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
I thank Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his leadership of UNAMA and all UN personnel in Afghanistan for their dedication. I also thank Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Zahir Tanin for his pursuasive engagement in New York.
International and Afghan forces have made significant progress in improving security throughout Afghanistan over the past decade. We have reduced Al Qaida’s capacity to prepare and launch terrorist attacks. And we have reduced the Taliban’s control of territory which provided sanctuary to Al Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups.
Progress on the security front has created conditions in which basic services such as health and education are being delivered, and for sustainable economic and social development over the longer term.
This was the first fighting season with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the lead for security across the country. The ANSF now conducts 95 per cent of conventional operations and 100 per cent of the planning.
In Uruzgan, where Australia’s military and reconstruction efforts have been focused, the ANSF has now assumed responsibility for security, but Australia will continue to support ISAF in 2014 through the provision of trainers and advisers in Kabul and Kandahar, and embeds to ISAF Headquarters.
Post-2014, Australia remains committed to the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission. But a key consideration for Australia will be legal arrangements. An agreed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the US is a precondition for an Australian commitment post-2014. We welcome the Loya Jirga’s endorsement of the BSA and urge a prompt signing of this agreement.
The international community will of course view credible, inclusive and transparent elections in 2014 as a decisive milestone. It is a core commitment under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF).
We acknowledge the important support role the UN is playing in preparing for elections and encouraging an electoral process that includes all sectors of the population and maximises participation, especially by women. Australia itself is helping to build more effective electoral institutions and increased voter participation through civic awareness.
Further progress by the Afghan Government against the reform priorities jointly identified and agreed at the Tokyo Conference is vital to Afghanistan’s goal of self-reliance, as well as to the international community’s ability to sustain unprecedented levels of support. The UN itself has played a critical role in supporting Afghanistan’s development, and will continue to do so following security transition.
On human rights, Afghanistan must not lose the gains of the last 12 years. In particular, the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law must be implemented fully, and we encourage Afghanistan to finalise and implement a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
We also urge continued protection of all persons including children, media workers and detainees. And we condemn attacks against humanitarian and development workers, which have become more frequent.
Australia of course supports an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. We welcome the commitment of Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together on the peace process. As Chair of the Security Council’s 1988 Sanctions Committee, we are promoting the role of the Taliban sanctions regime in facilitating that process.
I should note, as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Afghanistan Opium Survey 2013 highlights, Afghanistan’s narcotics industry is a major threat to stability, helps fund the insurgency and undermines governance. As we know, there is no quick fix solution. It requires a comprehensive approach that includes effective security measures, law enforcement, and the creation of viable alternative livelihoods. It needs to be Afghan led and fully supported by local authorities and communities.
The Security Council’s continued support for Afghanistan is essential. And as Security Council coordinator on Afghanistan, Australia is focused now on securing a strong mandate for UNAMA in March next year.
We note the Secretary-General’s recommendations on UNAMA’s future role. We will work with partners to ensure a renewed mandate has the backing of the Afghan Government, and is appropriately resourced to ensure UNAMA is able to fulfil its role.
As the Secretary-General notes, Afghanistan is entering its final year of political and security transition in an environment of uncertainty. But the international community is, importantly, committed to assisting the Afghan Government to ensure the hard won gains of the past decade for the women, men and children of Afghanistan are not reversed.
Afghanistan must seize the opportunity before it, and I expect it will, to consolidate the foundations for a stable, secure and prosperous nation.