Statement of Ambassador Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On the Situation in Afghanistan
(20 March 2007)
I would like, first of all, to express to you and members of the Council Japan's appreciation for the opportunity to present its view on the situation in Afghanistan - a subject Japan attaches great importance. Let me also at the outset express our congratulations and best wishes to the Italian delegation for taking over the lead role on Afghanistan this year from Japan. We appreciate the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister D'Alema in this meeting. We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Tom Koenigs, and the Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, for their informative briefings.
The government of Japan regards as very important that the whole process and efforts - internal, regional and international - that contribute to promoting a constitutional democracy and strengthening the consolidation of peace, reconstruction and development in Afghanistan moves forward, with as little hindrance and with as much support from the international community as possible.
This is essential not only for the betterment of the lives of Afghan people, who have suffered for too long and continue to suffer from hardship, but also for enhancing stability in the regions of South Asia, Central and West Asia, as well as for advancing the collective efforts of the international community on counter-terrorism.
The United Nations and especially the Security Council plays a crucial role in this enterprise. The unwavering commitment of the international community through the Security Council was again demonstrated when the Council dispatched its mission to Afghanistan last November, on the result of which I had the honor to report in this Chamber on December 7th.
The situation in Afghanistan stands now at a crossroads, and this is made amply clear in the most recent Secretary-General's report as well as in the November Council mission's report. On the one hand, we can see many positive achievements and signs of hope, as in the successful completion of the Bonn Process and in the commitment by the Afghan government and people in addressing a multitude of challenges and problems. The Afghanistan Compact provides the essential vehicle and framework of strategy, and its consistent implementation is clearly of central importance.
We are encouraged that one of the core values that we have emphasized - that of Afghan ownership - is respected to a large extent in the ongoing process, as exemplified in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).
On the other hand, the challenges remain enormous, however - in the areas of security, counter-narcotics, the rule of law, good governance and development, to name but a few. As I reported on behalf of the Security Council mission, the people and the Government of Afghanistan are expected to continue with their tireless efforts on all of these fronts, and the international community on its part must extend adequate support, as envisaged in the Compact, so as to meet the benchmarks established there and not to repeat the failures experienced in the past. Japan is committed in the long term, and will continue to play an active role in this regard.
On security, which remains the most preoccupying concern, we welcome the continued efforts exerted by all the actors involved - including by ISAF - to contain the insurgency and terrorist activities. We support and encourage the efforts by Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed at improving the security along and across the borders, and we encourage their plan to hold cross-border jirgas for confidence-building and stability. We also support the endeavors pursued under the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan.
Japan is committed to promoting, after a successful handling of DDR, the next step in assisting the security sector reform - namely the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG). In this regard, we are concerned, as the Secretary-General's report noted, at the fact that only limited progress has been made so far on this. We take note, however, that some tangible progress is being made: for example, in the province of Kapisa, where progress in DIAG has allowed development projects to commence, and similarly in the province of Takhar in the northeast. DIAG should be closely followed along with other efforts in security sector reform, including the police, the national army and the judicial sector.
In this connection, my delegation commends Slovakia for its initiative to hold open debate in the Security Council on security sector reform during its presidency last month.
Narcotics-related problems have become indeed a main threat, no less serious than the threat posed by the Taliban-led insurgency to Afghanistan's peace and security. We fully support the view expressed in the report that "an urgent concerted effort by all stakeholders is needed to improve implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy".
Japan, on its part, has been assisting UNODC's efforts and has contributed to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund to assist projects to promote alternative livelihoods. We are also developing an assistance plan to eradicate drug trafficking along Afghanistan's borders with other Central Asian countries, by strengthening border control in collaboration with the United Nations and the United States.
Development is another essential element for the consolidation of peace in Afghanistan. The role of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) is critically important for this purpose. Upon his recent visit to NATO headquarters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that Japan would strengthen its cooperation with NATO in this regard, and my government subsequently decided to provide approximately 2 billion yen in grant aid over the coming several years on PRT-related civilian projects, such as construction of schools and clinics.
On a bilateral basis, the key infrastructure building, particularly roads sector, has been one of the priority areas of Japan's development assistance in Afghanistan. In addition to contributing to the improvement of the Ring Road between Kabul and Kandahar and between Kandahar and Herat, we have been helping Afghan officials in charge of road management to strengthen their capacity, in order to enhance their sense of ownership in this essential area of economic development.
In this vein, outreach to the population in the provinces is of critical importance. We note with grave concern the Secretary-General's finding about "popular alienation". This problem remains, according to the Secretary-General's report, as well as the November Council mission's report, a key factor behind the revitalized insurgency, and stems from inappropriate government appointments, tribal nepotism and monopolization of power, and the marginalization of those outside the dominant social and political groups. The ongoing expansion of UNAMA into the provinces is an important step to address this problem, and Japan welcomes this. It is hoped that the expanded presence of UNAMA will contribute to the reconstruction and development of the provinces, and lead to greater support among the local population for the consolidation of peace in the country.
We expect that, while remaining vigilant with regard to the safety of their personnel, UNAMA's regional and provincial offices will continue to work in close cooperation with the Afghan government and the International Security Assistance Force.
Before concluding, I wish to draw the attention of the members of the Council to a recommendation from the Security Council mission that the list prepared by the Al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee ought to be updated as necessary and on the basis of the most up-to-date information. I hope the Council will pay due attention to this matter.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the role of UNAMA remains critically important in ensuring the consolidation of peace in Afghanistan within the key framework of the Compact. We pay high tribute to the dedication of all UNAMA staff on the ground. The delegation of Japan therefore supports the extension of UNAMA's mandate for a further 12 months, and urges the Council to adopt the necessary resolution in a timely manner.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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