New Zealand welcomes the progress made in Afghanistan since this time last year; and, in particular, congratulates the Government of Afghanistan on holding the first elections run wholly by Afghan authorities.
While New Zealand was very concerned at the level of fraud in those elections, we welcome the respect shown by all parties for the electoral complaints process.
New Zealand believes attention must now be focussed on securing a safe and secure future for Afghanistan.
To this end we call on President Karzai to move swiftly to form a new, inclusive, credible and effective Government.
We encourage him, with the support of the international community, including New Zealand, to build a renewed relationship with the people of Afghanistan by addressing deep-seated problems facing the country in security, governance, corruption, human rights, development, justice and narcotics.
New Zealand urges the new Government to ensure that the legislation that was passed immediately before the election complies with its international human rights obligations, particularly those protecting the rights of women and children.
New Zealand strongly condemns the recent attack on UN staff in Kabul, and we express our sympathy to the victims and their families.
New Zealand agrees with the Secretary-General as to the importance of protecting UN personnel, who often work in trying and dangerous environments in their efforts to build a secure future for Afghanistan; and, while we accept the need to relocate many personnel, we welcome the Secretary-General’s commitment that the UN “will not be deterred” from its important role in Afghanistan.
The security situation, especially in the south and east of Afghanistan, continues seriously to hamper development by limiting the reach of the Afghan Government and humanitarian agencies and hindering their ability to improve the lives of the Afghan people.
Afghan military and police capability must be strengthened to deal with this deteriorating security situation; and, in this regard, we welcome ISAF Commander, General McChrystal’s, renewed focus on training and mentoring.
Indeed, empowering Afghan forces to lead on security in Afghanistan is a key commitment for the international community, and New Zealand is doing its part to meet this commitment.
Although New Zealand faces other security challenges closer to home, the New Zealand Defence Force has led the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province for more than six years.
That PRT is building the capacity of the Afghan National Police to take responsibility for security in the province.
In addition, we recently redeployed our special forces to Kabul to work alongside the Afghan Crisis Response Unit.
That redeployment, and our work in the Bamyan PRT, demonstrates New Zealand’s long-standing desire to promote the safety and security of the Afghan people.
In parallel, New Zealand is expanding its civilian assistance to Afghanistan with a particular focus on agriculture in Bamyan.
We are also continuing our support for rural livelihood programmes, education and health services, and the capacity-development of provincial governmental, non-governmental and civil society organisations.
While we welcome the progress made in recent years, we believe a continued, sustained commitment by the international community will remain necessary to help Afghanistan build a positive future; and New Zealand is committed to playing its part in securing that outcome for the people of Afghanistan.