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Statement by Mr. Hiroshi Ishikawa
Minister of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
At the Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
December 17, 2013
I thank Special Representative Ján Kubiš for his participation and comprehensive briefing today. I also thank Ambassador Tanin for his statement.
I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the important role of the United Nations, especially UNAMA, in 2014 and beyond, in supporting the Afghan government’s efforts to meet its political and development goals. In this respect, I would like to express my highest respect to all the staff of UNAMA for their deep commitment and dedication to their challenging mission.
We hope UNAMA will also continue to play an important role in coordinating both the Afghan government’s and the international community’s efforts in implementing their commitments in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF). Japan attaches particular importance to reforms in the area of public finance and private banking, as revenue mobilization is a matter of urgency for the Afghan government to attain sustainability. We request the Afghan government, including the future government, to make consistent efforts in the fight against corruption and demonstrate tangible results towards the next Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) to be held in January next year and the Ministerial Meeting to be co-hosted by the Afghan government and the United Kingdom. We expect continued engagement of UNAMA in this process.
The year 2013 was a busy year and of critical importance. It paved the way for Afghanistan to achieve important goals in 2014 – the final year of its political and security transition. Looking back at the year, the government and the people of Afghanistan have made significant achievements. To name a few, the Afghan National Security Force has taken the lead in most operations since June, preparations for the election have been advancing and intensive dialogues for regional cooperation have taken place.
Today, I would like to address some key issues on which Japan believes Afghanistan must make further efforts, in order to ensure successful political and security transitions that will be indispensable for long-term stability in the country.
First, in terms of political transition, it is of utmost importance that the next Presidential and Provincial elections give strong legitimacy to the new government. To this end, elections must take place in compliance with the Afghan constitution and other legal framework, and the current schedule of holding the elections in April 2014 must be observed. A fair and transparent election process is also imperative. Furthermore, the election result should be a reflection of the will of entire population in the country.
Japan welcomes the diversity of presidential candidates, as well as the participation of women in both elections as voters and candidates. Yet, the security situation continues to be a concern. In order to encourage the full participation of all eligible voters, especially female voters, security challenges must be properly addressed. The Afghan government is encouraged to take further risk mitigation measures based on a realistic security assessment.
In order to make a positive impact on the election processes, Japan has already donated about $20M USD to support the work of the Independent Electoral Committee through ELECT2 and is also looking into the possibility of sending an Election Observer Mission.
Now I would like to turn to the security transition. Despite the increased competence and confidence of the Afghan National Security Forces, serious security challenges still persist. A number of brutal terrorist attacks over the last quarter again caused the tragic loss of innocent lives, including aid workers and other civilians. Japan joins the message sent by the Security Council in its press statement on December 4th, condemning acts of violence against development and humanitarian aid workers.
With this security uncertainty, it is a matter of critical importance for the Afghan government to conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States at an early stage as recommended by the consultative Loya Jirga in November. The government bears responsibility to ensure that the dividends of the security transition are irreversible. Further, security uncertainty will inevitably impact negatively on our future aid policy. We strongly hope the government of Afghanistan will fulfill its duty to provide its own people with a sense of security and stability.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize that without progress of the peace process, the dividends of all the transitions will remain uncertain. It should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process and the responsibility must not be shifted to any other parties. But as witnessed in the constructive engagement of Pakistan as well as in other third parties’ initiatives, the international community stands by Afghanistan, ready to lend a hand as it takes steps forward.
I would like to conclude my statement by recalling that the whole transition process and the peace and reconciliation process are supported by mutual trust among all the stakeholders, including the trust between the Afghan government and the international community.
I thank you, Mr. President.