Ladies and Gentlemen,
I begin by conveying the warm greetings of the people and Government of Afghanistan. We convey our thanks and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Nepal for leading our Group successfully. We congratulate Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya for his recent appointment as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. We are confident that his able leadership will guide us toward achieving our common goals. We also extend our congratulations to the Republic of Benin on its election as the next Chair. Let me assure you of my government’s full support.
Today’s meeting comes at an important moment, a little over a year since the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA). The landmark event marked a milestone in our joint efforts: ridding from our societies the scourges of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and other ills effecting the well-being and prosperity of our citizens. No one has questioned the challenges associated with implementing the goals of the Istanbul Program of Action. Nevertheless, we are convinced that, with resolute commitment, and determined efforts our success is inevitable.
The Afghanistan of today is one, which has transformed for the better over the past decade. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, and the start of our partnership with our international friends in 2001, we began our state-building efforts, geared towards a vision that sees our citizens living in peace and security, and having what is necessary to lead dignified and prosperous lives. To realize that vision, we have undertaken enormous measures, within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), leading to significant achievements in numerous areas, including, but not limited to, the health and education sectors, the growth of our economy, and the strengthening of our infrastructure.
For several decades, but particularly in recent years, my Government has sought to advance regional stability and prosperity by restoring Afghanistan’s central role as a land bridge between Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East- for the exchange of commerce, culture, and ideas.
Afghanistan is making steady progress in the transition process for self-reliance in the security, governance and development fields. In the context of our state-building efforts, Afghanistan will continue to require sustained international support in the long-term.
Two months ago in Tokyo, Afghanistan and the international community came together to re-define the nature of our partnership. In adopting the “Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework” we have put in place a clear structure that will benefit a more result oriented partnership and cooperation. We are particularly pleased with the international community’s expressed readiness to align aid with our National Priority Programs (NPPs), and channel assistance through the Afghan budget.
Moving towards Transformation Decade, the new Afghanistan still face many development challenges. It is obvious the achieving peace, stability, and prosperity require a better security environment in our cities, villages, and borders. And, as we all know, achieving the goal of creating a better security environment in highly dependent on economic and human development as well as on good governance. Our strategic vision towards self-reliance Afghanistan for the transformation decade is the result of our commitments to tackle those challenges.
Since late last year, the series of conferences beginning with Istanbul in November, followed by Bonn in December, Dushanbe in March, Chicago in May, and last June’s Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting in Kabul, have demonstrated the region and international community’s unequivocal political and economic support for Afghanistan’s rebirth as a confident, stable, and reliable hub for regional trade and transit at a key interchange in Asia: the world’s most dynamic region.
Together, these building blocks have served Afghanistan and its citizens well in terms of facilitating the regional bonds for economic exchange, political cooperation, and cultural understanding.
In this regard, the November 2011 initiated “Istanbul Process”, and its 43 regional confidence-building measures, acknowledges the need for a substantive political dialogue to ensure that steps to integrate the national economies of the region are sustained and made durable. Given the long road ahead in the remainder of the “Transition Period” (until 2014) and “Transformation Decade” (2015-2024), the need for mutually reinforcing economic, political, and security-building efforts becomes even more urgent as Afghanistan charts an unequivocally regional future.
We perceive regional economic cooperation as a key element of our broader efforts to strengthen relations, mutual respect, and trust between Afghanistan and its many neighbors.
With three years left for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite our efforts and progress, our group is faced with serious obstacles in meeting our stated goals. Among the many factors hindering our progress, include multiple global crises of climate change, natural disasters, the global financial and economic crises, as well as food insecurity. Given our special situation, LDCs require special and particular focus and attention from the international community. Afghanistan, underscores, in this connection, the necessary increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) by our partners in the developed world to help us realize our national and millennium development goals.
In addition, we insist that donors take into consideration the principle of ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channeling more funds through core budgets and trust funds. Additional measures are required for ensuring the efficiency and transparency of such aid. This could be achieved through greater coordination among the donor community.
A sound and effective agriculture sector is vital for our development and prosperity. The overwhelming majority of LDCs rely on agricultural productivity, as a key component of a self-sufficient economy. In this connection, due consideration on the part of our international partners should be accorded.
Without any doubt, the effects of climate change are among the dominant threats facing our common development and prosperity. Too often, natural disasters, whether in the form of mudslides and flooding or drought have devastated our infrastructure, and agriculture. As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.
Afghanistan further supports the LDC’s position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.
Afghanistan welcomes the outcome document of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which was held from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference was a historic event in garnering a renewed commitment for effective strategies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty, advance social equity and protect our environment.
We also call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.
In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.