New Zealand thanks Under-Secretary-General Ladsous, and Ambassadors Tanin and Fedotov for their briefings.
Although we welcome recent developments in Afghanistan, which give room for cautious optimism; we remain mindful that it continues to face many serious challenges.
For example, while there is an encouraging trend of fewer civilian casualties overall, we are particularly concerned that by the increasing trend towards deliberately targeting civilians.
Like others, we applaud the outcomes of last month’s NATO/ISAF Summit in Chicago which highlighted clear progress, and reconfirmed the commitment of ISAF contributors to the transition strategy and to the future of Afghanistan.
New Zealand continues to play its part, and will provide trainers to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy from 2013, and contribute financial support for the Afghan National Security Forces from 2015, targeted at rule of law initiatives in Bamyan.
We will also, Mr President, provide on-going development assistance to Afghanistan, focused especially on Bamyan province.
The work to train and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces is vital; and we’re pleased to be able to continue contributing to that endeavour after the end of the ISAF mission.
In that regard we especially support UNAMA, as it highlights the importance of a distinct civilian role for the police; and we welcome the Ministry of Interior’s National Police Plan, prioritising community-based policing, strengthening crime detection and prevention, safeguarding human rights, and combating violence against women and children.
Recent experiences in Bamyan suggest this work will be vital in ensuring local populations develop the necessary trust and respect for their police force.
We also take this opportunity to recognise the UN’s important work in advocating for accountability mechanisms within the Afghan security forces.
Mr President -
The forthcoming Tokyo conference provides another opportunity for the international community to make different kinds of commitments to Afghanistan’s long-term sustainability.
Over the past decade, the international community has invested much in Afghanistan; and we now hope that, at Tokyo, Afghanistan will be able to make its own commitments to ensure that the international community can continue to invest in the country’s future.
We are pleased that Bamyan is on track to complete transition later this year.
There will, nevertheless, continue to be a role for the New Zealand PRT in the months that follow transition.
This will include the final stages of mentoring the Provincial Quick Reaction Force, securing the substantive completion of development projects, and supporting local authorities as they lead the province into its post-transition future.
The New Zealand PRT will then complete its work in Bamyan and withdraw before the end of 2013, thus modelling the full life cycle of the transition process while also fulfilling our commitments to the people of Bamyan.
We are, however, keenly aware, Mr President, that the many serious challenges still facing Afghanistan must not be underplayed; and so, we confirm our commitment to continue working with Afghanistan, with its international partners, and with the UN, in meeting these challenges together.