I welcome the presence of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ján Kubiš in the Chamber and I thank him for his briefing and his work at the head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Through the Special Representative, I would like to commend the efforts of the international and local Mission staff, who work in complex conditions and, unfortunately, sometimes even sacrifice their own lives. I wouldalso like to welcome the Ambassador of Afghanistan, Mr. Tanin, and thank him for his intervention.
I associate myself in advance with the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union.
Afghanistan has entered a period marked by profound changes: two transitions, a security transition and a political transition are under way. The year 2014 will see the end of the military presence of the international coalition in the form that we have known so far. A new mission of advice, training and support will take over from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in accordance with the commitments entered into at the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012 to support the Afghan security forces over the long run.
Similarly, Afghanistan has already been preparing for many months for the presidential election, the first round of which is scheduled for 5 April. That election will clearly show that democracy has taken root in the country. The peaceful and lawful transfer of presidential authority is a sufficiently rare event to celebrate. A new President, the second since the fall of the Taliban, will take over the stewardship of the country, and we will be there to support him in fulfilling his mission.
We have just adopted resolution 2145 (2014). UNAMA’s mandate has been extended for one year without major changes because of the election of the new Afghan Government in 2014 and because of other uncertainties that still have an impact on the shape of the future security arrangement. In that context, we believe that UNAMA, which is the centre of the international community’s action in Afghanistan and which has proved itself over the course of 10 years, must be able to act next year based on a solid mandate.
The international community’s efforts should adapt to the changes in the situation on the ground. In particular, the model of development, which is based on a counter-insurgency strategy, should be revised. However, we will not abandon the values we fought for alongside Afghans for 10 years. I have in mind in particular the role and rights of women in Afghan society.
We have less than 12 months ahead of us to evaluate and determine how the international community will be able to support Afghanistan in the long term. The mandate of UNAMA that we will adopt a year from now will have to be different, refocused on the priorities of the international community.
Put in a more visible and more central position, but also more complex, UNAMA’s political role must be strengthened. The Mission, including the Special Representative, will have to provide its good offices to facilitate the implementation of the Afghan political process, especially in the areas of reconciliation and the strengthening of the rule of law, and support the efforts aimed at strengthening regional cooperation. UNAMA must also have additional capacity in the protection and promotion of human rights, an area in which it provides real expertise and an added value. It will have to play the role of coordinator of the United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies to promote a model of development that meets the needs of an economy weakened by the decline in international aid and the emergence of an illicit economy that fuels instability. To that end, we believe that it is important to simplify the mandate. However, we remain committed, as far as possible, to maintaining UNAMA’s presence throughout the Afghan territory, which is essential for a clear and comprehensive view of the situation.
As others have said before, we are also concerned about the resurgence of drug trafficking. Unfortunately, the year 2013 saw a new record in opium production. Furthermore, Afghanistan has become the world’s largest producer of cannabis resin. There are now even amphetamine production centres in the country.
We know about the efforts of Afghans to address that challenge. We know that taking up the challenge requires the commitment of everyone, especially Afghanistan’s regional partners. We will stand alongside the Afghans in that task. But today I would like to address the entire international community. As the Secretary- General underscored in his report (S/2014/163), the risk of the emergence of a narco-State exists and it is serious. We have to consider actions today that will make it possible to shield Afghanistan tomorrow from the deleterious effects of drug trafficking, which are corruption and violence.
We know, as experience has shown, that drug trafficking often goes hand in hand with insurrection and a challenge to a central authority. We must do everything to avoid the worst: to leave Afghanistan to its own devices with an insurrection that is certainly weakened but not totally reduced; with the Afghan security forces, who have shown that they are robust and effective, but are concerned about the international community’s withdrawal; and with a socioeconomic and institutional fabric that has been rewoven but is still very fragile.
In that respect, the role that the fight against drug trafficking plays in UNAMA’s mandate must be strengthened. Clearly, we do not want to make UNAMA a counter-narcotics agency. However, all possible synergies between the activities of UNAMA and the the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan should been strengthened. UNAMA must also support regional cooperation in that area by supporting the development of the law enforcement, judiciary and health capacities of the Afghan State.
The Afghanistan after 11 September is now a chapter in the history books, but if we want to help Afghans to write a truly different chapter in the future we have to act now.
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