UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
20 September 2012
UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN (UNAMA)
Statement by H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Mr President and thank you for Germany’s continuing leadership on Afghanistan here in New York. Can I welcome the important presence of SRSG Kubis and His Excellency Foreign Minister Rassoul.
2012 will be remembered as the year when the common goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan, with strong prospects for long-term economic and social development, was underwritten by unprecedented support from the international community.
The commitments pledged at the Chicago Summit, and most recently at the Tokyo Conference, give this goal the best chance of succeeding. Such support, which included pledges for the ANSF and $16 billion over four years, underlines the importance of Afghanistan’s stability not just in itself but also to regional and global security.
The outcomes of these key meetings send an undiluted message both to the people of Afghanistan and to the insurgency – Afghanistan will not again be abandoned.
My own country has underpinned our bilateral relationship through a Comprehensive Long-term Partnership; increasing our development assistance from $165 million this year to $250 million by 2015; and providing $100 million per year to Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) sustainment.
Since the Council met we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Development Cooperation which provides a long-term framework to ensure the effective implementation of Australia’s development partnership with Afghanistan.
We welcome the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and Afghanistan’s vision of self-reliance. It is now up to us to implement the Framework. Through the Framework, Afghanistan itself now has the tools it needs to progress peace and security, improve governance and economic development, tackle corruption and protect human rights, as well as to develop regional cooperation, and private sector and civil society engagement.
The UN’s role will become increasingly important as the international military presence reduces. UNAMA’s presence sends a reassuring signal of the collective resolve to protect the progress being made.
We welcome the Secretary General’s assurances in his latest quarterly report that despite a substantial decrease in resources to UNAMA the UN commitment for Afghanistan is undiminished. We remain a strong supporter of the UNAMA mandate.
The successful conduct of the political transition in 2014 – accepted by the Afghan people – is critical to Afghanistan’s future stability. To this end, credible presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015 are vital.
Australia welcomes the commitment Afghanistan has made to announce its election timetable, consistent with its Constitution and domestic laws, by early 2013. Clearly, however, there is a lot of work still to be done to ensure the elections’ success.
We support the UN’s work with the Afghan Government on elections. And through our development partnership, Australia is working to promote participation in public debate and government decision making, particularly by Afghan women.
The importance of an Afghan-led peace process, the work of the High Peace Council, and the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program was reinforced at Tokyo. But the fact is there has been little progress in peace talks – these have effectively stalled.
Despite the challenges, political dialogue will be key to securing Afghanistan’s future. And peace cannot be made at the expense of the gains of the last decade, particularly in human rights, democracy or the rights of women and children.
Regional cooperation is also important for security, a peace process and economic development. Australia will continue supporting the ‘Heart of Asia’ process and we look forward to the next round of meetings here in New York next week.
The process of transferring security responsibility to the ANSF is proceeding well. While the transition process will experience challenges, it remains on track. The ANSF’s security leadership covers 75 per cent of the population. By the middle of next year, the ANSF will lead the delivery of security across their nation.
Australia welcomes efforts by the Afghan Government and Coalition forces to mitigate the threat from “insider attacks” which, as we know only too well, have claimed lives recently, including those of Australian personnel.
As tragic as such incidents are, we must not let them dent our resolve to see our mission through so Afghanistan does not again provide sanctuary for international terrorism.
To conclude Mr President, my government remains committed to working with the Afghan Government, the Afghan people, and our international partners to ensure that after far too long, the people of Afghanistan can once again enjoy peace and stability. Of course we know that this will only come with resolve, strong mutual commitment, and relentless hard work. My own country will remain committed to this.