|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
Adopting Wide-ranging Text, General Assembly Pledges Continued Support to Afghan
Government, People, Urges Cooperation to Ensure Success of ‘Kabul Process’
‘We Cannot Simply Sit Back and Wait in Fear of Failure’, Country’s Delegate
Says, Encouraging Partners to Help Make Afghanistan a Success Now and in Future
The General Assembly today adopted by consensus a wide-ranging resolution aimed at nudging Afghanistan further towards an economically and politically stable future, barely two years away from the Afghan Government’s target date for assuming the lead role for the war-torn country’s security.
Adopting the text at the end of its annual debate on the situation in Afghanistan, the Assembly stressed the significance of the pact reached between the Afghan Government and countries contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). That agreement, sealed at the 2010 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Lisbon, would gradually transfer the lead security responsibility to Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The Assembly also recognized the need for support beyond 2014, including through further development, training and professionalization of the Afghan National Security Forces and its capacity to counter continued threats to the country’s security.
The Assembly condemned the high level of violence wracking the Central Asian nation as it recognized the “continuously alarming threat” posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups. Listing intimidation, the use of improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks, assassinations, abductions, indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and attacks against relief workers, the Assembly stressed the need for the Afghan Government and the international community to continue working closely together to counter such acts, “which are threatening peace and stability in Afghanistan and the democratic process”.
Further by the text, the Assembly underlined that reconciliation efforts should enjoy the support of all Afghans, including civil society, minorities and women’s groups, and praised the Government’s ongoing work to forge peace, through mechanisms such as the High Peace Council and the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme. It also praised Afghan-led efforts to reconcile the views of divergent groups, including the Taliban individuals who had rejected the terrorist ideology of Al-Qaida and its followers.
The crucial role that social and economic development would play in the country’s recovery was also recognized in the Assembly resolution, which urgently appealed to the international community to maintain all types of assistance to the Government.
In remarks that touched on security, good governance, social and economic development, reconciliation, regional cooperation and strategic partnerships, Afghanistan’s delegate told the Assembly that his country was on its way to a sustainable, drug-free and fully functional economy. Regional cooperation was helping the country reclaim its historic role as a trade, transport and economic hub through several projects, such as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and the New Silk Road Initiative. Yet, he stressed: “Unless the scourge of terrorism is eliminated, all our efforts - for economic development, for social and political progress – will be in vain.”
Highlighting a critical event taking place next month, he said the Afghan leadership would come together with the international community in Bonn, Germany, to assess progress and map out a long-term commitment for peace and security in the country. “For Afghanistan, 2014 is not a solid endpoint set in stone,” he said. “Instead, it stands as a way marker for a new phase of the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.” It was nevertheless important to be realistic about expectations and to work actively to help shape the future of Afghanistan. “Let us not insult the future. Let us stick to making a successful present day.”
Backing the transition of Afghanistan’s security responsibility that had officially begun in July, Japan’s representative said his nation would continue its help by assisting the Afghan police. The ongoing transition and the exercise to ensure sustainable security were linked to the political process and continuing efforts towards reconciliation and reintegration were critical, “even after the tragic loss of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, who had spearheaded this process,” he said, joining other speakers who had expressed deep regret at the assassination of the former Afghan President and Head of the High Peace Council.
Noting that greater peace and security would help reinforce the country’s economic progress, the United States’ delegate pointed to the importance of regional economic initiatives, such as the New Silk Road Initiative. She said that the United States supported the development of a central Afghan economy, along with private sector investment and the strengthening of economic links throughout the region. She and other delegates viewed the upcoming conference in Bonn as an opportunity for the international community to show its commitment and long-term support for Afghanistan.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union said the Kabul Process was gaining momentum, shown by the resumption of meetings of the Joint Cooperation and Monitoring Board and the progress of the National Priority Programmes. This momentum was vital for bolstering donor confidence before the Bonn Conference, he said, urging the Afghan Government to follow through with reforms in the public administration and justice systems.
Iran’s representative praised the discussions on Afghan development that had taken place at the Istanbul Conference and hoped for further progress in Bonn. Any initiative emanating from the Bonn session should strengthen trust between Afghanistan and its neighbours, with the United Nations central to coordinating international efforts.
Other delegations speaking today were Germany, Belarus (speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Spain, Australia, Italy, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, India, United Kingdom, Malaysia and the Russian Federation.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 22 November, to resume elections of the International Court of Justice and Joint Inspection Unit.
The General Assembly met this morning for its annual consideration of the situation in Afghanistan. Delegations were set to consider the Secretary-General’s latest report on that country, as well as a relevant draft resolution.
According to the report (document A/66/369-S/2011/590), which was issued in late-September, there were fewer security incidents in July and August than in June, but the average number of incidents was up 39 per cent compared with the same period in 2010. Insurgents launched complex suicide attacks in urban centres, including on the Intercontinental Hotel, the British Council and the United States Embassy in Kabul and on provincial centres.
They also continued to conduct a campaign of intimidation, including through assassinations of high-level officials. However, on 17 July, the formal process of transition for security to the Afghan National Security Forces started. The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board agreed to increase the number of National Police to 157,000 and the National Army to 195,000. According to the report, the High Peace Council continued their outreach programme. According to its Joint Secretariat, 2,371 ex-fighters joined the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme as of the end of July, 431 more than in the previous month.
As for regional cooperation, the report notes that the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace met in Kabul on 29 June. The representative of Pakistan had reaffirmed support for peace and reconciliation efforts led by Afghanistan and their readiness to encourage and facilitate an inclusive process. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement became operational on 12 June. Two tripartite core group meetings between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States focused on border security, reconciliation and economic issues. On 25 June, the Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan signed a declaration on joint counter-narcotic and counter-terrorism efforts. A quadripartite meeting between the Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan discussed regional trade and cooperation issues.
The report notes an increase of 65 per cent in 2011 in the eradication of opium poppy fields, compared with 2010. At the end of June 2011, the national average price of opium was $274 per kilogram, an increase of 104 per cent compared with June 2010. In 2010, opium production was halved, owing mainly to the opium blight. High prices led to a strong increase in cultivation in northern, southern and western provinces. The Ministry of Counter-Narcotics started the National Drug Control Strategy review processing consultation with key national and international stakeholders involved in counter-narcotic efforts.
The Secretary-General observes that for the transition to Afghan responsibility for security to be successful, the Afghanistan National Security Forces must continue to demonstrate enhanced independent capability and professionalism. The formal agreement to increase the size of the Forces was a positive development along the road to greater Afghanistan sovereignty and stability. Cautiously optimistic about the development of a broad-based peace and reconciliation process, the Secretary-General urges all Afghans not to succumb to the politics of mistrust, fear or revenge, but rather to work together towards reconciling their differences.
The formation of an Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace was a positive development that provides a regular structured mechanism for the two countries to discuss reconciliation issues, according to the Secretary-General. It is up to both countries to ensure that the Joint Commission becomes effective in facilitating the reconciliation of anti-Government elements and addressing the cross-border dimension of the insurgency. The Secretary-General also hopes that the tripartite meetings between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States will lessen tensions across the border and increase trust. The importance of regional cooperation to strengthen the stability and prosperity of Afghanistan can not be overstated, he adds.
Coordinated support is necessary if Afghanistan is to meet immediate socio-economic needs and strengthen institutions that provide basic services, notably in the areas of security, justice, social services and natural resource and disaster management. A comprehensive approach on transition to support development of Afghanistan and its proper governance could rectify the current imbalance between the emphasis on security and that on governance and development. From a development perspective, the current transition process raises a number of core issues, the Secretary-General states. It is important to recognize that development, governance and the rule of law are crucial if transition is to be sustainable and irreversible.
The Secretary-General observes that Afghanistan remains by far the largest source of illicit opium and heroin. While he is pleased with efforts made by Afghan authorities to reduce production, the Secretary-General states that a global problem on that scale requires global efforts. He therefore encourages all Member States to continue cooperating in addressing that situation.
The wide-ranging draft resolution before delegations on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/66/L.10) covers issues ranging from security to peace and reconciliation, democracy, the rule of law and public administration. Among other things, the text looks forward to the “International Afghanistan Conference: From Transition to Transformation” to be held in Bonn on 5 December 2011, chaired by the Afghan Government, where civil aspects of transition, the international community’s long-term commitment in Afghanistan within the region, and the support of the political process will be further defined.
The Assembly would also underline the significance of the agreement reached between the Afghan Government and countries contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), at the 2010 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Lisbon to gradually transfer lead security responsibility in Afghanistan to that Government country-wide by the end of 2014. It would also welcome the ongoing implementation of the transition, and look forward to its phased extension to the rest of the country.
Deeply concerned about the continued high level of violence in Afghanistan, the Assembly would condemn in the strongest terms all violent attacks, and recognizing, in that regard, the “continuously alarming threats” posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups, as well as the challenges related to the efforts to address such threats. Similarly, the Assembly would express its serious concern about the high number of civilian casualties, and call for compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law and for all appropriate measures to be taken to ensure the protection of civilians.
The Assembly would stress the need for the Afghan Government and the international community to continue to work closely together in countering these [violent] acts, “which are threatening peace and stability in Afghanistan and the democratic process, the achievements and continued implementation of the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan as well as humanitarian aid measures”, and call on all Member States to deny those groups any form of sanctuary or financial, material and political support.
Further to the text, the Assembly would express its support for the Government of Afghanistan-led comprehensive process of peace and reconciliation, and commend the renewed efforts of the Afghan Government, including the efforts of the High Peace Council and the ongoing implementation of the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme with the aim of promoting an inclusive dialogue between all Afghan groups. The Assembly would recognize the ongoing progress in the reconciliation with the Afghan Government of those Taliban individuals who have rejected the terrorist ideology of Al-Qaida and its followers, and would call on the Taliban to accept the offer put forward by President Hamid Karzai to renounce violence, sever ties with terrorist groups, abide by the Constitution and join the peace and reconciliation process.
Regarding social and economic development in the country, the Assembly would urgently appeal to all States, the United Nations and international and non-governmental organizations, including the international and regional financial institutions, to continue to provide, in close coordination with the Afghan Government, and in accordance with Afghan priorities and the National Development Strategy, “all possible and necessary humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction, development, financial, educational, technical and material assistance for Afghanistan”. It would also stress the need for a continued strong international commitment to humanitarian assistance and for programmes of recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development.
Introduction of Draft
PETER WITTIG ( Germany), introducing the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/66/L. 10), said that this year’s version of the text focused mainly on transition in the field of security, and he added that such changes were unfolding “progressively”. Since July, the Afghan Government had taken over security responsibility for areas covering 25 per cent of the Afghan population and it was hoped that half of the Afghan population would live in transition areas in the near future, he said. It had been 10 years since the end of Taliban rule and there was, for the first time, a clear timeline and a clear international strategy for the phased but complete transition of lead security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces. Hence, the core of the resolution was about linking the past decade with the next ten years, and that endeavour would require international support, he said.
He emphasized the need to provide proper training to security forces, adding that it was vital to improve operational capabilities. In addition, one of the keys for sustainable progress lay in the empowerment of the Afghan people and institutions, specifically emphasizing the role of women and the need for the participation of civil society. He called for strategic, innovative ways to create better employment perspectives and to reduce poverty.
The resolution reiterated the interconnected nature of the challenges in Afghanistan. He said that justice and the fight against impunity and corruption remained of systemic importance for developmental success. Production and trafficking of illicit drugs continued to undermine the development of the formal economic sector and remained an important source of finance for terrorism and extremism. The resolution also welcomed the Security Council’s decision to split the 1267 Al-Qaeda/Taliban sanctions regime and underlined the procedural innovations of the regime pursuant to Security Council resolution 1988 (2011) to underpin that the United Nations is acting in support of an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.
This year’s resolution put additional emphasis on the regional dimension, he continued, and welcomed the developments from the recent Istanbul Conference where Afghanistan and its regional partners reaffirmed their commitment to promote regional security and cooperation. Lastly, he said the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and parts of the region continued to require strong international attention and generous support. The General Assembly recognized with particular appreciation the heavy burden neighbouring countries were continuing to shoulder by hosting considerable numbers of refugees, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) noted that the Assembly had gathered at its annual debate to address the cycle of suffering, the immensity of new challenges and the progress made thus far in Afghanistan. “We are leaving behind another year of national trauma,” he said, recalling that violence had, regrettably, remained a constant in the lives of many Afghans. There had been indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians, targeted assassinations and attempts to shatter “what we have worked so hard to build”. The Taliban, who had hijacked Afghanistan for years and had then “hidden their heads” for some time, were reappearing with a “barbaric and brutal force”. Resuscitated by the existence of safe havens in the region, they continued to hold Afghanistan hostage, killing its people, destroying the country and threatening gains that had been achieved.
Indeed, as fragile as the country might seem, substantial improvements had been made over the last decade. “ Afghanistan has risen from the ashes of a State disintegrated by decades of conflict,” he stressed, noting that millions of Afghans had rebuilt their lives and were moving forward. Thousands of schools had been built – with nearly half of their students being female – hundreds of clinics had been opened, new roads had been constructed and trade partnerships were being enhanced. The rule of law was being strengthened, with wider participation by women in political and social life. Among further gains, he said, a new constitution had been drafted, two Presidential and two parliamentary elections held, and national and local administrations put in place. Though terrorism remained the main threat to daily life and work, he stressed that terrorists “will not force us back to where we were a decade ago”.
The year under review had marked the historic start of the transition process, by which Afghans would assume full responsibility, ownership and leadership of their country. In that respect, he said, a comprehensive transition included six interlinked issues. First, it required strong security, which was currently on track. The gradual draw-down of international forces by 2014 was strongly linked to the training and equipping of Afghan forces. The capability of those forces was growing, he said. Second, good governance and the rule of law were required for a successful transition. Actions such as the release of the National Priority Programme on Law and Justice, which outlined the justice sector reform strategy for the next three years, highlighted the importance of strengthening the rule of law in all provinces and districts.
Third, social and economic development was crucial. Afghanistan was on its way to a sustainable, drug-free and fully functional economy, he said, adding that the National Development Strategy included such areas as agricultural development, social development, education and health, among others. Fourth, reconciliation and reintegration were needed in order for the transition process to be successful. This year, the peace process had seen both significant steps forward and a major setback in the assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbini, head of the High Peace Council.
Continuing, he said that the loya jirga, the traditional grand assembly, which ended a few days ago in Kabul, had brought together 2,200 representatives from all segments of Afghan life – including many ethnic groups – to discuss the peace process. A fifth critical issue was regional cooperation. He noted that, through a number of initiatives, Afghanistan was reclaiming its historic role as a trade, transport and economic hub of the region, as well as a catalyst for a wider collaboration in the “heart of Asia”. Those initiatives included the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, the New Silk Road Initiative and others. However, he stressed, “unless the scourge of terrorism was eliminated, all our efforts - for economic development, for social and political progress – will be in vain”.
A sixth crucial element for the transition process was strategic partnerships, he said, noting that the country was finalizing the Strategic Partnership Document, which would involve United States support in training and assisting Afghan forces through 2014 and beyond. Additionally, in December 2011, the Afghan leadership would come together with the international community in Bonn, Germany, to assess progress and map out a long-term commitment for peace and security in the country. “For Afghanistan, 2014 is not a solid endpoint set in stone,” he said. “Instead, it stands as a way marker for a new phase of the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with Afghanistan as a fully sovereign partner.” It was important to be realistic in expectations, he said, and to work actively to help shape the future of Afghanistan. “We cannot simply sit back and wait in fear of failure in Afghanistan,” he stressed, though there were some who preferred to do so. “Let us not insult the future … let us stick to making a successful present day.”
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, looked forward to the resolution’s adoption by consensus, while he also condemned the fatal attack on Professor Rabbani, the Chairman of the High Peace Council. He applauded the Government’s redoubling of peace efforts following that incident. The United Nations would remain vital to Afghanistan’s fate for years to come, he said, and the European Union was also “in it for the long haul”. He referred to “concrete transition” that began in July with the hand-over of security responsibility from the ISAF to Afghan forces in seven areas of the country, with preparations soon to begin on another set of transfers. With Afghan National Security Forces assuming more and more responsibility, the international community’s resolve to support the transition through training should be strengthened.
He said the Kabul Process was gaining momentum, as the resumption of meetings of the Joint Cooperation and Monitoring Board and the progress on the National Priority Programmes had proved. Such momentum was vital for bolstering donor confidence ahead of the Bonn Conference, he said, urging the Afghan Government to follow through with reforms for public administration and of the justice institutions. Independent, professional judicial institutions were indispensable to improving the security, investment and human rights climate in the country, he said.
Legislation would “remain void without the institutions to implement it”, he cautioned, stressing the importance of women’s rights and warning against complacency about progress on some National Priority Programmes. Positive steps such as the launch of the Anti-corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee needed backing by structural measures that brought greater transparency and accountability with regard to public finances. That required parliamentary control, he said, praising the resumption of functions by the Afghan Parliament and the reaffirmation of the final authority of the Independent Electoral commission in electoral matters.
The provinces and districts also needed much attention, he added, with local level institutions needing more strengthening in order to deliver the right services “to the right people in the right way”. Connecting the provinces better to the centre would help them to receive their fair share of aid. He underlined the importance of the regional context, with the importance of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries promoting a stable and secure Afghanistan, promising the European Union’s full commitment to initiatives building regional integration and cooperation. He said the Istanbul Conference had been a “good step forward” to close regional ties politically, and looked forward to more progress at the Bonn Conference and in the ministerial meeting in Kabul next year. He also highlighted the potential importance of the New Silk Road Initiative in building regional economic cooperation.
ZOYA KOLONTAI (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said that Afghanistan continued to face serious challenges in the area of security, with extremists stepping up their activities throughout the country. Her delegation was particularly concerned that terrorism was spilling over from Afghanistan into other Central Asian countries. An integrated approach on the part of the international community, led by the United Nations, was critical to resolving major issues in that region, she said. Welcoming the transfer of power to Afghan forces, she stressed nonetheless that such withdrawal must be accompanied by efforts to build capacity, and should correspond to the “reality” on the ground. Moreover, the withdrawal of ISAF could only be considered after that body submitted a report to the Security Council on the completion of its mandate.
The CSTO States were worried about the development of a long-term international presence in the country, she continued. If the restoration of neutrality were named as an objective now, progress in reconciliation might be made. In that vein, the triad of principles – the abandonment of armed resistance, recognition of constitution and the breaking of all links with the Taliban – must be a basis of activity. A peaceful and democratic future was also reliant on the resolution of Afghanistan’s drug trafficking problem, she added, calling for the active cooperation of other partner countries in addressing the threats emanating from Afghanistan. That work was a priority for the CSTO and the related working group, its Council of Foreign Ministers. A recent statement had been issued by that body, she said – one of the first major actions taken under the Belarussian leadership. The same topic was further developed between that organization and the United Nations in September 2011.
Success in the fight against drug trafficking – which threatened international peace and security – was only possible if international efforts were combined, she said, calling for the cooperation of major regional and international associations. An important element of the joint work in that area was the adoption of a plan of action of CSTO members in the prevention of psychotropic substances and their precursors. In that respect, the cooperation of the Coordination Council on the Prevention of the Drugs Trade had been critical, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the heads of customs services of Member States, among other achievements. In 2010 alone, she said, 4 tons of narcotics and 40 tons of their precursors, along with many firearms, had been confiscated.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA ( Spain), noting that it had been 10 years since the international community pledged its commitment to Afghanistan, said Spain’s military and civil contribution to the stabilization and reconstruction of that country had been significant. However, Spain had paid a high price, he said, as 98 of its soldiers had lost their lives in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Spain continued to be committed to the promotion of development in Afghanistan, having already paid 195 million euros of the 220 million euros promised for the period 2006‑2011. His Government’s priority areas had been infrastructure, basic service provision, and the protection and empowerment of women. The transfer of responsibility to the Afghans in programme management and cooperation projects was also a priority.
Spain hoped to start the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan authorities in two districts in the province of Badghis at the beginning of 2012 by providing expert advice and support to Afghan security forces. It was necessary for progress to be made in key areas such as the proper performance of institutions, the fight against corruption and budgetary sustainability. He said despite serious difficulties faced by the reconciliation process, particularly the assassination of Professor Rabbani by the Taliban, continuing that endeavour was vital, adding that without reconciliation, there would be no peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The Conference in Bonn would be the most important meeting of the past decade with regard to Afghanistan, he said, and called for a clear message from the international community on the long-term commitment to the Afghan people and its Government. Although Afghanistan would need the support of the international community, in the end, the future of that country depended on the Afghan Government and its people.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said his country would continue to remain engaged in Afghanistan through this decade at the very least, and would continue to provide civilian and development assistance, as well as defence training. He strongly supported the pledge contained in the resolution that the United Nations would continue to support the efforts of the Government and people of Afghanistan as they rebuilt a stable, self-sufficient State, free of terrorism. He welcomed the resolution’s highlighting the transition process, and its recognition of the important work that remained to be done by the international community and the Afghan Government in supporting the transition.
This year, Australia’s total development assistance to Afghanistan was approximately $165 million, a 34 per cent increase over the previous year. It was hoped that the funds would strengthen the capacity of Afghan institutions to govern effectively and provide basic services to its people. He stressed that good governance depended upon the capacity of the women and men charged with the responsibility of building Afghanistan’s future. He also highlighted some of the progress made, such as school enrolment, which was up from one million in 2002 to over seven million today.
The constructive engagement of Afghanistan’s neighbours was critical to the prospect of a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, and in turn for the broader region, he said. Looking forward to the upcoming conference in Bonn, he said that the international community and the Government of Afghanistan would need to demonstrate a robust and coordinated approach to building a stable and secure Afghanistan that assured positive economic opportunities.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) said his delegation welcomed the resolution currently before the Assembly and hoped that it would be adopted by consensus. That move would confirm the United Nations’ long-term commitment to working with the people and Government of Afghanistan, he stressed, adding that his delegation supported both the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. Italy also looked forward to the upcoming Bonn Conference, he said. During the reporting period, progress had been made in several areas, ranging from human rights to social services to building the capacity of the Afghan forces. However, he emphasized, that “the success reached so far should not lead to complacency”. The international community must not let the country down after 2014.
Long-term international engagement and better governance were interlinked, he continued, as was the transparent allocation of international resources. Common efforts should be announced towards the building of a fair, transparent justice system. Encouraging signs of progress had been seen in that respect, he noted, and Italy would continue to assist in that endeavour. Additionally, the role of regional stakeholders would hardly be underestimated, and Italy hoped that confidence-building would increase in that respect. Only a reinvigorated and comprehensive regional strategy would promote a new “win-win” approach in Afghanistan, he stressed. Italy supported the Istanbul Process, and he agreed with its confidence-building measures. However, cooperation could not be limited to politics and security; therefore, Italy also supported economic development through the New Silk Road initiative. The resolution before the Assembly meant that the international community was not “abandoning Afghanistan to its fate,” he concluded, stressing the importance of its adoption by consensus.
RAZA BAHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) spoke of the optimism generated by the London and Kabul conferences last year, stressing that the transition process envisioned at those conferences was critical for Afghanistan’s future. Positive and sustained engagement of the international community was needed to implement the Kabul Process and help the Afghan Government take greater responsibility for security, governance and economic and social development. Referring to positive progress in the transition described by the Secretary-General’s latest report, he underlined the importance of development, governance and the rule of law to cementing the process, and called for continued political and financial interest in the transition. The report also pointed to peace, reconciliation and reintegration as essential to security, stressing that military action alone could not solve Afghanistan’s problems.
He said Pakistan supported an Afghan-led, inclusive reconciliation process, with constructive dialogue instead of “politics distorted by mistrust, intimidation, fear or revenge”. He hoped the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and others would continue working as partners. Regional unity was key to deal with security and development challenges, and Afghanistan’s neighbours had a special role in its stability, he said, noting initiatives supported by Pakistan aimed at greater regional connectivity. He spoke of reconstruction and development projects, including the doubling of the number of scholarships offered to Afghan students, increasing the number of Afghan students studying in Pakistan.
Pakistan was also cooperating closely with Afghanistan on security, he said, pointing to the Tripartite Commission, which included the United States and the ISAF, and worked on security and intelligence cooperation. He said Afghanistan and Pakistan had a joint responsibility for interdicting illegal cross-border movement, and noted Pakistan’s 1,000 border posts and 120,000 troops deployed along the border. He called for a similar commitment from Afghan troops.
He highlighted the issue of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, stressing the high cost Pakistan incurred from hosting them. Pakistan’s average annual budget for those refugees had nearly doubled in proportion with international assistance, despite a decrease in the number of refugees, and called for further repatriation to ease the economic, social and security costs on Pakistan. He said that Pakistan valued the role of UNAMA, stressing his hopes for a more meaningful role for the Mission in coordination of international efforts in Afghanistan after the ongoing review of its mandate.
AHMED AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates) affirmed that the primary responsibility for ending the violence remained with Afghan parties, who had to incorporate universal human rights in their policies and practices while protecting civilians. The United Arab Emirates renewed its support for international efforts to ensure stability and security while extending its support to the Kabul Process on handing over those duties to an Afghan leadership. He also affirmed that long-term stability and development could only be reached through reconciliation among all parties in the country.
He went on to welcome the positive outcome of the Istanbul Conference, which demonstrated that regional efforts had played a vital and prominent role in promoting peace, security and stability in the country. A long-time supporter of the Afghan people, the United Arab Emirates would continue its support of infrastructure and other vital development projects. The Government would also extend its support for the rehabilitation projects of Afghanistan’s national economy.
The United Arab Emirates’ contributions to advance Afghanistan’s economy totalled about $1.5 billion, in addition to private assistance from humanitarian foundations. He said that along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sheikh Khalifa Foundation, for example, had contributed about $50 million for immunization programmes for Afghani children. In August, the United Arab Emirates had announced a grant of $250 million, which would be managed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, for development projects in Afghanistan, particularly housing for widows, orphans and the disabled. He believed that security and stability in Afghanistan was closely linked to regional security, especially that of the Arab Gulf Region, and strongly condemned all terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey), one of the co-sponsors of the resolution before the Assembly, said the text reflected the international community’s continuing commitment to Afghanistan. The delegation shared the views expressed by the representative of the European Union, and believed that Afghanistan had come a long way since the Assembly last debated the topic last year. The Afghan National Security Forces continued to assume increasing responsibility and accountability for sovereignty and the long-term stability of the country. Despite such progress, however, remaining challenges continued to be “enormous and complex,” he said. Lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan ultimately required unity and political reconciliation at home, and solidarity and sound cooperation in the region. To that effect, Turkey was actively supporting regional cooperation, he said.
Discussing two major initiatives that his country had taken in that respect, he said that Turkey had hosted the November 2011 Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan, which provided a unique opportunity for the countries of the region to recognize Afghanistan’s role as the land bridge in the “Heart of Asia”. The conference had adopted its outcome, the “Istanbul Process”, which set out regional ownership in the security situation as a “welcomed milestone”. It also stipulated a set of applicable principles and confidence-building measures – in areas ranging from reconstruction to health and the fight against terrorism - as an expression of solidarity and support for Afghanistan.
Now, it was equally important that Afghanistan and its regional partners work actively to implement those confidence-building measures within the framework of the Istanbul Process. Besides that conference, he added, Turkey had hosted the Sixth Trilateral Meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and itself. He also looked forward to the December meeting in Bonn, Germany, which would be an opportunity for the international community to assure Afghanistan that 2014 would not be the date for exit and the end of commitment.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said that as a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, his delegation was particularly important for the international community to demonstrate its united support of Afghanistan by adopting the resolution by consensus. Stressing the importance of accelerating regional cooperation, Japan welcomed the Istanbul Conference held on 2 November and expected additional progress at the Bonn Conference next month. This conference would help define the civil aspects of transition, the long-term commitment of the international community and its support of the political process.
He went on to welcome the transition of the country’s security responsibility that had officially begun in July and said that his country would continue to play a role in achieving a smooth transition by assisting the Afghan police. The transition and sustainable security were linked with the political process, and continuing efforts towards reconciliation and reintegration were critical, even after the tragic loss of Professor Rabbani, who had spearheaded the process. Japan welcomed the central role played by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to coordinate international assistance and reconstruction programmes and looked forward to the next round of the Board before the Bonn Conference.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) said his country’s primary concern was the ongoing insecurity caused by violence and terrorism and the related increase in civilian deaths and injuries. Korea was deeply saddened and disheartened by the tragic assassination of Professor Burhanuddian Rabbani, former head of the High Peace Council, in September. Continued violence threatened national and regional security and needed to be addressed to achieve a successful and smooth transition process to 2014 and beyond. The Afghan National Security Forces needed to be strengthened as coordination between the central and provincial Government was enhanced. He welcomed the “Istanbul Process” adopted during the Istanbul Meeting earlier this month and looked forward to the Bonn Conference in December.
Turning to the problem of criminal drug trafficking and associated corruption, he said his delegation was concerned that Afghanistan remained “by far the largest course of illicit opium and heroin trade globally”, as mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report. He was deeply concerned about the abuses against children and women and appreciated the efforts of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and looked forward to full implementation of the Group’s recommendations. A staunch supporter of the reconstruction, development and stability of Afghanistan, the Government of the Republic of Korea had provided military personnel to support the country’s stability and reconstruction since 2002. It had also set up a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Parwan province last year and would support the capacity building of Afghan National Security Forces, as well as the country’s economic and social development, in the years to come.
SIRODJIDIN M. ASLOV ( Tajikistan) said his country was linked to Afghanistan by multiple historical and cultural ties and looked forward to the further strengthening of a mutually beneficial partnership. Afghanistan was at a critical juncture in its history, he said, adding that on one hand, there had been progress while on the other, there were forces wishing to undermine the country’s efforts. He supported the Afghan Government and welcomed the efforts of UNAMA.
Tajikistan was making a contribution to the training of professionals and economic specialists and clearly shared language was beneficial to both countries, he said. Furthermore, drug trafficking could not be addressed by force alone. It was important to restore the economy, infrastructure and civil society as well. Afghanistan was a country ravaged by years of war and the situation there must be addressed by, among others, bolstering economic and trade links, he said, attaching great importance to transport and communication prospects to build regional economic links. Currently Tajikistan and Afghanistan were linked by five roads and there were currently more projects under development that would further connect Afghanistan to its neighbours, including Iran and Uzbekistan. That would enable economic trade and development for Afghanistan. He also noted the importance of energy and the construction of power lines. The energy shortage in Afghanistan should be addressed through regional efforts. Because of Afghanistan’s geographical location, he believed that the restoration of peace and security would depend on regional efforts. Lastly, he said that he hoped the adoption of the resolution would supports efforts to peace.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) recognized the progress made by the Afghan people and Government, as well as the support provided by the United Nations and various United Nations agencies. The past year had been an important one for Afghanistan as the country moved towards the transition set to take place in 2014. The United States expected that peace and security would help reinforce the country’s economic progress.
She said that the United States supported the Afghan Government’s sovereignty and integrity and looked forward to a long-term partnership. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had joined the efforts of leaders from Afghanistan and Germany to help bolster the New Silk Road Initiative, which would help develop the country economically and promote its use as a central transit hub. The United States supported the development of a central Afghan economy, along with private sector investment and the strengthening of economic links throughout the region. The United States recognized the importance of economic development that helped promote peace and security, she said.
Regional support had been demonstrated at the recent Istanbul Conference. The United States looked forward to the Bonn meeting in December, which would provide the international community with an opportunity to show its commitment and long-term support for Afghanistan, she said.
H. S. PURI ( India) hoped for consensus adoption of the resolution, and looked ahead to increased international focus on assisting the country with transition as the ISAF drew down its combat role. That transition must be Afghan-owned, he said, and called for concerted international and regional efforts towards laying the foundations for lasting peace in the country. The most critical area in which Afghanistan needed support, he continued, was in tackling terrorism together with the religious extremism that fuelled it and the drug trafficking that sustained it. He said recent assassinations were “a grim reminder of the overall deteriorating security environment of the country”, with action needed to isolate and root out terrorist groups operating within and outside Afghanistan’s borders. He said “resolute determination and political will” were needed to deal with safe havens for terrorist groups outside of Afghanistan’s borders.
He supported continued strengthening of the Afghan National Security Forces, which needed to be supported by an inclusive and transparent process of reconciliation and intra-Afghan dialogue. He said India’s recent involvement in Afghanistan’s rebuilding and reconstruction had renewed and consolidated their “age-old historical, cultural, civilizational and economic ties” with Afghanistan, underlining his belief that an end to Afghanistan’s suffering would come with “an end to external interference in its internal affairs”.
Development progress was also needed, he continued, pointing to India’s pledge of $2 billion in development and humanitarian assistance and the recent signing of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan which looked at 2014 and beyond. That agreement carried an institutional framework for future cooperation, he said, expressing optimism over Afghanistan’s abundant natural resources and strategic locations as building blocks in a vision of Afghanistan as a hub linking the Middle East with Central and South Asia through trade and transit routes and extensive cooperation. He said all countries needed to work to facilitate peace and stability in Afghanistan, and India had participated in the recent Istanbul Regional Conference and would participate in the Bonn Conferences in that context, supporting international and regional initiatives to support Afghanistan’s efforts at nation-building.
GHOLAM HOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) praised Afghanistan’s recent progress but said that clouds on the country’s horizon included “whispers of the long-term presence of foreign forces [there]”. He said permanent military bases should not be established in the country, as military efforts to counter terrorism and establish peace and security had been unsuccessful, with increased insecurity compared to the situation last year. That, he continued, showed that troops did not necessarily improve security and may exacerbate the situation. In addition, the ongoing presence of military forces could provide a breeding ground for terrorists and extremist groups.
Turning to the issue of drug trafficking, he said that that “menace” had hindered Afghanistan’s advancement and had financed terrorism, which sought to destabilize the Afghan Government. Opium poppy cultivation had increased by 7 per cent this year, sending a strong message that the international community should commit earnestly to curb the problem. He said that Iran had been at the forefront of a war against narcotics, spending billions to combat drug trafficking, and he called for greater international efforts in the field.
On other matters, he said that 1 million Afghan refugees were currently registered in Iran, and he urged the international community to continue strengthening and expediting efforts to create conditions conducive for their sustainable repatriation. Iran had continued to work to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan, particularly on security, counter-narcotics, illegal immigration and development projects. He noted that a regional railway network would soon connect landlocked Central Asian countries and Afghanistan to the port of Bandar-Abbas, while the trilateral summit held in Tehran in June had led to coordination between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan against militancy, extremism, terrorism and foreign interference. He praised the sincere sharing of views on Afghan development that had taken place at the Istanbul Conference and hoped for further progress in Bonn. Any initiative coming out of that event should strengthen trust between Afghanistan and its neighbours through active engagement, interactions and partnerships, with the United Nations central to coordinating international efforts.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said he looked forward to the announcement of the second set of provinces that would transfer security responsibility from ISAF to Afghan national forces. Transfer had already been successful in Lashkar Gar, and Afghan forces were already demonstrating their effectiveness there by providing security. He said the second phase of transfers would lead to 50 per cent of all security being Afghan-led. Moving on to the subject of peace and reconciliation, he was pleased to see that 2,000 delegates attended the recent loya jirga, and he welcomed the body’s inclusivity. He also praised the High Peace Council, whose work must continue in spite of recent violence. He said that President Karzai was willing to engage with insurgents if they were genuinely willing to work towards a strong and stable Afghanistan.
He looked forward to the Bonn Conference as an opportunity to align behind Afghanistan’s security and development priorities, reinvigorating the Kabul Process. That was a critical path to a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan, he said, reiterating the United Kingdom’s support for an Afghan-led political process and solidified long-term international commitment to the country, including the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) decision to give a three-year extended credit facility to the government of Afghanistan.
On regional cooperation, he said that Afghanistan’s future economic stability required the support of all its neighbours. He commended the outcome of the Istanbul Conference, adding that maintaining the momentum was vital since the stability and security of Afghanistan was in the interests of all the countries in the region. He underlined the importance the United Kingdom placed on its bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, saying the relationship would endure after the transition, and would continue to focus on diplomacy, trade, aid and development, with continued support for the training and mentoring of Afghan security forces.
SADIK KETHERGANY ( Malaysia) expressed concern with the increasing rate and number of civilian casualties that had occurred in the recent months. While strongly condemning the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-Government elements, Malaysia was equally disturbed by incidents of Afghan civilians who were killed in air strikes and night raids conducted by the NATO-led ISAF forces. Malaysia abhorred such incidents; he stressed and warned it would only fuel anger in the Afghan people, making it more difficult to win their hearts and minds.
The value that Malaysia placed on winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people could not be underestimated, he said. In July 2010, Malaysia sent a 40‑member team to Bamyan province to help provide medical and health care services to the local population. That community had recognized the Malaysian contingent as innovative health care providers who took into consideration local socio-religious sensitivities. Malaysian doctors had successfully designed and constructed an inexpensive water filtration system in school and villages, meeting the local concerns that chlorination filtration methods were not religiously permissible. They had also enlisted the assistance of provincial heads to encourage locals to donate blood to save lives.
Lastly, he strongly believed that human capacity-building was an important building block in the nation-building process. Indeed: “Human capacity-building is the most practical way forward for Afghanistan to achieve greater and more sustainable growth and development.” In that regard, he said Malaysia was committed to continuing technical assistance through various technical cooperation programmes, including the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), endorsing the statement made by Belarus on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), stressed the importance of ridding Afghanistan of terrorists and extremist threats, which he said undermined the peace process. He called on international security forces to scale up their efforts and assistance to that end. National reconciliation was important as well. He called for insurgent elements in Afghanistan to meet three criteria, including disarming, recognizing the national constitution and separating from Al-Qaida.
He called on ISAF to step up its fight against the Afghan drug trade which, he said, was a main source of terrorist funding. It was important to address the threat of terrorism and make sure it did not spill over to neighbouring countries. At the same time, the international troop presence in Afghanistan must be temporary, and such forces must leave the country as soon as ISAF reported to the Security Council that its mandate had been met. He stressed the importance of regional security and noted that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was playing a role in that regard. The Russian Federation looked forward to continued cooperation with Afghanistan, and he said the long-term solutions in Afghanistan must be carried out with the help of the international community and with the interests of the Afghan people in mind.
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