Let me at the outset express my condolences to the people and Governments of Afghanistan and India for their tragic loss resulting from the heinous terrorist attack at the Indian Embassy in Kabul last Monday. The attack is a reminder that – even though formidable efforts have been made to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan – more remains be done.
Norway welcomes the Secretary General’s report on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the outcome of the Paris-Conference on 12 June and the way forward. We also welcome the statements just made by Special Representative Kai Eide and Under-Secretary-General John Holmes. We recognize the achievements to date. But we also recognize that there are still many challenges ahead in ensuring stability and sustainable development in Afghanistan.
The Paris Conference demonstrated that the international community is united in its long-term commitment to the Afghan people. The Paris Conference also made it clear that more needs to be done to ensure that the benefits of development reach all Afghans, in all areas of Afghanistan. We – the Government of Afghanistan and the international community – need to increase our joint efforts. We need to base our efforts on the priorities of the Government of Afghanistan and in close coordination with UNAMA under the strengthened leadership of SRSG Kai Eide. Let me assure you that Norway is committed to doing its part.
The recent meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in Kabul on 6 July outlined the priority areas in the years to come based on the Afghan National Development Strategy. Norway fully supports these priorities in supporting the upcoming elections, good governance and rule of law, increased aid effectiveness, institution building and strengthening the humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
In particular I would like to underscore that the Government of Afghanistan, international donors and the UN should increase their efforts to meet urgent humanitarian needs, caused by the combined forces of conflict, drought and soaring food and energy prices.
The Paris Conference also served to reaffirm our support for the strengthened role of UNAMA in leading and coordinating the international civilian effort. Our expressions of support should be accompanied by concrete action in these three areas:
Firstly, we must commit ourselves to working in a more coordinated way and to using our resources in a more effective manner, guided by UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
Secondly, we must ensure better coordination of the different parts of the UN system and strengthen its operative programmes in Afghanistan.
And thirdly; we must ensure that UNAMA is provided with the necessary resources in terms of personnel and security to fulfil its responsibilities with regards to its mandate. We endorse the recommendation of the Secretary-General to expand UNAMA’s presence in the field and support the call for increased resources towards this end.
The Paris Declaration is an expression of the partnership between the international community and the Government of Afghanistan. The Declaration emphasises the importance holding fair, free and secure elections in 2009 and 10. The upcoming elections are critical in stabilizing the fragile Afghan democracy. Norway is determined to support all aspects of the electoral process: politically, practically and financially. Ensuring the participation women in the elections is of particular importance. I am pleased to announce that Norway has pledged to support the voter registration process with a total of USD 3 million for 2008.
Norway remains committed to the development of Afghanistan. Concentration and prioritising of development assistance will guide our efforts. As international financial assistance continues to increase, the Government of Afghanistan needs to demonstrate good governance and adequate service delivery to its people. We expect the Government of Afghanistan to dismantle the system of corruption. In this regard we welcome the anti-corruption law recently passed by the Afghan parliament and look forward to it being implemented swiftly and effectively. We also expect the Government of Afghanistan to commit itself fully to the protection and promotion of human rights. By doing this, we are building a true and lasting partnership.
Thank you Mr President.