London Conference on Afghanistan
28 January 2010
Item 2: Governance and Development
Intervention - Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith MP
Foreign Secretary, Dr Spanta, Special Representative Eide
Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in the London Conference and to reaffirm our support for international efforts to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.
We thank the UK Government in particular for its initiative in hosting today's meeting.
This conference and meetings planned over the coming year are crucial steps toward the transfer of responsibility for security, governance and development to the Government of Afghanistan.
Australia agrees that the first priority has to be developing the capability of Afghanistan's National Security Forces (ANSF). Australia is making a substantial military commitment to Afghanistan, aimed at building the operational capacity of the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province. In April last year we increased our commitment from 1100 to 1550 personnel, a 40 per cent increase, making us the largest non-NATO and in the top ten overall military contributors to Afghanistan.
We have also committed $200 million over four years to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Trust Fund - making Australia the largest overall contributor to the fund. We welcome the commitment to a substantial ANSF training target of 300,000 personnel by the end of 2011, but we also urge further work to quickly disburse the ANA Trust Fund to support this training.
While ISAF has a mature military strategy in place, we have not had a corresponding and coordinated civilian and political effort, embracing development and capacity-building and political strategies to consolidate and build on security gains. We cannot rely on military efforts alone, which was the central theme of the Reidel Review and the McChrystal assessment and one which must guide our international approach on Afghanistan.
We welcome President Karzai's undertakings today to improve governance, pursue electoral reform, take effective anti-corruption and anti-narcotics measures and create social and economic opportunities for all the Afghan people. This must include Afghan women and girls.
This can lay the groundwork for building community and political reconciliation. It will require firm and clear commitments, not just on greater accountability, action on corruption and on narcotics by the Government of Afghanistan, but on more effective coordination of international and Afghan Government capacity-building and development assistance activities.
Australia recognises these imperatives. We are firmly committed to stepping-up our civilian engagement in Afghanistan, including enhanced diplomatic presence in Kabul and Oruzgan province and increased resources for development assistance and capacity-building in Oruzgan.
Australia's development assistance program will continue to focus on strengthening the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan to provide basic services and to better support economic and social development for all Afghans. This assistance is delivered in line with the development priorities of the Government of Afghanistan and is targeted to improve basic service delivery in Afghanistan, with the focus on Oruzgan province.
We will continue to work closely with Afghan ministries. Since 2003, Australia has been in the top ten contributors to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). These funds have been directed to provincial level community development, health services, education, microfinance and rural development, and are delivered through Afghan Government systems.
In principle we support the Joint Coordination Monitoring Board (JCMB) proposal to channel 50 per cent of development assistance funding through Afghan programs to strengthen Afghan capacity and Afghan leadership. This will require ongoing improvements in Afghan Government service delivery and governance arrangements.
Today I announce further Australian contributions for civilian efforts in Afghanistan, to build Afghan capacity to manage responsibility for security, governance and development.
- $50 million over three years for the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)
- $25 million in funding for the proposed Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, subject to the establishment of appropriate governance arrangements and a role for substantial donors, like Australia, in the administration of the fund;
- $20 million for mine-clearance activity;
- $4 million for Asia Foundation programs to support the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture to build capacity in the agricultural sector; and
- $1 million for the Afghan Human Rights Commission to strengthen promotion and protection of human rights in Oruzgan province.
In the coming weeks the Australian Government will finalise details of our enhanced civilian engagement in Afghanistan, including on policing and the expansion of our diplomatic and civilian development assistance presence. We will contribute our ideas to ensure a more coordinated and effective international civilian effort in support of Afghanistan's security, stability and development.
This will see Australia remain within the top ten civilian and development assistance contributors, to match our military contribution and to do Australia's bit to achieve our central objective: to stop Afghanistan being a breeding ground for international terrorism which threatens us all.
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