer-term reform.  On the development side, it was important not to lose sight of the continued need to ensure coordination and support for Afghan priorities.  Despite progress, sizeable parts of the Afghan territory were still underserved and projects enacted were unsustainable or duplicated what had already been done.  Moreover, non-Afghans were still doing what Afghans could be doing.  Collective efforts must be geared towards strengthening Afghanistan’s capacity to coordinate aid, formulate its own development priorities and receive and disburse funds to finance its greatest needs.

He warned against underestimating the importance of the political process of reconciliation and reintegration.  During the London Conference, 70 countries and organizations had shown consensus on the need for such a process.  The Afghan Government had agreed to develop a peace and reintegration programme; the international had community agreed to create a peace and reintegration trust fund.  UNAMA could bring added value to the programme and management of the fund.

“Clearly, talk about talks has become more than mere talk, and the rhetoric that peace cannot be achieved by military means alone is being complemented by concrete proposals and a clearer policy,” he said.  President Karzai’s active engagement with regional players, and the convening in April of the peace jirga, were significant steps.  But to ensure success, the process must be followed and coupled with multiple confidence-building measures on both sides, and it must be anchored by embracing the progress achieved since 2002.

He said 2009 had been a difficult year for the United Nations in Afghanistan, but UNAMA had continued courageously to implement its mandate with determination.  After the tragic attack against the Bakhtar Guesthouse last October, staff had been relocated, owing to the scarcity of secure accommodation and office space.  UNAMA had opened two additional field offices in 2009.  By mid-March, all staff previously relocated had been redeployed to Afghanistan.  UNAMA was working to reduce the vacancy rate to less than 30 per cent by the summer.  That should decrease further by year’s end.

To prevent leadership gaps, Mr. de Mistura had been deployed to Kabul on 13 March, where he had initiated fruitful discussions with President Karzai, other Afghan stakeholders and the international community, Mr. Le Roy said.  A new Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs, Martin Kobler, had been appointed.  He would deploy in early April.

UNAMA’s work must continue and be reinvigorated wherever necessary, he said.  But it must be done in a manner than ensured that programmes and personnel were working on the highest priority matters.  He thanked the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) for approving a three-month extension of the special hazard pay for Afghanistan.  He would continue to seek the support of the Council and relevant budgetary bodies to ensure that staff in non-family duty stations, such as UNAMA, were compensated commensurate with the hardship they faced on the ground.

An unprecedented level of international attention and resources was being invested in Afghanistan to support the Government’s priorities and a transition to greater Afghan responsibility, as endorsed in London, he said.  “We must work together and with determination to take advantage of the opportunity to make a difference that this alignment of unity of effort, strategies, priorities and resources presents,” he said.

Statements

ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said that, for the first time since 2001, the Council was debating a mandate that focused on a transition to Afghan ownership, leadership and responsibility.  “This transition is not an end, not an endgame, but a new beginning,” he declared.  With dedication, there was now the chance to end ongoing violence, build a State capable of protecting its citizens and strengthen Afghan unity.  The Government had taken up that challenge.  In the coming year, the priority would be “Afghanization” -- in every area, Afghans and Afghan priorities should take the lead.

He said the first step was to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and improve security, and the new strategy of General Stanley McChrystal (Commander of ISAF and Commander of the United States Forces Afghanistan – USFOR-A) would begin to turn the tide.  The Afghan army and police would gradually replace the international community in leading the country’s defence.  Military efforts would be complemented by political and economic ones, and initial resources were in place for a reintegration programme.  The second step was reconciliation, with an increasing focus in promoting peace.  The Government had engaged with regional partners to explore ways for the region to facilitate that process.  At the same time, efforts must be Afghan-led, and the Government would hold a consultative national peace jirga for consultations, seek to reach agreement on a framework for understanding with the opposition and create a mechanism to pursue that understanding.

Afghanistan and the global community had laid out a plan to “Afghanize” security, governance and development, he said, noting that the Kabul Conference this summer would focus on a detailed plan of implementation.  The Government was focused on building capacity, rooting out corruption and promoting justice and the rule of law.  In other areas, Afghanistan would hold its parliamentary elections in September and was learning from past experience to undertake short- and long-term electoral reforms to ensure that future polls were transparent and credible.  President Karzai had requested technical and financial assistance from the United Nations and determined that two of the seats on the Electoral Complaints Commissionwould be occupied by foreign experts.  Assistance would be needed to support the elections.

The importance of the United Nations role in supporting Afghanistan and coordinating international efforts could not be overstated, he continued.  Afghans still viewed the Organization as an impartial force working for their benefit.  Only the United Nations could ensure that the views of both Afghans and the international community were taken into account.  As such, the Government fully supported the mandate extension of UNAMA and welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Staffan de Mistura.

Nine years ago, Afghanistan had been a “broken” country, he said, and international support had been a crucial crutch in its slow healing.  “ Afghanistan is eager to stand solidly on its own feet”, but it would take time for the Government and security forces to build the capacity to ensure peace and good governance.  The continued commitment of the global community would remain vital in the years to come.  “In strong partnership with the international community, we can succeed,” he added.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said it was a welcome development that the global community had begun to approach the challenges from a different point of view.  “This year is critical,” he asserted, and the London Conference was an important turning point.  The key word would be “Afghan” leadership in the period ahead.  The gap between Afghan and international perceptions should be minimized and the Afghan Administration should be empowered.  Parliamentary elections in September would be part of that process and the new Administration should embrace the whole nation in their run-up.   Afghanistan needed strengthened democratic values and efficient State mechanisms to fight misconduct.  A comprehensive approach was needed, with a focus on economic development, a well-trained military, inclusive national reconciliation and modern education and justice systems to staunch extremism.

He said that that comprehensive approach was linked to a strong United Nations, and the role of UNAMA should be enhanced to better serve Afghans.  He hoped to finalize discussions on mandate renewal by Monday.  Regional cooperation and dialogue should also be enhanced, and Turkey had hosted the fourth Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit in January, with a focus on education.  He stressed the importance of boosting civilian efforts in the period ahead, as the transition of responsibilities to Afghan authorities should not be understood as an exit strategy.  The global community should increase its civilian presence, and he cited the Secretary-General’s report, which highlighted areas where stability was fragile, owing to the unequal distribution of development aid.   Turkey would work to fill that gap.  In addition to diplomatic efforts, Turkey would continue its contributions in Afghanistan in cooperation with the United Nations.

CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said today’s debate and UNAMA’s likely renewal showed the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan’ reconstruction.  Support of the new transition phase was very important to ensuring that the Afghan Government was fully empowered.  During the Kabul conference, the Afghan Government would submit specific measures to strengthen institutions and the rule of law, particularly as they concerned combating corruption and impunity.  UNAMA must intensify efforts to support the Afghan Government’s ability to coordinate with the international community, and to politically and institutionally support the Electoral Commission, particularly in its efforts to strengthen national capacity.  UNAMA must also continue its good offices to support national reconciliation and strengthening of the Afghan Government’s programmes and national priorities.  He regretted the increase in violence last year, noting that 2009 had marked the greatest loss of civilian life since 2001.  The lack of security was the main factor hampering progress in Afghanistan.

He said that civilian supervision of the international forces must be permanent.  He repudiated terrorism in all its forms and condemned all such acts against civilians, personnel and journalists.  He hoped that communication and coordination among the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Afghan and international forces would curb the loss of civilian life and improve security.  He supported President Karzai’s plan to reintegrate anti-Government elements into society, but said that process must be carefully scrutinized to ensure its successful development.

He commended the Afghan Government’s action to combat drug trafficking, production and consumption, as that would contribute to building mutual confidence and joint strategies for security in the region.  The fight against impunity was fundamental to national reconciliation.  He stressed the importance of caring for the some 296,000 internally displaced persons in the country.  It was important to apply all lessons learned during the presidential elections last August to the upcoming ones.  He urged naming a new Electoral Complaints Commission and spearheading investigation, in line with Afghan electoral law, of alleged fraud during the past elections.  Participation of women and minorities in the electoral process should be ensured.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the Istanbul and London Conferences had helped to translate the word “Afghanization” into clear commitments, and the months ahead –- with the peace jirga, the Kabul Conference and September parliamentary elections -- were an opportunity for stakeholders to honour those commitments.  Of serious concern was that 2009 had been the most violent year in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban.  Also disturbing was that Afghan civilians continued to bear the brunt of the conflict, with the vast majority being victims of Al-Qaida, the Taliban and armed opposition groups.  She welcomed efforts in 2009 by pro-Government forces, which had led to a drop of almost 30 per cent in the number of civilian deaths caused by those forces.  The ultimate solution for the Afghan conflict would be found through a political process, she said, noting that the London communiqué showed strong support for the reconciliation and reintegration policy announced by President Karzai.

She said progress in reconciliation should go hand in hand with consolidating democracy, and conditions should be created to ensure that the difficulties of last year’s elections did not reoccur.  Stability also depended on the Afghan Government, with international support, to deliver socio-economic development.  The strategy to enhance governance and provide development aid to liberated areas was wise, and all efforts must be made to implement it.  The importance of coordinating international assistance to Afghanistan and of UNAMA’s role in it had been stressed, and some progress had been made.  Strong political will was needed in donor countries to allow for assistance to be coordinated by the United Nations and the Afghan Government.  UNAMA’s mandate as the main coordinator of global civilian efforts should be discharged in a way that built the capacity of Afghan institutions; it was worrying that a significant portion of international aid was still not aligned with the Afghan Government’s national development strategy.  It was also troubling that such aid was geographically imbalanced.

LI BAODONG ( China) supported the recent developments, as they were a major step forward by the Afghan people.  Thanks to the joint efforts of the Afghan Government and the international community, positive results had emerged from the London Conference.   The international community must keep focused on Afghanistan and increase support and assistance to enhance Afghan sovereignty and capacity for development.  He called for integrated approaches to support national security and to transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan Government.  That process should be carried out in prudent ways to ensure security and stability.  The key to long-term security lay in the development of the economy and improvements in people’s daily lives.   He noted the recovery in agriculture, rapid economic growth and the steady rise of revenue, and called for greater support to enable more Afghans to benefit from that process.

He said donors and international agencies should respect and support Afghan ownership of the process.  He supported countries that were providing more assistance to the Afghan Government and he called on others to follow suit.  He also supported the leading coordination role played by the United Nations.  He appreciated UNAMA’s work to fulfil its mission in difficult conditions and supported extension of its mandate for another year.  He hoped that the parliamentary elections in September would be successful.  He supported UNAMA’s role in providing electoral assistance consistent with its mandate.   China had actively supported and participated in Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction.  It had invited President Karzai to visit China from 21 to 25 March.  He was confident that visit would achieve positive results.  With the energetic support of the international community, the Afghan Government and people would eventually reach the goal of peace, stability and self-reliance.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria), supporting the statement to be made by the European Union delegation, agreed that, in the transition to greater Afghan responsibility and a reform-oriented nation-building agenda, it was essential to take into account the concerns of Afghans.  In that regard, he hoped the results of an Afghanistan implementation colloquium held in Austria would prove useful in the preparation of the Kabul Conference.  He maintained that electoral reform was critical for the country, as was an accelerated implementation of the National Action Plan for Women and measures to facilitate participation of women and minorities in coming elections.

He said that both reintegration and reconciliation processes were also crucial and must be Afghan-led, respecting the Constitution as well as international commitments, and be complemented by accountability for the serious crimes of the past.  He hoped that the national peace jirga planned for April would be prepared in a transparent and inclusive manner, engaging all segments of Afghan society.

He welcomed the Security Council’s decision to remove five former Taliban officials from the sanctions list of resolution 1267 (1999) and, noting that Austria chaired the 1267 Committee, looked forward to further work on the resolution’s implementation.  Noting that protection of civilians remained a major challenge, he hoped for further pursuit of efforts by international forces to reduce civilian casualties in the context of their operations.  In addition, he maintained that all of Afghanistan’s neighbours should be included in intensified cooperation on economic, political and criminal issues.  To assist in that and all of UNAMA’s other mandated areas, he supported extension of the Mission’s mandate for 12 months, with the modifications suggested by the Secretary-General.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), aligning himself with the European Union’s statement, said the early months of 2010 gave reason to hope for improvement in Afghanistan, especially since the Afghan Government and global community had agreed on a credible road map at the London Conference, and President Karzai was committed to an ambitious reform programme and a reconciliation process, which provided the basis for a transition.  General McChrystal’s strategy was starting to bear fruit.  Regionally, positive patterns were emerging with neighbours, allowing for a more effective combat of terrorism.   Afghanistan’s rapid implementation of a reform programme to enable institutions to take on new responsibilities was a sine qua non.  The United Nations had the impartiality and expertise, which made it essential in the country’s next phase.  In that context, UNAMA had key role.

He said the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate offered an opportunity to spell out priorities.  Good offices of a political nature were the cornerstone of the Mission’s mandate.  The Special Representative must pursue dialogue with President Karzai and others about the implementation of the London commitments.  UNAMA must play an active role in supporting the Government in the reconciliation programme, which itself must observe democratic values.  Also, UNAMA must commit to supporting the electoral process.  Lessons must be learned from the presidential elections. Reform was necessary, and the upcoming elections must be held under the best possible conditions.  UNAMA must pursue efforts, since the June 2008 Paris Conference, to reinforce aid consistency.  That role dovetailed with support for the Afghan authorities.  The situation in the country could not be addressed in isolation from that in Pakistan and region. The international community must support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism. France welcomed Turkey’s role in that regard and wished to see the creation of a mechanism for promoting regional dialogue. The transition in Afghanistan did not imply a withdrawal of the global community. France would remain committed as long as Afghans wished its presence in their country.

SUSAN RICE ( United States) underscored the full support of the United States for Afghanistan.  During the London Conference, the international community had demonstrated its support for the international agenda, which underlined the commitment of the international community and Afghanistan to a new phase of Afghan ownership.  The United Nations would have to continue to play a key role in coordinating and promoting unity.  She reiterated strong support for Mr. de Mistura and UNAMA, and said she enjoyed working closely with him to ensure that the people of Afghanistan had their own society and strengthened security.  Ensuring stability and socio-economic improvements for the Afghan people should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.  She looked forward to seeing UNAMA take a re-energized and central role in coordinating assistance among donor Governments.  The United States would continue to work to coordinate with the United Nations and donor countries, and she encouraged others to do the same.

She said UNAMA should work closely with the Afghan Government to ensure capacity-building at all levels to enable it to assume its responsibilities.  The United States was working to support the rule of law and agricultural initiatives, among others.  The current ISAF operations in Helmand, conducted at the request of the Afghan Government, had received an unprecedented degree of Afghan planning and leadership.  Efforts had been made to ensure that security operations were immediately followed by governance and development efforts.  The Government in Kabul was staffing up critical service ministry positions, but the real test would be its ability to meet the expectations of the local population.  As the Government assumed greater security responsibility, it would support Afghan initiatives to provide a path for Afghan fighters to leave the battlefield.

United States President Barack Obama supported opening the door to the Taliban to leave the battlefield and reintegrate into society, she said.  The United States would continue to support Afghan women and their rights.  The Afghan people must have faith in the 2010 elections, and she welcomed the Afghan Government’s commitment to ensure integrity of the 2010 parliamentary election and to apply lessons learned from the 2009 elections.  Afghan institutional stability was of paramount importance, she added.

IVAN BARBALIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) praised the high intensity of recent diplomatic activities aimed at helping Afghanistan and its institutions.  He also emphasized his country’s strong commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity, supporting all efforts for reconstruction, sustainable peace and constitutional democracy, with a central United Nations role.  He expressed deep concern, however, over the humanitarian and security situation, and condemned attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers and international forces.

He emphasized as well the importance of successful, credible upcoming elections, with UNAMA’s assistance, as well as long-term electoral reform and the facilitation of the participation of women and minorities.  He attached great importance to UNAMA’s role in providing good offices to the Government in regard to dialogue with opposition forces, which was absolutely necessary.  In that regard, he supported the reintegration process and the proposed establishment of a peace and reintegration trust fund.

Supporting UNAMA’s role in coordinating humanitarian aid, he encouraged the Mission to collaborate more with the Government in those efforts, as a concrete way to transition to Afghan leadership.  He welcomed all efforts to support the return of displaced persons and encouraged the Government to continue implementation of the mine-action programme, with international support.  All such efforts should be part of the transition towards Afghan leadership and ownership, he stressed, supporting the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate for another year.

MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said the Mr. de Mistura had the United Kingdom’s full support, and he encouraged him to maximize his time on the ground.  He welcomed progress in filling vacant UNAMA posts and the appointment of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Senior Civilian Representative, among others, which would help ensure that delivery of collective assistance amounted to more than the sum of its parts.  The London Conference marked an important step, as the Afghan Government and global community had agreed to priorities that reflected President Karzai’s ambitions.  Those priorities renewed the international commitment to Afghanistan and recognized a new phase towards Afghan leadership.  The global community and the Afghan Government must deliver on those commitments in three key areas.  In the area of security, operation “Moshtarak” showed the increasing role Afghanistan was taking to enhance its security, and he welcomed efforts to minimize civilian casualties.  The United Kingdom looked forward to the day when foreign troops were no longer needed on the front lines of combating terrorism.

He said Afghan political settlement was a priority task, to which the peace jirga and Kabul conference were central.  He supported efforts for a representative reconciliation process.  Afghans must own, lead and drive that slow and gradual process.  To support it, he envisaged an important role for UNAMA and the Special Representative.  UNAMA could help with the upcoming elections, and he hoped that all efforts would be made to ensure that they were credible, transparent and safe.  It was important that the Afghan Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission provided a system of checks and balances outlined in the Constitution.  He agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment of the presidential elections and noted the commitment, at the London Conference, that Afghanistan would work with the United Nations to deliver improvements.  He looked forward to the Afghan Government’s outline of reforms, without delay.  Tackling corruption must remain a priority, and President Karzai had pledged to build independent institutions to drive and monitor that progress.  Improving anti-corruption efforts would build donors’ confidence to channel funds to Afghan ministries.  The United Kingdom looked forward to the Kabul conference, which would enable Afghanistan to articulate how it would implement commitments made in January.  Afghanistan and the United Nations had the United Kingdom’s full support.

PATRICK S. MUGOYA ( Uganda) said that, despite progress in the Afghan peace process, much more remained to be done.  He supported efforts to promote governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.  The building of strong institutions also remained critical.  Significant reform of the electoral system was needed for future elections to be more transparent, and postponement of the parliamentary elections had created a window of opportunity for reform.  The situation in Afghanistan was of concern to the international community because of a combination of factors.  The security situation had resulted in a significant increase in violent attacks and loss of life.  It had also hindered access to agriculture, land, water, health and education.  He encouraged the Government to increase resources for the mine-action programme to better address the impact of mines, including on the civilian population.  He supported the concept of transferring responsibility for security to the Afghan forces within five years.

He called on the international community to strengthen Afghan ownership and to have Afghanistan take the lead on critical priorities.  That required a good balance between military and civilian efforts, and a sound, coordinated civilian structure.  He welcomed continued international commitment to development of the Afghan consensus.  Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration was critical to sustaining peace in the country and the entire region.  Stability, security and development were closely linked in the region, and enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours would generate momentum for economic growth.  The fight against insurgency could also be greatly boosted by joint regional efforts.  He lauded the Afghan Government’s good efforts to end opium production, but he remained concern over the ongoing opium trade, and thus, he called on the Afghan Government to expedite implementation of the national drug-control strategy.  He supported the Secretary-General’s call to renew UNAMA’s mandate for 12 months.

NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and endorsed the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate, adapting its functions to the situation at hand.  It was essential that the Afghan Government play a lead role in the security and economic fields.  UNAMA must support those processes to help Afghans ensure their future.  In that context, he urged the stepping-up of coordination between UNAMA and other parties.  International and regional support must help Afghanistan achieve stability.  He welcomed the conferences hosted, respectively, by Istanbul on 26 January and by London on 28 January.  The latter had enjoyed the participation of 78 States.  He hoped that the upcoming Kabul conference, at which the Government was expected to present tangible plans, would also be a success.

He hoped that parliamentary elections in September would be transparent, free and credible.  Reforms were necessary, and lessons should be learned from the presidential elections.  There was also a need to conclude the building of State institutions.  On other issues, he said impunity and corruption must be fought, while women’s rights, among other things, must be supported.  The Afghan police must be in a position to fully pursue their functions.  The political process must be promoted, as well as the reconciliation with anti-Governmental elements.  It was regrettable that 2009 had marked the worst year since 2001 in terms of civilian deaths, and he urged international forces to protect civilians during their military operations.  Illicit drug trafficking was linked to terrorist activities.

RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA (Nigeria) expressed his country’s support for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, and said it was clear that the challenges facing Afghanistan were vast, including in politics, security, economic development, corruption and drug trafficking.  In that vein, he noted President Karzai’s commitment during the London Conference.  The parliamentary elections in September should be preceded by thorough and adequate preparations, including electoral reform.  Serious consideration of integration efforts was required to consolidate peace efforts.  He supported the holding of the peace jirga in April and expressed hope that it would become a genuine platform.  It was critically important to strengthen the capacity of the Government to take ownership of the situation, he said, acknowledging that the security situation was precarious and complicated by terrorists and warlords.

He welcomed the intention to create a peace and reintegration trust fund.  Training, equipment and strengthening of the Afghan security forces should be another ongoing preoccupation.  Concerning corruption and judicial reform, he welcomed reform of the anti-corruption unit in the national justice programme.  On the humanitarian front, there was a need for better coordination of aid and adequate donor funding.  International support of national security and development efforts was also essential, and in that regard, he stressed the importance of regional cooperation.  The forthcoming Kabul conference would build on the London Conference.  He appreciated UNAMA’s role in the electoral process and in providing guidance on the peace process as a whole, and he supported the Secretary-General’s request to renew its mandate.

KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) agreed with the Secretary-General that the result of international efforts in Afghanistan should be the achievement of Afghan sovereignty over security and economic issues.  It was in that light that his Government viewed the Kabul conference, the first high-level event organized by the new Afghan Government, and the parliamentary elections.  Much attention in the draft resolution on the situation had been devoted to the global community’s role in reconciliation, and the Russian Federation backed that process. Dialogue would only be possible with those who laid down their arms and recognized the Constitution.  It was of fundamental importance that such principles guide Afghanistan in approaching that important issue.  Those principles should also guide UNAMA in implementing its mandate.  He welcomed UNAMA’s new leadership, saying it could count on his Government’s support, including in strengthening operational and staffing capacities.

On narcotics, he said there had been little discussion on that important issue, but the scale of the threat required a transition to a new level of cooperation.  Notably, there was a need for more action to suppress the flow of precursors.  In combating terrorism and drug trafficking, he urged relying on regional organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  He also recalled the significant experience of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in countering narcotics, noting his pleasure that the number of participating States had grown annually.  Prospects for cooperation had been further opened by the signature of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and CSTO, in Moscow, of an accord for more cooperation.  His Government shared concern at the increase in civilian victims.  The main source of danger remained the Taliban and Al-Qaida.  Neutralizing them and stabilizing security was essential in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, for which greater efforts were needed.  A political settlement in Afghanistan could be found through joint cooperation.  The country’s future must be found by Afghans themselves.  The Russian Federation would bolster cooperation with Afghanistan and a broad range of international partners for the formation of viable State structures, including the police, law enforcement and anti-narcotics bodies.

YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the new Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. de Mistura, should focus on stronger aid coordination, the upcoming legislative elections and advancing the political dialogue.  The London Conference had reaffirmed that there was no other international actor that could fulfil the role of the United Nations in leading the coordination of international support for Afghanistan.  That was especially true at present, when Afghanistan was in a critical period of transition and optimum use of international assistance was crucial.  On aid coordination, it was necessary to be mindful of maintaining a long-term perspective and of ensuring that efforts promoted the leadership and capacity of the Afghan Government.  International donors should make certain that their efforts were consistent with the goals of Afghans and, as often repeated, that words were translated into deeds.

He also said that the ownership of the Afghan authorities must be respected in the conduct of the upcoming legislative elections.  At the same time, necessary electoral reforms should be carried out, based on the lessons learned from the 2009 elections.  Welcoming President Karzai’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the legislative elections, he said Japan also appreciated the President’s readiness to work in close cooperation with the United Nations.  It was also necessary to recognize that there was no substitute for military operations in combating those who would resort to violence and obstruct a democratic process.  No political dialogue could succeed from a position of weakness.  In order to achieve long-term stability, however, a political solution must be sought, while military operations were ongoing.  Agreeing that UNAMA should be strengthened in order to meet the high expectations placed upon it, he reiterated that the highest priority must be the security of United Nations staff on the ground.

Council President EMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET (Gabon), speaking in his national capacity, said that, since the Council last debated the situation in Afghanistan on 6 January, there had been key developments, including the 28 January Conference in London.  Commitments made there marked a new step in transferring management to the Afghan State of security, governance and economic and social development matters.   Gabon supported those efforts.  During the current decisive phase, international efforts must be strengthened.   Gabon fully supported UNAMA in its role in coordinating civilian actions and, more broadly, the process of developing the country.  He reiterated solidarity with those working in the field, especially given the threats to their security.

Continuing, he welcomed the efforts of the European Union, NATO and the United States.   Afghanistan’s future was being built today.  Given that, it was in the Council’s interest to renew its commitment in favour of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.   Gabon backed the extension of UNAMA’s mandate for another year.  The Kabul conference would allow Afghans to build a future for their county.

JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said his delegation looked to the Security Council to renew a robust and comprehensive mandate for UNAMA.  The renewed mandate should reflect the evolving situation and provide the Mission with the direction it needed to continue to play its leadership role with respect to coordinating the international efforts on Afghan elections.  The mandate should also reflect the transition-oriented spirit of the London Conference and enable the Mission to play its full political and donor-coordination role.  UNAMA’s human resources should also be strengthened as a matter of high urgency, as its staff numbers and ability to fulfil its core tasks had been severely affected in recent months.

He said his country recognized that the Afghan authorities were progressing along the difficult road of transition in assuming increased responsibility for security.  That required Afghanistan and its international partners, including UNAMA and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to work closely to implement a well-coordinated transition strategy based on a careful assessment of conditions on the ground, and provide the Government with the capacity to protect its civilians.  There were many challenges in that regard, not least of which was the increased rate of violence caused by insurgents still fighting against efforts to establish a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  Sight must not be lost of the overall vision of an Afghanistan where a democratic Government fulfilled all its essential roles, including the delivery of basic services; the provision of effective, transparent and accountable governance; the civilian protection; economic development; and the protection and promotion of the human rights of all Afghans, including women’s rights.  The international community and the Government of Afghanistan must continue working together towards making that vision a reality.

PETER SCHWAIGER, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, agreed that reconciliation and reintegration was key to Afghanistan’s sustainable political development, and believed those processes should be Afghan-led in conformity with the Constitution and the country’s human rights commitments.  Reconciliation should not lead to impunity.  Efforts to build confidence through contacts with regional leaders were welcome, and the European Union supported UNAMA’s political good offices in that regard.

He noted that transition depended highly on economic and social development.  As a major donor, the European Union welcomed the “cluster approach” to accelerate Afghanistan’s national development strategy, and expected concrete plans to be presented before the Kabul conference was convened.  In particular, the Union encouraged the formation of a “governance cluster”.  Further, as committed to in London, the Union would increase the percentage of its aid aligned to sectors prioritized in the national development strategy and channelled through the Afghan Government.  It was currently supporting governance, rule of law, respect for human rights and Afghan institution-building in practical ways.  Through EUPOL, its police mission, it was helping to make the Afghan police more effective and respectful of the rule of law and human rights.

Concern had been expressed about recent reports of rights violations, as well as about the recently published law on public amnesty and national stability, he said.  The Union agreed with others on the need for electoral reform.  Short-term reform was urgently needed before the parliamentary elections, notably regarding the composition of the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission, and the vetting mechanism.  Such reforms would make it possible for the international community to lend effective support to the electoral process.  The Union also encouraged the Government to accelerate the implementation of the national action plan for women.

The Union had adopted an action plan, through which it pledged further European contributions to Afghanistan’s long-term development, as well as its own internal coordination.  The ministerial-level appointment of the former Lithuanian Foreign Minister as European Union Special Representative was a signal of European commitment.  The Union supported UNAMA’s bid to enhance coordination among donors within the United Nations system, but UNAMA needed the capacity to deliver on that task, and so staff recruitment should be addressed as a priority.  The Union believed that new lead personnel and UNAMA’s mandate renewal could reinvigorate international contributions to Afghanistan’s development, and it was pleased that the regional dimension was deemed the third pillar of overall stabilization, together with security and development.

PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said the London Conference had strongly reaffirmed the partnership of the international community with the Afghan people and Government.  The upcoming Kabul conference would be an important next step to review implementation and agree on further specific implementation steps, particularly in the field of economic and social development.  The emphasis on Afghan ownership and the concept of transition of responsibility should be adequately reflected in the Council’s resolution and the mandate for UNAMA.  In the context of that Afghan-led process, Germany strongly supported an extension of the Mission’s mandate, as recommended by the Secretary-General.

He said that the parliamentary elections were an important step for a democratic Afghanistan.  As requested by President Karzai, the United Nations, including UNAMA, should assist with the electoral process and with the urgently needed work on long-term electoral reform.  Germany also supported the idea of confidence-building measures, as indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, and encouraged all Council members to constructively support the process, including in the work of the Council’s committees.  The overwhelming majority of Afghans wanted to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution, including human rights and women’s rights.  Those rights could not be bargained away.

Under the United Nations umbrella, Germany would continue to contribute substantially to the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan, he said, announcing that his country would increase the number of German personnel in the ISAF mission, operating under the Security Council’s mandate, to 5,350.  It would double the number of its police trainers on the ground to approximately 200; increase its bilateral development aid to Afghanistan up to a total of $580 million per year -– an addition to its contribution through the European Union; and it was prepared to support the political process with a substantial contribution to the reintegration trust fund.

HERMAN SCHAPER (Netherlands), aligning himself with the European Union’s statement, remarked that experiences with post-conflict countries had taught several lessons about how to jumpstart progress: local authorities must improve stability, governance and the human rights situations; and the international community must empower the authorities to do so, in a coordinated manner.  His Government agreed with the Secretary-General about making 2010 the year of transition towards greater Afghan ownership.  That had been the main message of the London Conference, directed at both the Afghan authorities and the international community.  In his view, the transition, more than Afghan ownership of security, should encompass progress on the civilian side.  Some key areas included improving governance, through the use of qualified civil servants; intensifying anti-corruption efforts; conducting election reform; and safeguarding women’s rights.

He said the upcoming Kabul conference, peace jirga and elections were occasions to achieve tangible progress in those areas.  Agreeing with the Secretary-General, he said UNAMA needed to concentrate on empowering Afghan authorities.  The Mission should take a “differentiated approach”, by limiting its role in areas where the Afghan ministries were fully in charge of donor coordination, while taking a more pronounced approach in other domains.  In particular, UNAMA should carefully examine areas where it could make a difference in donor coordination, or in United Nations internal coordination.  He looked forward to hearing guidance on that issue from the new Special Representative.  Dutch troops had served with honour in Uruzgan Province since 2006, and had striven to find the right balance between civilian and military efforts.  The Netherlands would remain a strong partner for years to come.

PAWEŁ HERCZYŃSKI (Poland), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said the London Conference had marked the start of greater transfers of responsibility to Afghan authorities, making the period since the last Council debate on Afghanistan an eventful one.  It was important to stress the need for greater Afghan leadership, and President Karzai’s commitment to undertake more vigorous action in State-building, anti-corruption, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics was especially welcome.  The Polish Government looked forward to the Kabul conference later in the year, to be hosted by the Afghan Government, as a follow-up to the London Conference, and recalled the proposal by Poland’s Foreign Minister about the country’s readiness to host meetings that might help to overcome any lack of mutual trust among Afghans.

He said that the parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 September, if successfully conducted, would be an important step forward in Afghanistan’s State-building process.  But it was also important to draw on past experience; preparations should begin as soon as possible to avoid irregularities and fraud.  In terms of security, civilian deaths attributed to anti-Government elements had risen by 41 per cent compared to 2008, while civilian casualties at the hand of international forces had been reduced by 28 per cent.  Poland would like to see greater responsibility transferred to the Afghans; it would step up the training and mentoring activities of Polish troops present in Afghanistan.  The vacancy rate at UNAMA was worrying, as was the difficult security situation facing United Nations personnel.  New appointments to the three major international organizations -- Special Representative of the Secretary-General, European Union Special Representative and Senior Civilian Representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ‑‑ were an “excellent opportunity” to establish effective ways of acting together on military and development fronts.

MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said the “Afghanization” mantra, rather than being a euphemism for exit, underlined the importance of an Afghan-led process, which was responsible, inclusive and transparent, and promoted the rights of Afghans.  Those issues were of great importance in the context of the follow-up to London, President Karzai’s political agenda and Afghan reconciliation.  At the Kabul conference later this year, participants must be clear about their readiness to “transfer authority to Afghan ownership”.  In turn, the Afghan Government should present concrete national programmes with tangible planning.  Norway channelled almost 60 per cent of its $140 million annual aid through Afghan budgets and programmes, and supported UNAMA’s plans for enhancing civil coordination while ensuring strong Afghan leadership.

He said real progress was expected of President Karzai and his Government in terms of delivering on pledges made in London, regarding good governance, measures against corruption, improvement of electoral laws and other commitments related to reform of the political system.  That reform should address the rights of women, civil society participation and transitional and other justice matters.  Laws and decrees with far-reaching implications that were adopted without wide and inclusive consultation, such as the amnesty law, were of concern.  Amnesty healed wounds, but wounds could not heal in an environment of impunity.  It was also important that the recently amended election law did not impede reform.  The election process must be conducted in a way that was seen as a step forward from 2009.

Reintegration and reconciliation were necessary to achieve political stability and peace, principles which had been agreed in London, he said.  But there were complexities in the design and implementation of a robust reconciliation process.  The peace jirga was an important step in consensus-building, but there must be “buy-in” from representatives within Afghan society to avoid polarization.  Women must be taken into account and neighbouring countries should not be neglected.  UNAMA should play a facilitating role, and Norway welcomed the extension of its mandate, as well as the amendments proposed in the Secretary-General’s report.  It was important to protect UNAMA’s strengths -– its legitimacy, political outreach, field presence and guarantor for the integrity of the overall political process.  UNAMA needed to ensure unity among international partners; it also needed to position itself close enough to the Government and yet far enough to be able to voice the concerns of Afghan society.

ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan), underscoring that no country had suffered more than his own due to instability in Afghanistan, reiterated support for all international and regional efforts for peace in that country.  The London Conference had started a new phase of relations between Afghanistan and the global community, with commitment for greater Afghan leadership and responsibility.  The establishment of the Electoral Complaints Commission and technical assistance of UNAMA would improve the electoral process, and he was confident that elections would produce more binding results.  Pakistan supported the reconciliation and reintegration process.  “Anyone willing to lay down arms, or consider the possibility, should be considered wholly, without recrimination.”  He cautioned against over-militarizing the peace process, saying the civilian component of the strategy should be at the forefront, as it would be a litmus test of progress.  The global community must recognize there was a desire to promote the Afghan character as one able to support itself “with its head held high”.

He agreed that there could be “no sovereignty without capacity and without responsibility”, and the Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration process would pave the way for a sovereign Afghanistan.  UNAMA must play a pivotal role in strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government to confront the enormous challenges before it.  Pakistan attached high priority to its close cooperative relations with Afghanistan and was committed to supporting Afghan efforts for a secure and stable country.  The Fourth Trilateral Summit in Istanbul had reflected the desire to make the best possible use of the regional approach for peace, security and economic progress.  Pakistan also looked forward to the peace jirga on 29 April, as well as the Kabul conference, which was to facilitate consensus among key stakeholders for future action.  With that, he underlined the importance of sustained international civilian engagement in Afghanistan, as any decision to leave the country alone with such challenges would destabilize the region.  Only 30 to 35 per cent of all aid filtered to those for whom it was intended.  Pakistan desired a partnership with the Afghan Government.  “We need to be more concerned and sensitive to the Afghan Government’s needs,” he said, urging the global community to remain steadfast in its commitment to the country.

DAVID WINDSOR ( Australia) expressed support for the Council’s renewal of the UNAMA’s mandate, and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to international efforts in Afghanistan.  Australia believed the resolution before the Council should build on the substantial outcomes the London Conference of 28 January, and reinforce the central role of the United Nations in supporting Afghanistan’s security, stability and development.  Furthermore, his delegation believed the resolution should further endorse the concept of constructive partnership between the Afghan Government and the international community, and the shared plan of phased transition to Afghan leadership and ownership of security, governance and development for the Afghan people –- the key outcome of London.

He said that UNAMA’s renewed mandate should also address the call for a better coordinated and civilian effort in Afghanistan to improve the impact of international civilian assistance, and the need for a more rigorous alignment of international assistance with clearly identified Afghan priorities.  UNAMA had a primary coordinating role in those activities, but it also needed to be ably supported by other actors, including the NATO Senior Civilian Representative, the European Union mission, United Nations Member States and the Afghan Government.  Like others, Australia did not underestimate the significant and interrelated security, political and economic challenges facing the Afghan people and their international partners.  There was a real need for much greater focus on the accountability of the Afghan Government.  For its part, Australia would contribute A$25 million to the peace and reintegration trust fund, subjected to Australia having an appropriate role in the fund’s administration and governance oversight.

CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) said it was important for all to work with the Afghan Government to achieve real progress and define clear, concrete action, as it concerned the peace jirga, the Kabul conference, a Council mission and the parliamentary elections.  He supported implementation of the “cluster approach”, which should allow the Afghan Government and Administration to fine-tune priorities, manage international funds more efficiently and better coordinate implementation of international programmes.  UNAMA must continue to lead and guide international civilian assistance.  He stressed the need to strengthen UNAMA’s resources and structures.  While the Secretary-General’s report noted a marginal increase in donor alignment and increased contributions to the Afghan reconstruction trust fund, the current situation was still far from the goal set in London to increase contributions made through the Afghan budget to 50 per cent of total contributions to Afghanistan over the next two years.  Italy was ready to do its part in that regard and to contribute to the Secretary-General’s proposal to set up an advisory group on donor coordination and aid effectiveness.

He said he supported renewal of UNAMA’s mandate for 12 months.  The Council resolution should be centred on the concept of transition, as defined in London.  It should set clear priorities for the United Nations Mission and it should call upon the Afghan Government to fulfil its commitments.  Lessons learned from the 2009 elections must be taken into account, in order to improve the 2010 electoral process.  Afghan authorities must be encouraged to follow through with their commitments, correct deficiencies in the electoral law and overcome technical difficulties in organizing the elections.  That was particularly important with regard to appointment of members of the Independent Election Commission, the Electoral Complaints Commission and the Afghan Independent Media Commission, voter registration, vetting procedures for candidates and recruitment and training of provincial-level personnel and staff to man polling stations.  UNAMA could take a decisive role in helping to overcome those hurdles.

JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) expressed support for President Karzai’s efforts to build a new and peaceful Afghanistan.  Fighting corruption was key to improving governance, just as failing to do so would greatly impede economic development.  Similarly, improving security was a multifaceted challenge that required not only building up the Afghan national security forces, but also providing the conditions for “reconcilable” insurgents to return to the mainstream and for countries of the region to play a constructive role in Afghanistan’s future.  Contributors were entitled to expect effective and credible governance.  In addition, the people of Afghanistan who had supported democracy in last year’s elections, and the military and civilians who risked their lives, were also entitled to expect, and to see, urgent progress on improving governance –- without which the combined efforts to achieve peace would falter.  His delegation also welcomed President Karzai’s plans to promote reconciliation, but urged the Afghan Government to ensure that reconciliation was not at the expense of human rights.

On economic development, he said New Zealand welcomed efforts to prioritize and cluster components of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.   New Zealand was in the process of aligning its own development support to prioritize agriculture and rural development.  On security, New Zealand, along with other ISAF partners, was committed to providing a clearly defined pathway for transferring primary responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan national security forces, thus allowing international forces to draw down and shift the focus of international efforts to building civilian capacities.  In conclusion, he said it was a critical moment for Afghanistan, and, as always, time was short.

MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India) said that this year’s political initiatives for Afghanistan could be important milestones if Afghan ownership and leadership were strengthened and the international community reaffirmed its long-term commitment to the country’s stability, peace and development, working within timelines.  Improved security, in particular, was critical for accelerated progress as well as for expanding the footprint of the Afghan Government and ensuring greater ownership of those processes by the Afghan people.

Acts of terrorism, he stressed, should not deter the international community, but instead strengthen the resolve to fulfil pledges.  Support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organizations must be ended forthwith, in order to root out extremist groups operating from within and outside Afghanistan’s borders.  In addition to strengthening ISAF, national forces must be expanded and developed at a much faster pace, and provided with necessary resources.  In addition, he maintained that any integration process in the country should be Afghan-led and transparent, and should include only those who abjured violence and embraced democracy.

In order to strengthen governance and institution-building, priority should be accorded to building adequate capacity to deliver on developmental objectives, with more community assistance passing through the Government, aligned with its priorities.  India’s efforts towards the stabilization of its neighbour, which had now passed the $1.3 billion level, had focused on socio-economic development and building indigenous Afghan capacity.  That assistance was spread over a large number of provinces and included roads, power transmission, the new Parliament building, as well as many small- and medium-sized projects.  He stressed the need for perseverance in confronting the challenges facing Afghanistan, and voiced support for UNAMA’s good work.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.