Thank you, Mr. President.
Special Representative Kubis, welcome back to the Council, and thank you for your briefing today. I hope you will convey our deep appreciation to the UNAMA staff and UN country team for their continued service to the Afghan people. And, Ambassador Tanin, thank you for sharing your views, as always we value your close cooperation with the Security Council. I would also like to thank Ambassador Wittig for his leadership of the 1988 Committee and for the Afghanistan-related resolutions in the Council for the last few years.
Today, I will address Afghanistan’s continued transition, recent developments in the Afghan-led peace process, and the need to begin robust planning efforts for the UN role in Afghanistan post-2014.
Mr. President, Afghanistan continues to take the necessary steps towards a security and political transition in 2014. The security transition progresses as planned with over 75 percent of the Afghan population, including every provincial capital, now living in Afghan-led secured regions. As pledged in Chicago this year, the international community is committed to sustained assistance for Afghanistan’s security. And in Tokyo, we committed to development support for Afghanistan, in the context of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. These actions demonstrate the international community’s unwavering commitment to the Afghan people through Transition and into the Transformation Decade. President Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment in May when he signed our Strategic Partnership Agreement.
With the Afghan elections in 2014 approaching, we welcome the efforts underway by Afghan authorities to hold inclusive, transparent, and credible elections. These elections, as confirmed at the Tokyo Conference, will help to build a political system that reflects a pluralistic society and remains firmly founded in the Afghan Constitution. We appreciate the role Afghan civil society is playing in these preparations, and, of course, the UN’s work in support of the electoral process.
Recent regional economic development efforts have also shown encouraging signs, such as the economic-focused confidence building measures of the Istanbul Process, and we welcome the next Ministerial Meeting to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in April 2013.
Mr. President, as Afghanistan looks forward to security and political transitions in 2014, an inclusive political dialogue among Afghans is the surest path to long-term peace and stability. When President Obama visited Afghanistan in May, he discussed the importance of pursuing an Afghan-led reconciliation process. In Bonn in 2011 and in Tokyo this year, the international community again affirmed its support for a peace and reconciliation process.
We are encouraged by the briefing of Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Rabbani to the Council and the 1988 Committee last month. Afghans are sitting down with other Afghans to determine the future of their country. It is vital that all voices be heard, and we welcome the forum held in Kabul this month, at which Afghan leaders and parliamentarians joined with women representatives of the Provincial Peace Councils and the High Peace Council to discuss strategies for integrating the views of women in the reconciliation process. We also look forward to UNAMA’s plans for a complementary Track II national dialogue.
Mr. President, we appreciate the role regional actors can play. Their support will be critical to peace and stability in Afghanistan. The visit by Chairman Rabbani to Islamabad in November and the resulting joint statement is a powerful message to the region. We welcome Pakistan’s engagement and their call to bring the Taliban to the table in peace negotiations.
The Security Council aided in this process by supporting and promoting Afghan-led reconciliation through the 1988 committee. We again demonstrated our commitment this week by affirming the committee’s mandate to enact sanctions against those individuals associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan, as well as to encourage sanctioned individuals to reconcile. Those who refuse to meaningfully participate in reconciliation should know that the Security Council will continue to develop necessary measures to inhibit their ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan. At this point, it is up to the Taliban to fulfill its obligations and decide to move forward.
Mr. President, with the security and political transitions underway, we believe it is time for discussions about the UN’s role, including UNAMA and UN agencies after 2014. UN support has been indispensible and will remain so going forward. We look forward to the UN’s consulting with Afghanistan, the Council, regional partners, and member states in its planning and integrated vision for long-term support to the Afghan people.
The future of Afghanistan is indeed for Afghans to determine. Afghans themselves will need to have the difficult conversations about how to build an inclusive society that reflects their own needs and wants. The United States will continue to support them and welcomes the valuable contributions of the United Nations in these efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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