19 December 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council debate on UNAMA
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report. I would also like to thank Special Representative Yamamoto for his briefing.
Let me start by reiterating our full support for the continuing important role played by UNAMA and all the UN agencies in supporting the Afghan people, and in coordinating the international community’s assistance.
Afghanistan has made considerable political, security, economic and developmental progress over the past decade, for which the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people deserve much credit. But the gains made are fragile and major challenges remain. This is why the international community’ support to Afghanistan is still necessary.
This was confirmed last October at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan (BCA) which reiterated the continued commitment of the international community to Afghanistan. As noted the international community pledged USD 15.2 billion in support of Afghanistan’s development priorities for the period 2017 – 2020. Showcasing its sustained commitment toward Afghanistan, the European Union, as a whole, pledged EUR 5 billion (USD 5.6 billion). These figures express the continued engagement of the international community in Afghanistan, an engagement based on the principle of mutual accountability between the Afghan government and the international donors. Furthermore, the Brussels Conference gave a clear sign of support for the National Unity Government to continue along its reform path, including electoral reforms; reform of the Afghan public administration, economy and governance, including human rights, the rights of women and children and the fight against corruption.
As an integral part of the Conference, a high-level event on women’s empowerment was organized jointly by the Government of Afghanistan and the EU which focused on the ways and means of empowering Afghan women to build a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, as well as reinforcing the political and human rights of Afghan women and how to realise those rights in everyday life. The participants of the high-level event took stock of developments over the last decade, and concluded that many positive changes have occurred in the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, though further improvement is essential for the country’s development and should remain a priority.
In the words of the High Representative Federica Mogherini, the empowerment of women is not only a matter of human rights and social justice; it is also about development; it is about human growth; it’s about security; it is about fulfilling the potential of Afghanistan“. The European Union will continue to support the Afghan authorities in their efforts to increase women’s participation in society and the economy. We also welcome efforts in the multilateral context such as the work of the Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security which has recently focused on Afghanistan.
The EU welcomes the priority the Afghan government placed on fighting corruption, which remains a major obstacle to development and stability and stresses the need to further strengthen the efforts in tackling corruption. Positive developments have occurred since the start of activity of the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (ACJC) which recently held its first trials. But more needs to be done, including at the legislative level – political guidance is needed to articulate the administrative structure and relationships between institutions dealing with anticorruption which should be reflected in the new Anti-Corruption Law’. The EU will continue its support in view of achieving progress in the important area of the fight against corruption.
The international community welcomed the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework and its ambitious development vision. Strong focus of the NUG on its implementation, including the national priority programs will be crucial. The international community expects the Afghan government to do well on its Brussels commitments. In that endeavour, it is important to establish a well-functioning follow-up and progress-tracking mechanism at country level. We look forward to a first round of high-level stock-taking after the Brussels conference in about a year’s time.
Therefore, the EU and its MS welcome the appointments of new commissioners to the Independent Elections Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, an important step to restore public trust in Afghan democratic institutions. While early engagement and assistance to the new electoral institutions is paramount, the EU, together with other international donors, will be attentive that any support to the electoral bodies is effectively and sustainably managed. Meaningful electoral reform should lead to the improved periodic electoral process.
The EU and its MS will continue to support the government in its efforts to establish a responsive, efficient and effective civil service, free from patronage and accountable to the Afghan people. We also welcome the recent launching of the Citizen’s Charter, involving the local communities in the development processes with a particular focus on improving the quality of service delivery particularly in education, health, basic rural infrastructure, and agriculture services. These will be key to reduce poverty and break the cycle of fragility and violence. We note National Priority Programme on Women’s economic empowerment is progressing.
The European Union has made a clear commitment towards the request of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to its development partners to shift assistance increasingly towards country systems. In this endeavour, we established a State-Building Contract as our vehicle to provide direct, on-budget assistance. This State-Building Contract will complement our existing activities, providing the Government with additional fiscal space to finance its own strategic development priorities and policies, as outlined in the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework and the National Priority Plans.
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.
This is why the EU believes that regional fora such as the Heart of Asia-Istanbul process or the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) should be used to facilitate the cooperation among all regional actors. Of course, such discussions are difficult and progress in regional cooperation can take convoluted path but they remain the only way to “win the peace” in Afghanistan.
In the margins of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the European Union hosted the a high level political discussion with key regional actors on Afghanistan. In the presence of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah, the exchange pointed to an emerging regional consensus to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned political process aimed at achieving a negotiated peace settlement in Afghanistan.
We reiterate our call on all countries to support such an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. It is time to invest in Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity – and to abandon the tactics of violence, destabilisation and misery.
Indeed, political support, significant investments and further cooperation are required to improve connectivity and to unlock the growth potential that would benefit Afghanistan and the region altogether. Besides economic development, security and migration issues are better addressed through a regional approach. A basis for a common regional support for Afghanistan must be found.
Migration continues to represent an important challenge for both European Union and Afghanistan, which reaffirm the common aim to work together within the UN framework to shape a global answer based on solidarity and shared responsibilities.
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. The effective and successful implementation of this JWF is key and it is now on-going.
At the same time, the EU continues to pay a particular attention to the developments regarding the Afghan refugees’ regional dimension. The EU is fully supporting the principles contained in the Sustainable Development Goals which foresee the promotion of safe, responsible and orderly migration on basis of well managed migration policies. While strongly encouraging the Afghan Government to show leadership in addressing the needs of those displaced and returning to Afghanistan, the EU stands ready to facilitate and support an orderly return and sustainable reintegration efforts.
The EU is concerned that the number of civilian casualties due to conflict and attacks by all fighting parties have reached record numbers again in 2016, with insurgency attacks very often indiscriminately targeting the civilian population and increasingly affecting women and children. We need to be very clear on this. The EU condemns these insurgent groups’ attacks which threaten the stability and progress of Afghanistan. More than ever we need to continue to protect the vital role of humanitarian agencies and respect their impartiality and humanitarian space in addressing the most urgent needs of the most vulnerable.
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. The EU welcomes all initiatives to create a conducive environment for such a process, particularly the efforts undertaken by the Afghan government, and calls on all parties to engage in constructive solutions.
After the breakthrough of the Hezb-e-Islami peace agreement, for which the Afghan government deserves credit, it will now be important to implement it, and open the way for future peace agreements. The EU remains fully committed to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process including all Afghan citizens and their legitimate interests preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and equal rights of all Afghans under the Constitution of Afghanistan.
Mr. President, Excellences, Colleagues
It is important that the international community remains strongly committed to accompanying Afghanistan towards long-term progress and stability. The consequences of disengagement should not be underestimated, and we value UNAMA’s critical role in promoting peace and security for all Afghans. From our side, the EU 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.
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