The pledges made at the Tokyo Conference clearly demonstrated the sustained commitment of the international community in supporting Afghanistan’s long-term development. They were a clear sign that Afghanistan will not be abandoned after 2014. The Afghan government, on its part, is committed to implementing the objectives that were mutually agreed in Tokyo. These commitments need to be respected by all.
It is vital that both the international community and the Afghan government now concentrate on implementing the outcomes of the Tokyo conference, with special reference to mutual accountability. The finalization of National Priority Programmes is equally important.
Finland has consistently given its strong support to Afghanistan’s development efforts. Afghanistan is one of Finland’s largest development cooperation partners. Our total official development assistance to Afghanistan between 2012 and 2016 is scheduled to be over 125 million euros. A major part of this aid will be channeled through the UN system and the World Bank.
The Tokyo Conference highlighted two important priorities for Afghanistan’s future development; good governance and human rights.
It is crucial for the consolidation of democracy that the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015 be credible and transparent. In this regard, the passage of the Electoral Law and the duties and structure of the Independent Electoral Commission should be secured within the first quarter of 2013. Every effort should be made to enable the elections to be free and fair. Full and effective participation of all citizens, including women, in the electoral process is essential.
Good governance, democracy and the rule of law are priorities in Finland’s cooperation with Afghanistan. The Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which pays for example the salaries of Afghan civil servants, has been a key financing channel of our aid. We plan to channel around 45 million euros to the ARTF between 2012 and 2016.
Human rights, particularly women’s rights, were another major priority in Tokyo. Although remarkable gains have been made since the overthrow of the Taliban, progress in fulfilling Afghanistan’s human rights obligations has not been sufficient. Today, Afghan women still face insecurity in public spaces and at home, as well as lack of access to an unbiased justice system and legal representation.
Full and equal participation of women at all levels of society is a prerequisite to development, economic success and social stability. We should ensure that human rights, including women’s and children’s equal rights, remain at the heart of our common strategy for Afghanistan.
In 2010, Finland started a twinning cooperation with Afghanistan in the implementation of the Council’s resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. Trilateral co-operation between Finland, Afghanistan and UN Women has recently started with the ultimate goal being the Afghan National Action Plan.
In any country, an active and constructive civil society can play a central role in developing society. In Afghanistan, civil society can offer valuable support to the government’s efforts to improve the well-being of all Afghans and in fighting corruption.
Finally, Mr. President, I would like reiterate our full support for the dedicated work of the UN and its agencies in Afghanistan. In particular, UNAMA has a central role to play by providing good offices to the peace process, promoting and protecting human rights and coordinating international aid efforts.
Thank you Mr. President