Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Security Council

Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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Mr. President,

As this is the first time I have taken the floor in this chamber this month, please allow me to begin by congratulating you for assuming the Presidency of this Council, and thank you for convening this meeting. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and Mr. Le Roy for his comprehensive briefing.

Mr. President,

Today marks an important step in the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community. For the first time since 2001, we are debating a mandate that focuses on a transition to Afghan ownership, Afghan leadership, and Afghan responsibility. This transition is not an end, not an end game, but a new beginning. With dedication, patience and realism, we have the opportunity to put an end to the ongoing violence, build a state capable of protecting our citizens and meeting their needs, and strengthen the trust, unity and leadership of the Afghan people.

Mr. President,

The Afghan Government has taken up this challenge. In the coming year, our priority will be Afghanization: in every area, Afghans and Afghan priorities should take the lead. We face a busy calendar that will test our strength and resolve but, with the support of the international community, it can also set us firmly on the path towards success.

Mr. President,

The first step is to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and improve security across the country. General McChrystal’s new strategy, which was recently put to the test in Marjah, will begin to turn the tide. At the same time, the Afghan National Army and Police, with intensive training, equipping and resourcing, will gradually replace the international community in leading the defense of the country and the security of its people. This turnover will begin as soon as possible, and, with the help of the international community, Afghans will bear full responsibility in five years.

The military efforts will be complemented by political and economic efforts. We have the plan and initial resources for a reintegration program, and it is beginning to offer an alternate life to many of those fighting against us.

The second step is reconciliation which has increasingly become the focus in our efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. In Istanbul and in London, our plans were widely supported by the countries of the region and the international community. Since then, we have engaged with regional partners at a high level to explore ways that the region could help facilitate reconciliation and to build confidence and trust in new stabilization initiatives.

The cooperation of the region and the unity of international support will be essential, but this process must be Afghan-led and guided by Afghan priorities. In this regard, the next milestone will be the consultative National Peace Jirga at the end of April, which will bring together Afghanistan’s elders, community leaders, government officials and civil society groups. The conference’s agenda will revolve around three goals: first, to have consultations, understanding and agreement among the Afghan people on the need for sustainable peace; second, to reach an agreement on a framework for understanding with the opposition; and third, to create a mechanism to pursue this understanding.

However, Mr. President,

The security dimension is only the first part of this transition to Afghan ownership. Afghanistan and the international community have already laid out a plan to Afghanize security, governance, development and to create a stronger framework for regional cooperation. The next step will be in the Kabul Conference this summer where we will move beyond strategy to focus on a detailed plan of implementation. The Government of Afghanistan is concentrating on building capacity, rooting out corruption, encouraging participation, and promoting justice and rule of law. We are also working to ensure the long-term sustainability of these changes through developing agriculture, infrastructure and natural resources, regional initiatives, and improved coordination. In all of these areas, Afghans will increasingly take the lead, with the support of our partners and friends.

And finally, Mr. President,

In September, Afghanistan will hold its Parliamentary elections. As in other areas, the elections and the electoral bodies must be driven by Afghans and Afghan priorities. Afghanistan is learning from past experience to undertake short- and long-term electoral reforms to ensure that these and future elections will be transparent, credible, and fair. However, Afghanistan will need time to build the capacity to run an election alone. Therefore President Karzai has sent a letter to the Secretary-General requesting the technical and logistical assistance of the UN, and has determined that two of the seats on the ECC will be occupied by foreign experts. Likewise, the international community’s assistance will be necessary in supporting the elections with resources and ensuring they are held in a safe and peaceful environment.

Mr. President,

The importance of the UN’s central role in supporting Afghanistan and coordinating international efforts cannot be overstated. Afghans still view the UN as an impartial force working for the benefit of the Afghan people, and as a guarantor of our stable, peaceful future as a democratic country. Our common mission will require a lot from all of us: realism about our own abilities and the abilities of our partners, an understanding of our different perspectives and the pressures upon us, and a recognition that we have different timelines and different expectations. Only the UN can balance this relationship, and ensure that the views of both the Afghans and the international community are heard and taken into account.

The Afghan government fully supports the extension of UNAMA’s mandate, and we welcome the appointment of SRSG Staffan di Mistura, who arrived in Kabul to begin his work last weekend. We look forward to working closely with him in the months and years ahead.

Mr. President,

Nine years ago Afghanistan was a broken country. The assistance and support of the international community has been a crucial crutch as the country has slowly begun to heal. Afghanistan is eager to stand solidly on its own feet, but we must walk before we can run. It will take time for the government and security forces to build the capacity to ensure peace and good governance across the country. The continuing commitment of the international community will therefore remain vital in the years to come. But we are on the right path. We have set a clear goal. And in a strong partnership with the international community, we can succeed.

I thank you, Mr. President.