Vielen Dank Herr Vorsitzender,
I would like to thank Special Representative Staffan de Mistura for his very comprehensive briefing. I would also like to thank Ambassador Tanin for his intervention.
I must begin my address by recalling the attacks in Mazar-e-Sharif. UNAMA, and indeed the entire international effort and support for the Government of Afghanistan and its people, were brutally attacked in Mazar-e-Sharif last April. I hereby convey to you, Mr. Special Representative, Portugal’s highest appreciation for the courage shown in the face of adversity and for the courageous commitment that UNAMA’s personnel show to their mission and we commend their dedication. This is the guarantee that the losses suffered will not have been in vain.
The SG’s report, the Special Representative’s briefing and Ambassador Tanin’s address have, I believe, covered the essential aspects of the situation in Afghanistan and what it takes to make the Transition a success.
Last spring was a hard time indeed. The security assessment indicates that insecurity persists and that the rising number of casualties, especially civilian casualties, is a clear sign that the battle for the future of Afghanistan continues. The attack to the Intercontinental Hotel illustrates in a particularly symbolic way this situation.
But this is a battle that must be won, not only on the ground against the enemy, but also in terms of the public opinion – the Afghan public opinion, first and foremost, but also the international one.
Civilian casualties are evidently the cruelest face of war. Limitation of civilian casualties’ must, therefore, rank at the highest level in the military command’s priorities as a fundamental element in the war in Afghanistan. We are aware that significant efforts have been – and are being – made to decrease civilian casualties caused by military operations and we call upon military commanders to pursue these efforts with steadfast commitment.
It is clear, nevertheless, that it is the insurgents that are responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties and for the growing numbers of innocent victims. I recall SRSG de Mistura’s mentioning, last March, of the offer made to the insurgents to bring forward their own numbers on civilian casualties, which went unheeded. I also recall the multiple steps already being taken to try to address damages to civilians caused by national and international forces.
It would be extremely useful to build upon what is already on the ground and integrate the valuable advice, expertise and goodwill we are able to congregate in order to adequately compensate civilians for their justified grievances.
The Special Representative reports that the draft regulation on the Women’s Protection Centres is now under appreciation by the Council of Minister’s Technical Legislative Review Committee. Portugal is encouraged by the fact that this process has been allowed to proceed with the required inclusiveness, so that the amendments which fully protect women’s human rights, were incorporated in the final version of the law.
We are also pleased to see that UNAMA continues to raise awareness to, and to monitor the implementation of, the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women. We commend UNAMA’s continued efforts in terms of the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as the role played by UN Women. Portugal reiterates the importance it attaches to the participation of women in Afghan government institutions, including the civil service.
Concerning the protection of children, I would also like to highly commend the initiative of UNAMA and UNICEF in partnership with the office of the SRSG on Violence against Children. The broad range of partners assembled by the UN’s agencies and the SRSG is an encouraging sign of public commitment to the rights of children.
Finally, Mr. President, we take note of the multiple efforts being made by the Afghan Government both internally and externally. Abroad, recent regional steps towards increased cooperation, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels are to be welcomed, as Afghanistan reassumes its role as a fundamental crossroads of Asia. This shows how Afghanistan’s neighbors can play a crucial role in the process of stabilization of that country and indeed of the region, as underlined by Mr. de Mistura and Ambassador Tanin.
In the home front, significant challenges remain. We entirely second the affirmation in the report that “it is vital that the transition be managed so as to lead to an improvement in security as well as better access to essential services for the population”. Transition is not only security, as Staffan de Mistura underlined. Military success on the ground must translate into an effective governance framework, strengthening the rule of law, institutions and public services, in order to protect those gains from erosion caused by lack of accountability and disconnection from the population’s needs. In this regard, the inauguration of the joint independent anti-corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee can only be applauded and its work strongly encouraged.
Recent developments at the institutional level, namely in the Parliament, have highlighted the need for a renewed capacity for political compromise and the adherence to the Constitution. The historical moment Afghanistan is living requires undivided focus and commitment – I am sure that decision makers in Afghanistan are working hard so that this phase remains contained within the bounds of a growing, constitutional democracy.
Mr. President, I conclude:
The Transition is set to begin this month, and this is something to commemorate. Vast amounts of resources and political will are concurring to make July 2011 a point of departure rather than a point of arrival for Afghanistan and its people. It is up to us to continue to support, as allies and friends, the Government of Afghanistan and its people so as to achieve the success they deserve.
Ich danke Ihnen.