United Nations Security Council regarding the situation in Afghanistan
- Human Rights
- Rule of Law
Statement by H.E. Mr Andrew Goledzinowski, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent
Representative of Australia to the United Nations Security Council regarding
the Situation in Afghanistan.
I thank you for the opportunity to address the Council today.
I wish to pass on Australia's condolences to the Government and people of Japan for the earthquake and tsunami which has hit that country. I am confident the Government and people of Japan will respond effectively to the challenges presented by this disaster.
I would like to thank Afghanistan's Ambassador Tanin for his presentation and commend the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Staffan di Mistura for the important work he is doing in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan.
Australia welcomes the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to international efforts in Afghanistan and supports the renewal UNAMA's mandate for another twelve months.
This discussion takes place at an important time for the partnership between the international community and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Next week, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is due to announce the first provinces to begin the transition of responsibility for security to Afghan leadership. This announcement will mark the beginning of a process to fulfil President Karzai's goal that Afghan National Security Forces take the lead in conducting security operations across Afghanistan by the end of 2014. This is a goal which the international community fully supports. And 2011 is the lynch-pin of that goal.
In the December debate on Afghanistan we welcomed the release of the final results of the Wolesi Jirga elections. The National Assembly performs a vital role within Afghanistan's system of governance.
Since that time, Australia has been pleased to see the election of a speaker to the Wolesi Jirga. We note that further investigations into the September 2010 parliamentary elections have been referred to a Special Tribunal. It is vital that any further investigations are pursued in full accordance with the Afghan Constitution and other relevant Afghan laws. The continued development of democratic institutions based on the rule of law and the separation of powers is crucial to a stable Afghanistan.
We encourage President Karzai and all who serve in the Afghanistan Government as they work to continue to rebuild their country, and to strengthen the foundations of sustainable peace and constitutional democracy.
Strengthening Afghan governance and development will be critical to sustainable, irreversible transition. The UN has a key role in the international civilian effort to enabling greater Afghan capacity and leadership in support of transition, including in responding to requests by the Afghan authorities for support to the electoral process.
We have come a long way down that path, but there is still a long way to go. Reconciliation and reintegration are a key part of Afghanistan's future, and these processes must be Afghan-owned and led. UNAMA is providing essential support to the Afghan Government's efforts. For example, UNAMA's logistical support, via the Salaam Support Group, has enabled the High Peace Council to undertake an active program of regional and provincial visits. These visits are improving local and regional support for reconciliation and reintegration processes.
Afghanistan's neighbours and regional partners play an important role in supporting the reconciliation process. Australia commends the efforts of Special Representative of the Secretary General, Staffan di Mistura, to promote regional engagement in accordance with UNAMA's mandate.
I would like to briefly draw attention to Australia's engagement in Afghanistan in the period since we last addressed the Council on this issue.
As the Council knows, Australia is the tenth-largest ISAF troop contributor and the largest non-NATO troop contributor overall. Two weeks ago, the Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, visited Afghanistan. His trip focussed on Kabul and Uruzgan Province, where Australia is engaged as part of the ISAF-flagged Combined Team-Uruzgan. Mr Rudd visited Australian soldiers and civilians working in Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan, and saw first-hand the positive effects of the international community's efforts. To quote the Foreign Minister there is "clear evidence of progress being made in our mission".
We are also seeing progress in our development and governance efforts. Australia will deliver just over $123 million in development assistance to Afghanistan in 2010-11, with AusAID's country program growing by 50 per cent, to $106 million. During 2010, Australia tripled, to around fifty, the number of civilian personnel deployed to Afghanistan. An Australian civilian leads the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan, where we are seeing slow but steady progress in improving standards of governance and development.
And it is heartening to see discussion of Afghanistan's prospects for increased trade and investment. I refer in this instance to the Afghanistan International Investment Conference hosted by the United Arab Emirates in late 2010, which was attended by Foreign Minister Rudd. Improving the economic well-being of Afghanistan is key to improving the livelihoods of Afghans, and in turn, their prospects for a safe and stable society.
Australia's engagement is but one example of the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan.
I would like to take a moment to remember those civilians who have been killed and wounded in Afghanistan since 2001. I refer to the recent report by UNAMA and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which urges all parties involved in the armed conflict in Afghanistan to strengthen efforts to protect Afghan civilians.
I also take this moment to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of UNAMA personnel working in Afghanistan. Australia supports all efforts to ensure that those who work in support of Afghanistan's future are able to do so with the necessary security to complete their challenging tasks.