Speech of Special Representative Kubiš at the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence & Foreign Affairs
BRUSSELS - Excellencies, Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, Thank you for the opportunity to address your meeting today, for the first time in my current capacity. NATO, ISAF and UNAMA are separately mandated by the United Nations Security Council to cooperate, in accordance with their specific mandates, in support of the on-going transition to full Afghan leadership and ownership, in support of the Afghan-led stabilization, peace and development processes.
Let us all remember and honour all those who, in doing so, paid the ultimate sacrifice – my UN colleagues, our NATO and ISAF military partners and our Afghan counterparts. And let’s always have in mind that every single civilian casualty is one too many.
It is owing to our collective efforts that the transition process is now well underway and progressing. The ANSF have proven that they are increasingly up to their tasks, most recently during the complex attacks in Kabul and some other cities last Sunday. But this progress can only be enduring and sustainable if the international community provides to the ANSF long-term funding for the years to come.
I am glad to report that, at its meeting on 7 April 2012 in Kabul, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), co-chaired by the Government of Afghanistan and UNAMA, approved a conceptual planning model for the future ANSF and its funding of USD 4.1 billion annually, well beyond the end of transition. The phased implementation of this plan, sometime after 2014, will depend first of all on the existing security situation and conditions. Now it is up to you, NATO and ISAF countries and other international partners of Afghanistan, stakeholders in its stable and prosperous future, to ensure the necessary international financing of the ANSF.
Recognizing that transition will only get harder and more ambitious from this point onward, all stakeholders must firm up plans today and towards Chicago into specific, long term, solid and credible commitments – else we will contribute to the reversal of the gains made so far.
Full clarity coming from Chicago will add to the needed stability and predictability in this time of changes and uncertainty, prompted by the departure of the international military from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Moreover, and for the same reason also this departure must remain on plan and timetable. Your firm and credible commitments in Chicago will provide the necessary reassurances to an increasingly uncertain and nervous Afghan society that the people of Afghanistan will not once again be left by themselves, will not be abandoned after a decade of massive international effort. It will send equally strong and clear signals to those who wish to derail the transition, peace and reconciliation processes, both in Afghanistan and in the region.
Sufficiently enabled ANSF should be able to adequately address not only the residual insurgent threat but also the threats posed by local power-brokers and criminal networks, notably those linked to drug production and trafficking. Efforts in combatting drug production and trafficking are critically important given the increase in poppy cultivation and opium production, trafficking and consumption, and thus increased threat to governance, development, security and stability in Afghanistan and in the region.
Needless to say, strong and confident ANSF will be an integral element of the success of the presidential elections in 2014 that coincide with the culmination of the transition. In light of the principle of transition and the reality of fewer international troops on the ground, it is vital that ISAF and the ANSF start planning soon how to assist the authorities of the country in organizing the elections, together with the United Nations.
Afghanistan’s medium and long-term stability and security is dependent on the government’s ability, with the international community’s support, to deliver on the socio-economic and governance needs of the Afghan population. It is understood that external resources to Afghanistan will decrease throughout and beyond the transition period. To make the transition and the progress of the last 10 years sustainable, it is imperative that the international community recognize Afghanistan’s special, significant and continuing fiscal requirement and identify a multi-year, stable and predictable financing scheme for Afghanistan’s governance, social and economic development agendas.
This is not a new concept – it is the actualization of mutual commitments and accountability made at the London, Kabul and Bonn Conferences.
In March, the Security Council adopted a new mandate for UNAMA, indeed for the whole United Nations family in Afghanistan for the coming year. The mandate is comprehensive and complex. It covers areas ranging from political outreach and good offices in support of peace and reconciliation, to fostering regional cooperation, notably the successful Heart of Asia Istanbul Process, good governance and rule of law, development coherence and coordination of international civilian efforts and humanitarian assistance, to mention only a few.
I consider one area to be of specific importance. It is to assist in the full realisation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights of Afghan citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party. And, in this, particular attention is to be paid to the rights of women, children and ethnic minorities.
With the on-going conflict and transition, the human rights situation in Afghanistan faces enormous challenges. Long standing human rights problems associated with armed conflict, poor governance, widespread and deeply entrenched impunity and corruption, weak rule of law and justice sector institutions, coupled with remaining marginalization of women, pose significant challenges in the immediate and longer term. How the Afghan Government, supported by the international community, addresses these issues will largely determine the success of transition.
Increasing women’s ability to participate equally in political processes and government structures remains a key element of the human rights agenda in Afghanistan. Addressing persistently high levels of violence and discrimination against women and girls is another priority. These are critical indicators of a successful and sustainable transformation of Afghan society.
The human rights gains of the last 10 years – which in my view are a barometer of Afghanistan’s progress – cannot be the casualty of any peace and reconciliation processes. A settlement that disregards human rights would be short-lived. Women’s rights in particular need to be protected and promoted. Women must have a place at the negotiating table.
A clearly defined and resourced, specific and credible international commitment in favour of both the ANSF and Afghanistan’s development needs will help the government and the society of Afghanistan in inclusive peace and reconciliation efforts, help them to negotiate from a position of confidence and strength. This will help them negotiate peace without heavily compromising the gains made in the last 10 years.
Your action – or the lack of it – in Chicago and Tokyo will determine the future of Afghanistan and the judgement of your 10 years engagement there.
Thank you for your attention.