Afghanistan’s progress ‘unthinkable a decade ago’, Special Representative tells Security Council, urges international partners to uphold commitments
6896th Meeting (PM)
Country Now Requires Sustained Partnership So Afghan People Can Focus on Building Better Future, Says Ján Kubiš
While Afghanistan had made progress “unthinkable a decade ago”, the challenges and tragedies that remained required both the Government and its international partners to follow through firmly on commitments made in recent international conferences, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative told the Security Council this afternoon.
“Certainty and sustained partnership with Afghanistan is what is required now, ensuring that the Afghan people have the confidence to focus on building a better future,” Ján Kubiš, who is also the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said as he introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report (see Background) ahead of a debate on the situation.
The Chicago and Tokyo conferences on Afghanistan had provided a solid foundation for the partnership required in the period during and beyond the transition to national leadership in security, governance and development, he said, with Government and development partners subsequently having met through the Steering Committee, and the endorsement of an Aid Management Policy expected to be agreed upon in January.
The perceived legitimacy of the presidential elections set for 5 April 2014 would have profound implications for improved governance, he said, describing preparations needed in that context. Anti-corruption efforts were also high on the agenda, he added, welcoming the robust report on the Kabul Bank crisis and citing the need for decisive Government action to strengthen the country’s financial sector.
Greater attention to tackling the trade in narcotics, including through the efforts of international donors, was also required, using all frameworks developed, he said. Effective leadership was needed in many institutional areas, particularly in human rights. “Human rights gains of the last decade — particularly in the rights of women and girls — must be reinforced and expanded,” he stated, noting gains by women but also the killing of several women in public life.
Citing statistics showing that civilians continued to bear the heaviest burden of the conflict, he said anti-Government elements accounted for 85 per cent of civilian deaths. He also called for sustained donor funding to implement a plan to clear remaining minefields. On progress to Afghan leadership in the security sector, he stressed the importance of the Government’s civilian mitigation and tracking cell, and welcomed increased attention to the professionalization of the police.
On reconciliation, he said that the High Peace Council’s work was enjoying renewed momentum following a positive visit to Pakistan, facilitated logistically by UNAMA, which was also ready to facilitate an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue that was due to begin early next year.
With international troop drawdowns and reduction of some stabilization projects, he said, attention was needed on the issue of sustainable livelihoods, and development gains were at risk because of weak and inadequate systems of subnational governance, lack of support from the central level, capacity constraints and insufficient planning on the civilian side. The United Nations would look to assist as requested within its capacity, while ensuring that the Afghan Government assumed leadership. Finally, he stressed that the increasing humanitarian needs must not be forgotten.
Addressing the Council next, Afghanistan’s representative said, in the last 11 years, his country and the international community had “struggled together, worked together and joined hands for the noble objective of peace and a better future for the Afghan people”, and the Government was taking full responsibility for nation-building and normalization. As 2014 approached, the overwhelming majority of Afghans now lived in areas where Government forces had lead security responsibility, and the Afghan national army and police were now operating with greater confidence and capability. Nevertheless, he warned that, as the transition proceeded, it was imperative that the sustainability of Afghanistan’s security forces remain a priority.
“[Yet] transition is not about security alone”, he underscored, describing reconciliation efforts and preparations for coming elections. Looking at the accomplishments of the Chicago and Tokyo conferences, he pledged that “we will work to address remaining challenges through a more results-oriented cooperation, with a special focus on ensuring that mutual expectations are met”.
Following those statements, Council members and representatives of other interested countries took the floor, welcoming the international frameworks for support to Afghanistan that had been developed in recent conferences for the transition period and beyond, and supporting UNAMA’s continued role. At the same time, most expressed deep concern over continued insurgency and its high civilian toll, stressing the need to ensure that drawdown of international forces and other changes did not weaken the fight against the scourge.
Many speakers also pointed to the importance of Government reforms. While most welcomed reconciliation efforts, some countries cautioned that only appropriate partners should be engaged. Many speakers — particularly regional countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Turkey — also placed high priority on curbing narcotics trafficking, repatriation of refugees and regional initiatives.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Germany, Portugal, United States, India, Colombia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, China, Guatemala, Togo, Azerbaijan, South Africa, France, Morocco, Japan and Australia.
A representative of the European Union’s Delegation also made a statement.
The meeting began at 3:16 p.m. and ended at 6:12 p.m.