The international support to Afghanistan is taking its toll in many ways – a few days ago, Norway lost 4 soldiers in action and yesterday we were saddened to hear of the loss of one national UN staff. The ISAF losses for June this year totalled over one-hundred soldiers. It is more important than ever that we maintain our resolve to see our effort through. “Afghanisation” is not a euphemism for exit and doesn’t imply any quick solution but rather underlines the importance of an Afghan-driven process which is responsible, inclusive and truly national in its nature aiming towards a better future for the Afghan people. This resolve to help the Afghan people is mandated by the Security Council, and it is increasingly focusing on the Afghan lead and prospects for a political solution. Our international obligations are long-term but our commitments should be guided by both pragmatism and realism, thus avoiding unrealistic benchmarks and artificial deadlines.
We welcome the first briefing by SRSG de Mistura, and compliment the very professional and sound commitments he brings to the task. We also welcome his focus on the 3+1 priorities for UNAMA to implement its new mandate in a flexible and realistic way, and which also reflects current political realities. However, we would particularly emphasise the importance of continued UN support for advancing the human rights agenda, in close cooperation with Afghan authorities and the Afghan independent human rights commission (AIHRC) including the role of civil society in promoting fundamental rights and freedoms for all Afghans in tomorrow’s Afghanistan.
The need for international civilian support to the Afghan people is undiminished, as is the need for constructive partnership between Afghan authorities and the UN. It is important to protect what is UNAMA’s added value, in particular its international legitimacy, political outreach, field presence and as being the international guarantor for the integrity of the political process leading towards increased Afghan ownership. To this end, it is vital that the vacancy rate in UNAMA is further reduced and security for its staff properly ensured. A more flexible use of UNAMA’s critical staff is welcomed, but should never compromise the ability to implement the mission’s comprehensive mandate.
The Consultative Peace Jirga held in Kabul four weeks ago highlighted the need for reconciliation and sustainable peace. We note in particular the commitment to “demand a just peace which can guarantee the rights of its all citizens including women and children”. Many women in Afghanistan are concerned about their role and rights in terms of the outcome of reconciliation processes. Any Afghan reconciliation process must be Afghan-led, in conformity with its Constitution, but only a political process that can provide a political settlement with the armed opposition without alienating groups that are supporting the Afghan government will be sustainable. Addressing issues of transitional justice and human rights in a context of ongoing conflict is indeed challenging, but all Afghans need to be included in a meaningful way and have their rights protected in the context of a peace process. The Afghan people have a huge desire and need for justice and good governance, and if that is not met, it would be further exploited by the armed opposition. A just and durable solution in Afghanistan must be one which brings better prospects for all Afghan citizens.
One of the first public achievements of the new SRSG was to obtain the necessary guarantees for the upcoming parliamentary elections – particularly to secure the seats reserved for women and ensure international presence in the handling of complaints. We welcome the work by the IEC and ECC done so far to prepare for parliamentarian elections in September, including implementation of fraud mitigation measures. We also welcome the independent nature of the electoral institutions, and urge them to ensure transparency and avoid any political interference, but we note so far, shortcomings of a proper vetting process of the candidates. Adequate security for electoral staff and campaigners would be a crucial task as well as proper staffing to IEC and ECC at the provincial level, in particular female staff. Building on lessons learned from 2009 elections will also be crucial, and we urge the Afghan authorities to start planning a comprehensive long-term electoral reform. The parliamentarian elections will be an important test for the Afghan democracy and they will also be important for the political processes, which go together with Afghan ownership and reconciliation. Strengthening the legitimate democratic institutions will enable an intra-Afghan dialogue and also mitigate the risk of further political fragmentation.
The Kabul-conference in July will be the first of its kind to take place inside the country. It will focus on a renewed partnership between the Government and its own people. Rather than elevating high expectations for the event, we should focus on realistic achievements and the need to strengthen the implementation phase. The Kabul Conference is an important step in a longer process where Afghan authorities are determined to set their own priorities and implement tangible, national programmes supported by the international community under the leadership of the UN. Norway looks forward to contribute in this process as a reliable partner for a transition towards responsible Afghan ownership.
Thank you Mr. President