UN Deputy Secretary-General reaffirms long-term commitment to Afghanistan
KABUL - At the end of a five-day visit to Afghanistan which included a range of high-level meetings and a field trip, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, reaffirmed the commitment of the world body to the country’s future as it undergoes its political and security transition next year and beyond.
“I conveyed to all of my interlocutors that the UN is committed to continued partnership with Afghanistan, provided that this is the wish of the Government and the Afghan people. We will provide our support where and when needed, and following modalities that respect Afghan leadership and sovereignty,” Mr. Eliasson said.
The Deputy Secretary-General was in Afghanistan to gain a first-hand view of the progress the country has made and to discuss with Afghan interlocutors their priorities and challenges. Next year will see Afghanistan hold a presidential election, as well as the withdrawal of the majority of allied international military forces, with national forces assuming full responsibility for security throughout the country.
Amongst those the senior UN official met were President Hamid Karzai, various Afghan Government ministers and senior officials, the Speakers of the Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga (Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, respectively), officials from the Independent Electoral Commission, the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and representatives from political parties and civil society groups.
Topics discussed in his meetings included the 2014 presidential election, ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts, humanitarian and development aid, human rights, the rule of law and support from the international community, including the United Nations, during and after the country’s transition next year and in the following years.
“I found that there is a strong consensus amongst all actors, from the President to civil society groups, that Afghanistan’s achievements of the past decade must be protected as it advances through its political, security and economic transition processes, its pursuit of peace and reconciliation, and enters the post-2014 period,” Mr. Eliasson said. “I am very encouraged by this.”
The Deputy Secretary-General also met with representatives of the diplomatic, donor and humanitarian community, the International Security Assistance Force and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in addition to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN agencies, funds and programmes in the country.
“The UN will continue to be a close, reliable and sincere partner of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its people in this important phase in its democratic development,” Mr Eliasson said. “Afghanistan continues to be a major priority for the UN, and we believe that we will be able to see progress and success by working together closely.”
He encouraged Afghanistan’s development partners to stay engaged in a predictable and sustainable way, aligned to the needs of Afghans, in order to lock in the gains achieved over the past ten years and to build on those.
Accompanied by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, who also heads UNAMA, Mr. Eliasson visited the southern province of Kandahar.
The Deputy Secretary-General returned to UN Headquarters in New York on 2 July.