First of all, I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Mr. Ján Kubiš, and the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin, for their statements. I align myself with the statement to be made shortly by the observer of the European Union.
I shall address three points: the upcoming presidential election, the human rights situation and drug control.
First of all, with respect to the elections, Afghanistan has entered the final phase of preparations for the spring 2014 presidential elections. The preparations are being carried out in a satisfactory manner. The presidential electoral campaign should start next February. The election will be the foundation for the future legitimacy of the Afghan Government and the sign that democracy has become entrenched in Afghan public life and that reversing course is no longer possible. The success of the elections will hang on security, and everything must be done to ensure that the Afghan forces meet that challenge successfully. There must be comprehensive mobilization against fraud so as not to affect the legitimacy of the winner at the polls.
Beyond the elections, the confidence of Afghan forces in their own ability to operate independently and to engage with strength and determination against the insurgents is critical. The short-term viability of the Afghan State will depend on it.
The human rights and humanitarian situation also remains a concern. The renewed fighting has had a tragic impact on the civilian population. Nearly one civilian casualty in five occurs in the field. We therefore urge the parties to take all necessary measures to minimize the impact of such clashes.
We remain attentive to the rights of women, which have enjoyed unprecedented progress in Afghanistan. These rights should not be diminished because of political uncertainty. Moreover, reporting delays on the part of Afghan authorities on the implementation of the law for the elimination of violence against women are of concern. We urge the Afghan Government to remove all doubts about its continued commitment to human rights following the withdrawal of international forces. We are also concerned about the security of humanitarian workers and the staff of development agencies. The compliance of the parties with the principles of humanitarian law is essential to the continued international engagement in Afghanistan.
With regard to the anti-drug campaign, Afghanistan has seen record opium production in 2013. Drug production has also been diversified. Cannabis cultivation and methamphetamine production centres have emerged. The Afghan population has nearly 1 million drug addicts. The fight against drugs is an imperative not only for security but also for public health.
In that respect, we emphasize the importance of the regional framework in the fight against the production and trafficking of drugs. The Paris Pact framework remains essential to the mobilization of the international community. We support the activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries through our annual voluntary contributions to the Paris Pact and to the regional Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries programme. Bilaterally, a treaty of friendship and cooperation between France and Afghanistan provides for enhanced partnership in the fight against drugs, which is recognized as a priority by both countries.
While operational cooperation may be satisfactory, the fight against drugs must be taken better into account at the political level, whether by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) or the Afghan authorities. As the Secretary-General points out in his report (S/2013/721), this is a prerequisute for the stability and development of Afghanistan and its neighbours.
Afghanistan’s partners will remain present in the form of bilateral relations based on enhanced military and civil partnership. The modalities of future international missions to support the Afghan security forces are being defined in response to requests by the Afghan authorities. The recommendation handed down by the loya jirga on 24 November and the timely signing of the bilateral security agreement with the United States will mark a new step in the consolidation of that partnership. In this context, we believe that the United Nations will be required to assume greater responsibility in Afghanistan. Placed in a more visible, central and complex position, UNAMA will absolutely need to strengthen its political role.
UNAMA will provide its good offices to facilitate the implementation of the Afghan political process. It will also need enhanced competencies in matter of defence and the promotion of human rights. Finally, it will need to assume the role of coordinator of the funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations in order to promote a development model that meets the challenges of an eonomy fueled by drug trafficking. To that end, we feel it particularly important to simplify the UNAMA mandate. However, we remain committed to maintaining its presence throughout Afghan territory, which will be essential for a clear and comprehensive view of the situation.
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