Mr. Kio Amieyeofori

Minister/Political Coordinator

Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations

New York, NY

17th March, 2011

As Delivered

I would first of all like to thank Mr. Zahir Tanin for his insightful statement. We share the sentiments he expressed on national ownership during the new dispensation and in the transitional phase. I would also like to thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General de Mistura for his comprehensive briefing on recent developments in Afghanistan.

 I will limit my remarks to three issues, namely, political developments and the elections; security; and economic development and the situation in the region.

 Nigeria welcomes the concrete steps taken by the Government of Afghanistan towards sustained political and socio-economic development in the country. In particular, we welcome the efforts to strengthen the country’s fledgling democratic institutions and structures. We commend both the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission for contributing significantly to those electoral gains.

 We also commend the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for those efforts. Through its enhanced collaboration with other international agencies to provide training and technical and logistical support for the electoral system, recent elections witnessed appreciable success and a historic level of women’s participation.

 Notwithstanding that achievement, Afghanistan’s political process will benefit from sustained electoral reforms aimed at making the process more transparent and credible. Indeed, the political process will bring lasting benefits if it remains open and participatory and is owned by the people of Afghanistan. We stress that genuine implementation of the Afghan-led reconciliation process should be accorded high priority.

That will not only inspire much-needed confidence, it will also strengthen the implementation of the reintegration programme envisioned by the Afghan Constitution. In our view, the sustained dialogue between the parties, which has led to the appointment of warlords, village elders and women to the High Peace Council, is a first step in the right direction.

 On security, we note that the Secretary-General’s report (S/2011/120*) once again highlighted the fragile security situation in Afghanistan, despite recent improvements in the southern part of the country. It is troubling that Government officials, aid workers and civilians associated with the Afghan Government and the NATO-led forces were the targets and victims of the recent upsurge in civilian killings. The current situation undermines the capabilities of Afghan security forces to assume full local security responsibility with the imminent drawdown of allied forces. Therefore, the transition of the first set of districts and provinces to full Afghan security control later this month will prove to be a significant test of the readiness of the Government to exercise sovereignty within its borders. The Government must strengthen its state of preparedness and remain resolute in assuming full law-enforcement responsibilities by 2014.

 Nigeria commends the Government’s sustained commitment to the national priority programmes outlined last year. Implementing those programmes and meeting the benchmarks set by the Government will require greater coordination and sustained and timely international assistance. It will also require efforts by the Government to improve accountability, implement good governance, adhere to the rule of law and reform the judicial system.

 Today, there is great potential for growth in a range of sectors that could provide jobs in the short and medium terms. The development of infrastructure and agriculture should be accorded priority, as they will stimulate employment and ultimately help the Afghan Government to create a viable and self-sustaining economy. For greater coherence and efficiency, funds and other assistance should be channelled through the Afghan budget system.

 On regional cooperation, Nigeria welcomes the growing cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours. Such efforts to take advantage of synergies have led to improvement in combating cross-border crimes, including drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking.

 Needless to say, much of the progress in Afghanistan is attributable to international cooperation and contributions. In that regard, we welcome the international conference of foreign ministers scheduled to take place in Bonn at the end of this year. We welcome the emphasis placed on Afghan ownership and management of the process. There are high expectations that the conference will renew international commitment to the dual track of security and effective accountability made at both the London and the Kabul Conferences.

 Nigeria commends the staff of UNAMA for their dedication to the task of building and consolidating peace in Afghanistan. We commend Special Representative of the Secretary-General De Mistura for his leadership and commitment to the Mission’s vital work in Afghanistan, and we have no hesitation in supporting the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate for another 12 months.