Thank you Mr President,
I would like to join others in thanking the Secretary-General for his report, Special Representative Nicolas Haysom for his briefing and Ambassador Zahir Tanin for his remarks this morning.
There have been significant and positive developments in Afghanistan since the Security Council last met in this format. The ISAF mission concluded operations after 13 years and the Resolute Support mission has now begun. This marks the end of a period of transition and the start of a period of transformation, with full Afghan ownership of its national affairs. And I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the service men and women, both international and Afghan, whose service and sacrifice has made this progress possible.
I will focus my statement today on three key issues: UNAMA’s support to the Afghan government’s reform agenda; support for a peace process; and the current security challenges.
I welcome the extension of UNAMA’s mandate today. UNAMA plays a critical role in Afghanistan, and its continued presence is a strong sign of the international community’s enduring commitment to Afghanistan and its people.
I commend President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah on the steps they have taken since the formation of the National Unity Government. In the first months of this year we saw early action on tackling corruption, as well as agreement on the 2015 budget. We support President Ghani and CEO Abdullah’s goals to deliver economic security by tackling corruption; to enact political reform; and to consolidate progress on human rights and national security. Yet the economic situation remains precarious. Government fiscal discipline is vital, as is sustained donor support. The swift confirmation of the final Ministerial appointments to the National Unity Government will help to safeguard gains made, build confidence and aid the reform process.
UNAMA will play an essential role in support of these reform priorities. It will do so in a manner that is consistent with a sovereign Afghanistan. UNAMA’s provision of good offices will assist political reform, aid preparation for parliamentary and provincial council elections, and protect the gains made on human rights. It will also promote more coherent donor support to the Afghan government’s priorities as co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Management Board. In order to fulfil its mandate, UNAMA must have the resources it needs to maintain its presence in the provinces. Our goal remains to ensure that Afghanistan remains on a path towards a sustainable future for all and the United Kingdom is committed to supporting them to achieve this.
Securing a sustainable peace in Afghanistan through a political settlement remains the key to Afghanistan’s future. Reconciliation is vital to any political settlement, and I welcome the efforts being made towards an inclusive peace process. We urge all parties to seize opportunities to make meaningful progress, recognising that this process will take time. And in this context, we particularly welcome the positive dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As the Secretary General’s report makes clear, security remains volatile and this year’s fighting season will be no exception. The continued attacks in Kabul bring home to us the courage and perseverance of the people and security forces of Afghanistan, as well as the members of the international community who support them. But rises in civilian casualties, for which the Taleban are largely responsible, are concerning. Avoiding these casualties must be a priority for all parties. Through Resolute Support, we will help the Afghan National Security Forces, through providing practical training, advice and assistance that aids their efforts to combat the insurgency.
Mr President, in conclusion;
The coming months will be challenging, but we must not lose sight of how far Afghanistan has come in the past year. And even more so, in the past 13 years as Ambassador Tanin set out. In the last 12 months alone, there has been the first peaceful democratic transfer of power, the formation of a National Unity Government, and the assumption of full Afghan responsibility for security. We have now a clear path ahead: the Afghan government’s reform priorities are the right ones. UNAMA, in close consultation with the Afghan government and the international community, will continue to play a valuable role in supporting Afghanistan and its goals.
I thank you.