Security Council Extends Mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan until March 2014, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2096 (2013)

19 March 2013
SC/10943

Security Council Extends Mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan until March 2014, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2096 (2013)

19 March 2013
Security Council
SC/10943
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6935th Meeting (AM & PM)

Security Council Extends Mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

until March 2014, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2096 (2013)

 

Secretary-General:  Strong Support Needed as ‘Moment of Transition’ Approaches;

In Debate, Hears from Afghanistan, 35 Delegations, Including 3 Foreign Ministers

The Security Council today extended for another year the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan and called on the Organization and the international community to bolster the Afghan Government’s efforts to take ownership of and leadership in National Priority Programmes covering security, governance, justice and socio-economic development.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2096 (2013), the Council extended through 19 March 2014 the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and called on the operation to support the achievement of objectives agreed between the long-troubled country and its international partners at the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo conferences, and the Lisbon and Chicago summits.  UNAMA was also tasked with continuing its support for Afghanistan’s multi-phase transition process, and providing assistance with organizing fair and inclusive presidential elections, set for April 2014.

The 16-page text also called on UNAMA to coordinate and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including in support of the Afghan Government, with a view to building the Government’s capacity so it could assume the central coordinating functions in the future.  It also stressed the role of UNAMA in supporting, if requested, an inclusive Afghan-led and ‑owned process of peace and reconciliation, as well as the ongoing Afghan-led regional effort.  In that regard, the Council looked forward to the next Ministerial Conference, the ‘Heart of Asia’ Meeting, to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 26 April.

Opening the meeting, which featured statements from more than 35 delegations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Afghanistan’s political climate was dominated by the 2014 elections, and as such, broad participation and a credible process were essential to reaching the goal of a widely accepted leadership transition.  “Let me stress that the elections are Afghan-led and Afghan-managed,” he said, noting that the Government had committed to making the polling process inclusive, consultative and transparent.

He went on to touch briefly on the core priorities that should guide the United Nations through the elections and beyond, explaining that the Organization should maintain its work for reconciliation and regional cooperation.  “We must stand firm for human rights.  And we must advance development,” he said, adding that humanitarian action was also crucial to the future role of the United Nations, especially in addressing Afghanistan’s chronic vulnerability and the impact of the transition.

Yet, he said that the country’s greatest need was peace, and he welcomed the joint United States-Afghan declaration adopted in January supporting greater coherence of reconciliation efforts.  “Expectations must be realistic.  Reconciliation efforts will not be quick or easy,” he said, stressing that the United Nations was pushing for a culture of peace, including support for a second phase of the Afghan People’s Dialogue.

“ Afghanistan’s people must come together, not only to shun conflict but to assume leadership and ownership of the transition process for the sake of one Afghanistan,” he declared, adding that such a national stand was essential to end more than 30 years of conflict and establish true and lasting peace.  The Secretary-General drew the Council’s attention to the areas of concern, including the 20 per cent increase of civilian casualties among women and girls in 2012, and the overall “pervasive” climate of impunity in Afghanistan for gender-based violence.

Looking ahead, he said the United Nations must reinforce Afghan efforts.  It must aim to strengthen Afghan political processes and institutions and to boost their ability to deliver nationally and in different regions.  “We must bring to a close the time of parallel structures and efforts by the international community and fully integrate our support,” he said, adding that to fulfil its mandate, UNAMA must maintain its ability to reach out across the country and to meet the many demands it faced during “this crucial period”.  As such, while the Mission’s 2013 budget reflected significant reductions, he did not envisage additional cuts for 2014.

“We are approaching a moment of transition,” he concluded.  “Let us work as hard as possible to ensure that this transition leads to the stable, prosperous and safe future that the country’s people deserve,” he said.

Taking the floor next, the representative of Afghanistan said:  “For the Afghan people, national sovereignty means taking full responsibility for their destiny.”  In addition, assumption of full security responsibility by Afghan forces was more tangible than ever.  By the end of the “fourth tranche” of the transition, 87 per cent of Afghans would be living in areas where Afghan forces were in charge of security.

“All eyes are also keenly focused on the election,” he continued, and the Government was committed to fair, democratic and transparent polls.  Moreover, peace talks and reconciliation with the armed opposition were essential for a successful election.  For its part, the Government was doing its utmost to ensure the success of the reconciliation process.  The High Peace Council had taken steps to galvanize those efforts.  “As we work to move the peace process forward, the role of the Security Council will remain imperative,” he said, welcoming the adoption of resolution 2082 (2012), which refined the Taliban sanctions regime.

“With the transition, Afghanistan is entering a new era of relations with international partners,” he said, describing that evolving relationship and noting that strategic partnership agreements — such as those finalized in the last two years — were key for shaping long-term interactions.  A strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States was signed last May, and talks to conclude the security agreement between the countries would be finalized in due course.  Also, last month, Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership with Norway and was currently defining partnerships with Denmark and Finland.

Finally, a successful transition would require partnership with the United Nations, he said, noting Afghanistan had seen how the United Nations was adjusting its role to meet the needs of transition, having reviewed its activities in 2011.  His Government could envisage normalization of the Organization’s activities in the years ahead, he said, noting that aid coherence, “One UN” and more accountability were important for Afghanistan, the United Nations and donor countries alike.  “The end of transition will signal the beginning of a new chapter,” he said, one marked by national resilience and the strategic goal of self-reliance.

Many of those sentiments were echoed by today’s speakers, many of whom represented Governments that had committed to long-term and strategic assistance to help pull Afghanistan out of its war-torn past and put the country on a path towards stability, inclusiveness and socio-economic development.  The representative of the United States said that Afghanistan and the international community “are at an important juncture”, and that, despite recent challenges, cooperation was needed to achieve shared goals.  She was also among those calling for an inclusive and credible presidential election in 2014, the result of which must produce an outcome that was “legitimately accepted by the Afghan people”.

Beyond the elections, many delegations also shared the Secretary-General’s alarm at the ongoing difficulties’ facing Afghan women, with the representative of Togo noting the December 2012 killing of the Deputy Director of the Office for Women’s Affairs, and Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, noting that they still faced insecurity in public spaces and at home, in addition to lacking access to an effective and fair justice system and legal representation.  Canada’s representative emphasized that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was essential to defending the rights of women and the Government must move forward with the appointment of its commissioners.

Speaking in his national capacity, the representative of the Russian Federation, which holds the Council presidency this month, said that, although Afghanistan was approaching a “watershed moment” amid preparations for presidential elections, a transfer of security duties, national reconciliation efforts and changes in the Afghan social fabric, that situation gave rise to concerns, especially as terrorism, extremism and drug crimes were far from being resolved, and parts of Afghanistan were still under Taliban control.

Dialogue with armed opposition could be positive only if the Afghan Government led it and the opposition laid down its arms and cut ties with Al-Qaida.  He also supported the Council’s agreed measures to improve the sanctions regime vis-à-vis the Taliban.  The Russian Federation would continue to help bolster national security forces and had carried out a voluntary provision of arms and armaments to the Afghan national police.  At the same time, his Government did not favour maintaining a long-term military presence in the country, he said, as foreign contingents no longer had a role to play.

The Council was also addressed by the Foreign Ministers of Australia and Denmark.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Azerbaijan, Argentina, Republic of Korea, China, France, Morocco, Rwanda, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Pakistan, Italy, Japan, Spain, Germany, Slovakia, Estonia, Turkey, India, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The special representative of the European Union for Afghanistan also made a statement.

The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m. the Council resumed its debate at 3:08 p.m. and adjourned at 4:14 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of Security Council resolution 2096 (2013) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its previous resolutions on Afghanistan, in particular its resolution 2041 (2012) extending through 23 March 2013 the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as established by resolution 1662 (2006),

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan,

Reiterating support for the Transition (Inteqal) process which will entail the assumption of full responsibility by Afghanistan’s institutions in the security sector, consistent with the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo Conferences and the Lisbon and Chicago Summits, recognizing that transition is not only a security process but also entails the full assumption of Afghan leadership and ownership in governance and development, and affirming that the United Nations support in Afghanistan takes full account of the transition process in Afghanistan,

Emphasizing the Kabul Process towards the primary objective of accelerated Afghan leadership and ownership, strengthened international partnership and regional cooperation, improved Afghan governance, enhanced capabilities of Afghan security forces, economic growth and better protection for the rights of all Afghan citizens, including women and girls, and welcoming specifically the commitments made by the Afghan Government,

Stressing the importance of a comprehensive approach to address the security, economic, governance and development challenges in Afghanistan, which are of an interconnected nature, and recognizing that there is no purely military solution to ensure the stability of Afghanistan,

Reaffirming its continued support for the Government and people of Afghanistan as they rebuild their country, and strengthen the foundations of sustainable peace and constitutional democracy,

Welcoming the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011 and its Conference Conclusions (S/2011/762), as well as the declaration in Bonn that the Process of Transition, to be completed by the end of 2014, should be followed by a Decade of Transformation (2015-2024),

Welcoming also the process by which Afghanistan and its regional and international partners are entering into long-term strategic partnership and other agreements, aimed at achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,

Welcoming further the strategic consensus between the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community on a renewed and enduring partnership for this Transformation Decade based on firm mutual commitments, and welcoming the conclusions of the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan (S/2012/532) and the adoption of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework to support the sustainable economic growth and development of Afghanistan, in which the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community reaffirmed their mutual commitments,

Reaffirming that sustainable progress on security, governance, human rights, rule of law and development as well as the cross-cutting issues of counter-narcotics, anti-corruption and accountability are mutually reinforcing and that governance and development programmes prioritized for implementation in transition should be consistent with the goals set forth in the Tokyo Declaration and the National Priority Programmes and welcoming the continuing efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to address these challenges through a comprehensive approach,

Reaffirming specifically in this context its support for the implementation, under the leadership and ownership of the Afghan people, of the commitments set out in the London (S/2011/65) and Kabul Conference Communiqués, of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and of the National Drugs Control Strategy, as part of the comprehensive implementation strategy to be taken forward by the Government of Afghanistan with the support of the region and the international community and with a central and impartial coordinating role for the United Nations, consistent with the Kabul Process and in line with the National Priority Programmes,

Stressing the crucial importance of advancing regional cooperation as an effective means to promote security, stability and economic and social development in Afghanistan, recalling the importance of the Kabul Declaration of 22 December 2002 on Good-Neighbourly Relations (Kabul Declaration) (S/2002/1416), welcoming, in this regard, the continued commitment of the international community to support stability and development in Afghanistan, and noting international and regional initiatives such as the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan, the quadrilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Russian Federation as well as the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey and the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, as well those as by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Organization (CSTO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) process,

Commending the outcome of the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference, which convened in Kabul on 14 June 2012, as the first follow-up to the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan, held in Istanbul in November 2011, where Afghanistan and its regional partners reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen regional security and cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan, including through enhanced regional dialogue and confidence building measures, welcoming the outcome of the Senior Officials Meeting, held in February 2013 in Baku, where the confidence-building measures on Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Narcotics and Trade, Commerce and Investment Opportunity were endorsed, and those on Education, Disaster Management and Regional Infrastructure were endorsed in principle, looks forward to the next Heart of Asia Ministerial Meeting in Almaty, to be held on 26 April 2013; noting that the Istanbul Process is intended to complement and cooperate with, and not substitute for, existing efforts of regional organizations, particularly where they relate to Afghanistan,

Welcoming also the outcome of the International Conference on the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Countries, held in Geneva on 2 and 3 May 2012, and looking forward to the further implementation of the joint communiqué of the Conference, aimed at increased sustainability of returns and continued support for host countries, through sustained support and directed efforts of the international community,

Stressing the central and impartial role that the United Nations will continue to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan by leading the efforts of the international community, including, jointly with the Government of Afghanistan, the coordination and monitoring of efforts in implementing the Kabul Process through the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) in support of the priorities set up by the Government of Afghanistan and affirmed at the Tokyo Conference; and expressing its appreciation and strong support for the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General, his Special Representative for Afghanistan and in particular the women and men of UNAMA who are serving in difficult conditions to help the people of Afghanistan,

Reaffirming that, consistent with the transition process, the role of international actors will evolve further from direct service delivery to support and capacity building for Afghan institutions, enabling the Government of Afghanistan to exercise its sovereign authority in all its functions, including the phasing out of all Provincial Reconstruction Teams, as well as the dissolution of any structures duplicating the functions and authority of the Government of Afghanistan at the national and subnational levels,

Stressing the importance of a comprehensive and inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process in Afghanistan to support reconciliation for all those who are prepared to reconcile as laid forth in the 20 July 2010 Kabul Conference Communiqué on dialogue for all those who renounce violence, have no links to international terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida, respect the constitution, including its human rights provisions, notably the rights of women, and are willing to join in building a peaceful Afghanistan, and further elaborated in the 5 December 2011 Bonn Conference Conclusions supported by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community, with full respect for the implementation of measures and application of the procedures introduced by the Security Council in its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1988 (2011) and 2082 (2012), and in this context, welcoming recent momentum in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation, welcoming also the activities of the High Peace Council and all efforts aimed at advancing a comprehensive political process, welcoming also the decision taken by some members of the Taliban to reconcile with the Government of Afghanistan, to reject the terrorist ideology of Al-Qaida and its followers, and to support a peaceful resolution to the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, underlines the importance of a comprehensive political process in Afghanistan to support peace and reconciliation among all Afghans,

Recalling the Government of Afghanistan’s commitments at the Kabul and Tokyo Conferences to strengthen and improve Afghanistan’s electoral process, including long-term electoral reform, in order to ensure that future elections will be transparent, credible, inclusive and democratic, welcoming the Presidential decree of 26 July 2012, and the announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission of the date for the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections, and Afghan preparations for those elections,

Reaffirming that Afghanistan’s peaceful future lies in the building of a stable, secure, economically sustainable state, free of terrorism and narcotics and based on the rule of law, strengthened democratic institutions, respect for the separation of powers, reinforced constitutional checks and balances and the guarantee and enforcement of citizens’ rights and obligations, welcoming the contribution of the International Contact Group to the United Nations efforts in coordinating and broadening international support for Afghanistan,

Emphasizing once again the agreements reached at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Lisbon and Chicago Summits between the Government of Afghanistan and countries contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to gradually transfer full security responsibility in Afghanistan to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) country-wide by the end of 2014, taking note of the Declaration by NATO and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on an enduring partnership signed in Lisbon on 20 November 2010, acknowledging the joint efforts under the Transition (Inteqal) process, welcoming the progress made so far in the implementation of the first, second and third tranches of Transition, welcoming also the announcement in December 2012 of the fourth tranche of districts and provinces to undergo transition, and looking forward to the phased and responsible extension of the process to the rest of the country with the fifth and final tranche of Transition,

Underlining the importance of operationally capable, professional and sustainable Afghan National Security Forces for meeting Afghanistan’s security needs, with a view to lasting peace, security and stability, stressing the long-term commitment, beyond 2014, and into the Transformation Decade (2015-2024), of the international community to support the further development, including training, and professionalization of the Afghan National Security Forces,

Welcoming the Chicago Summit Joint Declaration on Afghanistan which stresses the long-term commitment, beyond 2014, to lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan, noting the decision of the Government of Afghanistan and NATO for NATO to work towards continuing to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014, noting the responsibility of the Government of Afghanistan to sustain a sufficient and capable ANSF supported by the international community, as decided at the International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn on 5 December 2011, through training, equipping, financing and capability development of the ANSF beyond the end of the transition period, welcoming as reaffirmed in the Chicago Summit Joint Declaration the financial sustainment of the ANSF with a clear view to the assumption, no later than 2024, of full financial responsibility for its own security forces by the Government of Afghanistan,

Recognizing that security gains must be supported by progress in Afghan governance and development capacity, noting, in this context, in the objectives of UNAMA and of ISAF as also noted in resolution 2069 (2012), and stressing the need for optimized cooperation, coordination and mutual support, taking due account of their respective designated responsibilities,

Reiterating the need for all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, through the Country Team mechanism and a “One-UN” approach under the guidance of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, to increase efforts, in full consultation and cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, to achieve greater coherence, coordination, efficiency and full alignment with the National Priority Programmes identified by the Government of Afghanistan,

Welcoming the efforts of countries that are increasing their civilian, including humanitarian, efforts to assist the Government and the people of Afghanistan and encouraging the international community to further enhance their contributions in a coordinated manner with the Afghan authorities and UNAMA, with a view to strengthening Afghan leadership and ownership, as reaffirmed at the Tokyo Conference in July 2012,

Stressing the need to further improve the reach, quality and quantity of humanitarian aid, ensuring efficient, effective and timely coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance, including through enhanced coordination among the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and between the United Nations and other donors, especially where it is most needed, supporting the Afghan Government to increasingly take the lead in coordinating humanitarian assistance to its citizens,

Emphasizing the need for all, within the framework of humanitarian assistance, of upholding and respecting the humanitarian principles, of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence,

Reiterating its concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, in particular the ongoing violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs, and the strong links between terrorism activities and illicit drugs, resulting in threats to the local population, including women, children, national security forces and international military and civilian personnel,

Recognizing the continuously alarming threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups and illegal armed groups as well as the challenges related to the efforts to address such threats, and expressing its serious concern over the harmful consequences of violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups and illegal armed groups on the capacity of the Afghan Government to guarantee the rule of law, to provide security and basic services to the Afghan people, and to ensure the improvement and protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Recalling its resolutions 1674 (2006), 1738 (2006) and 1894 (2009) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, expressing its serious concern with the high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, in particular women and children, the increasingly large majority of which are caused by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups and illegal armed groups, reaffirming that all parties to armed conflict must take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians, calling for all parties to comply with their obligations under international law including international humanitarian and human rights law and for all appropriate measures to be taken to ensure the protection of civilians, and recognizing the importance of the ongoing monitoring and reporting to the United Nations Security Council, including ISAF, of the situation of civilians and in particular civilian casualties, taking note of the progress made by Afghan and international forces in minimizing civilian casualties, as recognized in the 19 February 2013 report by UNAMA on the protection of civilians in armed conflict,

Expressing also concern with the serious threat that anti-personnel mines, remnants of war and Improvised Explosive Devices pose to the civilian population, and stressing the need to refrain from the use of weapons and devices prohibited by international law,

Encouraging the international community and regional partners to further effectively support Afghan-led sustained efforts to address drug production and trafficking, notably through the JCMB’s working group on counter-narcotics as well as regional initiatives, recognizing the threat posed by the production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs to international peace and stability in different regions of the world, and the important role played by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) in this regard, and stressing the important role of the United Nations to continue to monitor the drug situation in Afghanistan,

Stressing the need for coordinated regional efforts to combat the drug problem, and in this regard welcoming the Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Narcotics in Islamabad on 12 and 13 November 2012, aimed at enhancing regional cooperation to counter-narcotics,

Supporting the Afghan Government’s continued ban of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer, and urging prompt action to implement regulations for the control of all explosive materials and precursor chemicals, thereby reducing the ability of insurgents to use them for improvised explosive devices, and calling upon the international community to support the Afghan Government’s efforts in this regard,

Welcoming the ongoing work of the Paris Pact Initiative as one of the most important frameworks in the fight against opiates originating in Afghanistan, taking note of the Vienna Declaration, and emphasizing the aim of the Paris Pact to establish a broad international coalition to combat the traffic of illicit opiates, as part of a comprehensive approach to peace, stability, and development in Afghanistan, the region and beyond,

Recalling the declaration addressed to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) by the Government of Afghanistan that there is no legal use for acetic anhydride in Afghanistan for the time being and that producing and exporting countries should abstain from authorizing the export of this substance to Afghanistan without the request from the Afghan Government, and encouraging, pursuant to resolution 1817 (2008), Member States to increase their cooperation with the INCB, notably by fully complying with the provisions of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988,

Recalling its resolutions 1265 (1999), 1296 (2000), 1674 (2006), 1738 (2006) and 1894 (2009) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, its resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010) on women and peace and security, and its resolution 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), and 2068 (2012) on children and armed conflict, and taking note of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2011/55) on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan as well as the conclusions of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (S/AC.51/2011/3),

“1.   Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 5 March 2013 (S/2013/133);

“2.   Expresses its appreciation for the United Nations’ long-term commitment, including beyond 2014 and into the Transformation Decade, to support the Government and the people of Afghanistan and reiterates its full support to the work of UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and emphasises the importance of adequate resourcing for UNAMA to fulfil its mandate;

“3.   Decides to extend until 19 March 2014 the mandate of UNAMA, as defined in its resolutions 1662 (2006), 1746 (2007), 1806 (2008), 1868 (2009), 1917 (2010), 1974 (2011), 2041 (2012) and paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 below;

“4.   Recognizes that the renewed mandate of UNAMA takes full account of the transition process and is in support of Afghanistan’s full assumption of leadership and ownership in the security, governance and development areas, consistent with the understandings reached between Afghanistan and the international community in the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo Conferences and the Lisbon and Chicago Summits;

“5.   Calls on the United Nations, with the support of the international community, to support the Government of Afghanistan’s National Priority Programmes covering the issues of security, governance, justice and economic and social development and to support the full implementation of mutual commitments made on these issues at international Conferences, as well as on continuing implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy, and requests that UNAMA, in an increasingly enabling function, assist the Government of Afghanistan on its way towards ensuring full Afghan leadership and ownership, as defined by the Kabul process;

“6.   Decides further that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, within their mandate and guided by the principle of reinforcing Afghan sovereignty, leadership and ownership, will continue to lead and coordinate the international civilian efforts, in accordance with the London, Kabul and Tokyo Conference Communiqués and the Bonn Conference Conclusions, with a particular focus on the priorities laid out below;

(a)   promote, as co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), more coherent support by the international community to the Afghan Government’s development and governance priorities, including through supporting the ongoing development and sequencing of the National Priority Programmes, mobilization of resources, coordination of international donors and organizations, and direction of the contributions of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, in particular for counter-narcotics, reconstruction and development activities; at the same time, support efforts to increase the proportion of development aid delivered through the Afghan Government, in line with the commitments made at the Kabul Conferences, and support efforts to increase the transparency and effectiveness of the Afghan Government’s use of such resources;

(b)   support, at the request of the Afghan authorities, the organization of future Afghan elections, including the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections, as well as to strengthen, in support of the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts, the sustainability, integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral process, as agreed at the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo Conferences and the Chicago Summit; and provide capacity building and technical assistance to the Afghan institutions involved in this process;

(c)   provide outreach as well as good offices to support, if requested by the Afghan Government, the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation, including through the implementation of the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme and proposing and supporting confidence building measures within the framework of the Afghan constitution and with full respect for the implementation of measures and application of the procedures introduced by the Security Council in its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1988 (2011), 1989 (2011) and 2082 (2012) and 2083 (2012) as well as other relevant resolutions of the Council;

(d)   support regional cooperation, with a view to assisting Afghanistan utilize its role at the heart of Asia to promote regional cooperation, and to work towards a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, building on the achievements made;

(e)   continue the cooperation with ISAF and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative at all levels and throughout the country in support of the ongoing transition to full Afghan leadership and ownership agreed to at the Kabul and London Conferences as well as the Lisbon and Chicago Summits, in a sustainable manner to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of all Afghans, in accordance with their existing mandates, in order to optimize civil-military coordination, to facilitate the timely exchange of information and, to ensure coherence between the activities of national and international security forces and of civilian actors in support of an Afghan-led development and stabilization process, including through engagement with provincial reconstruction teams and engagement with non-governmental organizations, in particular through its participation on the Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board (JANIB) as an observer;

“7.   Also reaffirms that UNAMA and the Special Representative will increase efforts to achieve greater coherence, coordination, efficiency among relevant UN agencies, funds and programmes in Afghanistan to maximize their collective effectiveness in full alignment with the National Priority Programmes identified by the Government of Afghanistan, and continue to lead international civilian efforts with an emphasis on enabling and strengthening the role of Afghan institutions to perform their responsibilities in the following priority areas:

(a)   promote through an appropriate UNAMA presence, to be determined in full consultation and cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, and in support of the Afghan Government’s efforts, implementation of the Kabul Process throughout the country, including through enhanced cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and facilitate inclusion in and understanding of the Government’s policies;

(b)   support the efforts of the Afghan Government, in fulfilling its commitments as stated at the London, Kabul and Bonn Conferences, to improve governance and the rule of law including transitional justice, budget execution and the fight against corruption, throughout the country in accordance with the Kabul Process and the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, with a view to helping bring the benefits of peace and the delivery of services in a timely and sustainable manner;

(c)   continue, with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to cooperate with and build capacity of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), to cooperate also with the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non-governmental organizations to monitor the situation of civilians, to coordinate efforts to ensure their protection, to promote accountability, and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights;

(d)   coordinate and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including in support of the Afghan Government and in accordance with humanitarian principles, with a view to building the capacity of the Government so it can assume the central and coordinating role in the future, including by providing effective support to national and local authorities in assisting and protecting internally displaced persons and to creating conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees from neighbouring and other countries and internally displaced persons;

“8.   Calls upon all Afghan and international parties to coordinate with UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate and in efforts to promote the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel throughout the country;

“9.   Reiterates the need to ensure security of United Nations staff and its support for the measures already taken by the Secretary-General in this regard;

“10.  Stresses the critical importance of a continued presence of UNAMA and other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the provinces, consistent with the transition process, in support of and in cooperation with the Afghan Government, in response to needs and with a view to security and including the objective of overall United Nations effectiveness, and strongly supports the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the coordination of all activities of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in Afghanistan based on a “One-UN” approach;

“11.  Encourages the Secretary-General to continue his current efforts to take necessary measures to address the security issues associated with the United Nations presence and, during the current process of transition and beyond, particularly encourages careful coordination with the Afghan national security forces, supported by the Assistance Force, as appropriate;

“12.  Underscores the importance of a sustainable democratic development in Afghanistan with all Afghan institutions acting within their clearly defined areas of competence, in accordance with the relevant laws and the Afghan Constitution, and welcomes, in this regard, the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan at the Kabul Conference, reaffirmed at the Bonn and Tokyo Conferences, to deliver further improvements to the electoral process, including addressing the sustainability of the electoral process, and, taking into account the commitments by the international community and the Afghan Government made at the London, Kabul, Bonn, and Tokyo Conferences, reaffirms UNAMA’s supporting role, at the request of the Afghan Government, in the realization of these commitments, and requests that, upon the request of the Government of Afghanistan, UNAMA provide assistance to the relevant Afghan institutions to support the integrity of the electoral process, and further calls upon members of the international community to provide assistance as appropriate;

“13.  Welcomes the continuing efforts of the Afghan Government to advance the peace and reconciliation process, including by the High Peace Council and the implementation of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, to promote an inclusive, Afghan-led dialogue on reconciliation and political participation as laid forth in the 20 July 2010 Kabul Conference Communiqué on dialogue for all those who renounce violence, have no links to international terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida, respect the constitution, including its human rights provisions, notably the rights of women, and are willing to join in building a peaceful Afghanistan, and as further elaborated in the principles and outcomes of the 5 December 2011 Bonn Conference Conclusions, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan to make use of UNAMA’s good offices to support this process as appropriate, in full respect of the implementation of measures and procedures introduced by the Security Council in its resolution 1267 (1999), 1988 (2011) and 2082 (2012), as well as other relevant resolutions of the Council;

“14.  Welcomes also the measures taken by the Government of Afghanistan, and encourages it to continue to increase the participation of women as well as minorities and civil society in outreach, consultation and decision-making processes, recalls that women play a vital role in the peace process, as recognized in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and related resolutions, therefore reiterates the need for the full, equal and effective participation of women at all stages of peace processes and urges their involvement in the development and implementation of post-conflict strategies in order to take account of their perspectives and needs as affirmed by the Bonn and Tokyo Conferences;

“15.  Notes the establishment of the Committee pursuant to Security Council resolution 1988 (2011), its methods and procedures, including new procedures to facilitate and expedite requests for travel ban exemptions in support of the peace and reconciliation process, introduced in Security Council resolution 2082 (2012), welcomes in this context, the cooperation of the Afghan Government, the High Peace Council and UNAMA with the Committee, including by providing relevant information for updating the 1988 List, and by identifying individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan, as per the designation criteria set out in Security Council Resolution 2082 (2012), and notes that means of financing or supporting these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities includes but is not limited to proceeds derived from illicit cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs and their precursors originating in and transiting through Afghanistan, and encourages the continuation of such cooperation;

“16.  Stresses the role of UNAMA in supporting, if requested by the Government of Afghanistan, an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation, including the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme, while continuing to assess, including in collaboration with the AIHRC, its human rights and gender implications, including the promotion and protection of human rights, and encourages the international community to assist the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan in this regard including through continued support to the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund;

“17.  Reaffirms support to the ongoing Afghan-led regional effort within the framework of the “Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan”, welcomes the outcomes of the Kabul Ministerial Conference on 14 June 2012, as follow-up to the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan, held in November 2011, welcomes the endorsement of the implementation plans of all six confidence building measures prioritized for implementation, commends the significant progress of the Process since its inception, looks forward to the next Ministerial Conference to be held on 26 April 2013 ‘Heart of Asia’ Ministerial Meeting in Almaty, and calls on Afghanistan and its regional partners to keep up the momentum and continue their efforts to enhance regional dialogue and confidence through the Istanbul Process, and notes that the Istanbul Process is intended to complement and cooperate with, and not substitute for, existing efforts of regional organizations, particularly where they relate to Afghanistan;

“18.  Welcomes ongoing efforts by the Government of Afghanistan, its neighbouring and regional partners and international organizations, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to foster trust and cooperation with each other as well as recent cooperation initiatives developed by the countries concerned and regional organizations, including the Trilateral Summits of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK as well as SCO and SAARC;

“19.  Calls for strengthening the process of regional cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional trade and transit, including through regional and bilateral transit trade agreements, expanded consular visa cooperation and facilitation of business travel, to expand trade, to increase foreign investments and to develop infrastructure, including infrastructural connectivity, energy supply, transport and integrated border management, with a view to promoting sustainable economic growth and the creation of jobs in Afghanistan, noting the historic role of Afghanistan as a land bridge in Asia, and welcomes the outcome of the Fifth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), held in Tajikistan in March 2012, to further develop and consolidate cooperation and partnership towards promoting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the region;

“20.  Emphasizes in this regard, the importance of strengthening local and regional networks of transportation that will facilitate connectivity for economic development, stability and self-sustainability, particularly the completion and maintenance of local railroad and land routes, the development of regional projects to foster further connectivity, and the enhancement of international civil aviation capabilities;

“21.  Reaffirms the central role played by the JCMB in coordinating, facilitating and monitoring the implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the National Priority Programmes, and calls upon all relevant actors to enhance their cooperation with the JCMB in this regard, with a view to further improve its efficiency;

“22.  Calls on international donors and organizations and the Afghan Government to adhere to their commitments made at the Tokyo Conference and previous international conferences, and reiterates the importance of further efforts in improving aid coordination and effectiveness, including by ensuring transparency, combating corruption, and enhancing the capacity of Government of Afghanistan to coordinate aid;

“23.  Calls upon the Afghan Government, with the assistance of the international community, including ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition, in accordance with their respective designated responsibilities as they evolve, to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs;

“24.  Reiterates the importance of increasing, in a comprehensive framework, the functionality, professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector through appropriate vetting procedures, training, mentoring, equipping and empowerment efforts, for both women and men, in order to accelerate progress towards the goal of self-sufficient and ethnically balanced Afghan security forces providing security and ensuring the rule of law throughout the country, and stresses the importance of the long-term commitment by the international community, beyond 2014, to ensure a capable, professional and sustainable Afghan National Security Force;

“25.  Welcomes in this context the continued progress in the development of the Afghan National Army and its improved ability to plan and undertake operations, and encourages sustained training efforts, including through the contribution of trainers, resources and Advisory Teams through the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, and advice in developing a sustainable defence planning process as well as assistance in defence reform initiatives, and welcomes further the announcement in December 2012 of the fourth tranche of districts and provinces to undergo transition, and looks forward to the announcement of the fifth and final tranche;

“26.  Takes note of the ongoing efforts of the Afghan authorities to enhance the capabilities of the Afghan National Police, calls for further efforts towards that goal and stresses the importance, in this context, of international assistance through financial support and provision of trainers and mentors, including the contribution of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) contribution to this mission and the European Union through its police mission (EUPOL Afghanistan), as well as the German Police Project Team (GPPT), noting the importance of a sufficient and capable police force for Afghanistan’s long term security, and looks forward to the ten year vision for the Ministry of Interior and Afghan National Police;

“27.  Welcomes the progress in the implementation by the Afghan Government of the programme of disbandment of illegal armed groups and its integration with the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, and calls for accelerated and harmonized efforts for further progress, with support from the international community;

“28.  Condemns in the strongest terms all attacks, including Improvised Explosive Device attacks, suicide attacks, assassinations and abductions, targeting civilians and Afghan and international forces and their deleterious effect on the stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan, and condemns further the use by the Taliban and other extremist groups of civilians as human shields;

“29.  Notes with concern the continued high incidence of attacks against humanitarian workers, condemns these attacks in the strongest terms, emphasizing that the attacks impede efforts to aid the people of Afghanistan, and underlines the need for all parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access of all humanitarian actors, including United Nations staff and associated personnel, and comply fully with applicable international humanitarian law;

“30.  Welcomes the achievements to date in the implementation of the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan, with the support of the United Nations and all the relevant actors, to continue its efforts towards the removal of anti-personnel landmines, anti-tank landmines and explosive remnants of war in order to reduce the threats posed to human life and peace and security in the country, and expresses the need to provide assistance for the care, rehabilitation, and economic and social reintegration of victims, including persons with disabilities;

“31.  Recognizes the progress made by ISAF and other international forces in minimizing the risk of civilian casualties, as reaffirmed in the 19 February 2013 UNAMA report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and calls on them to continue to take robust efforts in this regard, notably by the continuous review of tactics and procedures and the conduct of after-action reviews and investigations in cooperation with the Afghan Government in cases where civilian casualties have occurred and when the Afghan Government finds these joint investigations appropriate;

“32.  Expresses its strong concern about the recruitment and use of children by Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent and extremist groups in Afghanistan as well as the killing and maiming of children as a result of the conflict, reiterates its strong condemnation of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and all other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict, in particular attacks against schools, education and health care facilities, and the use of children in suicide attacks, and calls for those responsible to be brought to justice;

“33.  In this context, stresses the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict and subsequent resolutions, supports the decree by the Minister of the Interior reaffirming the Afghan Government’s commitment to preventing violations of the rights of the child dated 6 July 2011, welcomes the establishment of the Afghan Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict and the subsequent signing by the Afghan Government of the action plan, and its annex, on children associated with national security forces in Afghanistan, and calls for the full implementation of the provisions of the plan, in close cooperation with UNAMA, and requests the Secretary-General to continue to give priority to the child protection activities and capacity of UNAMA and continue to include in his future reports the matter of children and armed conflict in the country in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions;

“34.  Remains concerned at the serious harm that opium cultivation, production and trafficking and consumption continue to cause to the security, development and governance of Afghanistan as well as to the region and internationally, takes note of the UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey 2012 released in November 2012, calls on the Afghan Government, with the assistance of the international community, to accelerate the implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy, including through alternative livelihood programmes, and to mainstream counter-narcotics throughout national programmes, encourages additional international support for the four priorities identified in that Strategy, and commends the support provided by the UNODC to the Triangular Initiative and the Central Asian Regional Coordination and Information Centre (CARICC) within the framework of the Paris Pact Initiative and the Rainbow Strategy and the UNODC regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries; as well as the contribution of the Domodedovo Police Academy of Russia;

“35.  Welcomes the continued efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in empowering the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics-led implementation of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, including through the JCMB’s Counter Narcotics Monitoring Mechanism;

“36.  Calls upon States to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter the threat to the international community posed by the production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit drugs originating in Afghanistan, with a view to its progressive elimination, in accordance with the principle of common and shared responsibility in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan, including through strengthening the law enforcement capacity and cooperation against the trafficking in illicit drugs and precursor chemicals and money-laundering and corruption linked to such trafficking, and calls for full implementation of its resolution 1817 (2008);

“37.  Appreciates the work of the Paris Pact initiative and its “Paris-Moscow” process in countering the production, trafficking and consumption of opium and heroin from Afghanistan and the elimination of poppy crops, drug laboratories and stores as well as the interception of drug convoys, underlines the importance of border management cooperation, and welcomes the intensified cooperation of the relevant United Nations institutions with the OSCE and the CSTO in this regard;

“38.  Reiterates the importance of completing the National Priority Programme on Law and Justice for All, by all the relevant Afghan institutions and other actors in view of accelerating the establishment of a fair and transparent justice system, eliminating impunity and contributing to the affirmation of the rule of law throughout the country;

“39.  Stresses in this context the importance of further progress in the reconstruction and reform of the prison sector in Afghanistan, in order to improve the respect for the rule of law and human rights therein, emphasizes the importance of ensuring access for relevant organizations, as applicable, to all prisons and places of detention in Afghanistan, and calls for full respect for relevant international law including humanitarian law and human rights law, noting the recommendations contained in the report of the Assistance Mission dated 20 January 2013, and the appointment by the Government of Afghanistan of a Commission to inquire into the findings of the report;

“40.  Notes with strong concern the effects of corruption on security, good governance, counter-narcotics efforts and economic development, welcomes the anti-corruption commitments made by the Government of Afghanistan at the Tokyo Conference as reinforced in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, welcomes the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan in this regard, including the issuance of the presidential decree in July 2012, calls for continued action by the Government to fulfil those commitments in order to establish a more effective, accountable and transparent administration at the national, provincial and local levels of government, and also welcomes continued international support for Afghanistan’s governance objectives;

“41.  Encourages all Afghan institutions, including the executive and legislative branches, to work in a spirit of cooperation, recognises the Afghan Government’s continued efforts in pursuing legislative and public administration reform in order to tackle corruption and to ensure good governance, as agreed at the Bonn Conference, with full representation of all Afghan women and men, and accountability at both national and subnational levels, welcoming the issuance of the Presidential decree of 12 July 2012, and stresses the need for further international efforts to provide technical assistance in this area, recognises Government of Afghanistan efforts in this regard, and reiterates the importance of the full, sequenced, timely, and co-ordinated implementation of the National Priority Programme on National Transparency and Accountability;

“42.  Calls for full respect for and protection for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those of human rights defenders, and of international humanitarian law throughout Afghanistan, welcomes the growth in Afghan free media, but notes with concern the continued restrictions on freedom of media, and attacks against journalists, commends the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) for its courageous efforts to monitor respect for human rights in Afghanistan as well as to foster and protect these rights and to promote the emergence of a pluralistic civil society, stresses the importance of full cooperation with the AIHRC by all relevant actors and promoting their independence as well as of ensuring their safety, and supports broad engagement across government agencies and civil society for the realization of the mutual commitments made, including the commitment to provide sufficient government financing for the AIHRC;

“43.  Recognizes that despite progress achieved on gender equality, enhanced efforts, including on measurable and action oriented objectives, are necessary to secure the rights of women and girls and to ensure all women and girls in Afghanistan are protected from violence and abuse, enjoy equal protection under the law and equal access to justice, strongly condemns discrimination and violence against women and girls, in particular violence aimed at preventing girls from attending schools, stresses the importance of implementing Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010), notes the mainstreaming commitments introduced therein, and of ensuring that women fleeing domestic violence are able to find safe and secure refuge;

“44.  Welcomes the Afghan Government’s commitment to strengthen the participation of women in all Afghan governance institutions, including elected and appointed bodies and the civil service, notes the progress in this regard, welcomes its continued efforts to protect and promote the participation of women in the electoral process, supports efforts to accelerate full implementation of the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan, to integrate its benchmarks into the National Priority Programmes and to develop a strategy to implement fully the Elimination of Violence Against Women law, including services to victims, recalls that the promotion and protection of women’s rights are an integral part of peace, reintegration and reconciliation, welcomes the Afghan Government’s commitment to developing, implementing and monitoring the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, notes the UNAMA report into the Implementation of the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan, and requests the Secretary-General to continue to include in its reports to the Security Council relevant information on the process of integration of women into the political, economic and social life of Afghanistan;

“45.  Recognizes the importance of voluntary, safe, orderly return and sustainable reintegration of the remaining Afghan refugees for the stability of the country and the region, and calls for continued and enhanced international assistance in this regard;

“46.  Affirms also the importance of voluntary, safe, orderly return and sustainable reintegration of internally displaced persons, and welcomes the inclusion of Afghanistan as a pilot country for the Secretary General’s initiative on durable solutions, and the progress made on the development of an internally displaced persons policy for Afghanistan;

“47.  Notes the need to continue to strengthen, with the support of the international community, Afghanistan’s absorption capacity for the full rehabilitation and reintegration of the remaining Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons;

“48.  Requests that the Secretary-General reports to the Council every three months on developments in Afghanistan, and to include in his reports an evaluation of progress made against the benchmarks for measuring and tracking progress in the implementation of UNAMA’s mandate and priorities as set out in this resolution;

“49.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan, and to hear a briefing on the work of the United Nations peacekeeping Mission in that country, known as UNAMA.  It had before it the report of the Secretary-General (document S/2013/133).

Briefing by Secretary-General

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said this was a period of “intense activity” as the Organization looked ahead to 2014.  The United Nations was, he said, reflecting on its role and preparing for the challenges ahead.  Core priorities would guide such work going forward, and the Organization would continue providing good offices, including support for elections and for reconciliation and regional cooperation.  “We must stand firm for human rights and we must advance development,” he said, adding that humanitarian action was also crucial to the future role of the United Nations, especially in addressing Afghanistan’s chronic vulnerability and the impact of the transition.

Touching briefly on all those issues, he said that the country’s political climate was now dominated by the 2014 elections.  “Broad participation and a credible process are essential to reaching the goal of a widely accepted leadership transition,” he said, stressing that the elections were Afghan-led and Afghan-managed.  “Now is the time to take critical decisions.  The Government has committed to making this an inclusive, consultative and transparent process,” he continued, welcoming the active and responsible participation by all stakeholders in building a widely accepted electoral framework.

He went on to welcome President Hamid Karzai’s emphasis on adopting electoral legislation at the opening ceremony of the National Assembly.  Agreement on an impartial, credible and independent electoral dispute resolution mechanism would be critical, and another core element would be the appointment of a respected, widely accepted chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission.  That body, along with the Ministry of Finance and donors, needed to seriously engage on electoral funding modalities to find realistic and broadly satisfactory solutions.

The Secretary-General said that the Afghan Government favoured an electronic national identity card project, an important initiative with wide-ranging applications.  It should be used to the extent possible in the 2014 and 2015 elections.  At the same time, it was important to understand that there might be few improvements in voter identification for elections during those two years.  That made other checks and balances, including widely agreed “rules of the game” and anti-fraud measures, all the more essential.  The principle of respect for the independence of the electoral management body in the conduct of its constitutional duties was vital, he added.

“ Afghanistan’s greatest need is peace,” he continued, welcoming the joint United States-Afghan declaration adopted in January supporting greater coherence of reconciliation efforts.  Yet, expectations must be realistic, and reconciliation efforts would not be quick or easy.  As such, the United Nations was pushing for a culture of peace, including support for a second phase of the Afghan People’s Dialogue.  “Afghanistan’s people must come together not only to shun conflict but to assume leadership and ownership of the transition process for the sake of one Afghanistan”, which, he said, was essential to end more than 30 years of conflict and establish true and lasting peace.

Continuing, he said that the Organization’s human rights efforts were built on constructive engagement.  It had reported on the torture and ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees.  A presidential fact-finding commission had also heard widespread testimony of abuse.  It put forward 11 recommendations to address the problem.  On civilian casualties, he said the Afghan Government and international forces had taken measures to reduce the impact of their operations.  “Anti-Government groups must now live up to their public statements and international obligations to cease targeting civilians, using children in suicide operations, attacking public places and using victim-activated pressure-plate explosives.  And these are crimes under international law,” he said.

Expressing special concern about the 20 per cent increase in civilian casualties among women and girls in 2012, he said that UNAMA’s monitoring on civilian casualties had prompted two statements from the Taliban, perhaps indicating a willingness to engage.  He encouraged meaningful dialogue to reduce “this intolerable, continuing death toll and to protect civilians.”  Related to that, he welcomed President Karzai’s speech on International Women’s Day — especially that leader’s focus on raising awareness of gender issues among men.

But the Secretary-General said he nevertheless remained deeply disturbed that, despite some improvements in prosecuting cases of violence, there was still a pervasive climate of impunity in Afghanistan for abuses of women and girls.  They had the inviolable right to live free of fear or attacks.  And they were key to a better future for Afghanistan.  “Protecting them is central to peace, prosperity and stability for all people in the country,” he said, noting the need for strict application of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law and ensuring that women and girls could more actively participate in public life.

He also called for strengthening the way the international community provided development assistance to reinforce Afghan ownership.  For its part, the Government must maintain the momentum for economic governance reforms that were needed to increase the sustainability of security and political transitions.  Tackling the illicit economy was also critical to boosting economic confidence.  The High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, together with the United Nations, had documented the scope of corruption tearing at Afghanistan’s economic and social fabric.

“I am concerned that the Opium Risk Assessment shows an increase in poppy cultivation,” he said, but noted that there had been positive developments on the counter-narcotics front.  Earlier this month, the Afghan authorities had made their largest seizure so far in 2013, taking some 23 tons of heroin, morphine and precursor chemicals.  In addition to counter-narcotics, he noted the continuing challenge of responding to the needs of returnees and the internally displaced.  “I am committed to finding lasting solutions to post-conflict displacement.  We have elements for success in the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees and the national Afghan policy on [internally displaced persons],” he added.

Looking beyond 2014, he said that in a recent meeting with United Nations officials, Afghan representatives had emphasized that they would not need less United Nations engagement, but a different kind of engagement.  They had consistently called for better coordination in the work of agencies, funds and programmes to prevent gaps and overlaps — among themselves and with others.  Those representatives also broadly appreciated the need for a special political mission, with an evolving focus and scope.

“The United Nations must reinforce Afghan efforts.  We aim to strengthen Afghan political processes and institutions.  We work to boost their ability to deliver nationally and in different regions,” the Secretary-General said, also noting that the Organization must help bring to a close the time of parallel structures and efforts by the international community and fully integrate support for Afghanistan.

To fulfil its mandate, UNAMA must maintain its ability to reach out across the country and to meet the many demands it faced during this crucial period.  As such, while the budget of UNAMA for 2013 reflected significant reductions, he did not envisage additional cuts for 2014.  At that time, the Secretariat could more realistically assess the reorientation of the United Nations presence in Afghanistan after the transition.

The success achieved so far came thanks in large measure to the dedication of Special Representative Jan Kubiš and all of the women and men — national and international — who had worked with commitment and dedication.  “We are ultimately responsible for their security and their ability to support the Afghan people,” he said.  “We are approaching a moment of transition in Afghanistan — a country that has survived decades of upheaval.  Let us work as hard as possible to ensure that this transition leads to the stable, prosperous and safe future that the country’s people deserve, he said.

Statements

ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said that in just two days, the Afghan New Year would begin, and during that year a transition to full Afghan responsibility would be central to collective efforts.  Since the adoption of the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) last year, Afghanistan and the international community had focused on the needs of the transition period, which involved strengthening peace and security and the realization of national priorities.  Parameters had been developed for cooperation that would ensure a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan able to stand on its own feet.

A successful transition would focus on five priority areas, he said, stressing:  “For the Afghan people, national sovereignty means taking full responsibility for their destiny.”  In addition, assumption of full security responsibility by Afghan forces was more tangible than ever.  By the end of the “fourth tranche” of the transition, 87 per cent of Afghans would be living in areas where Afghan forces were in charge of security.  All eyes also were keenly focused on the election next spring, with the Government committed to fair, democratic and transparent polls.

With that in mind, he said peace talks and reconciliation with the armed opposition were essential for a successful election.  For its part, the Government was doing its utmost to ensure the success of the reconciliation process.  The High Peace Council had taken steps to galvanize those efforts.  “As we work to move the peace process forward, the role of the Security Council will remain imperative,” he said, welcoming the adoption of resolution 2082 (2012), which refined the Taliban sanctions regime.

In addition, the relationship between Afghanistan and its international partners would evolve, he said, noting that strategic partnership agreements — such as those finalized in the last two years — were key for shaping long-term relationships.  A strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States was signed last May, and talks to conclude the security agreement between the countries would be finalized in due course.  Also, last month, Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership with Norway and was currently defining partnerships with Denmark and Finland.  “With the transition, Afghanistan is entering a new era of relations with international partners”, he said, “and we are committed to basing our strategic cooperation on bilateral frameworks.”  Close partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had also been a significant source of progress for stabilization efforts.

He went on to say that economic transition and aid delivery would be crucial for the sustainability of the transition, which required an international commitment to support an Afghan self-reliance strategy through the transformation decade.  It would be important to see how commitments made in Tokyo last year would address humanitarian and development challenges.  Afghanistan was committed to upholding those agreements.  Economic transition was also about improving aid effectiveness, ensuring alignment with national priorities and transparency of aid spending, he said, stressing that international support must be in line with national priorities and channelled through the Afghan budget, as agreed at the 2010 Kabul Conference.  Aid delivery also must be based on emerging needs.  “ Afghanistan is ready to be held accountable for any penny it spends,” he added.

Relations with Afghanistan’s neighbours also were critical, he said, noting that Afghanistan was at the centre of the Heart of Asia process and viewed that cooperation as essential for peace and security.  Afghanistan was engaged with a number of countries on its path to normalization, he said, citing ongoing trilateral discussions with Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Finally, a successful transition would require partnership with the United Nations, he said, noting Afghanistan had seen how the United Nations was adjusting its role to meet the needs of transition, having reviewed its activities in 2011.  His Government could envisage normalization of the Organization’s activities in the years ahead, he said, noting that aid coherence, “One UN” and more accountability were important for Afghanistan, the United Nations and donor countries alike.

“The end of transition will signal the beginning of a new chapter,” he said, one marked by national resilience and the strategic goal of self-reliance.  Continued support would be vital.  Full realization of sovereignty and self-reliance would make Afghanistan a more effective partner for the world.  Achieving that required trust, confidence and long-term international commitment.

Action on Draft

The Security Council then unanimously adopted resolution 2096 (2013).

BOB CARR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia , said this year’s UNAMA mandate would cover a “crucial period” in Afghanistan, with the support it would provide to the Afghan Government becoming more important as the country’s transition progressed.  He outlined progress in security, the economy, access to health care and school enrolment, especially among girls, and said Afghanistan would “never again be a safe haven for international terrorism”.  He urged the international community to remain in Afghanistan, saying its support had been instrumental to the country’s progress.  The mandate needed certainty and capacity in order to properly support Afghanistan and could only be fulfilled if properly resourced.

The country would face significant challenges, including the political transition and taking the lead on security across the country, he said, adding that the latter was “a major milestone”.  He also stressed the need for the Afghan Government to implement economic and governance reforms to promote growth and fiscal stability.  UNAMA was working closely with the Afghan Government and international partners to implement the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and he stressed that a “major priority” for Australia was the provision of opportunities for women and girls.  There was a need for measurable objectives to secure their rights and a need to counter discrimination.

It was essential that Afghan society be underpinned by solid political foundations, with the 2014 election fundamental to that, he continued.  An appropriate electoral framework was needed to ensure inclusive elections and he encouraged the Afghan Government to utilize international assistance and work with UNAMA to strengthen the process.  Stressing the importance of a political settlement, he said recent momentum in the Afghan-owned reconciliation process was “heartening”.  Expectations needed to remain realistic and the High Peace Council needed support, including through a Taliban sanctions regime that was flexible enough to support an Afghan-led process.

SUSAN RICE ( United States) said that Afghanistan and the international community were now at an important juncture.  In recent weeks, while it had been made clear that challenges remained, Afghanistan and its partners continued to work together to achieve important goals.  In that regard, President Hamid Karzai had recently visited Washington to discuss with President Obama security and economic development matters, as well as continued engagement between the two countries.  She said that the United States welcomed phased progress in the takeover of security duties by Afghan forces.  Indeed, the security of some 90 per cent of the Afghan population was now in the hands of national security authorities, with 52 new districts soon to be secured.

She said that over 34,000  United States military troops would come home from Afghanistan in February 2014.  The United States looked forward to the final tranche of the security transition process that would see the Afghan forces take over control of the entire country.  Yet, along with such continued progress, the future stability and development of the country hinged on free, fair and inclusive elections in 2014.  Those polls were key and must produce an outcome that was accepted by the Afghan people.  On other matters, she said that the Afghan-led reconciliation process was also important for stability, “indeed, the best way to bring lasting peace to the country and the region”.  As a part of the outcome of any such process, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups must renounce violence, break ties with Al-Qaida, and accept the primacy of the Afghan Constitution.

Further, every effort must be made by all parties to protect the rights of all the country’s citizens — women and men — as guaranteed by the Constitution.  Specifically on women, she said that they had surmounted countless hurdles and ingrained oppression and were now partners in building the country, serving on the High Peace Council and provincial councils.  They organized to serve their communities and had their voices heard.  As the country moved forward, the dignity and equality of women must continue to be embraced, she declared.  Overall, she said, it had been the grit and determination of the Afghan people that had driven the major changers under way — “it is they that have come this far” — with the assistance of the international community.  She looked forward to the upcoming Almaty meeting to bolster regional cooperation and integration with Afghanistan.  As for UNAMA, she said that Council should continue to support the Mission, which had weathered serious cuts in its budget.  “We believe these cuts have now gone as far as they can and UNAMA’s budget must be stabilized,” she said, stressing that the Mission’s mandate remained a priority and must be resourced as such.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) welcomed the resolution just adopted and said that the Organization should continue its important work in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and supporting the realization of the Government’s priorities.  He noted that the “significant” budget cuts to UNAMA’s country presence and its ability to deliver on its mandate would require certain adjustments in its working methods and approaches.  As such, Azerbaijan underlined the necessity of allocating adequate resources so that UNAMA could effectively carry out its core tasks.  He said that, during the current period, Afghanistan had continued to make progress on the objectives of the transition process, and he welcomed the Government’s increasing assertion of ownership over peace and reconciliation in the country.  He also welcomed the ongoing efforts of the High Peace Council to establish conditions conducive for an inclusive, Afghan-led and ‑owned reconciliation process.

He said that there had also been a marked decrease in security-related incidents, and he noted the successful operations carried out by Afghan and international security forces to prevent terrorist attacks in Kabul.  In other positive news, the decrease in civilian casualties, the first such drop in six years, was also welcome, although the overall number of those deaths was still high, largely due to targeted attacks by anti-Government elements.  “It is incumbent on all parties in Afghanistan to take maximum measures to avoid civilian casualties,” he said, adding that insurgents must denounce the tactic of targeting civilians, which contravened religious and humane tenets and seriously undermined the reconciliation process.

He said that Afghanistan occupied a special place in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, as his country had been a long-time participant in ISAF and had provided land and airspace to facilitate the Force’s activities.  Azerbaijan attached great priority to assisting Afghanistan through implementation of new and existing capacity-building programmes in such non-military spheres as civil service and health rehabilitation.  He also noted that the Azerbaijan International Development Agency had recently earmarked some $150,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiatives to support the strengthening and rehabilitation of the information and communications technology sector in Afghanistan.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said all eyes were on Afghanistan’s dual transition:  the political transition, marked by presidential and provincial elections; and the transition of security matters, marked by the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops and full transfer to Afghan security forces.  With those moves, Afghanistan would begin a “new phase” of sovereignty and independence.  With that in mind, she urged focusing on the configuration of international assistance post-2014, including the role of the United Nations and the Mission.  On the elections, she said it was of the utmost importance that all steps were completed and that all Afghan institutions agreed on a legal process with “clear rules of the game”.  Afghanistan’s request for assistance was a decidedly positive step and she hoped such assistance would bring about tangible results.

She went on to voice concern about the increase in attacks against civilians who supported the Government, urging that all measures be taken to ensure civilian protection and meet international law standards.  Dialogue and reconciliation were also essential to addressing security challenges.  Any reconciliation process should be headed by Afghans and she supported the High Peace Council’s efforts in that regard. UNAMA’s role was also important, including its support for the electoral process, facilitation of reconciliation efforts, and coordination of assistance.  Its future role up to and post-2014 must be considered.  In sum, she urged enhancing Afghan institutions that could ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Only through a focus on the broad dimensions of cultural and social development, and a focus on human rights and the rule of law, could the ground for stable and lasting peace be envisaged.

KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said the international community had spared no efforts in supporting Afghanistan, noting that the Kabul process on good governance had made progress.  Also, international partners had stood with the Government in mutual commitments made last July.  Those pledges must be implemented before next July.  On the political process, he hoped that the conference of peace to take place under the High Peace Council, as well as the Afghan dialogue, would “shore up” the foundation for reconciliation.  He noted the President’s plan to renew contact with the Taliban in that regard, saying that efforts by Pakistan, the United Kingdom and France to create an inclusive dialogue should be welcomed.

He went on to say that the holding of presidential and provincial elections was also crucial.  The situation had improved, with the distribution of national identity cards on 21 March and participation of civil society in electoral activities.  He called on the Afghan Government to preserve the independence of electoral bodies.  Security matters were, of course, a great concern, citing the attack against the Jalalabad Airport and violence against civilians in that regard.  Togo was equally worried about violence against women, noting the December 2012 killing of the Deputy Director of the Office for Women’s Affairs and a 20 per cent increase in the number of women and girls killed or wounded over the last year.  On the issue of drugs, he said that, given the jihadist and Mujahedeen presence among the drug-funded groups in northern Mali, he urged the Secretary-General to determine whether drugs from Afghanistan were impacting the Sahel and West Africa.

KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) said Afghanistan had several key issues it must tackle ahead of its completion of the transition process by 2014.  In that regard, the phased security transfer process and the ongoing efforts to ensure peaceful and successful election in 2014 were vital.  He welcomed the measures under way to bolster the reconciliation process, as well as regional integration efforts.  While the efforts of the Afghan Government were vital to ensuring a successful transition, sustained support from the international community was also key.  He said that, while the reduction in civilian casualties over the past year was welcome, his delegation remained concerned about overall civilian deaths, especially of women and children.

Another concern was the increase in poppy cultivation for the third consecutive year.  More efforts were needed to counter the drug threat, and he called on regional and international partners to provide technical and capacity-building assistance to that end.  He went on to say that the UNAMA played an important role in helping Afghanistan lay the foundation for peace, stability and development.  With the resolution just adopted, he looked forward to the continuation of such support.  The Republic of Korea would remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and people and would continue to support UNAMA in fulfilling its important mandate.

LI BAODONG ( China) said in recent years, thanks to the efforts of the Afghan Government and people, the overall transition process in the country had been moving ahead smoothly.  The country had made significant steps in achieving an Afghanistan governed by Afghans.  Still, long-term commitment, by the Afghan Government and the international community, was necessary to cement such gains.  He said that China welcomed the various measures that were being carried out to ensure a smooth and successful election in 2014.  Those polls must lay down a firm foundation for the development and stability of the country.

On the reconciliation process, he said that China supported the efforts of the High Peace Council and called on Afghan authorities to listen to the voices of the people and expand the overall process to ensure it was inclusive.  China remained concerned about the security situation, especially as the number of civilian casualties was very high.  He urged all parties to do their utmost to ensure the protection of civilians.  He also called on all parties to bolster their support for the Kabul process and to help strengthen Afghan’s regional integration.  As for UNAMA, he said that China continued to support the Mission’s role and was in favour of providing it with adequate resources so that it could effectively carry out its mandate.  Indeed, as the elections drew closer, UNAMA’s duties would increase, and China hoped it would be able to carry out its critical support functions.

GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said a new phase was opening between his country and Afghanistan, noting that since 2008, France had been responsible for training the Afghan National Security Forces and ensuring the transition to local authorities.  “This has been successful,” he said.  A treaty of friendship also had been signed and ratified, while €300 million in financial aid would help Afghanistan move from a “wartime” to peace economy.  More broadly, the international community was committed to supporting Afghanistan in the decade of transformation.

Afghanistan faced several main challenges, he said, highlighting the fight against corruption and drug trafficking in that regard.  The impact on Afghanistan’s future was clear and UNAMA must integrate that threat into its mandate, with respect for the remit of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  In addition, elections in 2014 and 2015 would be an “important stepping stone” in international support for Afghanistan.  With that in mind, he called on Afghanistan to hold transparent and peaceful elections, marked by a reliable census, an adequate legislative framework and assurances for the independence of the Independent Election Commission.  Only an inclusive inter-Afghan political process could guarantee the emergence of a stable country.  France supported reconciliation efforts, welcoming the dialogue held in Chantilly last December.

LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said today’s meeting was a timely one, as it was being held one year ahead of elections in Afghanistan and amid efforts to withdraw ISAF from the country.  For the first time in six years, Afghanistan had seen a reduction in civilian victims, due in part to the peace and reconciliation programme, as well as the role of the High Peace Council.  More than 6,000 combatants had joined that programme.  The High Peace Council continued to make significant efforts.

He went on to say that 2014 would be a “watershed moment” for Afghanistan, urging that the Government guarantee that upcoming elections would be inclusive, reliable and transparent.  He welcomed the Independent Electoral Commission’s efforts in preparing for the elections, saying that Afghanistan had taken great strides forward.  Among the challenges ahead, he cited cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours, which was a sine qua non in fighting terrorism, as well as in fostering trade, education and investment.  He also hailed such initiatives as the Tokyo Conference held last year, saying that the continued commitment of international donors and international financial institutions was needed.  For Afghanistan to stand on solid footing going forward, international support must continue and be Afghan-led.

EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) said his delegation was encouraged by the positive developments in Afghanistan, despite the challenges the Government was facing.  The current resolution reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to the integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and he welcomed the decision to drawdown international security forces in 2014, as well as the measures under way to strengthen national security structures.  Rwanda was concerned by ongoing civilian casualties, and condemned the use of civilians as suicide bombers.  He called on all parties in the country to do more to ensure the safety and protection of civilians.  He went on to welcome the effort of the High Peace Council and said that reconciliation could not progress without equal progress in the area of regional integration.

He also welcomed the upcoming elections, which would be a cornerstone of the future effort to secure peace and development in the country, as international forces drew down their activities.  He remained concerned about the human rights situation in the country, especially the condition of women in the country.  Yet, he recognized how much change had occurred and how far women had come since the time of Taliban rule.  Nevertheless, more must be done to protect and promote the rights of women and all citizens in Afghanistan.  His delegation was also concerned about the worrying humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and he called on all partners to stand by the commitments that had been made at the recent Tokyo Conference to bolster social and economic development in Afghanistan.

SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxemburg) said the planned withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan should not lead to a waning of interest in the country’s well-being.  Indeed, it was a time for the international community to renew its commitment, so Afghanistan could successfully complete its transition to a stable and secure country.  In that regard, Luxembourg had adopted a holistic and comprehensive approach, marrying the tools of diplomacy, development and defence.  Highlighting some of those measures, she noted her Government’s cooperation with the World Bank and the European Union.  Yet, such efforts would be useless without the shared desire of the international community to make good on commitments agreed at conferences over the past years.

At the same time, the Afghan Government must do its part to ensure successful elections, reduce corruption and strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights.  Luxembourg welcomed all efforts to ensure an Afghan-owned and -led process in the country.  She joined the Secretary-General in urging all parties to participate constructively in the upcoming elections to avoid stalemate or other difficulties.  On national reconciliation, Luxembourg supported the efforts of the High Peace Council, as well as regional integration efforts under way in recent months.  Finally, she said her delegation welcomed the increased focus on human rights of the UNAMA mandate, especially the rights of women and children.  UNAMA must continue to effectively support the Government in implementing the action plan on children in armed conflict, and that effort must be supported by the Council.

PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said the ISAF was transferring its security duties to the Afghan National Security Force “on schedule”.  As the Afghan forces continued to grow in confidence and operational experience, so too would Afghans’ confidence in them.  The Afghan forces would be able to tackle the residual insurgent threat with the full support of the United Kingdom and international community.  Tangible progress on peace and reconciliation must go hand-in-hand with those efforts.  A broad political settlement offered the best prospects in that regard.  He welcomed efforts by Afghanistan and Pakistan to strengthen their relationship, noting that they had agreed to increase military and intelligence cooperation, and support the opening of an office in Doha for dialogue between the High Peace Council and select representatives of the Taliban.  He said that sent a clear message to the Taliban:  “Now is time to participate in a peaceful political process.”

On elections, he said Afghan-led preparations had started and decisions had been taken on voter registration, among other issues.  He urged the Independent Election Commission to establish credible ways to deal with complaints and prevent fraud.  The United Kingdom had a long-term commitment to the Afghan people.  “The United Kingdom will deliver on all our commitments to Afghanistan — now and beyond 2014”, he said, in pursuit of a relationship based on Afghan prosperity.  Afghanistan, with international support, should make progress in such areas as education, health and other basic services for women and girls, as well as respect for human rights.  To achieve shared objectives, mutual accountability was of paramount importance.  The United Kingdom looked forward to co-chairing the first ministerial review of progress made against the Tokyo commitments.

GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that peace and stability in Afghanistan rested on the Afghan people’s ability to ensure democratic governance, national reconciliation, the rule of law and human rights protection during the political and military transition of 2014.  It was also a requirement for peace and stability, as well as for the normalization of the Afghan political arena, that credible, inclusive and transparent presidential elections were held next year, in strict accordance with the provisions of the Afghan Constitution.  Therefore, it was important to follow closely the progress of electoral reform and the outcome of the work by the Independent Electoral Commission, including the future appointment of its head.

In addition, it was important to continue advancing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led national reconciliation, he said.  He supported the efforts made by Salahuddin Rabbani and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan in pursuing the path of negotiation for a sustainable and lasting peace.  At the same time, it was important to send a clear message to the Government’s political dissidents that reconciliation dialogue would only take place with those who renounced violence, had no links with terrorist organizations and respected the Constitution, including its provisions on human rights.

With the security transition in progress, the role of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would evolve from combat to support for training, advising and capacity-building.  He pointed out that, although the number of civilian casualties and injuries decreased by 4 per cent in the last year, the attacks against women and girls increased by 20 per cent.  In that regard, he said he had trust that the Afghan Government would take concrete measures to protect and guarantee their rights.  Turning to development of regional cooperation, he supported the Istanbul Process and also the shared vision of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to reach strategic solutions for Afghan refugees.  UNAMA had a very important role to play in the civilian aspects of the transition, he said, adding that the Security Council had a responsibility to ensure that UNAMA had the necessary resources.

MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said his country was committed to ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the wider region.  That country was on the cusp of three transitions dealing with political and security matters; if they were managed successfully and comprehensively, Afghanistan would see the dawn of a new era.  The tide seemed to be turning and his Government was pleased to see positive developments on several fronts, despite continuing challenges.  Yet, the expectations must remain realistic:  “If there are temporary setbacks, we must stay the course,” he said, expressing the hope that not only would the international community remain engaged, but that such engagement would be based on ground realities and the priorities of the Afghan authorities.

Pakistan’s engagement was driven by the belief that the two countries had a shared destiny.  It was strengthening the trilateral mechanism to ensure more effective work with Afghanistan on socio-economic development matters.  Pakistan was also setting up a joint, ministerial-level mechanism to strengthen the border between the two countries, specifically targeting all illegal activities.  Indeed, such activity would decrease dramatically if interdiction measures on both sides were enhanced.  He said that Pakistan also supported the efforts of the High Peace Council to promote national reconciliation and welcomed the travel ban exemption included in the Council’s previous resolution, which had helped strengthen the process.

While Afghanistan’s international partners had an important role in ensuring that all stakeholders were committed to progress on reconciliation, only the people of that country could craft a road map that would lead to a stable and secure future.  He also called for efforts to disrupt the “heinous narrative” of terrorist groups, masquerading as ideology.  Such groups did not represent Islam or Muslims.  He drew the Council’s attention to the fact that Pakistan’s drug control measures were “stretched” and it was trying to develop a regional strategy to interdict drug traffickers.  In that effort it was working to establish a regional contact group.  He also noted that the spotlight on political and security issues often eclipsed the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and to that end, he called for more measures to ensure the refugee return strategy was implemented in a timely manner.  To ensure broader success in Afghanistan, he said:  “What we need most is faith in each other and a vision for our common future.”

VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said Afghanistan was approaching a “watershed moment” amid preparations for presidential and provincial elections, a transfer of security duties, national reconciliation efforts and changes in the Afghan social fabric.  The situation also gave rise to concerns, especially as terrorism, extremism and drug crimes were far from being resolved, and parts of Afghanistan were still under Taliban control.  Of particular concern was the spread of terrorist activities from the northern provinces into Central Asian countries.  There was a danger that the ISAF leadership and troop-contributing countries would artificially accelerate the security transfer without taking that situation fully into account.

He went on to say that the Russian Federation attached great importance to Pakistan’s role, expressing hope that the strategic partnership treaty drawn up in London last month would enhance regional security, however difficult those prospects appeared today.  Dialogue with armed opposition could be positive only if the Afghan Government led it and the opposition laid down its arms and cut ties with Al-Qaeda.  He also supported the Security Council’s agreed measures to improve the sanctions regime vis-à-vis the Taliban.  The Russian Federation had supported Afghan efforts to advance reconciliation, combat violence and lay the conditions for long-term stability.  It would continue to help bolster national security forces and had carried out a voluntary provision of arms and armaments to the Afghan national police.

At the same time, his Government did not favour maintaining a long-term military presence in the country, he said, as foreign contingents no longer had a role to play.  On other matters, he urged the elimination of all opiate poppies, including those from regions like Latin America, voicing disappointment that NATO had not responded to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) proposal to cooperate in that area.  He attached priority to activities outlined at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners, saying that drug traffickers should be included on the United Nations sanctions list.  He welcomed measures that offered assistance to Afghanistan and its neighbours to counter the drug threat, saying his Government was increasing such assistance and urging Afghanistan’s neighbours to contribute through comprehensive economic cooperation.  Activities in existing formats could include the development of preventive measures and he welcomed UNAMA’s willingness to cooperate with the CSTO in that regard.

VILLY SØVNDAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, highlighted “immense leaps forward” Afghanistan had made since 2001, despite a fragile security situation.  The Afghan National Security Forces were making good headway in taking the lead in security operations across the country.  Preparations were under way for the presidential elections in 2014 and the parliamentary elections the following year.  And, economically, Afghanistan had seen a steady growth in the past decade, even if the country was still very dependent on international aid.

He, however, cautioned that “there is no room for complacency”, citing a real risk that much of the gains could be lost if efforts were not sustained.  He went on to express his Government’s continued support for the Afghan people on their path towards a democratic, stable and secure nation.  The Danish Government announced a two-year plan for its engagement in Afghanistan 2013-2014.  Within that framework, the Government had decided to withdraw its combat troops six months earlier than previously foreseen, but remained committed to assisting the Afghan people beyond 2014 in the areas of training, advice and financial support to Afghan National Security Forces.  Danish development assistance to that country would actually increase in the years 2013-2017 to an average of 530 million Danish kroner, or about $100 million, per year, making Afghanistan the largest recipient of such Danish aid.

On the elections, he said they should be inclusive and transparent — and the results should be broadly accepted by the Afghan people.  That was especially important because they clearly had taken to heart the concept of electing their future leaders.  There was a strong need for a dynamic UNAMA in the years to come.  He stressed the importance of the Mission’s support for an Afghan-led political processes through its good offices and its political outreach.  It should also continue to support human rights, including the rights of women and children, and help Afghan institutions strengthen their capacity.  He expressed concern about the recent cuts in UNAMA’s 2013 budget, calling for adequate resources.  The mission and other United Nations organizations in Afghanistan must adjust as the nation’s security, political and economic transition progressed.  The role of the United Nations must reflect increased Afghan leadership and ownership, he said.

ERKKI TUOMIOJA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, aligning himself with the European Union, said that the situation in Afghanistan was at a “turning point” as Afghan National Security Forces would soon be fully responsible for the country’s security.  He pledged Finland’s full support for Afghanistan as the country embarked on its “Transformation Decade”.  Finland’s total official development assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan between 2013 and 2017 was scheduled to be almost $200 million, he said.  Nevertheless, further international aid was needed to build on the gains that the Afghan Government had achieved in the past years.  Stressing good governance, democracy and the rule of law, he expressed hope that the Afghan Government would fulfil its obligations under the mutual commitments made, including in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

Since the overthrow of the Taliban, there had been important gains to strengthen human rights and the rule of law, he said.  However, a lot remained to be done and no “backsliding” could be allowed.  Afghan citizens, and in particular women, still faced insecurity in public spaces and at home, in addition to lacking access to an effective and fair justice system and legal representation.  He emphasized the central role UNAMA played in Afghanistan’s development efforts and urged the Security Council to do everything in its power to ensure that UMANA was granted adequate resources to fulfil its important mandate.

VYAGAUDAS USACKAS, of the Delegation of the European Union, said that implementation of the Tokyo Framework remained paramount in achieving a successful transition and transformation in Afghanistan.  He welcomed the progress presented recently at the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board meeting, endorsing four National Priority Programmes.  He pointed to Afghanistan’s substantial economic progress over the preceding 10 years, but noted significant challenges, including attraction of investment and the building of confidence.  To do so, it was vital to keep the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform programme on track, and to put in place the structural reforms suggested by the World Bank.  Corruption remained a particular problem, he said, adding that it was vital that the Afghan Government visibly tackled the issue.

Enduring peace rested on a political settlement comprising all stakeholders, he said.  He stressed a need for reconciliation involving all stakeholders and offered to support the process with all available advice and assistance.  The European Union would continue to support the High Peace Council and he welcomed efforts towards reconciliation, such as the opening of an office in Doha and improvements to Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan.  He thanked the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for its reports on detainees, protection of civilians in armed conflict and the implementation of the law on elimination of violence against women, reiterating the importance of full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

He encouraged the Afghan Government to appoint new qualified Human Rights Commissioners, saying that their delayed appointment was constraining the functioning of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.  He would continue to support civilian policing to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights.  He welcomed the Special Representative’s efforts with regard to presidential and parliamentary elections, stressing that they should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven, inclusive and transparent with legitimate outcomes.  He called on the Afghan Government to appoint a Chair of the Independent Election Commission and its commissioners and stressed the importance for the Commission to put in place a robust mechanism for fraud prevention.  Election preparations needed to be transparent and inclusive and involve all relevant stakeholders, including the Commission itself.

Counter narcotics was a cross-cutting issue, requiring a holistic response, he said, noting the European Union’s contribution to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime’s programme in Afghanistan.  He pointed out the Union’s efforts to promote the development of a national policy for agriculture, encouraging alternative livelihoods to poppy production.  He also supported the Heart of Asia regional process to boost interdependence in the region.

GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) said the future of a functional Afghan democracy could rest only on credible and constitutional elections, encouraging the Independent Election Commission and the Government to strengthen the electoral process, as the likelihood of irregularities and fraud was high.  The democratic opposition also must be able to fully exercise their rights and, in that context, he welcomed the upcoming debate in the Afghan Parliament to finalize electoral and structural laws.  The Government also must deliver on its rule of law and human rights commitments, he said, noting that UNAMA had noted a disturbing under-reporting of violence against women and lack of investigations into allegations.  The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was essential to defending such rights and the Government must move forward with the appointment of its commissioners.

Underscoring that Afghanistan must ensure that funds pledged in Tokyo were used efficiently, he said Canada had worked to ensure respect for the mutual accountability commitments.  He supported the “Heart of Asia” countries in advancing a regional process to face security and economic challenges.  In addition, women’s rights must not be forsaken in efforts to achieve stability.  More should be done to ensure that the opponents of peace did not derail the Afghan peace process through terrorist acts.  Pakistan — and others hoping to see peace in a framework of shared prosperity — should ensure those wishes were respected.  He also welcomed the United Nations’ listing of the Haqqani network as an entity that threatened Afghanistan’s stability.  Canada would ensure the full legal weight of that listing was brought to bear on supporters of that network.

CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) welcomed UNAMA’s extension and fully supported the Mission’s role in stabilizing and developing Afghanistan.  Now was the time to make the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework operational and to take full advantage of its potential as a driving force for Afghanistan’s sustainable development.  For donor countries like Italy to fully honour their pledges, it was crucial for Afghanistan to make further tangible progress towards democratic and electoral reform, good governance, anti-corruption and human rights protection.  The Italian Government would continue to monitor the situation of women, which was of paramount importance.  The upcoming presidential elections were a major opportunity for the Afghan authorities to translate their commitments into concrete achievements.  For Afghanistan to achieve stability and optimism after 2014, there must be a credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process.  “We encourage the Afghan Government, in partnership with the international community and UNAMA, to lay solid grounds for elections and spare no efforts to achieve the broadest possible consensus on the ‘rules of the game’,” he said, calling on it to reach out to opposition groups, civil society and all relevant stakeholders.

He welcomed the “more constructive attitude” in the Afghan-Pakistani relationship.  National reconciliation could be a milestone towards ensuring peace and prosperity, so long as gains made in civil liberties, human rights and democratic achievements were not reversed.  To avoid that, due consideration must be given to the concerns of women and civil society.  Strengthening regional cooperation was crucial for fostering economic development and tackling common threats.  He encouraged Member States to remain fully committed to the Istanbul Process.  Italy would do its part by participating actively in confidence-building measures on counter-narcotics and regional infrastructure.  Italy was committed to standing by Afghanistan through the final stages of the transition and beyond 2014, guided by its January 2012 bilateral partnership agreement.

TSUNEO NISHIDA ( Japan) welcomed the resolution that extended UNAMA’s mandate and reconfirmed the United Nations long-term commitment to durable peace in Afghanistan.  He stressed the importance of giving UNAMA the requisite resources to fulfil its mandate.  He reaffirmed Japan’s steadfast commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term stability beyond the end of the 2014 transition period.  Since the beginning of 2013, Japan had contributed more than $570 million in aid for security, including for the Afghan National Police; good governance, through the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund; infrastructure development, including for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund; and humanitarian services.  That aid demonstrated Japan’s determination to fulfil the mutual commitments made at the Tokyo Conference.  It was incumbent on Afghanistan, with support from the United Nations, to make steady and concrete strides forward, especially in three key areas.  First, a credible electoral framework must be developed through the passage of electoral laws and the appointment of qualified Independent Electoral Commission senior appointees before the Senior Official Meeting on 3 July.

Second, he called for bolstering the Afghan National Security Force’s capacity as a top priority to ensure the security gains already made were irreversible.  He welcomed Tranche 4 and the fact that 87 per cent of the population would soon live in areas controlled by Afghan security.  He was encouraged by the increasing number of ex-combatants enrolled in the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme.  Still, the number of serious security incidents remained deplorably high.  In order to control the security situation, the Afghan Security Force must enhance the quantity and quality of its operational capacity.  A wide range of reforms were desperately needed to overcome the low literacy rate, high turnover and lack of capable leaders and trainers.  Last month, Japan gave another $122 million for the Afghan National Police through UNDP.  Police support must be used transparently and effectively.  Third, it was essential to advance the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.  He welcomed the growing Afghan-Pakistani dialogue and closer cooperation on such issues as the release of Afghan Taliban detainees.

FERNANDO ARIAS ( Spain) said this year marked the twelfth anniversary of the international commitment to Afghanistan and Spain had made significant military and civilian contributions since the inception.  Spain was the eighth contributor to ISAF and was now immersed in the withdrawal of 1,300 Spanish soldiers in Heart, Badghis and Kabul.  Spain supported the Afghan Government in the transition process, in both security and civil aspects.  Efforts must be intensified, especially in the areas of governance, institution-building and economic development.  In Badghis, security duties had been transferred to Afghan authorities in the province’s six districts.  Spain would remain committed to consulting, training and supporting Afghan forces during the transition process.

With regard to the civil aspects, Spain could now transfer the cooperation projects that had been developed in its area of responsibility, he said, as Afghan personnel were already managing the vast majority of them.  For the reconciliation process to succeed, it should involve armed groups and all sectors of Afghan society.  More broadly, Afghanistan would need international assistance after 2014 and the new mission should focus exclusively on education and training.  Regionally, he welcomed the “Istanbul Process” and had faith that Afghanistan would continue to fulfil its commitments to governance, development, rule of law, human rights and combating corruption.

PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said his Government would continue to support Afghanistan throughout the transformation decade, noting that the international community already had set out the framework for such cooperation.  He was pleased that the Tokyo accountability framework had gained momentum and Germany was committed to its implementation.  Welcoming Afghanistan’s progress in preparing for presidential elections in 2014, he urged the swift adoption of a legal framework and appointment of a chair for the Independent Election Commission, underlining also the need to establish a complaints mechanism and measures to combat fraud.  He encouraged all stakeholders to engage in a constructive dialogue on those issues.

He went on to welcome Afghanistan’s decision to request UNAMA support for the 2014-2015 elections and a subsequent electoral needs assessment mission.  Germany would support that process, alongside UNAMA and its international partners for inclusive and credible elections.  A stable security environment was of paramount importance and he welcomed developments in the Afghan-led reconciliation process, including the creation of conditions conducive to substantial dialogue, such as preparations for an office in Doha.  Regional actors were critical to fostering the reconciliation process.  Concluding, he said the United Nations would continue to play a crucial role, welcoming today’s adoption of resolution 2096 (2013).  Germany would continue to support UNAMA and strongly supported its adequate resourcing.

FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA ( Slovakia) welcomed President Karzai’s announcement that Afghan forces would take control of most of the country’s security before the summer.  The transition was going smoothly in areas in which they had taken control already.  He welcomed the Ministry of the Interior’s efforts to transform the police from a security force to a service focused on law enforcement and protection.  The role of local police was vital, especially in remote areas.  The focus should remain on building a functioning, credible Afghan National Security Force.  It was equally important to concentrate efforts on the political and economic aspects of the transition in line with the plan to hand over security responsibility to the Government in Kabul in 2014.  The reconciliation process must continue as it was crucial for the country’s long-term success, and it must be Afghan-owned.  Elements of the Taliban that had left the insurgency and entered into dialogue deserved international support.  UNAMA could advise as to how to proceed with electoral reforms and broader political outreach to Afghan society.

He called for strong support for Afghanistan, including to build capacity and stamp out corruption, after international forces left the country to ensure it stayed firmly on the path towards stability and prosperity.  He welcomed the Afghan Government’s commitment to combat the opium trade, but said it could not fight the scourge alone.  To that end, regional and international cooperation was vital.  He supported initiatives of UNODC to eradicate poppy production, as well as initiatives focused on development and enforcement.  Cross-border cooperation to eliminate drugs and weapons trafficking and terrorism was vital.  Now was the time to discuss how to adjust UNAMA’s mandate during the post-2014 period.  From 2015 to 2017, Slovakia would provide $1.5 million to the Afghan National Security Force.  Afghanistan would remain a top priority of Slovakia’s ODA beyond 2014.

MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia) said it was vital that the international community remain strongly engaged in Afghanistan’s efforts during its transition and after 2014.  Estonia was committed to supporting the country after the ISAF mission was complete.  “There is no other country in the world where our engagement is as strong,” he said, stressing that Estonia was among the highest per capita contributors to the ISAF, with troops in Helmand province.  Estonia also looked forward to financially supporting the post-2014 mission and contributing to both the European Union police mission and NATO training mission.

He went on to say that targeting the causes of Afghanistan’s problems required development cooperation to continue after 2014, adding that Estonia was focused on security, education, health care and the rule of law.  Estonia also contributed annually to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, and was carrying out bilateral “knowledge and expertise” projects.  On other matters, he said actions must be taken to improve the human rights situation.  He was pleased that the security transition was on track, underlining that free, transparent and fair elections in 2014 and 2015 were paramount to the legitimacy of the political transition.  The reconciliation process should be Afghan-led and -owned, with strong support from UNAMA to the High Peace Council.  After the departure of foreign military forces, the United Nations role was likely to increase in Afghanistan.

LEVENT ELER ( Turkey) said there were “promising signs” that Afghans were ready to assume responsibility for their future, noting that 87 per cent of the population was already under the Afghan security lead, and that security-related incidents had fallen.  Enhancing the capacities of Afghan security forces under a rule-of-law framework was a priority.  Turkey supported all efforts to achieve a democratic and inclusive political process through independent, free and fair elections in which civil society participated.  The continuation of Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts would mark an important step towards security, stability and political transition, he said, citing Pakistan’s support in that regard.

Despite such positive signs, major political, economic and security challenges remained, he said, noting that the security situation was a matter of grave concern and that chronic poverty also posed a grave threat.  He urged a focus on those realities.  More broadly, he was pleased with efforts to move to substantive issues in the Tokyo Framework.  Regionally, cooperation was gaining momentum, with the “Istanbul Process” surpassing all expectations with the speed of its progress.  Momentum would be strengthened at the next ministerial meeting on 26 April in Almaty, the only such meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for 2013.  The process among Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey also had contributed to regional dialogue, and Turkey attached special importance to the development of local rail and land routes, among other economic projects.  As regional and international partners, “We should spare no effort to contribute to the vision of a secure, peaceful and self-sufficient Afghanistan,” he said.

MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) underscored the need to implement “in word and deed” commitments made in Bonn, Chicago and Tokyo, as well as at the regional level in Istanbul and Kabul, for peace, security and development in Afghanistan.  It was worrying that the security situation remained volatile, with the terrorist threat persisting after a decade of concerted international efforts.  The syndicate of terrorism included Al-Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other groups operating with impunity from safe havens across Afghanistan’s borders.  Ahead of presidential and provincial elections in 2014, it must be remembered that quick fixes, guided by political expediency, were a recipe for disaster.  He urged that any political settlement be driven by Afghans.

Internationally accepted red lines must be respected in whatever reconciliation models were considered.  Actions in support of the political transition should not undermine Afghan institutions of government.  “We all need a credible government after 2014 as well,” he said.  Most of all, he had yet to see any evidence of a “dividing line” separating Al-Qaida from other terrorists, or that such groups had reassessed their objectives.  To him, it made little sense to draw such lines of distinction, which most of those groups were themselves not prepared to do.  For its part, India had engaged with countries sharing the goal of peace, security and development in Afghanistan.  Afghan leadership was critical for cementing lasting peace and stability.  India had hosted the Delhi Investment Summit last June to focus attention on Afghanistan, and bilaterally, India had eliminated baseline customs duties on almost all imports from Afghanistan.  Last year, the two countries had held the first meeting of the Partnership Council, following the signing of their strategic partnership agreement in 2011.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ ( Lithuania) welcomed the continued engagement of political parties and civil society in ongoing activities surrounding the upcoming elections, which would have a “defining impact” on Afghanistan’s future.  It was essential that those polls be inclusive, free and fair, and that preparations, including an unhindered voter registration process, be accelerated.  The adoption of a robust electoral framework, with built-in fraud prevention and dispute resolution mechanisms was required, she said, adding that qualified officials should be appointed to the electoral bodies without delay and that the Afghan authorities should guarantee the participation of international observers.  The Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs, as well as the UNDP and UNAMA, were also urged to continue providing all necessary assistance to the Afghan-led elections.  Turning to the situation of women in the country, she said that a post-Taliban Afghanistan had made solid progress, including with the appointment of the first female district governor.  In addition, three women held ministerial posts and 69 were serving in the two Houses of Parliament.

She welcomed those developments and reiterated that women’s full participation in the reconciliation process and the ongoing national transition was essential for building a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  At the same time, women faced serious challenges.  Indeed, every two hours a woman died from pregnancy-related complications.  The prevalence of domestic violence was a cause for alarm, as was the imprisonment of women for alleged “moral crimes”.  Also alarming was the sharp increase in the number of women and girls killed or injured last year.  Lithuania would, therefore, encourage the United Nations to continue its support for the systematic monitoring and reporting on the gender commitments contained in the Tokyo Declaration and Mutual Accountability Framework.  Finally, on regional cooperation, she welcomed the determination and support of Afghanistan’s neighbours, and she said that the opening of an office in Doha to continue negotiations could be step towards a peaceful, Afghan-led solution to the Taliban insurgency.

TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) said Afghanistan had reached a critical phase, with the phased drawdown of international forces, the ongoing national reconciliation process and the upcoming elections.  At the same time, the security situation in many of the country’s provinces remained worrying.  Another challenge, calling for “robust” action, was the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan.  Kyrgyzstan also believed that the reconciliation process must be open to all parties in the country that wished to renounce violence and adhere to the Constitution. As for the upcoming elections, he said it was critical to carry out effective and inclusive voter registration and to set up independent and effective electoral mechanisms.

He said that regional integration was also key to stability in Afghanistan and, in that regard, his Government was prepared to host in the near future a round table on Afghanistan.  Kyrgyzstan was also prepared to participate in regional cooperation initiatives with Afghanistan in areas such as energy, transportation and agriculture.  It would also take active part in the upcoming Almaty meeting on the “Heart of Asia” Process.

VAKHTANG MAKHAROBLISHVILI ( Georgia) said UNAMA would play a fundamental role in assisting Afghanistan and the international community to jointly fulfil the Tokyo commitments and monitor the human rights situation.  UNAMA must be equipped with an appropriate mandate and provided with resources to fulfil its role, especially throughout 2014.  A stable and secure environment was necessary for the mission to fulfil its mandate.  The international community was obliged to help Afghans on their uneasy path towards peace and development.  For its part, Georgia was committed to its neighbours and supporting Afghanistan would benefit the long-term security of both Georgia and the region.

Georgia also had proven its ability to contribute to international security, he said, with 1,600 military personnel stationed in Helmand province within the ISAF framework.  Georgia would contribute beyond 2014, recognizing the importance of support throughout the transformation decade.  It had contributed to the Afghan National Security Forces sustainability fund and fully supported the Security Council’s position that assistance to Afghanistan should not be limited to the military component.  Humanitarian aid was crucial.  As such, Georgia’s commitment to provide health-care assistance complemented its military contribution.  In conclusion, he said durable peace and security could be achieved through an inclusive, Afghan-led reconciliation process, reaffirming Georgia’s readiness to support a peaceful post-2014 transition.

BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that her Government advocated the speedy establishment of a stable peaceful and inclusive Afghanistan and, to that end, was participating in broader international initiatives to achieve that goal.  It was also participating in major regional projects, including road and railway reconstruction, to bolster Afghan regional integration.  Kazakhstan also supported the national reconciliation effort and considered that the inter-Afghan process must be led by Afghanistan.  As for drug trafficking, she said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization had a vital role to play in assisting Afghanistan in tackling the illicit drug trade and in enhancing regional measures aimed at disrupting such trade.

YURIY SERGEYEV ( Ukraine) said that, without targeted measures to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, it would be difficult to revive the country’s economy, raise living standards or implement critical social programmes.  With that in mind, he said that Ukraine was strongly committed to supporting all efforts that could ensure lasting peace in the country, including the reconciliation process, which should facilitate nationwide stability.  Specifically, Ukraine was ready to support the Afghan recovery process through, among others, development of civil air transport services, delivery of spare parts for helicopters and other aircraft, and providing assistance to infrastructure projects.

In addition, Ukraine intended to further develop bilateral relations with Afghanistan and was convinced that such cooperation would benefit both countries, especially in helping develop Afghan capacities in mining, exploration and extraction of oil, coal and natural gas and construction of new roads, railways and transportation hubs.  On security matters, he said the eventual withdrawal of ISAF required the development and implementation of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) response that could help Afghanistan tackle new or emerging challenges in the region.  As current Chair of the OSCE, Ukraine saw the merit in discussing the potential risks surrounding the force drawdown, It had, therefore, proposed the convening of a session devoted to border security and related issues during the 2013 OSCE Review Conference.

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