Let me first thank Special Representative Kubis for his briefing today and express our firm support to him and his dedicated staff of UNAMA.
We welcome the renewal of UNAMAs mandate which will be adopted this week. The essence of this mandate is political, not technical. As we gradually transfer power from international to Afghan ownership, UNAMAs role as the guarantor for the integrity of the transition process becomes indispensible. UNAMA serves the purpose of both supporting the Afghan Government and to empower the Afghan people in their tireless efforts to build a peaceful and democratic future.
Good offices and political outreach in supporting an inclusive Afghan-led process for a political settlement and monitoring human rights remain essential to UNAMAs mandate. It is also vital that the UN continues to promote the capacity of Afghan electoral institutions and the integrity of future electoral processes as key to empower democratic institutions. Building robust electoral institutions that can hold elections that meet international standards remains a key area of reform. In parallel to assisting with capacity-building and promoting increased aid coherence of international assistance, UNAMA should focus on supporting the Afghan Government in becoming more accountable, transparent and inclusive.
Today’s debate takes place during an important transition period for Afghanistan. The security transition is progressing and will be reviewed at the upcoming NATO Chicago Summit on Afghanistan in May. Well performing Afghan security forces is a key to stability and peace. Another, and equally important factor, is the ability of the Afghan Government to properly perform its functions. Progress on good governance, rule of law and protection of human rights of all Afghans are vital to a sustainable security transition and a durable peace. Promoting accountability of government institutions including separation of powers would be necessary to build a viable Afghan state.
Moving towards transition, it is equally important that the efforts to promote human rights also strengthen the Afghan state’s ability to fight impunity and protect the rights of its citizens. It is also vital that the necessary monitoring and watchdog functions of the Afghan Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), civil society groups and free media are not undermined. In this regard we expect that the appointment process of the new commissioners to the AIHRC will be finalised shortly in a transparent and inclusive manner. The Afghan civil society has a crucial role to play but should improve its own institution-building and internal coordination, supported by the international community.
Afghanistan needs a political settlement that brings the insurgents and key political and social groups, including civil society, on board to address the root causes of the conflict. A political settlement will not be viable unless it is supported by a majority of Afghans across the political and social spectrum. In the long run the most sustainable basis for a peaceful future is formed by a broadening of the political space. The strengthening of political parties, civil society groups and free media will be crucial as will the establishment of the rule of law and the fulfilment of the demands by the Afghan people for justice.
Furthermore, all parties must respect achievements of the past decade, in particular Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations and core principles enshrined in the Afghan Constitution. Women’s rights and the empowerment of women should be a critical element of the peace process, and must remain on the top of our agenda. Violence against women remains a major challenge. The legal rights that Afghan women now enjoy need to be protected through the transition. In this regard we welcome the Afghan Government’s recent publication of its first CEDAW-report.
At the Tokyo conference in July we must bring forward the development cooperation with the Afghan Government by making tangible and sustainable commitments based on Afghanistan’s own National Priority Programmes. Norway’s development assistance to Afghanistan is long-term and based on mutual promises of governance reforms.
In conclusion, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is dependent upon good relations with its neighbours. Hence we fully support the follow-up to the Istanbul-process and the regional confidence-building measures that are being developed. Norway strongly encourages Afghanistan and its neighbours in developing and expanding political, security and economic relations.