17 November 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, UN General Assembly meeting on the situation in Afghanistan
– As delivered –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The following countries align themselves with this statement: the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia.
Like others I would like to thank the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan for his statement. I also thank all delegations that have participated in the consultations on the draft resolution, and particularly the German team for so ably facilitating the negotiations. We are looking forward to adoption once again by consensus.
Afghanistan has made considerable political, security, economic and developmental progress over the past decade. The GA resolution highlights many of those advances, for which the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people deserve much credit. But the gains made are fragile and major challenges remain.
Last month, the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan (BCA) was successfully concluded. The EU and its Member States (MS) would like to thank the high-level representatives of the 75 partner countries and 26 International Organisations (including a number of UN organisations), and in particular Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, who all came to Brussels and contributed to make this conference a success.
Firstly, a success in financial terms, as the international community pledged USD 15.2 billion in support of Afghanistan’s development priorities for the period 2017 – 2020. Showing its sustained commitment toward Afghanistan, the European Union, as a whole, pledged EUR 5 billion (USD 5.6 billion). These figures surpassed the expectations and show continued engagement of the international community in Afghanistan, which is based on the driving principle of the mutual accountability between the Afghan government and the international donors.
Secondly, the Brussels Conference was a political success, because it gave a clear sign of support to the National Unity Government to continue its reform path, including electoral reforms; reform of the Afghan administration, economy and governance, including human rights and the rights of women and children and the fight against corruption. To this aim cooperation among all Afghan political actors is essential.
The Brussels Conference side event “Empowered Women – Prosperous Afghanistan” also signalled the strong priority attached to the protection and empowerment of women by the Afghan Government, the EU and the international community. The EU welcomes the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to achieve full and equal participation of women in the political life and in all Afghan institutions. We also encourage the Government of Afghanistan to increase efforts to finance and put into action the National Action Plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). We must protect the gains made by the Afghan women as their continued active involvement at all levels of Afghan society and in the negotiations on the future of their country remains a priority for the EU.
The EU also welcomes the commitment of the Afghan government to fully implement the action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children and the road map to compliance, and the progress made, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan to continue its cooperation with the UN towards full implementation, with the support of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting.
On behalf of the European Union and its Member States, I would like to reiterate that joint state-building and development efforts in Afghanistan can only be sustained if they are built on reinforced regional cooperation. Significant investments and further cooperation are needed to improve connectivity in the region and unlock a growth potential that would benefit Afghanistan and the region altogether. Besides economic development, security and migration issues are also to be dealt through a regional approach and a basis for a common regional support for Afghanistan must be found. The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan confirmed a strong interest from the international community in supporting Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries in this endeavour.
The EU welcomes the undeterred willingness of the Afghan Government to engage with all armed groups in a political process. The only way to a durable end to the conflict in Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement. In order to reach a peace settlement, the EU remains fully committed to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process representing all Afghan citizens and their legitimate interests that preserves Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and equal rights of all Afghans under the Constitution of Afghanistan. The EU welcomes all initiatives to create a conducive environment for such a process, particularly the efforts undertaken by the Afghan government, and call on all parties to engage in such a process.
The EU welcomes the adoption of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) and the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF). These frameworks pave the way for much-needed tangible progress in terms of poverty reduction and the provision of basic services and public goods to the Afghan citizens. This requires specific actions and inclusive reform approaches in sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and rural and urban development as envisioned in the new National Priority Programs.
The EU welcomes the priority the Afghan government has to give to tackling corruption, which remains a major obstacle to development and stability and welcomes in this respect the establishment of a High Council on Rule of Law and Anti-corruption, the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre and the National Procurement Commission. The EU welcomes the efforts carried out by the Afghan Government, together with donors and UN Agencies coordinated by UNMAS, in demining the Afghan territory. During the last decade the EU contributed to Mine Action in Afghanistan with over 60 million EURO. We encourage the Government, in partnership with the international community, to continuing pursuing the goal of a mine free Afghanistan: such goal is instrumental, inter alia, for achieving the sustainable development goals.
The EU is alarmed by the high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan which are at record levels. Improving security remains fundamental for stability and development in Afghanistan. Therefore, we welcome the commitments made at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July in support of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
The past months have also seen a new spike in migration from Afghanistan while the country is also confronted with an increasing number of returnees particularly from neighbouring countries Iran and Pakistan but also from Europe and elsewhere. Support to sustainable reintegration of returnees is a key area of joint commitment under the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September. And the Sustainable Development Goals foresee the promotion of safe, responsible and orderly migration on basis of well managed migration policies. Therefore, we strongly encourage the Afghan Government to show leadership in addressing the needs of those displaced and returning to Afghanistan. Wishing to address some of the important challenges linked to migration, the EU and Afghanistan recently took a joint commitment (The Joint Way Forward) to step up cooperation on addressing and preventing irregular migration, in full respect of international law, including the principle of non-refoulement.
Yet, the EU remains convinced that the best way to fight irregular migration is to provide Afghans, and especially the younger generations, with better jobs and economic prospects through an increased economic and financial stability in Afghanistan. Our development cooperation will support also this aspect with specific measures, and we welcome the recent agreement between the Afghan Government and the International Monetary Fund on the Extended Credit Facility that will participate in improving macroeconomic stability and management in the country. The economic rapport provided for the Brussels Conference demonstrated that the fiscal and economic policies put in place by the Afghan Government are increasingly successful.
Finally, insecurity and instability are also fuelled by the illicit cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics, which remain an important concern for the European Union as they can have severe consequences for Afghanistan: high consumption rates within the population, fuelling the illicit economy, corruption of institutions and financing of international terrorism. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to continue to pursue a balanced and integrated approach within the framework of its National Drug Action Plan, with the full support of the international community, and in close cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other relevant regional frameworks such as the Paris Pact initiative.
In conclusion, Mr President,
It is important that the international community remains strongly committed to accompanying Afghanistan towards long-term progress and stability. From our side we will continue to support the transformation process to promote the emergence of a fully self-reliant, peaceful, democratic and prosperous society for the benefit of all Afghans.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
| Top |