The Situation in Afghanistan
Statement by H.E. Caroline Millar Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of Australia to the United Nations
(Check against delivery)
14 March 2006
Australia welcomes the report on Afghanistan by the Secretary-General on 7 March 2006 and supports the renewal of, and proposed adjustments to, the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). This includes the continued political and good offices role for UNAMA in Afghanistan, such as its efforts to assist in the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact agreed at the London Conference on Afghanistan which the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, attended. Australia also supports UNAMA’s continued humanitarian and development coordination efforts.
The Afghanistan Compact, signed at the London Conference on Afghanistan held from 31 January to 1 February 2006, provides a clear and agreed strategic framework for the next phase of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. Australia applauds the completion of the process set out in the Bonn Agreement and welcomes the Compact’s focus on Afghan leadership of the next phase, clear bench-marking of activities and the ongoing political and financial support pledged by the international community at the Conference. This support includes Australia’s latest commitment of up to A$150 million over the next five years, which follows the A$110 million Australia had committed since 2001 and which is now fully disbursed.
Australia remains concerned about the damage done in Afghanistan by years of conflict. We share the concern of the Secretary-General at the many issues that present challenges to the short and longer term security and stability of Afghanistan which have not yet been resolved. In his earlier reports to the Council, the Secretary-General expressed concern at the increasing trends in violence and challenges to state authority.
Alongside these worrying trends are outcomes of great promise. Significant among these are the 18 September 2005 Afghan National Assembly Lower House elections, in which some 6.4 million Afghans took part; the 19 December inauguration of the National Assembly, and the associated commencement of parliamentary debate and business; the 26 January 2006 agreement between the Afghan Government and international partners on a national Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups strategy; the ongoing reform and rebuilding of the police and army; and the Afghan Government’s counter-narcotics program, the success of which will be crucial to longer-term stability and good governance. Australia agrees with the Secretary-General that the human rights situation remains challenging and encourages the Afghan Government to continue its efforts in this area so as to meet domestic and international commitments fully.
Australia remains fully committed to playing its part in the efforts of the international community to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Alongside our further financial commitment of A$150 million, Australia has also recently announced an additional military deployment of up to 200 personnel as a contribution to a Provincial Reconstruction Team. This is in addition to our current Special Forces Task Group and aviation support element, which includes two CH-47 helicopters. In the context of today’s debate, we are also pleased to note that we provide direct support to UNAMA through the provision of an Australian Defence Force officer as a Military Advisor to UNAMA.
Australia will continue to support Afghanistan’s transition from conflict to peace and democracy. We congratulate the UN on its efforts to date and agree that the proposed adjustments will allow UNAMA, in support to the Government and people of Afghanistan, to meet better the challenges ahead.