Statement to the UN Security Council regarding the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
- Central Asia
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Statement by Mr. Damian White, Acting Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
I thank you for the opportunity to address the Council today and also thank Special Representative Kubis and Ambassador Tanin for their remarks earlier. Australia welcome the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to international efforts in Afghanistan. Australia strongly supports a renewal of UNAMA's mandate for another year.
The foundations of the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan – which must extend well past 2014 – will need to be further consolidated this year through strong and clearly defined outcomes on security transition at the forthcoming NATO Summit in Chicago as well as on support for Afghanistan's sustainable development at the Tokyo conference later in the year.
When we last gathered to discuss the UNAMA mandate (March 2011), the international community was looking forward to President Karzai's announcement on the first tranche of provinces to begin transition to full Afghan security leadership. Now, one year later, more than fifty per cent of the Afghan population lives in a province or district which is undergoing the transition to full Afghan security leadership.
Australia commends the efforts of President Karzai, the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as they work toward the goal of full Afghan leadership of the security sector, as well as the vital pillars of governance and development. Australia joins the international community in fully supporting the goal of Afghan leadership – and we encourage the Council to ensure this message is given prominence in the revised UNAMA mandate.
Australia welcomes the continued presence of UNAMA and other UN agencies in Afghanistan's provinces – and underlines the importance of UN agencies working in close coordination with the Afghan Government. The UN's physical presence is an appropriate reflection of the UN's leadership of the civilian effort on the ground in Afghanistan and the UN Security Council mandate which underpins the international presence.
Australia supports a continuing role for UNAMA in supporting electoral capacity-building in Afghanistan. The ongoing development of democratic institutions based on the rule of law and the separation of powers is crucial to a stable Afghanistan. Democratic, transparent and credible elections will be crucial to shoring up sustainable transition in Afghanistan.
Now is the time for the international community to support Afghanistan as it prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015. Australia has provided extensive assistance in the past to support Afghan electoral institutions, civic education and election monitoring – and we will continue to do so.
Without the strong and constructive support of its neighbours and regional partners, Afghanistan's prospects for a secure and stable future are much diminished.
Australia commends the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General to promote regional engagement in accordance with UNAMA's mandate.
Australia particularly welcomes the Istanbul 'Heart of Asia' process as an important step toward building stronger regional engagement, including improved economic ties across the Central Asian region. We look forward to concrete progress, including on Confidence Building Measures, at the Ministerial meeting in Kabul in June.
In terms of Australia's own engagement in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Gillard announced in November 2011 that Australia would conclude a long-term bilateral partnership with Afghanistan. This will underpin our long-term relationship – extending well beyond 2014 – and cover a broad range of bilateral activities, including development assistance.
I am pleased to say that we anticipate that this agreement will be concluded shortly.
Australia's substantial and growing aid program will be an important part of our long-term commitment to Afghanistan. Australia will deliver $165 million in development assistance to Afghanistan in 2011-12.
The main goal of Australian aid is to build the Afghan Government's capacity to deliver services and economic opportunities for its people.
To conclude, over the past decade we have seen remarkable progress in Afghanistan – including strong gains in vital sectors such as health and education. This progress has been achieved with the strong support of the international community, including UNAMA. Our continuing priority must be to maintain and build on these achievements and to continue to support Afghanistan's trajectory from transition to transformation.