United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
- Human Rights
- Peace and Security
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Madam President, and thank you to Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his briefing today, and for his leadership of UNAMA. And to Ambassador Tanin for his statement and his close engagement in the Council's work on Afghanistan.
I also want to recognise the dedication and efforts of all UN personnel in Afghanistan. The death of four UN staff, as well as Afghan and international civilians, in the 17 January attack on the Taverna restaurant in Kabul was a reminder of the risks faced by civilians in Afghanistan, including UN and other international staff. The Council condemned that attack in the strongest terms, and I reiterate our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those involved.
Resolution 2145 we have just adopted is a firm statement of the international community's continuing commitment to Afghanistan and its people. The resolution provides the right mandate to ensure the UN can continue to support Afghanistan through the completion of security transition.
This twelve month renewal preserves UNAMA's core mandate, ensuring continuity in UNAMA's support for Afghan-led efforts to strengthen governance and build capacity.
As you know, 2014 is a pivotal year for Afghanistan, with the Government assuming full responsibility for security, as well as the management of political transition – which is as critical to Afghanistan's transformation as continuing security, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts.
The international community will be closely watching the presidential and provincial council elections early next month. An historic moment for Afghanistan's democratic transition. An inclusive, transparent and credible presidential election process is necessary.
Australia welcomes the UN's role in supporting the elections, and encourages the Afghan Government to work with the UN to strengthen the sustainability, integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral process. We encourage continued efforts to ensure women are able to safely exercise their rights to vote and participate in the process. Their participation will be a decisive measure of the elections' representativeness and its success. It is also essential the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission are enabled to fulfil their critical roles.
Beyond the elections, we look to a new Afghan Government to address key political, governance and security challenges, with the support of the UN. Leadership and considered decisions by a new government will be the key determinant for the international community's support for Afghanistan post-2014.
The 2012 Tokyo Conference saw an unprecedented level of resources pledged to Afghanistan. Progress against Afghanistan's commitments by a new Afghan Government, as well as by the international community, is necessary to support sustainable economic and social development. Of particular importance will be progress by the Afghan Government to improve governance and rule of law, including transitional justice, budget execution, combating corruption and improving accountability.
On human rights, Afghanistan needs to be vigilant in building on the gains of the last decade, particularly in relation to the rights of women and girls. Today's resolution reaffirms that message. We continue to urge full implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law and encourage the Afghan government to finalise and implement a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security to support the active participation of women in the peace and reconciliation process.
We remain concerned with the increasing number of civilians killed and wounded in conflict, as outlined in the Secretary-General's report. This includes development and humanitarian workers. And we support further sustained efforts by Afghanistan to track civilian casualties.
We also encourage Afghan authorities to provide full support to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission so that it can fulfil its necessary role as an effective and independent institution.
The Afghan Government must send a strong message to the international community on its commitment to security over the long-term. Security challenges limit the international community's ability to provide effective support. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) has demonstrated its capability in fighting the insurgency and providing security for the Afghan people, but it must continue to expand security across Afghanistan.
Australia will continue to support the ANSF, through our sustainment commitment, agreed in Chicago in 2012, and through continued presence of Australian military personnel in training and advisory roles.
We continue to encourage Afghanistan to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States and conclude NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiations as soon as possible in order to provide the legal basis for the post-2014 mission and to enable planning for a post-2014 military presence to proceed.
To conclude, Madam President,
Australia, along with the UN and international community will continue to support Afghanistan at the national level, but reform and progress are of course the responsibility of the Afghan Government and people. Leadership by the Afghan Government itself will be critical in meeting the security, political and economic challenges in 2014 and beyond transition.
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