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6 January 2010 - Security Council - Afghanistan - Statement by Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

First of all, I would like to express to the entire Council my best wishes for the New Year. Allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. Allow me also to pay tribute, as previous speakers have done, to the outstanding work carried out by Ambassador Michel Kafando and his entire team during the month of December.

With respect to the subject of our debate, I should like, again as previous speakers have done, to pay a wholehearted tribute to the work of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kai Eide. Thanks to his efforts, the United Nations is now the principal actor in Afghanistan in terms of coordinating international action and dialogue with political actors and Afghan society. This achievement must be preserved, and its effects should be amplified.

This is a momentous occasion for France. For the first time in the Security Council, the European Union will speak through its delegation to the United Nations. This is the result of the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon. I therefore welcome that representative. For France, this is an important and a moving moment. France, of course, associates itself with the statement that he will deliver.

I would like to emphasize in particular the main challenges of the year ahead. The most imminent event, as Mr. Kai Eide said, is the London Conference to be held on 28 January 2010. It will be an important step in the process aimed at framing the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community in terms that enable full ownership by the Afghan people of their destiny.

President Karzai made important commitments to reform in his inaugural speech. We hope that the London Conference and the Kabul conference to follow will be opportunities for the Afghan Government to launch its reform programme, in particular in the priority areas of governance, particularly local governance, concerning which Mr. Eide was particularly eloquent; strengthening Afghan civil and security forces; the fight against corruption and drug trafficking; regional cooperation, and the reintegration of combatants.

This programme must be based on more coherent action by the international community. We have been talking about this for years, and I believe that we must at last align our actions with this commonsense objective. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was given a central role in this area by the Security Council. It should have the necessary resources, as well as the authority that is essential to more effective coordination. This will involve strengthening the ties between the United Nations and the other international organizations present in the country, as well as with the main donors.

We therefore support the establishment of a structure that includes the main civilian and military actors in Afghanistan under the co-chairmanship of the Afghan Government and the United Nations. Such a structure, which would meet frequently and at regular intervals, should cover civilian aid, civil-military coordination and regional cooperation. I would stress that this last issue should, in the future, receive increased attention. We hope that, to this end, the Special Representative of the Secretary General will enhance his efforts for follow-up to and promotion of regional dialogue.

We have taken note of the wish of the Afghan authorities to hold legislative elections in May 2010 in accordance with the timeline set out in the Constitution. This choice is, of course, the sovereign decision of the Afghan authorities alone. However, the lessons of the presidential elections must be heeded, and certain reforms of the electoral system must be carried out ahead of time and in accordance with the Constitution. We must help the Afghan authorities to identify the necessary reforms that have a realistic chance of being carried out before the elections. The Afghans have shown their commitment to democracy, and this commitment should not be betrayed. The next elections should be held in conditions that ensure a free and democratic choice. The fraud witnessed during the presidential elections must not be repeated.

I would like to conclude by assuring the Secretary-General and his Special Representative that we share their concerns about the security of United Nations staff. In Afghanistan, as in other countries in crisis, the necessary means must be dedicated to protecting United Nations personnel. The necessary reinforcement of these means, which should be earmarked for spending in the field as a priority, should be carried out alongside a comprehensive reflection on the future geographical placement of UNAMA installations and deployment of its missions in the light of the new political and security context, which is all too real.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU