20 September 2012Statement by Philip Parham, UK Deputy Permanent Representative at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan
Thank you Mr President.
I thank the Secretary-General for his report and his Special Representative Jan Kubis for his briefing. And I also welcome the contribution of the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Dr. Rassoul, to today’s debate.
I will focus my statement on three areas: the Tokyo Development Conference, progress on transition, and the strength of regional cooperation and support to Afghanistan.
First, on Tokyo. There has been significant progress on development in Afghanistan over the last decade. Millions more children attend schools and 85 per cent of the population is now has access basic healthcare facilities. But Afghanistan will need further support to maintain this progress. The Tokyo Development conference brought the international community together to respond to this challenge. Major commitments were made by international donors to demonstrate long term support for Afghanistan, to a total of 16 billion dollars over four years. The United Kingdom has committed to maintain funding at current levels – 178 million pounds a year, every year, for five years.
The Afghan Government has acknowledged that it must play its part in return. The Mutual Accountability Framework adopted at Tokyo commits the Afghan Government to improve governance, undertake electoral reforms, tackle corruption and promote human rights, especially those of women. We look forward to working with the Afghan Government in achieving those goals over the coming months and years.
Second, on transition. Transition of responsibility for security arrangements to the Afghan authorities is progressing well. 75 per cent of the Afghan population will soon live in regions where the Afghan National Security Forces take the lead for security arrangements. The fact that there has been no significant deterioration of public order in areas where transition has taken place is a testament to the success of this programme. The issue of so-called “green on blue” attacks has featured prominently this week. The security of our deployed forces in Afghanistan, or anywhere in the world, remains a top priority. But this does not imply any shift in ISAF’s commitment to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our counterparts in the Afghan National Security Forces.
It is the tragedy of all conflicts that civilians often carry the heaviest burden of suffering. The protection of the Afghan civilian population remains at the core of ISAF’s military strategy. ISAF forces work hard to minimise levels of civilian casualties, and, as the Secretary-General’s report once again highlights, ISAF has had considerable success in this. On the other hand, the United Kingdom notes with grave concern that the insurgency continues to target civilians indiscriminately.
Thirdly, on regional cooperation. The United Kingdom welcomes the significant progress made through the Istanbul Process. The United Kingdom is one of a number of supporting countries to the process, sharing expertise and providing technical assistance where requested.
The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary participated in the Kabul Ministerial conference in June, where we offered our support to the Confidence Building Measures on disaster management, counter terrorism, counter narcotics and the Chambers of Commerce. Regional cooperation of this type will be key to support the future stability of Afghanistan, and it is reassuring to see such commitment from all involved.
UNAMA has a vital role to play, both during and beyond transition, in coordinating international efforts and supporting the Government of Afghanistan as it delivers on its commitments. It is important that we find the right level of funding for UNAMA’s activities. Just as it is essential that clear, strategic criteria underpins decisions to find budget efficiencies. Special Representative Kubis, you have our full support in this as you ensure that UNAMA continues to implement its core mandate as set out in Security Council resolution 2041.
Over the course of 2012, the Afghan Government has made a number of significant undertakings. In parallel, from the Chicago Conference in May to the Kabul Ministerial in June and the Tokyo Development Conference in July, the international community has demonstrated that its commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term. Let me conclude by making clear that the United Kingdom will continue to work with the Afghan Government and people, as well as the international community, to build a stable future for Afghanistan.
Thank you, Mr President.