Mr. President, distinguished delegates,
First of all, allow me to say that I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to address such an authoritative body today, for my very first time.
I would like to thank the Special Representative for Afghanistan of the Secretary-General, Tom Koenigs, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, for their comprehensive briefings.
I express my deepest appreciation for the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan. It is a very appropriate and timely reminder of the vital importance for the international community as a whole of attaining full success in Afghanistan.
The report mentions the progress achieved in several key areas. It recalls, in particular, the ongoing reforms of the Ministry of Interior; the development of Parliamentary institutions as independent and active counterweight to the Executive; the meaningful progress made in the field of transitional justice.
These are significant achievements. Italy is proud to have contributed to them, especially through its leading role in the field of the rule of law and the justice system.
And yet, this is not the time for complacency. The findings contained in the report sound a worrisome, but healthy, wake-up call. We have to recognize that progress is insufficient in too many sectors: not only security but also governance, socio-economic development, regional cooperation, human rights protection, counter-narcotics. In some of them, to be absolutely frank, we even face setbacks. What does that mean?
It means that we can and we must do more. We must succeed not only for the sake of the credibility of the international institutions involved in Afghanistan. First and foremost, we must succeed for the Afghan people.
The draft Resolution aims at emphasizing the crucial role of the civilian component of the UN mission. UNAMA must be given all the political support and the resources to fulfill its complex mandate. I firmly believe that UNAMA should also have a stronger humanitarian coordination role and human rights monitoring functions. The draft resolution addresses this point in a satisfactory way.
We are all aware that the adoption of a new Resolution is not enough. Promoting and strengthening Afghan ownership is an essential prerequisite for success. President Karzai himself underlined this point during his recent visit to Rome. Today I would like to express to him and to the Afghan Institutions all the gratitude of the Italian Government for the help offered in the freeing of the Italian Journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo.
In order to create better conditions for Afghan ownership, Italy is organizing - together with the Afghan government and in close cooperation with the United Nations - the Rome Conference on the Rule of Law. Justice and the rule of law are crucial conditions for the Afghanistan democratic development and for internal security. Much has been done, but serious problems remain, including widespread corruption. We do need an added effort and we need better coordination through the approval of an Action Plan in this strategic sector. A new Trust Fund will also be needed to ensure a coherent approach to the whole sector.
Italy also wants to pay special attention to the linkages between the Rule of Law sector, Counter-narcotics and the Police reform. We welcome the coming European security and defense policy mission in the field of policing, with linkages to the wider rule of law. Italy is fully committed to the success of a mission which constitutes an encouraging sign of a growing assumption of responsibilities by the European Union. We aim at a growing role, for the EU, also in the rule of law and the justice sectors. In this context we fully support the statement that will be delivered by the German Presidency of the EU.
Security provided by ISAF, in cooperation with the Afghan Army, is an essential precondition for stabilization, but cannot be sufficient. I underline this point as representative of a Government which has committed a large number of troops in the country.
Peace and stability will rest on shaky grounds without fast and solid progress also in the living conditions of the populations, in civilian reconstruction and in institution building at national and provincial levels.
There is an absolute need to reduce the support for insurgency. As stated in the Secretary General Report, we should encourage the Action Plan on Peace, Justice and Reconciliation launched by President Karzai.
My view is that this encouragement would become effective only in a regional dimension. Therefore, we should consider a process allowing a full and positive involvement of the neighboring countries. We should be open to the possibility of an international conference - which I conceive as the result of this process. Let me clarify.
The draft resolution already stresses the importance of a stronger role of UNAMA in supporting regional cooperation. I wish to insist on it: the regional dimension has to be reinforced if we wish to succeed. We must and can be ambitious. Italy welcomes - as an important step in the right direction - the meeting of the G8 Foreign Ministers plus Afghanistan and Pakistan on May 30th.
As a follow-up, we believe that an international Conference, in JCMB format, is needed to deal in a comprehensive way with those regional issues related to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Our proposal is conceived in the framework of the Afghanistan Compact, as part of a process started with the Conferences of Bonn and London.
Accordingly to the JCMB format, also the Conference on regional peace and stability should be co-sponsored by the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations.
Its objectives should be very concrete and three-fold:
state at high political level the commitment of the main stakeholders to contribute to the regional dimension of security and stability of Afghanistan - which I think is absolutely key for peace;
agree on the need to put in place a series of confidence building and cooperation measures between Afghanistan and its neighbors
support the national reconciliation process as launched by President Karzai through a regional stabilization process involving the neighboring countries and the International community. Finally, such an international conference will also be a consensus building measure. It will allow to build up trust and support in public opinions on the prospects of peace and democracy in Afghanistan.
UNAMA's role will be crucial in reinforcing Afghan Institutions. Equally important will be the continuous commitment of each of us in security, peace and civil reconstruction. Italy hopes that, once implemented, the measures foreseen in the draft resolution can help contribute to achieve the goal of a better Afghanistan, an Afghanistan which is safe, prosperous and free. We owe it to the International community. Above all we owe it to the Afghan people, who deserve our support, more than ever.
Let us try to live up to their expectations.