Statement to the UN General Assembly regarding the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN
Statement by H.E. Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Mr President.
I want to thank Under Secretary-General Ladsous and Deputy Foreign Minister Ludin for their statements.
I would also like to convey the genuine gratitude of my government for the dedication and leadership which the outgoing Special Representative Staffan de Mistura has given to UNAMA over the past two years.
And I would like to welcome the incoming Special Representative, Mr Jan Kubis.
2011 has been a difficult year for Afghanistan. The deliberate insurgent strategy of targeted – and high profile – attacks, concerns about Afghanistan's financial and economic capacities, and doubts in the minds of some Afghans about the international community's continued presence have all inevitably damaged public confidence among the Afghan people. It is therefore important that the year is ending with a number of more positive indicators of progress – in particular, the renewed activity by the National Assembly, the agreement on the IMF program for Afghanistan, and both the Loya Jirga in November and the Bonn conference on 5 December.
Bonn has further consolidated the foundation for the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan – commitment which must extend well beyond 2014.
It has successfully laid the groundwork for the concrete discussion of two key issues in coming months – the sustainment of Afghan National Security Forces and coordinated development assistance – particularly at the Tokyo conference in July 2012. It is only concrete discussion, not just discussion, which can be decisive.
We were pleased that Bonn explicitly acknowledged the crucial and increase role to be played played by the UN in Afghanistan.
We welcome the Secretary-General's most recent report on UNAMA and agree with its key findings.
We support the establishment of a broad-based peace dialogue and endorse the Secretary-General's call for concerted efforts to forge a national consensus, including with civil society, to achieve this. The renewed focus on engagement at the provincial and district level which has emerged following the Loya Jirga is welcome. Renewed efforts at reintegration of insurgents prepared to lay down their weapons remain especially urgent.
It will also be important to sustain the momentum of the regional process agreed in Istanbul in November, including through confidence-building measures. We applaud Turkey's determination to help. Effective cooperation among Afghanistan's neighbours will be an indispensable part of the international community's efforts to strengthen Afghan institutions and promote regional stability.
It will also be essential to ensure a transparent and suitably prioritised economic and development agenda. And – most critically – for the international community to develop long-term (i.e. post-2014) partnerships with Afghanistan which underwrite this.
UNAMA's efforts will be vital, including through its 'honest broker' political role between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community and its support for the strengthening of electoral processes and the rule of law in Afghanistan. Ensuring the success of the 2014 presidential and 2015 parliamentary elections will be vital to solidifying democracy in Afghanistan.
Cooperative action will be essential to meet Afghanistan's economic challenges, particularly through prioritisation and reform by the Afghan Government and by the international community delivering its commitments on-budget as part of the Kabul process.
Australia itself is in the top ten of Afghanistan's development partners and will remain so. Afghanistan is the fourth largest recipient of Australian aid. And we plan to increase our assistance over coming years. We are on-track to meet our Kabul Conference commitment to deliver 50 per cent of development assistance funding via Afghan systems.
As the 9th largest troop contributor, Australia's commitment remains serious. We will see through our primary mission of training the Afghan National Army 4th brigade in Uruzgan province consistent with the security transition to Afghan control. We will keep under consideration a continued Australian Special Forces presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 if that is the wish of the Afghan government.
We announced in November that we will begin negotiations on a long-term framework agreement with Afghanistan for cooperation well beyond 2014 on development assistance as well as security, political, economic and cultural cooperation.
In concluding, Mr President
Following the Bonn and Istanbul conferences, the message of the international community – including Australia – to the Government and people of Afghanistan is clear: we are not only with you as the transition process unfolds, but will also be with you long after 2014 as you put Afghanistan on the path from transition to transformation.