United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
19 September 2013
I thank Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his briefing and leadership of UNAMA and all UN personnel in Afghanistan for their dedication and efforts. I also thank Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Zahir Tanin for his update on progress with Afghanistan’s transition and for his important engagement in New York.
Three months after the Milestone 2013 announcement, significant progress has been made on security transition. The Afghan National Security Forces are now in national security lead and have demonstrated their increasing capacity to deliver security and stability for the Afghan people as Afghanistan progresses through transition.
But, although the insurgency is diminished, it is persistent. Threats to law and order endure. The continued commitment of the international community therefore to support the Afghan armed forces and police will be essential for Afghanistan’s long-term security.
Equally, progress in accordance with commitments made in Tokyo is vital if the legitimate expectations of the Afghan people are to be met and the unprecedented level of resources pledged by the international community sustained. While there has been some progress on the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), more is needed.
In particular, credible, inclusive and transparent elections will be vital for political and economic transition. The passage of the Electoral Law and Independent Election Commission (IEC) Structure Law provides a robust legislative framework, but strong implementation will be critical. We encourage work to fully implement these laws.
Strong and inclusive voter participation is important to the credibility and acceptability of election results. We applaud public outreach efforts being undertaken as fundamental to election preparations. The UN, supported by countries such as Australia, is providing vital technical support.
We must build on the improvements in respect for human rights in Afghanistan over the last decade, including the rights of women and girls. Constitutional and legislative commitments to gender equality must be upheld.
The Afghan Government must maintain momentum in preventing and addressing violence against women. While gains have been made, gaps exist in the systematic implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
Afghanistan’s successful transition will increasingly depend on generating broad-based economic growth that creates jobs and helps underpin fiscal sustainability. This requires the Afghan Government to prioritise its development agenda to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. Tackling corruption is an important commitment under the Tokyo Framework.
As the Secretary-General noted in his report, Afghanistan continues to face significant humanitarian challenges, including a worrying trend of growing internal displacement.
An increase in civilian casualties, primarily caused by anti-government elements, is of grave concern. We must condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent increase in attacks that have targeted civilians, including senior female officials, female police, female members of parliament, and election officials.
Military action alone will not end the conflict in Afghanistan. A negotiated political solution is needed to ensure lasting security and lock in the gains of the last decade. The process will be long, complex and inevitably subject to setbacks, but efforts at peace and reconciliation must continue.
The Council’s Taliban sanctions regime was established in response to the Taliban’s human rights violations and use of Afghan territory for terrorist activities. The sanctions regime will continue to be an important tool, which can operate flexibly in support for the peace and reconciliation process.
The Security Council’s support for Afghanistan’s transition reflects broader international community commitment to Afghanistan’s future. Australia looks forward to working with Council members in chairing the negotiation of the ISAF resolution, which is due for adoption by the Council in the second week of October.
UNAMA will continue to play a vital role in the active promotion and advocacy of human rights including, rightly, women and girls; and in coordinating the efforts of UN agencies and the international community in line with the priorities of the Afghan Government. We look forward to shepherding the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate in March 2014, including discussions on the need for adequate funding.
To conclude: as the Secretary-General notes in his report, we now need to protect the gains of the past decade. As transition moves forward the role of the UN and UN affiliated agencies remains important.
However, whilst the international community remains committed to assisting Afghanistan to ensure these gains are sustainable, it is the Afghan Government itself that has ultimate responsibility for seizing the opportunity before it to create a secure and prosperous future.
We are confident they will do so.
19 September 2013