Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Open debate of the Security Council
The situation in Afghanistan
14 March 2006
I would like at the outset to thank you for convening this open debate and giving us the opportunity to participate in the discussion on the situation in Afghanistan. I would also like to thank Mr. Koenigs for presenting the most recent report of the Secretary-General.
We agree with those speakers this morning who have stated that significant progress has been made towards building a democratic state in Afghanistan and towards the rehabilitation of the basic infrastructure of the country. The signing of the Afghanistan Compact at the London Conference on 31 January – 1 February marks an important milestone on the road towards reconstruction and normalcy of Afghanistan. It reaffirms the committment of the Afghan Government and the international community to collaborate in meeting the challenges of security, governance and economic and social development.
The report of the Secretary-General reminds us, however, of the challenges remaining in Afghanistan. Increased activity of insurgents and terrorists who have used more sophisticated and lethal tactics is of great concern. Understandably much remains to be done as regards the strengthening of the rule of law, improvement of human rights and the practice of good governance. The production, trafficking and trade in illegal narcotics continue to be a threat to the success of state-building in Afghanistan. This is both a national and international concern as it provides fertile ground for criminal networks, illegal armed groups and extremist elements. We commend the comprehensive efforts already made and new plans by the Afghan Government of which my Afghan colleague spoke a few minutes ago, and we also commend the international partners of Afghanistan in the fight against drug cultivation and trade.
On human rights in Afghanistan I would simply like to align myself with what my colleague from Austria on behalf of the European Union said on the subject. The Interim National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan is an especially encouraging work in progress.
Peacekeeping missions enable a small country, such as Iceland, to join international efforts for peace and development. We are currently contributing a mobile observation team to a Provisional Reconstruction Team in Western Afghanistan. Previously Iceland held administrative command and other tasks at Kabul International Airport from the middle of 2004 and into 2005. It has now been decided that beginning this spring Iceland will again provide personnel in support of Kabul airport operations. Iceland also produced, at the request of the Afghan authorities and NATO, a plan for how to transition in three to four years the operation of the airport from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan civilian management. Iceland will assist in implementing the transition plan by providing expert advice and support in close cooperation with other international organisations. Finally, Iceland has on a number of occasions, since late 2001, provided airlift for transportation of peacekeeping forces, military equipment and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Iceland continues to be committed to helping establish the conditions in which Afghanistan can enjoy a representative government and self-sustaining peace and security and to the successful reconstruction of the country. Iceland fully supports the important work carried out to this end by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as well as other international organizations.
Thank you Mr. President.