United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
20 June 2013
Thank you, Mr President.
I thank Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his briefing and ongoing leadership of UNAMA and acknowledge the presence of Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Zahir Tanin and thank him for the very important role he plays in New York.
This is clearly a decisive time in Afghanistan’s transition. Significant progress has been made with security in the last few months. President Karzai’s announcement on 18 June on Milestone 2013 and the fifth and final tranche of transition will see the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) take the national lead for security across the country and marks a turning point in the modern history of Afghanistan.
The capability of the ANSF has improved significantly, as demonstrated by their swift response to recent attacks in Kabul. In Uruzgan province, where Australia has focused its efforts, the ANSF is already in the lead and will assume full responsibility for security by the end of this year.
The international community has signalled its strong commitment to the ANSF. This will be important for consolidating security gains. Finalising ANSF sustainment mechanisms will be essential.
Economic and political transition will also be critical. International support will help reinforce Afghan sovereignty.
A credible presidential election in 2014 will be indispensable to political transition. Afghanistan must take steps to intensify its preparations.
In particular, passage of an improved Electoral Law through the Upper House and resolving the impasse over the Independent Election Commission Structure Law so that a new IEC Chairperson can be appointed is vital.
It is axiomatic that the Presidential elections are Afghan-led and run. But we also urge the Afghan Government to utilise international, including UN, support.
UNDP’s ELECT II project provides valuable technical support, important for maximising voter participation and strengthening anti-fraud measures. UNAMA also has an important role to play in supporting Afghan institutions prepare for elections.
We urge full implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women law, a bellweather commitment under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. Advancing opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan is a must and will be a decisive measure of Afghanistan’s success.
The scale of international donor pledges at the 2012 Tokyo Conference expresses the international community’s commitment to helping Afghanistan achieve a secure, stable and prosperous future. But the international community’s ability to sustain support for Afghanistan depends upon the Afghan Government delivering on its commitments in the Tokyo Framework.
While the international community can help, only the Afghan Government can implement the reforms that will deliver good governance and ensure growth and stability.
Concrete progress with anti-corruption, human rights and economic reform is vital if the legitimate expectations of ordinary Afghans, and of the broader international community, are to be met. The forthcoming TMAF Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul is an important opportunity to review progress and address the shortfalls.
As the Secretary-General noted in his report, Afghanistan continues to face significant humanitarian challenges. The increase in civilian casualties, attributed to anti-government elements is obviously of grave concern. And we must all condemn in the strongest possible terms recent attacks that have targeted civilians, including humanitarian workers, the Afghan judiciary and the offices of the International Organisation for Migration. The situatuon of children is of great concern.
The indiscriminate use by insurgents of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices is deplorable. All parties must respect international humanitarian law and the Taliban must do so.
Counter-narcotics is a critical challenge. And it is of concern that the Secretary-General reports a probable increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for a third consecutive year.
Australia has been a long-time supporter of an Afghan-led process of reconciliation and encourages the commencement of such a dialogue.
We recognise this will not be an easy or straightforward process, and there is no guarantee of success, but work towards peace and reconciliation must continue.
We support efforts to build the conditions for reconciliation – and will, as Chair of the Council’s 1988 Committee, work to ensure the Taliban sanctions regime supports an Afghan-led process.
It is essential that momentum is sustained to build the foundations for an Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, leading to a durable political settlement.
It is also important that we provide effective support for the role of the UN and UN affiliated agencies in Afghanistan as transition moves forward, and beyond 2014. We must get UNAMA’s future mandate right. This will require ongoing, adequate, funding.
To conclude Mr President
As Ambassador Tanin said this morning, Afghanistan’s mission is unfinished but is well on its way. The UN and the international community remain committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability well beyond 2014.
Afghanistan continues to be a key priority for Australia’s term on the Council and we look forward to continuing to work with the Afghan Government and international community as Afghanistan consolidates its security, political and economic transition.