Newport, Wales, United Kingdom

4 September 2014

Secretary-General's meeting to NATO Meeting on Afghanistan, 4-5 September [delivered by Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under- Secretary-General for Political Affairs]

In light of the rapid developments in Afghanistan, your meeting today sends an important signal of commitment.  The country is in a crucial period of transition, and the coordinated support of Afghanistan’s international partners is vital to a peaceful and stable future. Afghanistan and you can continue to count on the United Nations.

Afghanistan faces serious political, security and development challenges. We have seen in the last two weeks how interdependent these are.

The electoral audit, begun at the request of both candidates, will likely be concluded in the days ahead. The audit has been unprecedented in terms of scale, scrutiny, and level of oversight. I welcome the support for this process provided by the international community, including observer personnel. The United Nations cannot deliver a result, it can only deliver a process – and this it has done.

The political component is the formation of a government of national unity.  In conjunction with the electoral audit, the fulfilment of these commitments by the candidates can pave the way for a political transition of power consistent with the will of the Afghan community.

The consolidation of gains to date, the protection of civilians and the rejuvenation of economic and social development will require steadfast engagement. As Afghanistan’s international partners draw down their military presence, we must send the clear message that support will be sustained and that the Chicago and Tokyo pledges will be upheld.

The effects of the present uncertainty cannot be denied.  The Afghan economy is in deep distress. More civilians have been killed and injured in the first half of this year than the same period last year, a worrying trend that requires continued vigilance by the international community. Those who would like to see peace fail have mounted assaults in several provinces, and the Afghan security forces remain acutely in need of support. A political transition with an outcome accepted by the candidates and the electorate is essential so that new leadership will have a mandate to tackle the country’s challenges.

The current moment calls for steadfastness and determination.  I thank you for your engagement. The United Nations remains equally committed to Afghanistan. Only jointly will we be able to assist Afghanistan effectively in designing its future.