UN: EU statement on report of the SC Mission to Afghanistan

UN 61st Session; Security Council, Report of the SC Mission to Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Ms. Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the European Union

New York, 7 December 2006

Mr President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union highly commends the timely mission to Afghanistan by the Security Council under the able leadership of Ambassador Oshima. The Mission is a clear sign of continued commitment of the International Community to the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The EU supports the findings of the mission.

Afghanistan has achieved significant progress in recent years. However, serious challenges, threatening to undermine achievements to date, remain and have in some cases become more acute in the fields of security, drug production, governance and human rights, anti-corruption and economic development. Afghanistan is at a critical juncture and urgent, coordinated steps must be taken by the Afghan government and the international community to face up to these challenges. The military dimension of our efforts should go hand in hand with a strong, high-profile political engagement.

Mr. President,

I would like to affirm EU's unwavering and long-term support for the government and people of Afghanistan. This engagement is based on the Afghanistan Compact and the Joint Political Declaration adopted by the European Union and the government of Afghanistan on 16 November 2005.

EU's assistance fosters the establishment of a democratic, accountable, sustainable and self-sufficient Afghan State capable of exercising its sovereignty and protecting the rights of its citizens. The European Union attaches special importance to the protection of human rights, paying special attention to the rights of women and children. The EU encourages the Government of Afghanistan to reinforce its commitment to human rights and reconciliation through increased support to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the implementation of the Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Action Plan.

The fight against corruption and impunity remains a cross-cutting priority and in this regard we highlight the core importance of Afghani leadership and responsibility.

In 2002-2006, the European Union collectively contributed € 3.7 billion in aid to Afghanistan, amounting to one third of the aid pledged by the international community.  EU Member States have played leading coordinating roles in particular sectors and have made large contributions to security, including through current provision of around half the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) amounting to over 16 000 troops, and participation in Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).

The European Union places particular importance on the rule of law and we are currently considering ways to increase our engagement in this sector. As the report points out, progress on the rule of law, including police and justice both at central and at provincial level, is essential to the security and long term stability of Afghanistan. The European Commission intends to increase contributions for justice reform and local governance inter alia through Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) led by or with substantial assets from EU Member States.

We have also been actively supporting counter-narcotics efforts. Earlier this year the EU adopted an Action Oriented Plan to combat the production of drugs in and trafficking from Afghanistan and along heroin routes. The National Drug Control Strategy represents an appropriate approach for tackling the problem, under the primary responsibility of the Afghan Government. Good governance and anti-corruption policies are essential components of counter-narcotics efforts.

The EU also encourages the development of regional cooperation through political dialogue, increased economic links and confidence-building measures between Afghanistan and its neighbours. We call on Afghanistan and Pakistan to deepen relations and to cooperate closely to deal with insecurity in border areas.

Mr. President,

The EU continues to support fully the Afghanistan Compact and considers it the central strategic framework for future reconstruction and stabilisation of Afghanistan until 2010. We expect strong Afghan leadership and responsibility in implementation of the Compact, and encourage decisive steps from the Government of Afghanistan to fulfil its commitments under the Afghanistan Compact.

The International Community, including the EU, is fully committed to supporting this Afghan led process. The bottom-up development strategies highlighted by UN Special Representative to Afghanistan, Mr. Tom Koenigs, could provide valuable contribution to reconstruction and stabilisation. The impact of international assistance should be further enhanced through efficient coordination and monitoring.

United Nations, mainly through the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) continues to have a key role in coordination and monitoring the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, including chairing of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB). The EU will, together with UNAMA, NATO and other key actors, including the international financial institutions, work towards effective cooperation and coordination within the international community and with the Government of Afghanistan.

The EU highly appreciates the work of the UNAMA and the UN Special Representative Koenigs in this respect and welcomes the initiative of holding a JCMB-meeting of Member States at senior officials' level in Berlin on the first anniversary of the Afghanistan Compact.

The EU welcomes plans to expand UNAMA’s presence throughout the field, security permitting. We also emphasise close collaboration between the UN Special Representative, the EU Special Representative and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative.

Mr. President,

The EU will continue to work, on the basis of Afghanistan Compact, in close collaboration with the Afghan Government and our international partners to build an Afghanistan whose prosperity and stability matches the hopes, the strength and the fortitude of its people.

Thank you, Mr. President.