Stetement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
Thank you Madame President. I thank you for your able leadership of the Council this month. Thanks also to our friend Special Representative Jan Kubiš for his statement, and for his skillful leadership of UNAMA in Afghanistan. We convey our gratitude to Australia and Ambassador Quinlan for committed work as the penholder on Afghanistan, and for the spirit of cooperation shown during the course of negotiations for the UNAMA resolution. I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome the recent Secretary General’s report on the Situation in Afghanistan.
On 28th March 2002, in the wake of the Bonn Conference, this Council voted for the establishment of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), a political mission to lead international civilian coordination efforts and to support Afghanistan in building a democratic, stable, and peaceful country (SC/RES/1401). Since then, its comprehensive focus on security, economy, governance and development challenges has been essential to my government’s work to lay the foundations for sustainable development and peace in the country, and the UNAMA mandate has been renewed regularly with the full support of the government of Afghanistan.
Throughout the last decade, UNAMA has remained at the center of international engagement in support of Afghanistan, an engagement characterized by the involvement of more than 70 countries and dozens of international organizations known as the donor community. The international community’s collective efforts have spanned all dimensions, and our achievements, attained through shared efforts, have been exceptional. The country is more unified; millions of boys and girls are in school; more Afghans have access to healthcare than ever before; and all Afghans enjoy their fundamental human rights as guaranteed by our constitution.
We reached the final stage of transition this year, as the country began to stand on its own feet and take charge of its own destiny. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) assumed full security responsibility nationwide, showing evermore capability and professionalism as international forces draw down. The government began to renew its international partnerships while asserting greater Afghan ownership and leadership over the country’s future. And now, after 12 years of unprecedented international cooperation and engagement, the Afghan people are less than a few weeks away from the pinnacle of transition: Presidential and Provincial elections.
On 5th April, Afghans will cast their votes to choose the future leader of the country and their provincial representatives. This is an historic event; it marks the first peaceful transition of power through a democratic process. Moreover, a legitimate political transition is essential to our efforts to secure a brighter and more peaceful future. After decades of war, Afghans have worked intently to build a new foundation for progress in Afghanistan. Elections represent the hope that this work will continue, and provide an opportunity for its advancement throughout the Transformation Decade.
Election preparations have been long underway with the help of the international community and the United Nations. It is crucial that elections are legitimate, credible, and transparent, as expected by all. To this end, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) is in the lead in administering, adjudicating, and managing the polls, overseeing logistical and technical preparation with the support of our international partners. The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) is well positioned to prevent fraud and misconduct. Furthermore, the Ministry of the Interior has intensified efforts to ensure security on Election Day, preparing 400,000 Afghan security forces to protect the 7,168 polling stations on April 5th, with plans to deploy 13,000 female polling station searchers and provide security to the 308 female Provincial Council candidates. The numbers of international and national observers are in the thousands.
Participation of Afghans in the lead up to the elections has been monumental. All segments of society are deeply involved in elections, many of them for the first time, keenly participating to ensure they get a say over the country’s future. Importantly, women are involved in the elections as candidates, campaigners, electoral workers and voters. Today, of the 3.4 million new voters registered for the April elections, 35 percent are women. Additionally, Presidential candidates have had historic media exposure, particularly through a number of televised debates, allowing candidates the opportunity to present their programs to the electorate and enhancing countrywide involvement in the political process. This sets a new precedent for our young democracy.
With all Afghans focused keenly on the elections, we are not losing sight of the challenges that we face this year that are crucial to the preservation of the gains of the last decade, and to a successful departure towards the Transformation Decade. To address these challenges, serious focus is needed on the following three main areas:
First, Afghanistan’s continuing cooperation with the international community. This is essential to successful transition this year, to the Transformation Decade ahead, and to long-term peace, security and development in the country. The Afghan people, as demonstrated by the Consultative Loya Jirga of November 2013, believe in the importance of continuing strategic relations with the United States, NATO, and the wider international community. To this end, we are certain that the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States will be signed soon.
Second, the fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth and development of Afghanistan. We welcome progress made towards fulfilling commitments set out in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), which is essential to the country’s long-term stability and sustainability. In addition to TMAF, the government continues to further the agreements reached at the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo Conferences and the Lisbon and Chicago Summits that aim to enhance national leadership and ownership and Afghanistan’s economic self-sufficiency strategy.
Third, regional cooperation. As we move towards the end of transition this year, it is fundamental to Afghanistan’s stability that its neighbors and countries in the region play their role in contributing to peace and security in the country. It is clear that the prosperity and security of all countries in the region are deeply interlinked and therefore my government continues to strengthen networks of regional cooperation through multilateral processes such as the Istanbul Process as well as bilateral efforts. Regional cooperation also is essential to peace and reconciliation, and related outreach to the Taliban and other groups that continue to fight against the government.
Throughout all this, protecting the rights of all Afghans remains a fundamental priority. This includes ensuring the right of all Afghan people to good governance, justice, healthcare, education, and the right to live free from violence. In this regard, Afghanistan is committed to preventing and mitigating the toll of violence on civilians, particularly women and children. We condemn in the strongest terms continuing violence against the Afghan people, including women and children, by extremists. With elections presenting an opportunity for all Afghans to come together in unity, the impetus for the armed opposition to reject their brutal tactics, contribute meaningfully to the country, and heed the call for peace, has never been stronger than it is today.
As we renew the mandate of UNAMA for another year, we are well aware of the continuing importance of the role of the United Nations as a whole in this crucial time for the country. We expect the international community to stand firmly for peace and security in Afghanistan, to further our work to ensure that the hard won achievements of the last decade are protected. After decades of war and instability, and 12 years of tremendous progress, it is crucial that momentum continues towards our goal of achieving a long-lasting, stable, peaceful and democratic Afghanistan.
I thank you.