Today, H.E. Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan met with H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations. Â The Foreign Minister was accompanied by Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and other members of Afghanistanâ€™s official Delegation to the 68th General Assembly. Â Issues discussed included the role of the United Nations, Afghanistanâ€™s upcoming elections, the transition, and reconciliation. Â The Secretary-General emphasized his support for Â an Afghan-led political solution and the importance of credible Afghan led elections.
At the outset, let me thank the Secretariat of G77 for convening this annual meeting. Â On behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I also convey our sincere appreciation to Fiji for its efficient and successful leadership of the Group of 77 and China. Â Our commend and gratitude goes to the previous chair of the group as well for their contribution to negotiations on the Outcome Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the future we want.
The Group of 77 and China by its 132 member states has demonstrated to be a key development forum, promoting the socio-economic needs of developing countries in various international foras. Recent decades have proven that development is the most fundamental requirement for achieving peaceful and prosperous societies. I would like to welcome Kiribati for the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China and looking forward to work together to achieve our goals.
There is a clear link between development goals and peace, good governance, effective and stable institutions. Having gone through decades of incessant conflict, we are keenly aware of the difficulties associated with state building and development. It is more than a decade that Afghanistan embarked on a comprehensive effort to improve security, promote development and strengthens good governance.
With the generous support of our international friends and allies, today, we are witness to notable achievements in a number of spheres, particularly in improving socio-economic conditions for our citizens. Consistent with our commitment to meet our Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2020, life for ordinary Afghans has changed for the better. The absolute majority of our population now has access to basic health services; close to 9 million children are enrolled in schools around the country, investing in their future; the rate of child and maternal mortality has decreased significantly. The GDP per capita that was 174 in 2002 has substantially increased to 742 in 2012.
Afghanistan in July last year, finalized its comprehensive strategy to address its development needs throughout the transformation decade 2015-2025 and beyond. Â â€œTowards Self-Relianceâ€ encompasses Afghanistanâ€™s vision for growth, revenue generation and infrastructure development, inter alia regional resource corridors and extractive industries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me emphasize on the importance of a strengthened and scaled-up global partnership for development. We will best be able to achieve our development goals if we strengthen collaboration and partnerships, which, undoubtedly, is vital for enabling our citizens to lead prosperous lives. Â It is imperative that we adopt a comprehensive approach in our cooperation and increase more collaboration between developing countries in the framework of South-South cooperation. We cannot overstate the importance and the central role of the UN in coordinating international assistance, whether it is financial or social.
As a least developed, land-locked and a conflict affected country that is still to a great extent, reliant on Official Development Assistance (ODA) to effectively implement its development goals, Afghanistan calls on developed countries to demonstrate greater flexibility and political will to meet and scale up their commitments to developing countries, particularly LDCs and post-conflict countries. To ensure aid effectiveness, it is more important that donors take into consideration the principle of country ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channeling more funds through core budgets and transparent trust funds.
In the framework of South-South cooperation among 132 members of G77 and China, we all can gain through exchange of knowledge in the areas of science, technology and innovation (STI), as well as the potential of culture, for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, made at the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, environmental, social and related fields.
Migration remains inadequately reflected in development frameworks, development agendas and sectorial policies at both national and global levels. Therefore, comprehensive policy formulation at the national, regional and global levels is needed to positively regulate and mobilize flow of migrations of developing countries in particular LDCs around the world towards contribution to development, in particular remittances and public financing.
Afghanistan welcomes the ongoing efforts under the United Nations, to create an ambitious post 2015 development agenda and supports the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are of the view that this agenda needs to be inclusive and be developed based on the experiences and achievements of the MDGs and other international agreed development goals.
We reaffirm our commitments towards the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. 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.
Afghanistan associates the position of the G77 and China on major international issues and believes that the G77 can play an important role in the framework of the United Nations, towards achieving peace, prosperity, socio-economic development and environmental protection for all. We hope and are positive towards achieving the goals and objectives of our group that will validate in the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Group of 77 in June next year.
It is nearing to fourteen years now that through the Millennium Development Goals, we committed to addressing some of the worldâ€™s most difficult and pressing development issues, including poverty, hunger, diseases, environmental degradation, and the promotion of gender equality, education and health. Despite significant progress in eight MDGs, nearly fourteen years later, these are still the main challenges facing our countries and our nations.
Afghanistan joined MDGs in 2004, and the United Nations extended its deadline for Afghanistan to 2020. Therefore, adjustments were made in details of targets and as a least developed and landlocked country, which is combating instability and conflict, an extra goal on enhancing security was added exclusively for Afghanistan as Goal 9.
When MDGs were adjusted and finalized for Afghanistanâ€™s context and realities on the ground in 2004, the country mainstreamed its national strategies and National Priority Programs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Based on 2013 Afghanistan MDGs report, achievements and progress in some of the indicators in Afghanistan are commendable. The goals of 2015 for some indicators are met as early as 2010, and certain other indicators (for instance under 5 mortality rate in MDG 4) are well on track towards their targets. Some progress and achievement for some goals are still marginal and require more focus and resource mobilization.
Nearly 80% of Afghans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and so along with other agricultural reforms we have undertaken comprehensive efforts to rebuild and repair irrigation systems. The GDP per capita has quadrupled from 174 $ in 2002 to 624 $ in 2012.
Afghanistanâ€™s health and education sectors have also developed enormously, thanks in large part to the assistance of our international partners, including this Organization. Afghanistan have established hundreds of clinics and hospitals across the country, expanding basic health coverage from 9% of the population in 2003 to 90% this year. Our national immunization campaign is in full swing, reaching out to millions of children under the age of five to protect them against polio and other deadly diseases.
In addition, more than 9 million boys and girls are enrolled in schools across the country. As part of our national agenda to promote primary, secondary and higher education, we have constructed close to 4,000 school buildings over the past nine years; and we are on track to build an additional 4,900 by end of 2013.
Security is the bedrock for socio-economic development, for MDGs and future SDGs. In Afghanistan the security situation has made it difficult to sustain our progress. The enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan, in forms of terrorists and extremists, are still active, orchestrating well-planned attacks against schools, clinics, teachers, doctors, government employees and even young children, particularly school girls. Similar attacks continue against humanitarian aid organizations and their personnel, who are working under difficult conditions to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. Â In recognition of the crucial role of security in providing space for development, Afghanistan has included it in the list of our MDGs as goal No 9.
Towards achieving the MDGs, and transitioning to post 2015 agenda, both country ownership and international partnerships are essential. These are more important in the case of my country as it is on the eve of transformation decade (2015-2024).
Having said that, let me emphasize on the importance of goal 8 of the MDGs to develop a global partnership for development. In the current circumstance of my country, a large amount of foreign aid flowed to Afghanistan since 2001. To a good extent the aid proved very helpful for the country and its people. Nevertheless, foreign aid was undermined to some extent by the lack of inadequate aid effectiveness. These issues were soon realized and the international community as well as Afghan government discussed and agreed to undertake measures to increase aid effectiveness and transparency.
Last but not least, we are aware of the challenges we face and our strong enthusiasm to overcome them. More than three billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day, and far too many are denied access to basic services of nutrition, shelter, water and other necessities of life. But Afghanistan is well aware as a least-developed and conflict affected country of exactly how much we can accomplish when working together.
Our responsibility, as human beings, is to persevere in our quest to improve the lives of our people. I am convinced that, with commitment, unity and focus, we will timely achieve the Millennium Development Goals while we are moving towards Sustainable Development Goals post 2015.