Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
on behalf of the Nordic Countries
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden
Open Debate in the Security Council
The Report of the Secretary General on the situation in Afghanistan
and its implications for international peace and security
12 March 2008
In support of the EU statement it is my honour to address the Security Council on behalf of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.
The Nordic countries have extensive cooperation in Afghanistan and, with their coordinated efforts, are among the major contributors to the stabilization and reconstruction of the country. We support the emerging consensus that the UN must take on a stronger role in coordination of international efforts and give a much needed boost to the stabilisation and development of Afghanistan and welcome this opportunity to reaffirm the central role of the UN. We also welcome the Secretary-General’s appointment of Mr. Kai Eide of Norway as the new SRSG and hope that the discussions in the Security Council will serve to give him and UNAMA the support and mandate needed to take on the challenging tasks ahead.
UNAMA’s role in coordination and support of Afghan authorities must be strengthened with a view to reinforcing Afghan leadership and enhancing international cohesion. This includes coordination with ISAF, which plays a key role, under a Security Council mandate, in establishing a secure environment for reconstruction and development. The provisions of the Afghanistan Compact and national strategies such as the upcoming Afghan National Development Strategy should be the foundation of our engagement.
To enable UNAMA and the new SRSG to fulfil the expectations of leading coordination of international efforts in Afghanistan, the Security Council and UN Member States must give UNAMA and the SRSG the political backing and authority needed. It is also essential that expectations are matched by resources and the UN given full support to exert its leading role and more fully accomplishing all aspects of the UNAMA mandate.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s focus on sub-national governance and call for a further increase in the UN’s presence at the provincial level and would welcome an update on the efforts made to fill vacant posts in UNAMA to strengthen geographical coverage. Increased coverage would enable the UN to better focus on capacity-building of Afghan authorities at all levels and we note the efforts of the national government in strengthening governance throughout Afghanistan, in particular through the creation of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG).
Humanitarian challenges remain extensive and we are concerned that large areas of the country remain inaccessible to assistance due to insecurity. We look forward to the adoption of the Security Council Resolution renewing the Mandate of UNAMA.
The human rights situation in Afghanistan is precarious at best and human rights abuses are widespread. We encourage the Afghan Government to clearly demonstrate its commitment towards improving and protecting the human rights of all Afghans, and to show leadership in championing core human rights issues such as freedom of speech and rule of law. An independent human rights commission and a strong, pluralistic civil society are important achievements and imperative for introducing internationally recognised human rights standards into Afghanistan.
We support the Secretary-General’s observation on the need for a common approach that integrates security, governance, rule of law, Human Rights and social and economic development. An integrated approach should not only focus on the immidiate security challenges, but combine the political, development and security efforts so that they better mutually support each other. An integrated approach should also be based on a gender perspective and acknowledge the need for efforts to fight discrimination and strengthen the participation of Afghan women in all these areas, and in society at large.
Efforts to establish security, including through training Afghan National Security Forces are essential. In recognition of the link between security and development, the efforts of the UN, the EU and NATO should be as coherent and coordinated as possible. Measures to this end will be discussed at the NATO/ISAF Summit in Bucharest next month. The role of UNAMA is key in creating a more coherent and unified approach of the international community’s efforts as well as vis-à-vis the Afghan Government.
A strengthened role for the UN in Afghanistan needs to make use of the whole UN system’s capacities and efforts. The activities of the UN Country Team should effectively support the implementation of UNAMA’s mandate and overall objectives.
We believe the Secretary-General’s report and the comments provided will contribute positively to improved results for the Afghan people of our continued engagement in Afghanistan. We reaffirm our long term commitment to contribute to this effect.