Thank you Mr. President.
I would like to thank France for its leadership of the Council this month and for convening this debate. I would also like to thank my esteemed friend Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for his remarks, and the Secretary-General for his report on the Situation in Afghanistan. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Ambassador Oyarzun and his team at the Permanent Mission of Spain for their hard work facilitating the resolution on UNAMA’s mandate and for their dedication as Afghanistan’s penholders on the Security Council.
When the Security Council established UNAMA in 2002 to assist the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the country, Afghanistan was in a fundamentally different situation than it is in today. At that time, the state was unable to function. The government could barely provide services to the Afghan people. The country was almost bankrupt. Its national and international legitimacy had been eroded. Its institutions and its civil society were almost completely destroyed. Millions of Afghans had fled the country, and Afghanistan had lost most of its human capital.
The United Nations was instrumental to efforts to establish the Afghanistan we know today. From forging the Bonn agreement in 2001 in the aftermath of the Taliban regime, to coordinating international civilian assistance over the last ten years, to supporting presidential and parliamentary elections, the United Nations has supported Afghanistan’s move from a prolonged period of internecine fighting and bloody civil wars to a new era of democracy and national unity.
As a result of our joint efforts, we have created new institutions and critical infrastructure, made unprecedented economic progress, built a capable and well-trained army and seen the flag of Afghanistan rise in the most remote parts of the country. Millions of refugees have returned home and a new generation of educated Afghans has emerged to lead Afghanistan towards a brighter future.
This last year, in particular, has seen tremendous progress and change. Afghanistan has completed its political and security transition in line with the goals set out at the Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo conferences and is embarking upon the transformation decade. This summer, millions of Afghan women and men cast their votes in historic presidential elections, which marked the first ever transition from one democratically elected President to another. At the end of last year, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s mission ended and a new NATO mission, Operation Resolute Support, was established to provide training, advice and assistance to Afghanistan’s National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). The ANDSF are now fully responsible for the security of the country.
As we welcome the renewal of the mandate of UNAMA, it is important to note that today’s Afghanistan is not comparable with the Afghanistan that UNAMA was established to support in 2002. It is even different from the situation upon which last year’s mandate extension was based.
Afghanistan is gearing up to become a full partner to the community of democratic nations, and as it does so, it is essential that the United Nations’ support to Afghanistan is consistent with the new realities on the ground and the goals of the transformation decade. It must fully reflect the principles of Afghan national sovereignty, national leadership and national ownership, the successful completion of the transition process, and the initiation of the transformation decade; it must align precisely with the government’s national priorities; it must be effective, accountable and coherent; and it must reflect the fact that the government of Afghanistan is ready to fully assume the leading, managing and coordinating role of all assistance and development programs, as well as the international community’s efforts, in Afghanistan.
To this end, we welcome the Security Council’s request “that the Secretary-General initiate a process to conduct within six months of the renewal of this mandate, a full examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan, in full consultation and engagement with the Government of Afghanistan and key stakeholders, including the donor community, in light of the completion of transition and the beginning of the Transformation Decade and in accordance with the principles of Afghan national sovereignty, national leadership and national ownership.”
While an initial review of the role and activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan took place at the request of the government of Afghanistan in 2011, the process put forward in today’s resolution will allow us to fully engage all stakeholders over the next six months through a new, thorough, and extensive mechanism which will refine the framework of our partnership and our relations with the United Nations in a new era.
The government of Afghanistan is determined to do its part to build an Afghanistan that is ready to stand on its own feet, take full responsibility of its own affairs and assume its rightful place as a full and equal partner of the international community. To realize this vision, President Ashraf Ghani devised an agenda for reform entitled “Realizing Self-Reliance” that was presented to the international community in London in December 2014. At the core of this agenda is a compact of stability and prosperity at the national, regional and international levels.
At the national level, the government of Afghanistan is committed to enhancing our focus on the well-being of the citizen through concrete commitments including eliminating corruption, tackling poverty, strengthening good governance and rule of law, promoting human rights including women’s rights, and restoring fiscal stability and economic growth.
At the regional level, the government of Afghanistan has embarked upon a new phase of engagement with our neighbors, the wider region, and the Islamic world based on trust, cooperation and shared interests. Increased cooperation is essential not only to achieving lasting peace and stability in the country and the region, but also to enabling Afghanistan to become a hub for regional trade and integration and a land-bridge of prosperity for all. To this end, the leadership of the country has engaged in a series of consultations and dialogues with neighbors and countries in the region to develop new, and to deepen existing, trade, transit and energy links and enhance cooperation and confidence building measures.
At the international level, the new government has reinvigorated its international partnerships, as evidenced by the early signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States and the Enduring Partnership Agreement with NATO. The upcoming visit of the high-level delegation of Afghanistan, led by H.E. President Ashraf Ghani, to the United States offers an important opportunity to deepen these commitments. In addition, the government has set a new tone in its dialogue with the international community including by expanding its partnerships with many countries that have supported Afghanistan in the last decade. These renewed commitments are votes of confidence in a peaceful, stable Afghanistan and in the belief that peace and security in Afghanistan is essential to regional and global stability.
Lasting peace and security is critical to building a prosperous and stable Afghanistan and to ending the vicious cycle of fragility in the country. This is particularly true at a time when violence affects increasing numbers of civilians and when the crippling triple threat of terrorism, extremism, and criminality threatens to undermine the future of the Afghan people and the wider region. This is why the peace and reconciliation process is the first priority of the government of Afghanistan. Afghans from all walks of life are united in their urgent call for peace, and their active involvement is crucial to the success of the reconciliation process. As President Ashraf Ghani has said, “the peace process is not a monopoly of the government; all our nation should take part in it.” It is time for those still engaged in fighting to heed the widespread call for peace, and to play their part in building the country’s future.
We welcome the new phase of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan towards the shared goal of peace and reconciliation. It is essential to the success of the peace process and heralds a new era of relations between our two brother nations. We also welcome the support of all our partners, particularly in the region and the Islamic world, and would like to express our appreciation to the People’s Republic of China for its help facilitating the peace process.
The renewal of UNAMA’s mandate is a testament to the continuing partnership between Afghanistan, the United Nations and the international community and this Council’s call for an examination of the United Nations’ mandate sends a clear message of dedication to long-term, effective support to Afghanistan. All of our collective efforts over the last 13 years, the blood spilled and lives lost, have been aimed at enabling Afghanistan to become a full member of the international community as a stable, peaceful, and democratic country. The time for Afghanistan to take full responsibility as a sovereign nation has come, and with the support of the international community, now and in the future, we can achieve this critical goal. Thank you.