05 October 2016

Remarks to the Brussels conference on Afghanistan

Ban Ki-moon

Thank you your Excellencies
Excellency Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Excellency CEO Abdullah Abdullah of Afghanistan
Excellencies President.Donald Tusk and Madame Federica Mogherini of the European Union
Excellencies, honourable ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

We are here to reaffirm our long-term partnership with the people of Afghanistan for peace, inclusive growth and sustainable development. ;

Two years ago in London, the Government of Afghanistan outlined a clear path toward this future. This included measures to tackle corruption, advance governance reforms, and address the illicit economy.

Despite complex challenges, the Government has made important headway towards promoting transparency, accountability, and improving public services. I commend the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre, strengthened budget and procurement processes, increased engagement with the International Monetary Fund and Afghanistan’s recent membership in the World Trade Organization.

The Afghan National Peace and Development Framework provides further shape to the country’s national development priorities over the next five years.

Increasing the credibility of the electoral process through agreed electoral reforms is also critical. The United Nations stands ready to support this effort.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the reform agenda is real change in people’s lives.

The Citizen’s Charter, one of the new National Priority Programs presented today, can better link communities and the Government.

Afghanistan’s women must be provided greater space to play their full role as political actors and peace-makers. Securing and promoting women’s rights and empowerment is essential.

I am pleased that women’s economic empowerment is a key part of the new National Priority Programs. I welcome President Ghani’s and Afghanistan’s attention to engaging women in all aspects of peacebuilding, and fully implementing its National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.I encourage the Afghan Government to ensure further progress.

I also welcome the Government’s commitment to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs) which is crucial to reduce poverty, address food insecurity and child malnutrition, improve literacy rates and empower women and girls.

Of course, ongoing violence continues to take a devastating toll. Conflict remains the main obstacle to the prosperous future that the people of Afghanistan deserve.

I am deeply concerned by the record numbers of civilian casualties and growing numbers of people forced from their homes.

This year alone, more than one million Afghans will be on the move within Afghanistan and across borders.

We must continue to work together in support of a peace process for Afghanistan and the region.

Mr President
Ladies and gentlemen,

Four years ago in Tokyo, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan forged a partnership based on mutual accountability.

Today, that principle continues to guide our shared commitment towards a peaceful and prosperous future for the Afghan people.

In their efforts to rebuild their country, the people of Afghanistan have been able to count on international development assistance.

To consolidate gains, international support will remain necessary for years to come.

I urge all partners to commit to an agenda to deepen and strengthen development opportunities for the Afghan people and address endemic poverty.

We must ensure that assistance is predictable, shaped by sustained commitment to mutual accountability and aid effectiveness, and aligned with the priorities of the Afghan Government as consolidated in the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework.

The substantial levels of assistance that this Conference is seeking can only be justified – to the people of Afghanistan and of donor countries - if the lives of Afghans are visibly and sustainably improved.

Peace and prosperity in Afghanistan require both regional support and consistent regional engagement, including through platforms like the Heart- of-Asia/Istanbul Process.

I commend the Afghan Government’s active engagement with regional partners and vision for connectivity which represents such an important foundation for economic growth.

I call upon all of Afghanistan’s regional partners to seize these opportunities for cooperation and do their part to help build a prosperous and peaceful future. The side event on regional infrastructure cooperation is a timely opportunity to build not just roads and railways, but also trust and good neighbourly relations.

Mr President
Ladies and gentlemen,

The commitments of this Conference provide a crucial window of opportunity for the next four years. The National Unity Government must sustain its unity of purpose.

My message is clear: Keep Afghanistan on the path towards stability, accountability and greater self-reliance. Build bridges. Put the Afghan people first.

Together, let us demonstrate to the Afghan people a spirit of cooperation and agreement on the path forward.

The needs are too great, and the challenges too many for anything less.

The United Nations looks forward to working with all of you to support Afghanistan, and reinforce Afghan leadership and ownership of the sustainable reform agenda.

We share a bond that stretches back over many decades. Next month will mark Afghanistan’s 70th year of membership in the United Nations.
I congratulate Afghanistan on that milestone and stress again the enduring commitment of the United Nations for a strong, prosperous and democratic future.

I count on strong leadership of President Ghani and also CEO Abdullah Abdullah as leaders of national unity of government.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let us all make the most of today’s opportunity to chart a way forward that truly betters the lives of all the Afghan people.

Thank you for your leadership and commitment.

Thank you very much.