New Zealand joins the Secretary General in thanking Special Representative Staffan de Mistura for his leadership and service in Afghanistan and looks forward to working with Jan Kubis. We also welcome the Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister to the Council.
New Zealand is pleased that the Secretary General’s latest report identifies further, steady improvement in Afghanistan. We welcome progress with the Kabul Process; and are encouraged by the work of the Afghan Government to resolve the Kabul Bank situation and to achieve a successful outcome to its negotiations with the IMF.
However, the SG’s report also identifies challenges still to be confronted, and we remain committed to working with partners to address these.
Since we last addressed this Council on Afghanistan, the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team has overseen the formal commencement of transition in Bamyan province – one of the first to embark on that process - and I’m pleased to report that transition is proceeding smoothly. The PRT has made a conscious effort to encourage the people of Bamyan to turn first to their own government for assistance. As a result, the local authorities are taking the opportunities offered by transition increasingly to assume responsibility for their own affairs.
Going forward, it will be important that the Afghan Government is able to address Bamyan’s needs. Transition imposes greater responsibility on provincial officials. Central government must support those officials, by providing adequate resources, delegating authority, and, above all, by demonstrating a willingness – indeed, it must demonstrate a determination – to replace the few corrupt or incompetent actors with merit-based appointment. Otherwise, the Bamyan population will continue to look past the provincial government to the donor and NGO community to deliver basic services.
We welcome the UN’s ongoing work to promote and encourage coherence between ISAF, donors and the Afghan Government - work that better links the Government to its people. As we all cooperate to achieve the ultimate aim of transition, we urge the UN to continue this vital work, as there’s still room for improvement to achieve better coordination and communication. The UN-supported Central Statistics Organisation survey of Bamyan Province was an excellent initiative; but more attention to the sharing of its results would have a positive effect on the ability of local government to meet the needs of its populations.
The transition process is fragile Mr President, but we should not underestimate the capacity of Afghan institutions, officials and people to respond to the needs of their communities. With on-going support from the PRT, from the international community and, most importantly, from the central government in Kabul, there are reasons to hope for a successful conclusion to transition in Bamyan in 2013.
New Zealand was very concerned at UNAMA’s October report on the widespread mistreatment of detainees in Afghan Government facilities. We are grateful for the UN’s investigation of this difficult issue and applaud UNAMA for its careful handling of the report’s conclusions. New Zealand has expressed its concerns directly to the Afghan Government. We welcome its initial response, but also support ISAF’s immediate suspension of detainee transfers to the named facilities. Above all, we reiterate that the Government of Afghanistan must continue to address that issue.
We also welcome UNAMA’s report on the implementation of the 2009 law on the Elimination of Violence against Women. But, despite some progress, New Zealand’s own experience of the application of the Law by Afghan judges, prosecutors and police accords with many of UNAMA’s own findings. Even in Bamyan - a province that, most commendably, has had a woman governor since 2005 - the vast majority of cases involving violence against women are not dealt with adequately through the formal justice system. The resulting treatment of victims is degrading. We urge the Afghan Government, with UN support, to continue promoting the proper application of the 2009 law, including, where this is required, replacement of corrupt or ineffective officials.
New Zealand strongly supports the outcomes of the recent international meetings on Afghanistan. The Istanbul meeting sent an important regional signal of a strong commitment to Afghanistan; and we are encouraged by the sense of commitment of all participants at the Bonn meeting.
Mr President, like everyone else on the ground in Afghanistan, New Zealand has worked hard to achieve good outcomes in Bamyan, and remains committed to seeing the transition process through to a successful conclusion.
Then, Mr President, it will be for the people of Bamyan themselves, and their governments - central, provincial and district - to secure their own, long-term future.