Ministry Statements & Speeches:
I thank you Mr President.
New Zealand looks forward to the adoption of the resolution on the ‘situation in Afghanistan' which we are cosponsoring. We hope it will be adopted later this week. It reflects the progress made and recognises the challenges facing Afghanistan.
Like everyone else in this chamber, New Zealand wants Afghanistan to succeed. Like others, we have invested a lot in Afghanistan’s future. We have put 10 years of effort into building security and governance in Bamiyan and in cooperation with others, in building Bamiyan’s infrastructure and productive capacity. We have helped train Afghanistan’s National Defence and Security Forces, both in Bamiyan and in Kabul. We are continuing that effort as part of the officer training school for the Afghan National Army.
At the moment, New Zealand is also chairing the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee and the 1267 al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, in that capacity, are seeing to build stronger links between the Security Council and the Government of Afghanistan to ensure that the sanctions regimes both suppresses terrorism and support Government efforts in reconciliation.
It is important to note the positive developments over the past year. These include progress in developing the institutions of government, the holdings of direct talks between the Governments of Afghanistan and the Taliban in July, and maintaining peace and security in significant parts of the country. We also acknowledge the bravery and the success of the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces in their efforts to preserve peace in their country following the drawdown of international forces.
However, as we all know, there is much still to do and many challenges still to overcome.
At the Government level, there need to be further appointments to key positions such as the Minister of Defence and the Attorney-General. It is not credible that such important posts remain unfilled, particularly while the Taleban continue to fight the Government of Afghanistan while engaging at a minimal level in ‘peace talks’. Meanwhile, organised crime continues to undermine Afghanistan’s economy and stability. Much of that happens despite Government efforts. But it is also a sad reality that complicity and corruption on the part of some Government officials, is also a part of the reason why this illegal trade has continued to flourish.
The international community has put enormous resources into Afghanistan over the past 14 years, in defeating al Qaeda and rolling back the Taleban, in re-establishing security in much of the country, and in under-writing the Government of Afghanistan as well as in investing in large, medium and small-scale development projects. We know that effort has to continue but the international community cannot do this without the active cooperation of the Government of Afghanistan.
The same holds true for Afghanistan’s neighbours; as long as Afghanistan remains unstable, they have a security problem on their borders. We urge all of Afghanistan’s neighbours, therefore, to work with the Government of Afghanistan to build security for Afghanistan and for the wider region.
We recognise the complications of the past few months. These include the offensive in Kunduz, the revelation of the death of Mullah Omar, the effective suspension of the peace talks with the Taleban since July and the increased presence of ISIL affiliates in Afghanistan.
The medium and longer term implications of these challenges remain unclear. However, we can be certain that they will require the continued attention and vigilance of the Government of Afghanistan, the countries of the region and the wider international community.
As the fighting in Afghanistan subsides over the winter we should reflect on ways that Afghanistan, with the international community behind it, might use the available tools to meet these challenges. It may be that sanctions can be further utilised to target those who are not responding to calls to put down their arms, and those who fuel the instability through narcotics trafficking and natural resources smuggling. We need to place more pressure on access to components of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which are responsible for many of the devastating attacks against civilians and the Afghan Security Forces.
These and many other questions need to be considered in close consultation with the Government of Afghanistan.
I thank you