Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security ; Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan [39 (d)]: joint debate.
Fifty-ninth Session of the United Nations
New York, 8 December 2004
At the outset I would like to thank the Secretary General for his latest report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security and on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan.
Important progress has obviously been made in the course of the three years since the signing of the Bonn Agreement. As regards recent developments in the political sector, the adoption of the new Constitution by Afghanistan?s Constitutional Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga) on 4 January 2004 and the holding of the presidential elections on 9 October 2004, both mark a milestone. We take this opportunity, like others today, to repeat our sincere congratulations to President Hamid Karzai on his victory in this first direct presidential elections in Afghanistan. We congratulate the Afghan people for the commitment they showed to bring about and secure democracy in Afghanistan. We also commend all parties involved for their role in organising and securing the elections.
The high participation of women in the election, constituting forty percent of the voters, is remarkable, not least in light of the systemic exclusion under the Taliban regime.
Contrary to what had been feared international observer missions, such as the OSCE Election Support Team, concluded that the election process was conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner. Although shortcomings were detected, they were considered to be organisational in nature and not of dishonesty. Shortcomings can be overcome by applying lessons learned in the preparations for future elections, most notably for the parliamentary and local elections scheduled for the spring of 2005.
The Secretary-General makes it clear in his report that immense challenges are still ahead. Attacks in recent months, and the abduction of international electoral staff, exemplify the dire security situation still existing in Afghanistan. This in turn has a negative impact on reconstruction efforts. My Government once again deplores all attacks, in every form, against civilians, UN and NGO staff.
The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in November 2004 gives an alarming account of what the Secretary-General considers in his report an increased ?threat to national security, social stability, and governmental effectiveness?. Opium cultivation in Afghanistan grew by 64% from 2003 to 2004, setting a double record, for the highest opium cultivation in the country's history, and the largest in the world. Afghanistan produces nearly 90% of the world?s opium. We continue to stress the need to address all aspects of the illicit trade, namely production capacity, trade routes and the users. This is obviously a common task for the international community.
Finally Mr. President,
Iceland, which together with Afghanistan and Sweden joined the UN on 19 November 1946, as the first non-founding UN members, is pleased to be a traditional co-sponsor of the draft resolution on Afghanistan, prepared by the delegation of Germany, and is indeed deeply committed to making its contribution to establishing security in Afghanistan. On 1 June 2004 an Icelandic contingent in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) took on a leading role in running Kabul International Airport where it provides the Airport Commander and some key personnel, including flight operations staff, fire-fighters and other technical specialists. During the past five months considerable progress has been made. The airport's infrastructure has been improved and reforms have been implemented in the running processes of the airport which is one of key elements in the successful operation of ISAF and in the reconstruction efforts in the country. On 1 February 2005 the management of the airport will be handed over to Turkey and Iceland whishes Turkey every success in their new responsibilities. Icelanders will continue to work at the airport until mid 2005. As regards further participation from Iceland in the ongoing rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, my Government is now considering providing personnel to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the northern part of the country.
Thank you Mr. President.