Statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 16 March 2015.

Thank you, Special Representative Haysom, for your briefing, and for your work in Afghanistan.

That briefing, and this mandate renewal, come at a critical time for Afghanistan, as the National Unity Government seeks to establish itself, and as the country adjusts to post-ISAF realities.

Against that background, and the significant security, development and governance challenges still faced by the country, UNAMA’s role assumes even greater significance.

Over the last decade, the support of the international community, coupled with the sacrifice and effort of the Afghan people, has delivered real progress in security, health, education, and infrastructure. 

Indeed, we’ve all invested heavily in Afghanistan’s success, so it's important that this Council send a strong signal of unity, and of our ongoing commitment and support, as it enters its Decade of Transformation.

New Zealand’s commitment to Afghanistan since 2001, and our continued support through a training and development assistance programme, reflects the importance we attach to its long-term success.

New Zealand commends President Ghani and Dr Abdullah on forming the National Unity Government. 

Unified and responsible leadership is essential if Afghanistan is to move successfully from Transition to Transformation; and UNAMA and the international community will play an important role in supporting this. 

We look forward to progress on electoral reform, and the strengthening of Afghanistan’s governance institutions.

However, this Council must not lose sight of the ongoing security challenges facing Afghanistan.

Indeed, we should be concerned at the deterioration of the security situation.

Last year saw the second highest number of reported security incidents since 2002.

For the first time, ground engagements were the leading cause of civilian casualties.

So, we echo the Secretary-General’s call for all parties “to respect the laws of war, including the distinction between civilians and combatants, and to avoid using heavy weapons in civilian-populated areas”.

The Resolute Support Mission is a non-combat operation, so it’s critical that the Afghan National Security Forces maintain stability; and, for the foreseeable future, that will require the ongoing support of international partners.

Longer-term, Mr President, peace can only come if we meet the development aspirations of the Afghan people.

As we say so often, in so many different situations, economic development is key to stability and self-reliance.

In the short term, we’ll need to help mitigate the severe economic impacts of ISAF’s withdrawal.

In that, again, UNAMA will play an essential role.

It must provide assistance, particularly through its engagement on human rights; it must promote coherence and coordination of international support; and, of course, it must work with the Afghan Government to align all that with national needs and priorities. 

New Zealand has often said, before and since it joined this Council, that we must do better at conflict prevention; and we say it again in the context of Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan stands again at a crucial juncture: the risk of relapse into conflict can be avoided, but we must all support Afghanistan to remain on the path to peace.

Economic development will be central to that pathway.

New Zealand supports and encourages the Government of Afghanistan’s pursuit of reconciliation with moderate Taliban – but that can only happen at a pace and in a manner acceptable to Afghanistan. 

It is important that this Council’s implementation of the Taliban sanctions regime also supports efforts towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

New Zealand chairs the Committee established under Resolution 1988, and recognises the role the Committee can play in achieving positive outcomes for Afghanistan.

New Zealand is pleased that today’s resolution provides for the Secretary-General to begin examining the activities, structure and role of the UN system in Afghanistan “in close consultation” with the Afghan Government. 

Such consultation is essential in this Transformation Decade; so we commend this Council’s willingness to engage directly with Afghanistan, so that its views are reflected in the renewed mandate.

That, Mr President, has produced a good outcome, in line with the principle of national ownership. 

Indeed, New Zealand welcomes the Afghanistan Government’s wish to take a greater role in the leadership and ownership of its own security and development.

We see all that as a natural and necessary step in any emergence from conflict; certainly, in any emergence that's consistent with core peace-building principles.

We therefore wish Afghanistan well, and offer our ongoing support for those endeavours.