Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Debate on Afghanistan and UNAMA
Thank you, Mr. President. Let me also thank Special Representative Steffan de Mistura for his briefing today and for his continued strong leadership of UNAMA. I’m also pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Rassoul, and we thank you for your leadership and your statement.
The staff of UNAMA has the full support of the United States in their challenging and important work in assisting the Afghan people. We applaud them again for their service and sacrifice.
Mr. President, our goal in Afghanistan remains unchanged: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and prevent its return. More international forces are focused on reversing the Taliban's momentum. We’re providing security for the Afghan people; we’re working in partnership with the Afghan security forces so that Afghans themselves can assume more and more responsibility for their country’s security.
The United States is committed to ensuring that this transition to Afghan-led responsibility for security is conditions-based and irreversible and managed through a process agreed to by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community at the Kabul Conference. Some parts of Afghanistan are nearly ready for transition now; others will require more time and effort on all of our parts. We are providing civilian experts and mentors for the police and army, which are critical to ensuring that the transition occurs smoothly. Based upon Afghanistan’s transition plan, we will help Afghanistan meet its goal of taking the lead on security by 2014.
Mr. President, this transition does not at all lessen our commitment to the Afghan people. The United States will continue to provide assistance to help build the capacities of Afghan institutions to withstand and reduce the threat posed by extremism. We’re also helping to build up the Afghan institutional capacity to deliver high-impact economic assistance—especially in the agricultural sector—to create jobs, improve governance, fight narcotics, and draw insurgents off the battlefield. Our support is focused at the national level on Afghan ministries that can most directly affect service delivery, particularly in the geographic heart of the insurgency, the South and the East. We are also adapting our programs to account for local realities and broadening our support at the provincial and district levels to enhance the visibility, effectiveness, and accountability of the institutions that can improve Afghan lives the most.
When representatives of more than 70 governments and international organizations gathered in Kabul in July, we made clear our lasting commitment to our partnership with Afghanistan. The Kabul Conference launched an ambitious process to chart a vision for Afghanistan’s future. The Kabul Process reflects a commitment to accountability, including clear benchmarks and milestones. And the United States fully supports the priorities and goals identified by the Afghan government.
We welcome, as well, UNAMA’s commitment to aligning aid behind the Government of Afghanistan’s priorities, and UNAMA’s support for the government’s push for greater aid coherence and effectiveness. We look forward to seeing the UN’s integrated strategic framework as mentioned in the Secretary General’s report and its definition of priority areas for UN engagement in support of Afghanistan’s transition.
Mr. President, let me turn now to the key role that the Security Council's al-Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Committee can play in fostering stability in Afghanistan. We commend the 1267 Committee for its recent delisting of ten Taliban individuals who are either deceased or reconciled, as well as the Committee's designation of three individuals who possessed strong links to the Taliban. We continue to believe that individuals who have ceased violence against the Afghan state, cut ties to al-Qaeda, and accepted the Afghan Constitution should be considered reconciled and removed from the 1267 sanctions list. We must ensure that the 1267 list keeps pace with the evolving threat, and we encourage the Government of Afghanistan and all member states to provide updates to the 1267 Committee, as well as well-documented listing and delisting requests, to ensure the list’s accuracy. Recent improvements to the Committee's listing and delisting procedures will make the 1267 regime a stronger, more credible tool in our overall efforts to combat terrorism and bolster peace and security in Afghanistan.
Finally, Mr. President, let me also comment on the elections just concluded in Afghanistan. These elections, held under extremely difficult circumstances, were the first parliamentary elections to be run entirely by Afghan institutions since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The Secretary-General's report and the briefing we have just heard described the extensive electoral preparations by the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission and the Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission and the important support provided by the UN. These preparations resulted in a historic step for the Afghan people. We applaud the courage, resolve, and patriotism of those who voted, male and female, despite Taliban threats, intimidation, and violence.
These elections would not have been possible without the Afghan National Security Forces, which bravely protected the Afghan people from the foes of the democratic process. We condemn the Taliban’s attacks on members of the security forces and on innocent civilians seeking to do nothing more than cast their democratic ballots. On behalf of the United States, let me pass on my profound sympathies to those who were injured and my deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed.
As Special Representative de Mistura said, it will be some time before the results of these elections are finalized. Independent Afghan electoral institutions will now count the votes, respond to complaints and allegations of fraud, and ultimately announce results that reflect the will of the Afghan people. The United States supports this Afghan-led process. These elections must be credible and transparent in the eyes of the Afghan people, who will be the ultimate judge of their success. We support UNAMA’s plans to remain closely engaged with Afghan institutions as they count and tabulate results over the next few weeks. We must not lose sight of the need for long-term electoral reform. This must remain an important priority, and my government supports UNAMA’s plans to focus on this area after the election as well.
Mr. President, these elections are a single, but important, step toward a stronger, more stable Afghanistan. The United States remains steadfastly committed to helping Afghanistan achieve a peaceful and prosperous future that the people of Afghanistan so deserve.
Thank you, Mr. President.