Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the United Nations Security Council debate on
The Situation in Afghanistan
Check Against Delivery
Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council. I would like to express a warm welcome to our good friend, Special Representative Jan Kubiš, who spoke for the first time in the Security Council today. In a short period of time, the SRSG has gained much confidence and admiration of the Afghan people, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation. I also take the opportunity to thank H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for his comprehensive report on Afghanistan.
We meet today at a critical juncture in Afghanistan’s history. It is a time in which the culmination of the efforts of my country and the nations involved in the stabilization process in the last ten years has reached a moment of truth. Today’s debate falls within a line-up of important events that will shape the contours of the international community’s work during the transition and beyond: from the Bonn conference in December, to the Tokyo Ministerial Conference this July. After a decade, we are also looking today into a new framework of the UN’s mandate and work in a situation characterized by transition, followed by the transformation decade.
The transition process, which started with the transfer of responsibilities to Afghan security forces a year ago, is continuing apace. With the second tranche completed, we are nearing the launch of the third phase of transition, at the conclusion of which, the majority of Afghan territory will come under full Afghan security control. By end of transition by 2014, Afghanistan will assume full responsibility of security as well as the ownership and leadership of governance and development. A shift of paradigm is underway, the aim is sovereignty – empowering Afghanistan to take charge of its own destiny and turning the direct military and civilian function of the international community into a support and enabling role.
A successful transition, Mr. President, requires renewed parameters of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with the guaranteed commitment of the continuation of military, political and financial support during the transition and the decade of transformation from 2015 – 2024. This is what we, Afghanistan and the international community, set out to do last December in Bonn. This commitment will be supported concretely in July in Tokyo.
At this stage, we hope the assistance of the international community as manifested in the commitments of the Kabul conference in 2010 and Bonn in 2011, will help to meet the requisite needs of our security forces. This is crucial for the building-up, training and equipping of our national security forces, who have proven themselves in recent weeks to be increasingly capable in protecting their fellow Afghans. Furthermore, the transition dividend, channeled into Afghanistan’s political stability, economic growth and social advancement, will have a direct effect on fostering sustainable peace in the country, and bring about real change in the lives of people.
In the long term, what matters is the establishment and strengthening of enduring strategic partnerships that will provide us with a solid base of mutual cooperation. Thus far, we have already signed and are negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with our international partners, including those in the region. In this connection, Afghanistan and the United States are working to finalize all parts of the strategic partnership agreement, which will ensure our combined commitment to the future of a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. On 9 March we signed a memorandum of understanding with the US on the handover of control of the Parwan detention facility to the Afghan Government and we are working to finalize another memorandum relating to special operations in the very near future.
An effective transition is also contingent upon the successful outcome of an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, outreach and reintegration process. The dynamics of the peace talks shifted with the announcement of the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar, which we believe will provide fresh impetus to our peace efforts. We welcome recent measures taken by the 1988 Committee of the Security Council, which have enhanced confidence building, and will help expedite our reconciliation efforts.
On a national level, outreach and reintegration efforts remain essential to bringing back members of the armed opposition to mainstream society. Nearly 3,500 anti-government elements are enrolled in the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), and in the coming months, we expect to see many more, joining the program and returning to normal life.
At the same time, we will continue to work with all relevant regional and international partners to move the peace process forward, including the UN, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. We are pleased that the peace process has garnered the support it needs from all countries in the region. Our desire for multi-faceted cooperation is embodied through the Istanbul Process that began in November 2011. It is a visionary step forward to achieving a benevolent regional order, characterized by cooperation, collaboration and shared goals. We look forward to furthering our progress at the follow-up to the Istanbul Process this June in Kabul.
For the success of transition we must redouble our efforts toward a more effective, accountable, transparent Government that is ready to deliver services and safeguard national interests as set out in the Kabul Process. Afghanistan continues its fight to strengthen good governance, end corruption, promote human rights including gender equality, combat illegal narcotics and foster greater economic opportunities.
For Afghans, Mr. President, a successful transition is the key for peace and stability. We are well aware of the challenges, but the bitter memories of war and conflict only further our determination to work together to secure a peaceful future. However, our confidence needs to be deepened by real cooperation, trust, and mutual respect between Afghanistan and the international community. The recent incidents such as the brutal killing of 16 innocent civilians, mostly children and women, in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, the burning of the Holy Quran north of Kabul, and similar atrocities could undermine our trust and cooperation, by inciting deep sorrow, anger and frustration among Afghan people. It is imperative that these incidents are ended immediately and the perpetrators be held accountable.
The UN over the last ten years has been in the forefront of helping the Afghan people. The UN has supported the efforts of the Afghan Government for building a more peaceful future for the country. While Afghanistan continues transition, it will still largely benefit from the support of the UN. We are thankful to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive review of UNAMA’s mandated activities and the UN’s support in Afghanistan and for the work of the review team. The Afghan Government fully agrees with the report of the Secretary-General’s findings that UNAMA should use its good offices to continue to support Afghan-led political processes and capacity building for Afghan institutions. We appreciate the report’s emphasis on the UN’s work for human rights of all Afghans; and we share the report’s assertion that aid coherence in support of Afghanistan’s development agenda is crucial.
We are satisfied with the work of the comprehensive review. And, of course, plenty of work for us all lies on the road ahead. The size and configuration of UN presence is to be considered in the coming months as well as the application of a One-UN approach for streamlining UN activities, based on the evolving realities on the ground and needs of transition. The Government of Afghanistan is looking forward to close cooperation in this regard.
A long-term, strategic view into the renewed posture of the UN in Afghanistan will be needed to answer some of the bigger questions about the organization’s political role, the necessary steps towards reinforcing integration and delivery as one, and questions about bringing more transparency and accountability in managing resources and coordination of aid during the transition and transformation decade. I am confident that with our strong, ongoing partnership, Afghanistan and the UN are well-equipped to address all future challenges.
In the last ten years, Afghanistan and the international community were together in fighting terrorism and working to bring stability and peace to the country. This fight is not yet finished. We still have a long way to go, and we continue to struggle to normalize the situation in the country. This is the aim of transition. But the transition we agreed upon must be a responsible, unhurried, and coordinated process. Afghanistan and its people count on both the conscience and commitment of the international community to remain steadfast to the countless and long reiterated assurances for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.