Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN at the Security Council Debate
on the Situation in Afghanistan
I would like to first congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of this Council for the month of January, and thank you for convening this first debate of the New Year.
I would also like to thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your presence in the council and your remarks today, for your latest report on Afghanistan, and in particular for making Afghanistan one of your priorities and the personal attention you have dedicated to Afghanistan in the past months. Further, especially in the face of the tragedy of 28 October 2009, I would like to thank the UN and all of its entities, including this august body, for the substantial and invaluable aid that has been extended to the Afghan people in the past decades.
In addition, as this is the last appearance of Mr. Eide in this Council in his capacity as SRSG, let me offer him here my own heartfelt thanks, and the sincere gratitude of the people and government of Afghanistan. He has shown tremendous dedication to the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and displayed ingenuity and persistence under extremely challenging circumstances. He has pushed for a stronger UNAMA and for practical steps towards real progress in Afghanistan. Perhaps most importantly, he has consistently, and most recently during the elections, worked for closer cooperation and better understanding between all parties in and out of Afghanistan. We thank him.
With the conclusion of the Presidential elections, an important but difficult milestone, Afghanistan has reached a new beginning defined by a five-year mandate to bring Afghans closer to taking control of their own futures. In his inaugural address, President Karzai outlined his plan to fulfill this mandate. He committed himself and his administration to peace, to the physical and economic security of the Afghan people, to national participation and reconciliation, to good governance, and to the fight against corruption.
Most importantly, we all share the same ultimate goal: to prepare and empower Afghans to take charge of their own destinies. In the next five years, the central goal of the Afghan government will be preparing for the transition to full Afghan rule by strengthening Afghanistan’s sovereignty and national ownership. We aim to consolidate national authority and improve the government’s capacity and institutions. We call upon the international community to ensure that every action taken in Afghanistan is in support of these efforts.
The formation of a new Afghan government is an important first step in this new beginning. After the Parliament’s rejection of some of the Ministerial nominees, the President is preparing to introduce new candidates, and he has ordered Parliament to finalize their confirmations before they recess for the winter. We are eager to avoid any delay in the formation of the government and any vacuum of management that could be counterproductive for Afghanistan at such a delicate time.
Next, the Afghan government and the international community must look together at the challenges facing us and forge a compact that clearly identifies our strategies and responsibilities. On 28 January, a conference will be held in London, chaired jointly by President Karzai, Prime Minister Brown, and the Secretary-General. This conference will be followed closely by a second in Kabul. The London conference will prepare a roadmap for future efforts that will be transformed into a detailed action plan in Kabul, possibly in March. In London, focus will be directed towards security and the Afghanization of security and defense, social and economic development, good governance, and international and regional cooperation. For each of these areas, we will need to clearly define the respective roles of the Afghan government and the international community.
Afghans are ready to take responsibility for securing our people and defending ourselves against our enemies. In three years’ time, the Afghan National Security Forces will assume responsibility for security and defense in conflict areas in the South and East of Afghanistan. In five years, with the necessary training, equipment and long-term resources from the international community, we will assume full responsibility for security and defense across the entire country. The international forces will be able to transition simultaneously to a role focused on training and enabling local forces.
However, there is a general consensus that peace and stability in Afghanistan cannot be reached through purely military means. As a result, the government of Afghanistan has always been, and remains, committed to reconciliation and the integration of former combatants into all levels of Afghanistan’s civilian and security structures. Afghanistan’s government has opened its doors to all Afghans willing to participate in the stabilization and reconstruction of their country, in line with the Afghan Constitution and with respect for human rights.
But while reconciliation is an Afghan-led effort, it cannot be achieved by the Afghan government alone. Mr. President, we ask this Council to conduct a review of the Consolidated List established under Resolution 1267 with a view to the possibility for elements of the Taliban willing to renounce violence and join the peace process to be removed from the sanctions list upon request by the Afghan Government.
Afghans continue to face crippling poverty and widespread unemployment, and their trust is wearing thin. Social and economic development and good governance remain important priorities for Afghanistan. However, it cannot sustain these efforts without the continued assistance of its international partners. The London conference will be an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan and its international friends to coordinate their development and capacity-building efforts so that Afghanistan may eventually mobilize its resources, generate income and jobs for its people, and begin to support its institutions.
As the Secretary-General concluded in his report, reinforced efforts toward coordination of donor aid and civilian and military strategies are vital for our efforts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan supports the central coordinating role of UNAMA, as mandated by this Council. We should discuss further what shape any additional mechanisms might take and how they would relate to the relevant actors. Crucially, any focus on coordination must strengthen Afghan institutions and encourage Afghan national ownership, rather than promoting parallel governance structures.
Afghanistan is fast approaching its Parliamentary elections, which will occur at the end of May as required by the Constitution. We must ensure a credible process; in this, the lessons learned from last year’s elections will be important. We feel that any suggestion to postpone the elections ignores the Constitutional requirements and will damage the integrity of the process. Rule of law must be maintained, even as that law evolves to reflect lessons learned.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
A true partnership between Afghanistan and the international community is important for success in Afghanistan. This partnership will require realism – about timing, about resources, about abilities – and a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities. Most importantly, this partnership should be based on supporting and encouraging strong Afghan national ownership, particularly as we seek to transfer security and defense responsibilities. Afghanization, and the promotion of Afghan capacity and leadership, must be the ultimate aim of all of our activities and the central consideration during discussions going forward.
I thank you, Mr. President.