UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
27 November 2012
The Situation in Afghanistan
Statement by H.E. Ms Philippa King
Deputy Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you, Mr President.
Australia welcomes the opportunity to co-sponsor the General Assembly’s resolution on Afghanistan again in 2012 – a crucial year for the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, during which we made strong commitments to support Afghanistan’s future.
This partnership rests on mutual assurances between the Afghan Government and the international community: that the Afghan Government will lead its people towards a stable, secure and self-sufficient state, and that the international community will continue to support Afghanistan during the transition and beyond.
As Australian Prime Minister Gillard noted in her speech to our Parliament last month, 2012 has seen significant progress in planning beyond transition, with a comprehensive international framework for supporting Afghanistan beyond 2014 now in place. Australia, too, has made significant commitments in this regard.
We have established important agreements this year to underpin and strengthen bilateral relations. Prime Minister Gillard and President Karzai signed a Comprehensive Long-Term Partnership in May, setting a broad framework for bilateral cooperation beyond the transition. In July, Afghan and Australian Ministers also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Development Cooperation.
Australia has increased our financial and development assistance beyond 2014. Our development assistance will increase from $165 million up to $250 million per year by 2015; and we will provide $100 million per year to Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) sustainment from 2015 to 2017.
Throughout the transition period, Australia will continue to provide support to Afghanistan – centred on Uruzgan province. We lead the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Uruzgan, and in October we assumed command of Combined Team – Uruzgan. Here, Australian troops, diplomats and aid workers cooperate and work in partnership with their Afghan counterparts on a daily basis.
In 2012, the Afghan Government itself has made significant commitments. The year ahead will see Afghanistan implement reforms to improve governance, prepare for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015, bolster anti-corruption efforts and promote and protect human rights.
We commend the revitalisation of the High Peace Council and its efforts to work towards a political solution, including through the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program. The international community, particularly the UN, has a key role to play in supporting these efforts, and the peace process must be inclusive of all sectors of Afghan society and involve the active participation of women.
Australia welcomes the agreement between Afghanistan and the international community, enshrined in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. Implementing these principles and goals should guide our partnership next year, in 2014 and throughout the next decade.
Afghanistan has already shown demonstrable progress. We welcome the Independent Election Commission’s announcement, endorsed by President Karzai, that the Presidential election will be held on 5 April 2014. A credible, inclusive and transparent Presidential election will be essential to political transition in Afghanistan and will mark the significant progress made over the last decade.
We are pleased to see that the General Assembly resolution before us welcomes recent progress. But the resolution also realistically highlights those challenges Afghanistan and the international community continue to face.
At the most fundamental level, we must continue to ensure Afghanistan will never again become a safe haven for international terrorism. We all have a stake in preventing the return of international terrorism to Afghanistan.
We also need to continue the fight against narcotics and drug trafficking. We must persist in efforts to promote regional cooperation through bodies such as the Heart of Asia. And we must continue to encourage anti-corruption reforms.
Australia welcomes the emphasis placed in this resolution on support for Afghanistan’s efforts to protect human rights – particularly those of women and girls – to establish elections and, of course, to provide security to the Afghan people.
All of these efforts will be Afghan-led, and the resolution rightly emphasises this. But the resolution also demonstrates the international community’s ongoing support for Afghanistan’s own efforts.
The United Nations continues to play a critical role in Afghanistan’s long-term development and stability. And we welcome the UN’s central role in coordinating international efforts to support human rights, governance and the rule of law, preparations for elections, humanitarian assistance, reintegration and counter-narcotics.
We again welcome the Secretary-General’s assurances in his quarterly report that despite the reconfiguration of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), coupled with a significant reduction in resources, the UN commitment to Afghanistan remains steadfast. Australia continues to strongly support UNAMA’s mandate.
My Government has made Afghanistan’s development and stability a key priority. Australia’s term on the Security Council coincides with a critical time of transition in Afghanistan and our continued efforts to implement a comprehensive framework for Afghanistan’s future.
Australia remains committed to working with the Afghan Government, the Afghan people and international partners to achieve the common goal of a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan.
Thank you, Mr President.