I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries. We fully support the statement by the European Union and would like to add a few remarks.
The upcoming elections will, if successful, be the first democratic and peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history. Their importance for the consolidation of Afghanistan’s democracy cannot be overstated. We commend the Government for the progress made in preparing for the elections and for creating the space for a lively and meaningful debate about Afghanistan’s future. The task now is to ensure that the elections are credible, inclusive and transparent. UNAMA has an important support function, also for the 2015 parliamentary elections.
Afghanistan has made real progress over the past decade, in areas such as education, health and infrastructure. It is imperative that the momentum of progress be sustained in order for Afghanistan to emerge stronger and more self-reliant. The achievements made so far need to be safeguarded. UNAMA has a vital role to play in ensuring that the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework is realized to its full extent.
Only an inclusive political solution can secure stability in the country. In this regard, we regret the minimal progress to put in place a proper peace process to end the conflict. For this reason we support the continuation of UNAMA’s good offices to support an Afghan-led and owned peace and reconciliation process. A continued political role of the UN in Afghanistan, coupling political engagement and effective donor coordination, will be important also after 2014 – not least for the development efforts which remain ahead. We underline the importance of continued local and regional field presence and adequate financing of the mission.
UNAMA has an important role in promoting government engagement and donor coordination. There is also a need for strengthened coordination across UN agencies present in Afghanistan, thereby promoting ‘UN as one’. As more donors will channel their funding through UN financing mechanisms this role becomes increasingly important. For several of the Nordic countries, Afghanistan is already the largest bilateral development cooperation partner. The foundation for this is strong domestic political and popular support.
Our governments and national parliaments consider human rights, in particular women’s rights, a core issue when deciding on future financial and political support to Afghanistan. It is important that the Afghan political leadership show firm commitment in promoting women’s rights, tackling corruption and in the well-being of its people. We will expect the same from the incoming government. Issues such as the full implementation of the “Elimination of violence against women law”, continued efforts to increase safe and secure access to quality education for women and girls, as well as guarantees for their equal political participation in decision-making will remain crucial. Freedom of the media is particularly important in the context of both the upcoming elections and of building a free, open and transparent society. Progress has been achieved, but threats remain towards the media. This has recently been highlighted by the horrible assassination the Swedish journalist Nils Horner in Kabul as well as recent cases of violence against reporters in Mazar-e-Sharif.
The humanitarian situation remains a cause for concern, not least with regard to health and the increasing numbers of displaced persons. All efforts must be made to ensure humanitarian access. Further attacks against humanitarian personnel are unacceptable. We welcome efforts to improve humanitarian coordination and welcome the establishment of a common humanitarian fund. We would like to encourage more donors to channel funding through the UN pooled funds.
The Nordic countries acknowledge the efforts of the Afghan government in taking their commitments forward. We encourage the Government to continue its demanding work, and to push forward during the upcoming elections. Benchmarks are not only factors in building the confidence of the international community; they are vital above all in building a more democratic, prosperous and stable Afghanistan for all its citizens.