Let me first express our firm support for Special Representative de Mistura and commend him for his dedicated leadership in a time of transition to greater Afghan ownership.
Norway has a stake in the future of Afghanistan. We contribute significantly with troops and we provide annually USD 150 million in development assistance. Our engagement is based on the principles of Afghan ownership and responsibility as expressed in the joint Kabul declaration last year. In this respect Norway supports a transition of security responsibilities to Afghan lead beginning this spring, provided that certain fundamental conditions are met.
Yet, only a political transition can bring long-term stability to Afghanistan. This in turn requires improved governance and substantial reforms in many areas. To implement a viable political reform agenda, the Afghan Government must continue to work closely with UNAMA and the international community.
Future success is to a large extent dependent on developments at the provincial and district level, pending the implementation of the Afghan Sub-national Governance Policy. The continued presence of UNAMA offices is therefore a precondition for a successful and gradual political transition. Afghanistan needs a strong, well-functioning UNAMA just as much as UNAMA needs a reliable and responsible partner in the Afghan Government.
We strongly support SRSG de Mistura’s call for a “surge for protection of civilians”, particularly as 2010 was the deadliest year for civilians since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. We expect all parties to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
Although the parliamentary election process was far from perfect, it is now important that the Parliament assumes its functions and pursues the best interests of the Afghan people. The political crisis caused by the parliamentary elections once again showed the urgent need for electoral reform in Afghanistan. Norway will continue to support an Afghan-led electoral reform process that is sustainable and based on the joint commitment made at the Kabul Conference.
A structured political dialogue is vital in order to meet the challenges facing Afghanistan today. Norway supports an Afghan-led peace process as part of a broader, viable and sustainable Afghan political settlement. A peaceful and durable solution requires broad participation of religious, ethnic and civil society groups from all over the country. The substantial participation of women is key to any durable peace process.
We note with concern the continued assaults on freedom of speech and the media and we commend the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for its resolute efforts to monitor, protect and promote respect for human rights in Afghanistan. Norway is pleased to note that human rights units have been established in the Afghan Ministry of Justice. This is an example of the Afghan Government’s commitment to mainstreaming human rights in all national legislation.
Violence against women remains a major problem. Much has been achieved in terms of a strengthened legal framework for women’s rights. However, there are still many obstacles to its implementation. A joint effort between government authorities and civil society is likely to give the best and most sustainable results in terms of achieving long-term gender equality in Afghanistan.
UNAMAs mandate has to reflect today’s political realities including principles for a gradual and condition-based transition. UNAMA must continue to assist the Afghan Government and the Afghan people in their continuous efforts to build a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. This requires a viable and credible Afghan leadership.
Thank you, Mr President.