United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
- Human Rights
- Peace and Security
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
I thank Nicholas Haysom for his first briefing to the Council as Special Representative, and welcome him to the role. I also thank Mr (Yuri) Fedotov for his briefing, and acknowledge Afghanistan's Permanent Representative Zahir Tanin for his central – and very persuasive – role in Afghanistan's engagement with the international community.
2014 – Afghanistan's year of transition – is drawing to a close. Despite the many challenges facing Afghanistan, it has been a successful year.
Afghanistan has taken the lead for security across the country, historic presidential elections were held, and important economic reforms are underway.
The millions of Afghans who participated in elections this year – under the threat of violence – cast an unambiguous vote in favour of democracy.
The formation of President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah's National Unity Government is an historic achievement, marking the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan.
Appointing an inclusive Cabinet will be an important first step, and we look to President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah to do this without delay.
Drawing on the lessons of the Presidential elections, and as set out in the National Unity Government agreement, we look to the government to implement important electoral reform ahead of Parliamentary and district council elections.
President Ghani has demonstrated his government's commitment to stronger regional relationships. The region needs much closer – and serious – cooperation on security, including the fight against terrorism and to counter narcotics.
Afghanistan's security transition will be complete at the end of 2014, when the ISAF mission concludes.
Over the last 13 years, ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces have substantially reduced the threat posed by Al-Qaida and its affiliates. We all pay tribute to the many men and women, military and civilians, who have given their lives in pursuit of this mission.
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are now assuming full responsibility for securing the country.
The ANSF has grown from scratch in 2001 to a professional force capable of providing security across Afghanistan. Its performance of the ANSF in securing two rounds of Presidential elections is testament to this. But, of course, the ANSF faces challenges from increasingly violent anti-government forces – forces responsible for most of the very worrying increase in civilian casualties.
As Afghanistan assumes security responsibility, the international community remains committed. The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission will continue to train, advise and assist the ANSF. My own country, Australia, will contribute personnel to Resolute Support, and will provide US$100 million per year from 2015 to 2017 to sustain the ANSF. Resolution 2189, adopted unanimously by the Council last Friday, was a reaffirmation of international community support for Afghanistan's transition, and for Resolute Support Mission.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan has made impressive progress on development. Eight million children are now in school, including three million girls. Forty women sit in the Afghan parliament. Life expectancy is up and infant mortality is down. 15 million Afghans now own a mobile phone.
It is clear that Afghanistan's new government is determined to achieve self-reliance. Key to self-reliance will be economic growth, which will ensure strong government revenues.
At the London Conference on Afghanistan earlier this month, donors and the new Afghan government focused on development priorities and mutual accountability. We are reassured by the government's commitment to deliver on its ambitious reform program. Australia will support this and continue to provide development assistance in support of economic growth, empowering women and girls, and humanitarian assistance.
Much progress has also been made on human rights. The new government has demonstrated it is committed to advancing the position of women and girls in Afghan society. Full implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law and finalisation and implementation of a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security must be priorities. An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which recognises the role of women, will have a much greater chance of success. As I have said consistently, progress on women and girls will be – must be – a decisive indicator by which Afghanistan's progress will be measured by all of us who want to support Afghanistan's successful transition to the future.
The UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) has been a serious partner in Afghanistan. This was made clear with its central role facilitating the resolution of the protracted election process this year.
Australia looks forward to UNAMA, with adequate resources, continuing its focus on good offices, human rights, donor coordination and humanitarian assistance. A strong UNAMA with a strong partnership with the new Afghan government will be vital, as will a continued UNAMA role across the country and in the provinces.
To conclude –
2015 will mark a new chapter in Afghanistan's history. Afghanistan's 'transformation decade' will be period of great opportunity, but – axiomatically – also one of great challenge. Afghanistan has made extraordinary progress following the collapse of the Taliban. It has established a democratic government, created functioning state institutions, built an effective security force, and achieved remarkable – but not complete – gains on human rights.
Australia, like the rest of the international community, is committed to supporting Afghanistan - an Afghanistan now ultimately in the hands of the Afghan people and their government.
Mr President, it has been an honour to serve as coordinator on Afghanistan in the Council. I appreciate the close cooperation of all Council members, UN Member States, and of course, Afghanistan itself. Thank you to Ambassador Tanin and his team for their strong leadership in so diligently working for the success of the new Afghanistan. The Council has been united in its strong support for Afghanistan – and this reflects the international community's resolute commitment to Afghanistan's future.