27 November 2012Statement by Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN at the General Assembly debate on Afghanistan
Let me thank the German delegation for the excellent work they’ve done in steering the negotiations on today’s resolution, as well as the Government of Afghanistan for their constructive engagement throughout.
Today, I want to focus on what the United Kingdom considers to be key issues ahead in Afghanistan: firstly, the transition of security from NATO to Afghan forces; secondly, the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process; thirdly, the 2014 Afghan elections; and fourthly, the long-term international commitment to Afghanistan.
First, on transition: 2014 is drawing near. NATO continues the important work of handing over security to the Afghan National Security Forces. The United Kingdom remains confident in the ability of all parties to get this done within the agreed timescale.
We are confident because the transition is working well and is on track. The Afghan National Security Forces are growing in strength and capability. They are taking responsibility for their own security and doing so with enthusiasm and professionalism.
But we have always recognised that there is no purely military solution to the situation in Afghanistan, which is why peace and reconciliation remain key.
The objective here remains the same. We support the Afghan Government in their attempts to secure a peaceful political settlement, and agree that this should be done in unity with key partners in the region.
The Security Council’s renewal of the 1988 sanctions regime next month is an opportunity to contribute further to this process. We must ensure that designated individuals can travel to participate in reconciliation talks. And that the designation criteria focus specifically on those who pose a threat to Afghanistan’s security.
It is imperative that we continue to build on the momentum and achievements to date. The United Kingdom welcomes the visit of the Afghan High Peace Council to Pakistan earlier this month. We understand that talks held were very productive and are encouraged by the clear commitment of both parties to the peace and reconciliation process.
We welcome in particular the call to the Taliban and other armed opposition groups to participate in the peace process, and to sever links with Al Qaeda and other international terrorist networks.
The United Kingdom will continue to do all it can to support efforts by Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen their cooperation on this important issue.
Thirdly, turning to Afghan elections,
These elections, planned for 5 April 2014, will bring many challenges. But we cannot underestimate their importance.
The United Kingdom looks forward to credible and inclusive elections, delivering a peaceful transition of power to a government decided by the people of Afghanistan. They will demand nothing less, and the international community will strongly support this objective.
To achieve these aspirations, transparency is key. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to tackle the issues which have overshadowed previous elections, ensuring that the prospects of voter fraud and violent incidents are reduced.
Finally, let me reiterate the long-term commitment of the United Kingdom to Afghanistan.
The United Kingdom will continue to build on our excellent security partnership, to further social and economic ties and to form closer cultural links with Afghanistan. The Enduring Strategic Partnership Document, agreed by the United Kingdom and Afghanistan earlier this year, provides the basis for those ambitions.
The international community as a whole has made clear its enduring commitment to Afghanistan. And we are pleased that today’s General Assembly resolution is yet another signal of this.
The NATO Chicago summit, followed by the Tokyo Conference, provided clear evidence of this commitment. The pledges made on both occasions demonstrated the seriousness with which we are approaching post-2014 Afghanistan.
The United Kingdom will continue to meet the obligations into which we have entered, and we are committed to ensuring that all parties do likewise.
In particular, we strongly support the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework as an invaluable mechanism to manage commitments of the international community and Afghanistan to each other.
Finally, Mr. President, the United Nations has a crucial and enduring role to play in Afghanistan. We will continue to ensure that it has the right people, the right objectives and appropriate resources to carry out its important work.
I thank you.