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Goff Statement On Afghanistan To UN Security Cn

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

10AM

Goff Statement On Afghanistan To UN Security Council

[Statement delivered by Mr Goff (Tuesday New York time) to a specially convened open meeting in New York of the UN Security Council]

Mr President

Thank you for convening this meeting in an open format. May I express my appreciation to the Secretary-General for his opening remarks and to his Special Representative, Mr Brahimi, for the briefing he has given us this morning. He has had an enormous responsibility placed on his shoulders. The withdrawal of Taleban forces from Kabul in the past twenty-four hours has greatly increased the urgency of the international effort to assist the Afghan people to install a fully representative, accountable government which will respect their human rights. Mr Brahimi has given us a clear framework leading towards a new constitution and government for Afghanistan. The key challenge before this Council is how the security needs within Afghanistan can be met while steps are taken to establish a new government.

We must do everything possible to bring to an end the absence of legitimate government and law and order in Afghanistan in which terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking has thrived. We also have a responsibility to end the cycle of violence and retribution that has now plagued Afghanistan for over two decades.

Mr President

The United Nations has a leading role in addressing the political future of Afghanistan. To succeed in its efforts it must have the firm support of Afghanistan’s neighbours. We were greatly encouraged to receive yesterday the declaration made by the Foreign Ministers and other senior representatives of the “Six plus Two” group. Their endorsement of the United Nations’ central role and the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative is critically important.

Mr President

Well before the events of September 11 this body had determined that the situation in Afghanistan constituted a threat to international peace and security. This included the Taleban’s failure to meet the Council’s demands as far back as December 1998 to stop providing sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organisations. Now an international coalition, to which New Zealand is a contributor, is engaged in a campaign to suppress the Al Qaida terrorist organisation and their Taleban protectors. The Taleban withdrawal from Kabul signals important progress but there is still a long way to go.

Mr President

The struggle against the Al Qaida terrorists is essential if we are to defend ourselves and pre-empt further attacks including the possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Our fight however is not against the civilian population. The Coalition must exercise the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties. The cumulative effect of long term conflict, drought and the repressive policies of the Taleban have created an appalling humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have been oppressed and held hostage by extremists who have placed their homeland at the disposal of a network dedicated to terror. We must deliver assistance to the millions at risk of starvation and illness as winter fast approaches. We must act to prevent the humanitarian disasters of recent years when hundreds of thousands have died from famine, preventable disease, the cold and from mines.

The political and humanitarian dimensions of this crisis are intrinsically linked and must be addressed in a coordinated way if we are to find a sustainable, long term solution in Afghanistan. This week I have had the privilege of meeting with the Special Representative and with Under-Secretary-General Oshima. New Zealand has contributed to the United Nations consolidated appeal and has offered further assistance, including through the provision of air transport to deliver humanitarian supplies during the coming winter in Afghanistan.

Mr President, resolving the crisis in Afghanistan is the most important challenge before the United Nations today. The campaign against terrorism and also that against drug trafficking depend heavily upon the restoration of legitimate government in Afghanistan which observes the norms of international behaviour.

Restoring law and order and government capable of meeting the social and economic needs of its people will contribute enormously to resolving the refugee crisis affecting millions of people living a marginal existence in the refugee camps. Restoring human rights under a fully representative, accountable government will end the oppression under which the Afghan people have suffered too long.

New Zealand urges the Security Council to act decisively and offers whatever support it can to the Council’s endeavours to achieve these ends.

Thank you Mr President.

Ends

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