Unanimously Adopting Resolution, General Assembly Reaffirms Global Commitment to Afghanistan’s Peaceful, Prosperous Future
Unanimously Adopting Resolution, General Assembly Reaffirms Global Commitment to Afghanistan’s Peaceful, Prosperous Future
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
54th & 55th Meetings (AM & PM)
Unanimously Adopting Resolution, General Assembly Reaffirms Global Commitment
to Afghanistan’s Peaceful, Prosperous Future
Delegates Consider International Conference on Population
And Development, Calling for ‘Renewed Vigour’ with Programme of Action
Despite setbacks and challenges ahead, Afghanistan was a country that had risen from the ashes of war to become a nation based on a democratic constitution and the will of the people, delegates heard today as the General Assembly unanimously adopted a draft resolution on the situation in that country.
Afghanistan’s representative emphasized that the coming year for Afghanistan would be crucial. However, his country was embracing the challenges of the future with full confidence. Indeed, the resolution had been made possible by the enormous sacrifices made by the people of Afghanistan, who, throughout history, continued to demonstrate resilience, fortitude and courage in overcoming the most difficult of obstacles.
The country’s international partners were also central to those efforts, he stated, thanking all international partners who stood with Afghanistan in support and solidarity as it sought to complete the goal it had set out to achieve.
Outlining setbacks and challenges, he also highlighted achievements, ranging from education and health to women’s rights and good governance. At a time of preparing for next year’s national and provincial elections and the termination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), his Government was committed to regional cooperation, initiatives to end drug trafficking and efforts centred on peace and reconciliation efforts.
“ Afghanistan’s progress has been huge and to a larger extent unprecedented for a country that is still struggling to leave conflict and violence behind,” he said. Nonetheless, it was moving towards a new beginning, characterized and guided by the principles of national ownership, leadership and strengthened sovereignty.
The 105-paragraph draft resolution targeted the areas of security and transition, peace, reconciliation and reintegration, governance, rule of law and human rights, social and economic development, regional cooperation, counter narcotics and coordination. By the text, the Assembly supported the continuing and growing ownership of reconstruction and development efforts by the Government of Afghanistan.
However, among other things, the Assembly stressed the need to continue addressing the threat to security and stability caused by ongoing violent and terrorist activity by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other groups and called upon all Member States to deny those groups any form of sanctuary or financial, material or political support.
The Assembly also pledged its continued support to the Government and people of Afghanistan and encouraged all partners to support the Kabul process, building upon a deep and broad international partnership towards further increased Afghan responsibility and ownership in security, governance and development.
Germany’s representative, introducing the draft resolution, said “the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community is evolving.” It was, therefore, essential to understand that any redefinition needed to reinforce that relationship.
That message was at the core of the draft text, he stated. By adopting the resolution once again by consensus the General Assembly would be reaffirming its commitment to a prosperous and peaceful future of Afghanistan and send a strong message of support to its Government and people.
The United States’ representative joined delegations in praising Afghanistan for its significant progress. She applauded the Government’s efforts in health, education and security, saying that Afghan security forces were growing stronger and more capable by the day.
Pakistan’s speaker, echoing other delegations from the region, also applauded Afghanistan gains and supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Nonetheless, gains made over the last decade must not be wasted or reversed, and military withdrawal should not be a synonym for reduced focus. Afghanistan must not be “abandoned again”, he implored.
However, the European Union’s delegate was one of a number of speakers voicing caution, saying that gains made in political, security, economic and developmental progress were “fragile” and that the full implementation of the Tokyo Framework remained paramount for a successful transition.
Looking ahead, the representative of the Russian Federation said withdrawal of the international forces must be compensated by bolstering the capacity of Afghanistan’s military structures in order to effectively counteract both extremist groups and organized crime. Yet, reforming ISAF into a new mission without the necessary Security Council mandate would be a “serious problem” in terms of future cooperation in the area of logistics, he said.
Earlier in the day, the General Assembly considered the implementation and follow-up to outcomes of United Nations conferences and summits in economic, social and related fields, as well as follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit. Delegates express support for implementing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action.
Indonesia’s representative stressed that gender equality and the empowerment of women was an essential component of development. As well, the United States representative said that 19 years after the conference, its goals had not been fulfilled for many, especially those who were poor, young, female, disabled or displaced. The conference’s agenda was, therefore, relevant to the post-2015 development agenda, and he called for a “renewed vigour” in the international community’s approach.
Also speaking today on the situation in Afghanistan were representatives were Tajikistan (on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), China, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Japan, India, Italy, Iran, Malaysia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Turkey.
The General Assembly will meet again on Thursday 21 November at 10 a.m. to further consider the Report of the Security Council.
As the General Assembly met this morning to consider the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Preparations for the special session of the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 (document A/68/493) and the Secretariat’s note on human security (document A/68/230). For its discussion on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on The work of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women: (document A/68/120). It also considered United Nations reform: measures and proposals.
In the afternoon, the Assembly considered the situation in Afghanistan, for which it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/68/609) and a related draft resolution (document A/68/L.11).
United Nations Conferences and Summits; UN-Women; United Nations Reform
HADI POERNOMO ( Indonesia) said population was an essential issue as it affected the course of national economic development. He stressed the need to assess the status of implementing the International Conference on Population and Development’s Programme of Action during the Commission on Population and Development’s 2014 session. Gender equality and the empowerment of women were essential for development. He expected the United Nations Strategic Plan 2014-2017 to include the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) in responding to the various challenges faced by countries with development priorities. On accountability and corruption, Indonesia supported efforts to ensure that the United Nations developed into a more credible and answerable body. The Assembly played an important role in the promotion of global budget transparency by setting accountability standards throughout the United Nations system with available, accurate data, and efficient information technology. Indonesia had established a Supreme Audit System, which could be accessed, linked and matched online. It had been successful in systematically preventing and eradicating corruption. This Audit System was very helpful in Indonesia’s national efforts to become a corruption-free country, and played a vital role in helping the country implement internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
TED STRICKLAND (United States) said that the goals set forth at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development’s action programme, which recognised that for all people to realise their full potential, the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health must be exercised, had yet to be fulfilled for many, especially those who were poor, young, female, disabled or displaced. The Conference’s agenda was, therefore, relevant to the post-2015 development agenda, and work to review its implementation would have resonance across the United Nations’ development framework. A persistent challenge in this context was reducing the rates of mortality and morbidity related to sexual and reproductive health, particularly for women and adolescent girls. With over 40 per cent of the world’s population under the age of 25, efforts to meet the needs of adolescents and youth to secure a healthy transition to adulthood must be increased. He highlighted the need to support and provide quality education equally for boys and girls, at least through secondary school. “Renewed vigour” in the international community’s approach could bring the achievement of Conference’s goals closer for current and future generations of young people.
Situation in Afghanistan
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) introduced the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/68/L.11). Remarkable gains in the areas of security, politics and economics this past year had led towards next year’s pivotal events, including presidential elections scheduled for April and the termination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at the end of 2014. “The long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community is evolving,” he said. “It is essential to understand, however, that redefining this very relationship should reinforce it.”
That message was at the core of the draft text before the Assembly, he said, highlighting significant elements. While progress had been made in the area of security, challenges remained. The draft text, therefore, underlined the international community’s resolve to support the Afghan security forces during the transition and beyond, and reiterated commitments made at the Chicago Summit in 2012. With regards to long-term commitment, the international community had pledged to US$16 billion through 2015, and continued efforts were essential to advance gains made in areas including health, education and infrastructure.
He also pointed out that the draft text expressed appreciation about progress in preparing for presidential and provincial elections. As well, it emphasized that preserving and consolidating gains in the protection and promotion of human rights and the equal participation of all members of society remained critical. The text also reiterated the importance of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. The Heart of Asia Process was another pillar for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
“By adopting this resolution once again by consensus,” he said, “the General Assembly will reaffirm its commitment to a prosperous and peaceful future of Afghanistan and send a strong message of support to the Afghan Government and people.”
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said his country had risen from the ashes of war into a new State based on a democratic constitution and the will of its people. Millions of refugees had returned home, millions of boys and girls had access to school, and 90 per cent of people received primary health care. In addition, maternal and child mortality had been reduced and big steps had been taken to restore women’s rights. “In summary, Afghanistan’s progress has been huge and to a larger extent unprecedented for a country that is still struggling to leave conflict and violence behind,” he said. “ Afghanistan is moving towards a new beginning, characterized and guided by the principles of national ownership, leadership and strengthened sovereignty.”
He said that the Consultative Loya Jirgah would confer in Kabul tomorrow on the agreement that was at the core of strategic relations between his country and the United States. In four months, elections would be held, marking the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one elected president to another. In a year’s time, international military forces would leave the country. Looking to the future, immediate priorities towards achieving lasting peace and stability included reconciliation. Despite setbacks to peace talks with the Taliban, the Government was confident about reaching a political solution. Regional cooperation was also key, as peace and security in his country was inextricably linked to the peace and prosperity of the region.
Turning to economic development, he said that moving from a predominantly aid dependent economy to a non-aid dependent one was at the core of Afghanistan’s economic transition objective. Good governance and strengthening the rule of law was also central of the Government’s efforts, with new steps being taken towards improvements at national and local levels. The Government was also seriously engaged in its National Drug Control Strategy to tackle the narcotics trade. A real solution to the problem rested on a holistic approach that addressed all components, namely, production, trafficking and consumption. Shared responsibility must be central to joint efforts to defeat the scourge of drugs. The Afghan Government was also fully committed to protecting and promoting the rights of all citizens, including those of women and girls.
“The coming year for Afghanistan is crucial,” he said. “We are embracing the challenges of the future with full confidence.” Acknowledging that the journey embarked upon more than a decade ago remained incomplete, he said the way ahead would not be void of challenges.
“But if anything”, he stated, “this resolution is a manifestation of the prospect for success, made possible by the enormous sacrifices made by the people of Afghanistan, who have, throughout history, demonstrated resilience, fortitude and courage in overcoming the most difficult of obstacles and achieving success. Our international partners were central to those efforts and I would like to take this opportunity to gratefully thank all our international friends and partners who stand with us in support and solidarity as we seek to complete the goal we set out to achieve.”
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union delegation, said that Afghanistan had made considerable political, security, economic and developmental progress, but that the gains made were still “fragile”. A full implementation of the Tokyo Framework remained paramount for a successful transition from a military to a civilian force, and for the formation of a political solution for long-term security and development. A future peace and reconciliation process should be Afghan led and inclusive of all society. Further, it would be critical for Afghanistan’s future that the upcoming presidential and provincial elections be transparent and comprehensive in order to achieve a legitimate outcome. Appropriate measures needed to be taken to ensure the security of voters and officials, to combat fraud, to promote women’s participation, and to encourage domestic.
He went on to say that international observation was critical to the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, with the United Nations playing a key role in supporting those preparations. Furthermore, full and equal participation of women in all spheres of Afghan life required the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, among other conventions. Finally, although Afghanistan had achieved impressive rates of economic growth, the rate had slowed dramatically as investors waited to see the outcome of the elections and the transition process. It was critical that the Afghan Government improved the business and investment climate through the passage of the Mining Law, the Value-Added Taxes Law and the Anti-Money Laundering Law before the end of the current administration.
SIRODJIDIN ASLOV (Tajikistan), speaking on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, said that Afghanistan, a close neighbour of the Organization’s member States, had been granted observer status last year. That body supported the efforts to make Afghanistan an independent, neutral, prosperous country free of terrorism and drug-related crimes. The national reconciliation process could have a positive effect if the insurgents strictly complied with three basic principles: they must lay down their weapons; they must recognize the Constitution; and they must break ties with Al-Qaida and other extremist organizations. Countering the illicit production and trafficking of drugs remained one of the key components in achieving stability in Afghanistan. Encouraging multifaceted regional cooperation, he added that the post-conflict rehabilitation process of Afghanistan must take into account the regional context.
WANG MIN ( China), aligning his delegation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, welcomed the report on Afghanistan as well as the future adoption of the relevant resolution by consensus. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Afghanistan Government and its people, peaceful reconstruction had made headway. At the same time, the transition period was entering a “crucial stage” and still required the efforts both of Afghanistan and the international community. The Afghan people should choose their own path to development, as well as the success of their transition. Among several challenges emphasized, he highlighted in particular the need for the Afghan people to take a “leading role” in order to achieve peace, stability, and sustainable development. He called on the international community to help achieve an “ Afghanistan run by Afghans”. Further, the comprehensive promotion of peace required sustained support and assistance, and parties concerned should honour their commitments.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) noted that, since President [Hamid] Karzai’s announcement of Milestone 2013 five months ago, and the start of the final tranche of transition to full Afghan responsibility for security, the summer had been the first time in over a decade the Afghan National Security Forces had fought the insurgency largely independently. There were still challenges ahead, however. At the same time, there was a comprehensive international framework to support Afghanistan’s security, development and security challenges through transition and beyond. He said he looked forward to peaceful, credible and inclusive presidential and provincial elections in April 2014, and backed an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. As Security Council coordinator on Afghanistan, his delegation also looked forward to working to ensure an appropriately resourced United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that although future events could determine a trend in the region as a whole, he could not envisage hopes for a fundamental improvement in the security situation in Afghanistan. The “Afghan fingerprint” could increasingly be found in the actions of Central Asian extremist organizations. ISAF’s withdrawal must be compensated by increasing the capability of Afghanistan’s military structures in order for the country to effectively counteract both extremist groups and organized crime. Reforming ISAF into a new mission without the necessary Security Council mandate would be a “serious problem” in terms of future cooperation in the area of logistics. Furthermore, he said he was confused as to why ISAF was not taking active measures in the area of drug trafficking, which continued to threaten peace and security given its links with terrorist financing. Noting that the Istanbul Process was a “dialogue platform” for the exchange of ideas to be implemented by regional players, he said that his country would support such initiatives.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) highlighted recent positive forward-looking events, such as meetings on cooperation and his country’s opening of an embassy in Kabul. His Government was working on a number of initiatives, including hosting a conference on challenges of regional peace and security. However, there was concerned about the scale of drug trafficking and trade in Afghanistan and the broader region. Despite consistent efforts, his Government had been unable to stop the drug flow from Afghanistan, he said, noting that much of the narcotics trade funded terrorist activities. There should be an integrated system to establish an anti-drug “belt”. Turning to reconciliation, he supported an Afghan-led process that would, among other things, help to conduct successful 2014 elections based on fairness and transparency. He supported the Istanbul Process and was ready to help to implement regional projects, underscoring the importance of having large-scale infrastructure projects, including energy and roadways, as well as a regional railway.
JEFFREY SALIM WAHEED ( Maldives) said the 2014 presidential and provincial elections in Afghanistan were essential to a fair, peaceful and sustainable transition process and must be fully Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. In that regard, he commended the Afghan Government for adopting a legal framework for the upcoming elections. However, holding democratic elections did not automatically instil democratic values in the electorate. Therefore, it was necessary to nourish those values over time. Another part of democratic values was ensuring the rights of minorities and the rights of women. He welcomed Afghanistan’s first progress report on the implementation of the Convention of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Although continued violence against women remained deeply concerning, he said that new found accountability would give rise to further intensive efforts to implement that important convention.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) said despite progress, peace and security were concerns. The upcoming president and provincial elections would be an important marker in the country’s transition. In that regard, support for the Mission in Afghanistan was essential. He hoped progress would be made in peace talks to achieve a sustainable and lasting peace in the country and urged the Afghan Government to enhance efforts towards protecting and promoting human rights. Sustained international support was critical to continued progress, he said, pointing out that the draft text embodied the political will of the international community in its support to the Afghan people. For its part, he said his country had made financial commitments to Afghanistan through 2015.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said he was pleased to sponsor this year’s resolution on Afghanistan, which came at a defining moment as that country negotiated momentous political, security and economic transitions in 2014. Gains made in Afghanistan over the last decade must not be wasted or reversed, and military withdrawal should not be a synonym for reduced focus. Afghanistan must not be “abandoned again”. Strenuous efforts were being made to ensure that planned transitions would lead to a stronger and more stable country. There should be “no vacuums”, and there were encouraging signs in that direction. In that context, planned elections next year would consolidate democracy, reinforce the rule of law and strengthen norms of broad representation and accountability. Furthermore, the “most crucial ingredient” was a peace and reconciliation process that was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. A military solution was not a panacea for Afghanistan nor an insurance against long-term instability.
Apprehensions existed that the Afghan economy would suffer after the withdrawal of troops since it had been run or perceived as a “war economy” bolstered by a massive international presence, he said. Pledges for investment, however, had not materialised or available funding had not been assimilated. Pakistan’s fear was that an economic slowdown in Afghanistan post-2014 might result in more refugees wanting to move to its territory. It would not be able to absorb them. While Pakistan was committed to supporting Afghans in distress, at the same time early and sustainable return of refugees should continue. Regarding the peace and reconciliation process, Pakistan had “no favourites”, and would play only a facilitating role. The people of Afghanistan were in the driver’s seat, and while Pakistan could exercise influence, it did not control the Taliban. Nonetheless, it would continue to play a supportive and constructive role, including through building a deeper and broader relationship with Afghanistan.
HIND ABDULAZIZ ALOWAIS ( United Arab Emirates) said that although full responsibility for security had been handed over to the Afghan security forces five months ago, the international community still had a duty to assist Afghan forces through training and funding. Her country, among other initiatives, had allocated $28.5 million since 2011 to support mine clearance operations in Kandahar, one of the most-affected areas. Approximately 50 per cent of mined areas had been cleared, employing more than 1,000 people and providing land for agriculture and infrastructure development. Furthermore, her country had established a standing committee to consolidate funding by all charitable United Arab Emiratesinstitutions — amounting to $267.3 million — which helped implement projects such as the Kandahar airport, the construction of a road leading to Helmand province and the provision of food and aid to orphans and people with special needs. She encouraged Member States and regional organizations to double their efforts to assist in confidence-building measures and the dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan, noting the security and stability of the two countries depended on both sides.
MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA ( Japan) said he was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution before the Assembly. 2014 was a “critical juncture” for future sustainability in Afghanistan, with “concrete results” expected with the completion of the security transition. In this context, Japan hoped the United Nations and in particular UNAMA would play an increasingly important role in 2014 and beyond. Among several issues and challenges that the Afghan Government had to tackle, he highlighted in particular that the upcoming elections must give “strong legitimacy” to the new Government, and a fair and transparent election process was imperative in this regard, as well as an election that reflected the will of the entire population. In this regard, security remained crucial to ensure wider participation. Turning to the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held in July 2012, he renewed the call for that country to take sustained and accelerated action to deliver on commitments agreed there, including on governance, rule of law and human rights, as well as public finance. He emphasised the importance of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said she was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution, since it reflected the United States’ continuing support to the Afghan people to build a stable country through the transition and beyond. Noting improvements in livelihoods in Afghanistan over the past 12 years, she said that today nearly 8 million children were in school, more than a third of them girls. In 2001, life expectancy had been 42 years; today it was 62 and rising. Sixty per cent of Afghans were now within an hour of basic health services, and while there had been virtually no cell phones in the country in 2001, now there were 18 million. Last summer, Afghan security forces had taken the lead in providing security across the entire country, and were growing stronger and more capable by the day. The United States and partners remained committed to helping the Afghan National Security Forces, which would extend well beyond 2014.
The single most important milestone next year would be the peaceful transition to a democratically elected successor to President Karzai, she said. The United States hoped that the upcoming election would represent a “unifying moment” for the country. At the same time, continued international assistance was contingent on credible elections that reflected the will of the Afghan people. Elsewhere, the United States welcomed the support of the United Nations and global partners in supporting the rights and role of Afghan women. Societies where women were safe were more prosperous and more stable. The success of political transition next year was, however, not sufficient on its own to end the conflict. An Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process was the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability. She called on Afghanistan to renew commitments to reform its economy and “unlock the potential of its people”. This should include, among other things, action on the issue of the narcotics trade as well as Afghanistan’s potential as a waypoint for trade. Economic cooperation was critical to achieving stability and peace across the region.
ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI (India) said the recent attack on the Indian Consulate, which led to the killing of Afghan citizens and the injury of Afghan security personnel, provided an example of the safety issues on the ground in that country. India, he said, did not have an exit strategy; it would not be deterred by those attacks. Furthermore, most of the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan originated from beyond its borders and were conducted by groups closely allied to Al-Qaida and its affiliates. The listing and delisting process of the individuals and entities for targeted measures by the “Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanction Committees” should remain proactive and attentive. Afghanistan — as supported by the global community — needed to “isolate and destroy the syndicate of terrorism”, which included elements of the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other extremist groups. Furthermore, the drawdown of troops and the transition security plan needed to take into account the threats posed by those terrorist organizations. As well, the Mission needed to step up its humanitarian and developmental role through better delivery of assistance since the United Nations was uniquely placed with access to the most remote and isolated communities in the country.
SEBASTIANO CARDI ( Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, said Afghanistan’s presidential elections in April 2014 would mark, for the first time in Afghan history, a hand-off from one Head of State to another through a democratic process. Therefore, the United Nations, in the lead-up to the elections, needed to strengthen its support for the Afghan institutions in order for them to take ownership of the civil and economic development of the country. As well, until the new Head of State was proclaimed, the Kabul authorities should take every action needed to guarantee an inclusive, transparent and credible electoral process. There should also be common rules that protected and represented the many facets of civil society, as well as the various political parties present in the country. Indeed, the gradual definition of an institutional framework to oversee the elections — due to the approval of the new election law and the forthcoming publication of the final list of presidential candidates — indicated that the Afghan authorities were moving in the right direction.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said Afghan forces needed to be equipped to respond to existing security threats by terrorists, illegal armed groups and organized criminals. Special attention must be given to the production and trade of narcotic drugs as the financial source of such threats. To control the 1,000 kilometres of common borders with Afghanistan as a major transit route from Afghanistan to Europe, Iran had spent more than $600 million annually. Nearly 4,000 of Iranian law enforcement personnel had lost their lives. Such assistance could not be sustained without the support of the international community, especially in the supply of advanced border-control technologies.
As well, he said, there were more than 1.5 million Afghanistan refugees in Iran, the majority of whom resided in urban areas and were assisted with basic needs and essential services despite unilateral economic and financial sanctions imposed on Iran. Likewise, Iran had spent more than $400 million in the education of 320,000 school-aged Afghan students and 8,000 college-aged persons in universities in Iran. As a result, the literacy rate of Afghan refugees had increased from six to 70 per cent. As an active player in the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy and the repatriation of its refugees, Iran had granted $500 million for the implementation of many projects, such as roads, railways, energy, mining and agriculture, in Afghanistan. Building a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was crucial not only for the future of the Afghan people, but also for enhancing peace and stability for the region.
RAJA REZA RAJA ZAIB SHAH ( Malaysia) said that the year 2014 would witness presidential elections in Afghanistan as well as the complete withdrawal of the ISAF. The political development was taking place against a shifting security landscape. The transfer of responsibility from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces was essential in reclaiming Afghan sovereignty. Malaysia was concerned about the alarming number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan due to terrorist and insurgent attacks. The ongoing reconciliation efforts were a vital component in securing lasting peace and stability. The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme had made commendable progress in reintegrating former insurgents into the community. The national reconciliation and reintegration process must remain Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
SIMONA-MIRELA MICULESCU (Romania), aligning herself with the European Union, said that, over the past decade, the Afghan people had achieved considerable political, security, economic and developmental progress with the support of the international community. Her country’s participation had evolved from an exclusively military engagement in 2002, to the training of military and police forces, operational mentoring, contributing to the European Union police mission and ensuring protection for United Nations officials. She enumerated several institution building projects Romania had undertaken in 2012, among them a pilot programme to familiarize young Afghan diplomats with Romanian and regional foreign policy, and said that a lesson learned from the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan was the importance of United Nations cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA ( Slovakia) said that the draft resolution reflected many challenges that lay ahead in Afghanistan’s transition process. During the transition, all processes should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. While stressing the need to present positive stories that would encourage the Afghan people to press on towards stability, security and freedoms, he stated that the challenges of a fragile security situation and persisting non-military threats must not be underestimated. Slovakia’s official development aid programmes for Afghanistan supported institution-building, development of the financial sector, and dialogue and cooperation with universities and scientific institutions. “We should speak less and do more in responding to current and future challenges,” he said. Aid to Afghanistan for security and stabilization must be complemented by projects supporting Afghan economic development and trade relations. Respect for the rule of law and human rights were also linked to a more transparent, stable business environment and improved accountability, which in turn attracted international stakeholders and investors.
EDITA HRDÁ (Czech Republic), aligning her delegation with the European Union, said that her country had supported security efforts for many years, and was involved in reconstruction and development in the Logar province, assisting in a local effort to provide higher education in agriculture. That multi-faceted project required the engagement of Czech soldiers, police, civilians and non-governmental organizations and had been the most complex and difficult in her country’s history of outreach. Due to the increased capacity of the Afghan national security forces, the Czech Republic had been gradually phasing out its military personnel. However, an on-budget contribution to support the Afghan forces and economic development had already been approved, and would compliment existing funding under the Czech international development assistance to be spread over the years 2014-2017. Emphasizing that long-term success of the transition and sustainability was “entirely in the Afghan hands”, she said that the presidential election was an opportunity for that country’s leadership to show its commitment to the “principles of the Afghan Constitution”.
Y. HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) expressed satisfaction with the Afghan Government’s assumption of its responsibilities toward its people and its readiness to move forward in terms of human rights, democratization and good governance. However, the security situation remained volatile and this, as well as the threat of natural disasters, posed grave humanitarian challenges. As Afghanistan’s political and security transition moved forward, the international community must remain in touch with these realities on the ground. As the worldwide presence was reduced, regional ownership and sustainability would become more interconnected and vital for strengthening Afghan structures and institutions. Turkey said the increased momentum in the Istanbul Process — an initiative made possible by a General Assembly resolution — accentuated the spirit of regional ownership and solidarity, the engagement and technical support of the United Nations and the interest and support of the international community. Further connectivity, including the completion and maintenance of local railroads and roads, civil aviation capabilities and economic projects, would facilitate a more favourable business environment contributing to Afghanistan’s economic growth.
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