Thank you Mr. President,
At the outset, I would like to thank SRSG Jan Kubis for his briefing. I welcome Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, to the Security Council and thank him for his statement.
My country aligns itself with the statement to be delivered later in the name of the European Union.
The Security Council will be called to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMA next Thursday. Portugal agrees with the basic proposals contained in this mandate. In it the Security Council builds upon the enhanced role of the Afghan Government and, overall, of the national institutions in the process of transition and the increased Afghan leadership and ownership. Such emphasis is a recognition that Afghan institutions are on the way to an increased capacity to undertake their constitutional mandate to the Afghan people in all aspects of the country’s activity.
At the same time, the proposed renewed mandate aims at striking a balance between the growing fulfillment of that objective and the need for an active, strong and secure presence of the UN throughout Afghanistan. UNAMA’s leadership and coordination role is thus strengthened by such balance and by the clear objectives and priorities laid down in the draft resolution.
A significant part of the transition to full Afghan leadership and ownership is clearly the consolidation of the rule of law and human rights sector in the country. This is an area where the action of the State is perhaps more visible to foreign partners and more keenly felt by the population. In this regard, action undertaken to address serious problems in the correctional system is encouraging, despite the serious challenges that still exist. It is important that UNAMA and humanitarian actors are able to work on these issues with relevant interlocutors of the Government.
On the same note, we are encouraged by the care put into the mandate of UNAMA regarding human rights, notably the human rights of women and girls. The mission’s capacity in this area will continue to rank high in its priorities and in ours. The mission will continue to support the efforts undertaken by the Afghan authorities, such as the full implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and continue to assess the situation of civilians, notably children, the participation of women in the political life and processes in Afghanistan, and play a relevant role in humanitarian action, The relevance of this task, particularly during the coming months, cannot be overstated.
On a second note, Mr. President, in discharging their mission, international forces and international assistance face a deteriorating environment in Afghanistan. The current situation is the product of deeply regrettable actions, some of them utterly avoidable, some unpredictable. These events have had a strong impact on the population, as indeed they had on all of us, friends and partners of Afghanistan.
Apologies have been made and responsibility is accepted; it is now fundamental that the achievements already attained by international assistance in Afghanistan, both civilian and military are not endangered by these events. This is an undertaking for all stakeholders in Afghanistan, including the national authorities.
In these circumstances, it is clear that the coming summits and conferences will have an increased importance, namely the NATO summit in Chicago and the Conference on Refugees, both in May, in Switzerland, the follow-up ministerial meeting of the Istambul Conference next June in Kabul and the Tokyo summit next July. The rapid sequence of these major events is a good measure of the commitment of the international community towards Afghanistan and the Afghan people and of the interest in seizing the opportunity to consolidate the foundations of the security, social-economic development and regional integration of Afghanistan. Portugal, as a partner of Afghanistan, is working towards, and looking forward to outcomes of this meeting that may prove successful for the people of Afghanistan.
Wide national consensus in Afghanistan regarding governance, development and rule of law, as well as on development strategies and initiatives, is vital for a sustainable transition and, ultimately, for the success of the peace and reconciliation process. Recent developments in the relations between State institutions such as the National Assembly and the Government are signs to be welcomed, and UNAMA’s role in the national political sphere, namely by working for the strengthening of national electoral institutions at the request of Afghan authorities, is something that deserves the Security Council’s full support.
I conclude, Mr. President, by reiterating my country’s support for the mandate that we are preparing to approve. It is an ambitious mandate for UNAMA and rightly so, given the priorities identified by the Afghan national authorities and the United Nations. International assistance to Afghanistan must adapt as new necessities arise and as the situation on the ground changes.
I wish the best to SRSG Kubis in the implementation of the mandate and assure him that in the Security Council we will continue to be ready to support the United Nation’s Assistance Mission to Afghanistan as required.