The situation in Afghanistan

Ambassador Mona Juul presents Norways statement to the Security Council. Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Ambassador Mona Juul presents Norway's statement to the Security Council. Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Norway’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Mona Juul, presented Norway’s statement on the Situation in Afghanistan to the Security Council on January 6, 2010. Ambassador Juul stressed that the UN should continue to play the leading role in coordinating all political and international support for Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Let me start by emphasising that the international community has a common wish for improved security, political stability and development for the people of Afghanistan. We all share this goal and we also do agree that a joint political strategy is the only way to bring forward a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, through the years since the Bonn-agreement we have witnessed a lack of unity and efforts within the international community about how to reach a sustainable political solution in Afghanistan. This fragile situation cannot continue anymore. Hence, there is an urgent need for concerted actions to focus on joint priorities under Afghan leadership and to coordinate in a way that empower Afghan institutions. A gradual and responsible transfer of authority needs to be handed over to the Afghan Government.

The aim of our joint efforts should be to enable Afghans to fulfil their responsibility for transparent and competent management of Afghan’s institutions and national programmes. Enhanced international coordination should produce focussed priorities, better delivery according to Afghan priorities and more accountability by both the international community and Afghan authorities.

Mr. President,

It is necessary to ask how we and the Afghan government should prioritise, and where we can improve our performance. Succeeding in Afghanistan will depend on our ability to improve and strengthen our capacity to coordinate international civilian and political efforts. The UN Mission in Afghanistan plays a key role in finding constructive answers to these questions. To maintain both legitimacy and broad international support it is vital that the UN plays the leading role to coordinate all political and international civilian support to Afghanistan. All major donors should also step up international coordination and accept to be coordinated under UN primacy in order to avoid duplication, fragmentation and to strengthen Afghan capacity.

At the same time we need to recognise that the UN’s political mandate should be better combined with the role of coordinating international development assistance. The renewed UNAMA mandate in March needs to cover the relationship between UNAMA and ISAF and their coordination functions. ISAF needs to strengthen its capacity and competence on civilian assistance to ensure more effective delivery of PRT assistance aligned with Afghan priorities, but the overall civilian coordination needs to lie with UNAMA.

UNAMA should also be designated a more independent role with regard to developing a political strategy. Such a strategy is critical in providing guidance to the military effort. UNAMA also needs to focus more of its work on rule of law, human rights and transitional justice.

UNAMA’s ability to deliver optimally requires resources, qualified personnel, but also a more conducive security environment. We are very pleased that the key role played by UNAMA in Afghanistan is reflected in the significant increase in the mission’s budget for 2010. Only with a sufficient level of predictable funding will UNAMA be able to implement its mandate effectively.

We therefore welcome the approval of UNAMA’s budget in the 5th Committee but call on the UN Secretariat and UNAMA to provide concrete measures that will be implemented to speed up recruitment and deployment of personnel to Afghanistan. It is critical that UNAMA becomes fully staffed without delay. It is also important that UNAMA’s increased field offices get a clearer mandate that is based on best practices and lessons learned. Presence should also correspond with where UNAMA can add the most value. Norway also welcomes an additional budgetary allocation for securing UN staff.

The past few months have been difficult ones for all who have been engaged in Afghanistan, but especially hard for the UN. UNAMA and its staff face difficult and often dangerous circumstances. We commend their courage and dedication for risking their lives working for a better and more peaceful Afghanistan. As this is the last briefing by SRSG Eide in the Council, we would also like to express our deep appreciation for his dedicated leadership through the last two years and for his principled commitment through a difficult period.

Mr. President,

The Afghan presidential election and its aftermath last year illustrated clearly how challenging conducting elections in conflict affected areas can be. The controversy of 2009 elections undermined confidence in the Afghan leadership and affected negatively the international engagement in Afghanistan though the result was acceptable to Afghans and respected Afghan laws and institutions. The result of the elections last year confirmed the fact that Afghan institutions are weak and fragile.

Serious flaws and weaknesses of the Afghan electoral institutions need to be corrected before we can engage in a similar support to Parliamentary elections this year. We need to see progress and reforms that will prevent fraud taking place.

Not only the Afghan people but also the international community are setting out expectations and demands. As set out by President Karzai in his inauguration speech 19 November last year, the new Afghan Government will have to commit themselves on a larger scale and take all necessary measures to combat corruption and the culture of impunity, improve governance in particular at local level including rule of law, protect human rights and women’s rights, improve the security situation and its capacity to deliver basic services to the Afghan people.

As members of the international community, we must stand ready to assist the next Afghan Government to meet these demanding commitments to the people of Afghanistan. Norway looks forward to the London conference where the partnership between the Afghan government and the international community will be renewed and key actions of the new Afghan Government will be endorsed. This would be an important road-map to the next Afghan lead conference in Kabul expected to be held later this year. Norway welcomes the focus on transition within the military and civilian sector in order for the Afghan people to resume more responsibility of their own country.

Thank you Mr. President.

Source: Norway’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations

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