Since 1979 the General Assembly has repeatedly gathered to reiterate what is the key message of the resolution this Assembly will act on shortly: A manifestation of common responsibility and commitment to support the Afghan people in securing a brighter future. Norway is again pleased to co-sponsor this resolution which recognises the important progress Afghanistan has made to rebuild their country but acknowledges that more work has do be done. We commend in particular Germany for their able facilitation of this resolution.
Today’s resolution reflects the fact that Afghans must take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. A steady and responsible transition to Afghan leadership is a key to sustainability. It also reflects a new evolving partnership between Afghanistan and the international community based on trust and joint commitments. The resolution however reminds us that this transition would not be an easy but rather a complex task. Some may think that the transfer of increased authority to the Afghans is a euphemism for a quick solution or a premature exit. On the contrary, it requires a lot of hard work, political will and systematic efforts by all actors, but without a robust Afghan leadership we will not succeed.
In that regard the resolution fits well with the key-message from the Kabul Conference: A renewed partnership between Afghanistan and the international community reinforced by a deepening contract between the Afghan state and its citizens. From now the international community should respect Afghanistan’s own visions and priorities and also demonstrate greater unity of purpose and better coordination. More funds have to pass through Afghans budgets as far as the Government’s limited capacity to absorb the resources allows. This means shifting away from quick impacts projects, parallel organizations and multiple uncoordinated projects towards enabling Afghan institutions to design and implement tangible Afghan national programs. It is well documented that so-called quick impact projects carried out by military forces rarely bring about stability or achieve what they set out to. We will continue to stress the need for a clear division of roles between military and civilian efforts as the humanitarian space is shrinking.
In return the Afghan government has to bring about real change to the lives of the Afghan people by delivering justice, good governance, combating corruption and improving public services. This is however not only a desire by the international community but first and foremost a demand by the Afghan people. Afghan leadership, to be true, must enable political processes which are inclusive and truly national in their nature. A pluralistic society with enhanced participation is essential if durable peace, stability and development are to be achieved. Civil society institutions and their capacity to deliver services deserve greater attention as well as their ability to monitor human rights than has hitherto been the case, even as investments in rebuilding the state institutions continue. All these are ambitious goals but not unrealistic ones. We are therefore hopeful because the Kabul Conference showed that we have a shared vision on how to move forward.
A durable peace requires a political settlement. The Peace Jirga expressed a national consensus for peace and has framed the terms on how to reach out. Furthermore the Peace Jirga also identified poor governance and abuse of authority as one of the causes of instability. To sum up: Injustice, corruption and weak governance are all strategic concerns.
Norway strongly supports an Afghan led political process, including talks with the members of armed opposition who are willing to renounce violence and resume a civilian life, as part of a viable Afghan political settlement. Any political process should be based on the principle of inclusiveness and conducted in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights. Furthermore, a durable peace requires that talks move towards a structured political dialogue which is conducted in a way that allows for participation of civil society groups, including women. The participation of women is a key to any durable peace process as they constitute half of the population of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it is often the ordinary Afghan people who lose out in the ongoing struggle for power. We must strive to prevent this. The Afghan people need to be included in a meaningful way and have their rights protected if a durable peace process is to be achieved.
The parliamentary elections were held in September despite the grave security situation. It is too soon to pass final judgement, as the results will not be clear until the Afghan electoral institutions have finished counting the votes, verified the results and adjudicated complaints. However, in the time ahead, it will be important to meet the need for long-term electoral reform by increasing the capacity of the Afghan electoral institutions. Though it will be a long-term task to develop a political system that today’s divided population regards as legitimate. We encourage such an Afghan led reform-process in particular to emphasise civic education as well as efforts to strengthen the Parliament as an institution.
Let me emphasise that in a time of transition, the role of UNAMA is critically needed, in particular as being the international guarantor for the integrity of the transition to greater Afghan leadership. Norway condemns the terrorist attack on the UN facilities in Herat city 23 October. Sadly, the attack was another brutal reminder that security and stability in Afghanistan is still a long way off.
By concluding let me underscore that Norway will continue to work towards stability and a safe and secure environment for Afghanistan and its region, as it also affects our own security. We are committed for the long haul as transition does not mean exit. However, we are prepared for a changing environment. This demands certain flexibility and the ability to make adjustments in our civilian support when necessary. Together with international partners and in close cooperation with the Afghan Government and the Afghan civil society, Norway will continue its efforts to build sufficient Afghan cpacity so that Afghans can safely run their country.