Statement by H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations
At the joint debate on agenda item 17;
The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, and agenda item 73 (e); Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan
29 November 2005
Our deliberations on this agenda item are very timely, especially since the results of the parliamentary and provincial council elections held on 18 September have just been confirmed. The success of the elections is a reassuring sign that Afghanistan has passed the final and most important milestone in its post-conflict transition and the completion of the Bonn process, namely, the inauguration of a new parliament.
As the Security Council has stressed in its Presidential Statement of last Wednesday, this remarkable achievement is a clear demonstration that the people of Afghanistan are strongly committed to freedom and democracy, and Japan, as the lead member country in the Security Council discussion on Afghanistan, welcomes this clear demonstration of will.
The challenges that remain for Afghanistan, however, are still considerable. We would like to stress three points in this connection.
First, on the importance of ownership: With the completion of the Bonn process, Afghanistan will turn a new page in its history and begin its nation-building as an independent, democratic state. We believe that it will be critically important in this new phase that Afghanistan continue to tackle the wide range of challenges facing the state and its people, with a stronger sense and spirit of ownership. We therefore particularly commend the efforts that the Afghans have put into finalizing the National Development Strategy as evidence of their national ownership.
In stressing national ownership, we should note two points: First, it is important that the international assistance and support that is made available be provided in a manner that respects and encourages such Afghan-owned efforts and Afghan-led processes. In this respect, support directed at institution-building and human resource development is most needed and critically important. The second point on ownership is that Afghan ownership should not mean, nor should it be used as an excuse for, reducing the level of international assistance to that country. Assistance needs for reconstruction continue to be urgent and high. In particular, as the Afghan authorities have emphasized - and we agree with their assessment - community-based development and basic infrastructure are important areas that should command high priority in the consolidation of peace in Afghanistan.
Japan is strongly committed to continuing its work in assisting the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the coming phases, in partnership with the Afghan authorities and communities and other members of the international donor community.
We wish to stress that an appropriate post-Bonn framework of cooperation is essential in order to make support and assistance from the international community to Afghanistan both adequate and coherent. We appreciate in this connection the initiative taken by the Governments of Afghanistan and the United Kingdom in hosting the London Conference scheduled for January next year. An important discussion is now taking place concerning the "Afghanistan Compact." This "Compact," the expected outcome of the Conference, will deal with such key issues as security, governance, economic and social development and counter-narcotics. Also being discussed is a proposal for an appropriate aid monitoring and coordination mechanism.
Japan will continue to actively participate in these discussions to achieve agreement on an effective post-Bonn framework of cooperation that will contribute to realizing our shared objectives. At the same time, we encourage the international community to accelerate its part of the work to establish the benchmarks that will be integral to the Compact.
My third point relates to security. Despite the successful parliamentary and provincial council elections in September, the security situation in Afghanistan continues to be a source of serious concern, as shown once again by the recent attacks against the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). There is a clear danger that continued insecurity will undermine the reconstruction and development process in Afghanistan. The international community therefore must not reduce its commitment in the political and security fields after the completion of the Bonn process. Japan, for its part, has taken the necessary steps to ensure the continuation of the activities of its Self-Defense Force vessels that are providing sea-based support for the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition, which is contributing, together with ISAF, to improving security in Afghanistan.
We reiterate, however, our firm belief that primary responsibility for ensuring security lies in the Afghans, showing Afghan ownership. This will require determined effort on their part to advance security sector reform. As the lead nation in assisting the DDR process in Afghanistan, Japan welcomes the completion of disarmament and demobilization in Afghanistan. We consider this feat to be one of the most successful and most comprehensive examples of such undertakings in recent post-conflict situations in the world.
Efforts clearly need to be redoubled, however, in the area of security sector reform, and these should include the reintegration of disarmed soldiers, strengthening of the Afghan security forces and further disbandment of the illegal armed groups (DIAG). In this connection, it is important to recognize that there is a linkage between the DIAG process and other efforts such as justice sector reform, counter-narcotics and community development. Needless to say, adequate coordination of efforts should be put in place in order to produce tangible results in this key area.
Finally, Mr. President, we wish to express our great appreciation to the delegation of Germany for submitting the draft resolution. It incorporates the thinking of my government on the way forward for the post-Bonn process in Afghanistan, and as a co-sponsor of the draft, we strongly support it.
Thank you very much.
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