UN Security Council Debate: The Situation in Afghanistan
Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 22 June 2015.
Thank you Madam President and I also thank Nicholas Haysom the Secretary General’s Special Representative and Ambassador Tanin for their statements.
We want to begin by commending the Prime Minister and Chief Executive of the Government of Afghanistan for the progress they have made in establishing a new representative government for Afghanistan. That progress is not as much as they would have wanted – or we would have wanted – but we know that they have had to deal with considerable challenges, both internally and externally.
This morning’s horrible attack on Afghanistan’s Parliament and the fighting in Kunduz and Badakhshan provinces are saddening reminders of those challenges.
So, let’s be real about it and acknowledge that things are progressing pretty well, all things considered. But let’s also be real about the road ahead. It is going to be difficult.
We firmly believe Afghanistan can have a great future – both as a self-reliant and independent country and as a key player in the developing political and economic architecture of Central Asia.
But for that to happen, Afghanis – both those in power and those that empower their leaders - have to decide whether they want to forge a national future or whether they will revert to the pursuit of narrow self-advantage and in so doing consign their country and themselves to another bout of fratricidal introspection.
We earnestly hope that the Afghan people will choose the former course.
The trials through which Afghanistan has been over the past 15 years are incredible, in the true sense of that word.
Afghanistan was the locus of the forces that brought down the Twin Towers, damaged the Pentagon and, for all we know, might also have taken out the Congress or the White House. Those attacks, while centred on the United States, were an attack on universal human values and therefore on the basic principles that underlie this Organisation.
The response of the international community to those events was itself incredible – a marshalling of effort both to defeat Al Qaida and the Taleban and to restore Afghanistan and bring it back into the community of nations. That effort bears comparison to the Marshall Plan and the restoration of democracy in and the economic revival of Europe after the Second World War. We hope that the Afghan people recognise that this was no small nor narrow self-interested undertaking.
We should not lose that perspective when we consider the Secretary-General’s most recent report.
Clearly, there are things to be concerned about:
• The slow pace in the establishment of the apparatus of Government at both national and provincial levels;
• The postponing of Parliamentary elections;
• The continued undermining of Afghanistan’s economy and social cohesion by organised crime, especially in connection with the opium trade;
• And most of all, the deterioration in the security situation brought about, principally, by the Taleban who simultaneously hold themselves out as willing to engage with the Afghan Government while increasing the fight against the Afghanistan National Security Forces. Such internally inconsistent efforts are muddle-headed and betray a self-interestedness that negates any claim to be acting for a higher purpose, whether that is religious, national or local.
But there is also progress, both in the establishment of the institutions of government and in the maintenance of peace in many parts of the country, despite the efforts of those who seek to tear things down rather build their country up. Maintaining peace in such an environment is no small achievement. And we need to recognise that.
We want Afghanistan to succeed. New Zealand’s commitment to and investment in Afghanistan – especially to Bamiyan – are longer in duration to our commitment to the First World War or the Second World War. And our contribution was, we know, mirrored and exceeded by many others. In this context, we note, in particular, the willingness of the United States to extend its military and economic contribution under the New Development Partnership.
That is why we continue to play close attention to Afghanistan and why we continue to support UNAMA. It is means by which we, the international community, manifest our willingness to walk with and work with the Government of Afghanistan as it navigates the difficult road ahead.