Thank you, Mr. President.
Special Representative Kubiš, thank you for your briefing today. As always, we are grateful to UNAMA’s staff and to the UN country team for the hard and challenging work they do in helping Afghans lay the foundation for a more stable and prosperous country. We remain solid supporters of the UN’s role in Afghanistan today and to its enduring role beyond 2014. And Ambassador Tanin, thank you for joining today’s discussion. As always, we value your close cooperation with the Security Council, and the United States is of course committed to supporting a fully sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan.
Mr. President, let me touch on four issues this morning: security transition, political transition, human rights, and what the international community needs to do to help Afghanistan be successful going forward.
First, I would like to recognize the continued progress in Afghanistan’s security transition. The Afghan National Security Forces have successfully taken the lead for security nationwide, with ISAF forces moving into a support role this past June. I commend the quick response of the Afghan and ISAF security forces who secured our consulate and personnel in Herat after the September 13 terrorist attack, and I offer our condolences to the Afghan victims and their families. We thank the government of Afghanistan for their support and ongoing partnership. Today it is Afghan forces who are defending the Afghan people and the Afghan government. That is as it should be. And it is also appropriate that we continue to support them in that role, especially with the onset of elections next year.
This leads to my second point. We cannot stress enough that the next few months will be critical for a peaceful and constitutional political transition. A transparent, credible and inclusive electoral process is essential to Afghanistan’s stability and democratic development, as well as to sustaining international assistance to the Afghan government, which has been very clear about its intention to hold the elections as scheduled and are already constructively engaged. In this regard, we commend Parliament’s passage of election laws, which President Karzai signed at the end of July, and the ongoing implementation of these laws, including the seating of the Independent Election Commissioners and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission. The support and engagement of the international community, both bilaterally and through the UN, remains essential.
But these political and security transitions are not happening in a vacuum. Human rights matter. And my third point is that, as we progress through the transition period and beyond, it is imperative that human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls, are protected and promoted. The improvements in human rights, especially the rights of women, made since 2001 must not be reversed. We are deeply disturbed, as others have indicated as well, by recent reports of targeted, and in some cases deadly, attacks on Afghan female police, civil servants, government officials as well as on others. Afghan women have a tremendous contribution to make to the future of their country and they must be part of Afghanistan’s civic life – as leaders and decision-makers. The role and participation of civil society actors and other women's rights advocates in decision-making processes is critical to ensuring peace and stability. There can be no overall progress in Afghanistan without women's progress. And regarding the appointment of Commissioners to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in July, we want to stress how essential it is that the AIHRC’s independence and integrity be upheld, that the commissioners themselves be independent, and that the Commission be seen as credible in the eyes of the Afghan people.
Fourth and finally, regional and international support must be sustained even beyond this transition process to give Afghans a chance to build this better future. We look forward to the International Contact Group and Heart of Asia meetings in the next few days here in New York. The UN must play a central role as Afghanistan undergoes important political, security and economic transitions. UNAMA’s leadership should continue to provide support to the 2014 Afghan elections, including close engagement with the Independent Election Commission on training, public information campaigns, and fraud mitigation efforts.
Mr. President, a pivotal period lies ahead for Afghanistan. The United States remains committed to a lasting partnership with Afghanistan as it goes through transition and approaches its decade of transformation.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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