62nd Session of the General Assembly
Agenda item 19
THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN
Jorge Lobo de Mesquita
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 5 November 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this declaration.
This year we continue to adopt a single draft resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan and we highly commend Germany for their work on the draft.
The EU welcomes the central role played by the UN in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan by leading the efforts of the International Community. In this context, we welcome the adoption of SC Resolution 1776 (2007), on 19 September, renewing the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Resolution 1746, on 23 March 2007, which extended the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMA) mandate.
The EU and its member states collectively accounted for about 30% of the $12.5 billion in grants pledged by the international community for Afghan reconstruction at international conferences in Tokyo (2002) and Berlin (2004). At the London Conference (2006), the European Community and member states pledged a further USD 2.4 billion (about EUR 2 billion) for reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan over the coming years.
The EU member states are key contributors to the UN-mandated and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), accounting for around half of the military forces deployed within this frame. EU member states are also commanding or contributing to civil-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) throughout the country. Separately, several member states are also contributing to the US-led “Operation Enduring Freedom” coalition which conducts counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.
We also fully support UNAMA’s role in finding and implementing political and regional solutions to the challenges facing Afghanistan. Therefore, we welcome the reinforcement made by Resolution 1746, which expanded UNAMA’s presence in the provinces, through regional and provincial offices. We note that UNAMA’s increased field presence has enabled engagement with Provincial Reconstruction Teams and therefore ensure that PRTs achieve a common understanding and approach to the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), in cooperation with the Afghan Government. In that sense, we underscore the urgent need for an integrated political and military strategy that complements the ANDS and also encompasses wider issues and provides a sharper focus on the achievements of national reconciliation and regional stability. As the High Level meeting on Afghanistan held in New York on 23 September highlighted, a need remains for increased coordination of the efforts of the international community.
We encourage UNAMA to continue its expansion, security conditions permitting and we must take this opportunity to commend UNAMA, under Tom Koenig’s excellent leadership, for its outstanding work performed under sometimes difficult conditions. We will continue to support this important UN mission in ensuring a better coordination between the various actors involved.
The EU expresses its concern with the intensifying insurgency and the general deterioration of security conditions over the past months. Taliban and insurgent groups continue to prevent full security in a significant and growing number of areas, while rates of insurgent and terrorism-related violence have further increased since 2006 and criminal and drug gangs continue to grow. Illegal armed groups remain a deep threat for the Stabilization in Afghanistan. As pointed out by the Conference on this matter held in Tokyo, on 21 June, their disbandment remains crucial. Meanwhile, taking advantage of some security gaps and the weakness of local administration, criminal gangs and drug smugglers have continued to operate on an ever larger scale, thus creating more instability throughout the country.
On 15 June 2007, the EU launched an ESDP-mission to Afghanistan in the field of policing with linkages to the wider rule of law. The mission will enhance current efforts in the area of police reform working towards an Afghan police force in local ownership, which respects human rights and operates within the framework of the rule of law. The EU police mission is set in the wider context of the international community’s efforts to support the Government of Afghanistan in taking responsibility for strengthening the rule of law, and in particular, in improving its civil police and law enforcement capacity. The mission will work towards a joint overall strategy of the international community in police reform. The EU police mission will deploy almost 200 police officers and other experts from EU Member States and third States, at central, regional and provincial level and plans to be fully operational in March 2008.
We would ask, Mr. President, the Government of Afghanistan engage with the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as part of its continuing and cooperative approach to combat arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.
Efforts in the security sector must be corroborated by hard work to curtail growing widespread corruption. The European Union would like to welcome the endorsement last August by the Wolesi Jirga of the UN Convention against Administrative Corruption. Nevertheless, we consider that it is necessary to continue exploring means to combat corruption. This includes the building of a professional and adequately-paid civil service and a transparent system for the appointment of senior officials, to prevent corruption becoming more deeply embedded in the public sector. Corruption not only undermines the effectiveness of international aid, it also breeds mistrust by citizens in the fragile Afghan institutions that have been patiently rebuilt over the past few years.
We must also reaffirm the crucial importance of the reform of justice and the implementation of the rule of law for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, recognizing that without justice and the rule of law no sustainable security, stabilization, economic development and human rights can be achieved, such as concluded in the Rome Conference on Justice and Rule of Law that took place on July 2-3. In this context, the European Commission has launched a program for justice reform, which will aim to professionalize the judicial and public prosecution service through reforms to pay, grading and recruitment, as well as the establishment of a code of ethics. The program will also seek to assist in the development of a new national legal aid system and thus improve citizens' access to justice. This justice reform programme dovetails with the ESDP police mission EUPOL Afghanistan. The European Commission is a key contributor to the Law and Order Trust Fund, managed by the UNDP.
We’re deeply concerned with the expansion of opium poppy cultivation by 17 per cent and potential opium production by 34 per cent, which now represents 93% of the worldwide total production of opium. The unprecedented increase of opium production in 2007 poses a grave threat to reconstruction and nation-building in Afghanistan. Initiatives at a regional level, such as the trilateral agreement between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, reached in June 2007, which committed the countries to carry out more joint border operations and increase information sharing, must be reinforced and encouraged. Actions taken in accordance with the provisions of the Pact of Paris (2003) must also be developed in order to tackle this problem.
The EU is also concerned with the human’s rights situation in Afghanistan. Several recent events have particularly raised concerns within the international community. The recent execution of fifteen Afghan nationals is a serious setback for the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The EU has strongly urged the Government of Afghanistan to reconsider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty.
Nonetheless, since 2001 there has been some progress, albeit from a low base, for example, the increase in number of people with access to basic healthcare from 9% in 2002 to 89% today. However, serious challenges remain. These includes further strengthening women’s participation and contributions to the national peace and reconstruction and addressing inadequacies in the number of formal schools and qualified teachers, especially female teachers. Although the number of children in school has risen from an estimated 1 million to 5.4 million today, of whom nearly a third are girls, there are still 2 million children left outside the formal school system, 1.3 million of them girls. As the SG noted in his last report to the SC, rapports of attacks on schools and threats to teachers and students are worrying.
The EU notes with great concern that violence against women and children and discriminatory traditional practices continue. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to do all that it can to investigate and prosecute cases of self-immolation, violence against children, forced marriages and honour-related killings. We encourage President Karzai to present to his cabinet the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan for endorsement and implementation, completed by the Government in the pursuance of the benchmarks set by the Compact and ANDS.
In addition to its leading role in the reconstruction effort, the EU is a major source of humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the Afghan crisis both in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. EU member states and the European Community are also actively involved in the provision of emergency and relief assistance. Total EU contributions for 2002-2006 amounted to EUR 627.5 million. The EU also expresses its concern about the recent attacks against the AIHRC and its Chairman by a significant number of members of the Parliament. We urge the Afghan authorities to ensure the security of the members of this Commission and provide necessary conditions for them to fulfill their mission. The EU also stresses that the national peace and reconciliation process must be conducted in a way fully compatible with the need to fight against impunity and ensure justice for past crimes and serious violations of Human Rights.
Those challenges notwithstanding, important steps have been made towards the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan. At a regional level, the EU positively registers the collaborative atmosphere that has begun to prevail in Afghan-Pakistani relations, as terrorism was recognized as a shared challenge. Therefore we congratulate the Peace Jirga that took place in Kabul with the participation of Presidents Karzai and Musharraf, last August, and the Joint Declaration that came out from the event. The EU welcomes this declaration and encourages both countries to further develop their dialogue and cooperation, especially on security issues and the fight against terrorism. The EU will further support the enhancement of Afghan-Pakistani relations, e.g. in the framework of the G8 – Afghanistan – Pakistan initiative.
The EU also welcomes the adoption of the Media Law by both Houses of Parliament. As the SRSG recently noted, the independence of Afghan media now seems to be largely protected.
Finally, we recall urgent attention by both Afghan government and the National Assembly in order to ensure adoption of the Electoral Law by the end of 2007, owing its importance to prepare the Presidential Elections that will take place in 2009. Building on the success of the last elections, which represented a significant achievement for Afghanistan, we expect another step on the road to stability, security and prosperity for the Afghan people.
Let me conclude, Mr. President, this Statement, by stressing that that EU remains committed to the long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan. We continue to support the Afghanistan Compact, which we consider the principal framework for future reconstruction and stabilisation of the Country until 2010. While acknowledging the central role played by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, we welcome further efforts to provide appropriate high level political guidance and promote a more coherent international engagement. Therefore, the EU pledges to work within this frame with the Afghan Government and international partners to build a prosperous, secure and democratic Afghanistan.
Thank you Mr. President.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.