One year ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was here, in Oslo, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In the speech he delivered on that occasion, his first sentence was, and I quote: “Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born”. He invited the audience that day to think of that little newborn girl, in faraway Afghanistan, as a symbol of the need for international solidarity, and cooperation, of the requirements for peace and stability in the world.
In our meeting today, I invite all of us, Afghans, donors, the United Nations and others, to keep thinking of that little girl who will be born today in Afghanistan. Let us think of her nutrition and health needs, lotus think of the extreme weather conditions she may be facing, let us ask ourselves if she and her mother have a roof over their heads. Letups think of the surrounding fields where she will go to play a few years from now and pray that she will not fall victim to the land mines, those silent killers planted there in their millions over the last quarter of a century. Let us think of the school she will need to go to. Letups think of the safety of the streets and roads around her home and village. And let us think of what our respective responsibilities are to that little girl who will be born today in Afghanistan.
May now add my voice to that of President Hammed Karzai and express too, members of the Afghanistan Support Group, my warm and sincere thanks for your continued assistance and support to Afghanistan, and also, for your support to the United Nations’ efforts in Afghanistan. We are all engaged in a common endeavor: to help build national capacities, partnerships and institutions which will ensure Afghanistan’s integration into the international community as a sovereign, secure and prosperous nation.
May also congratulate President Karzai and his colleagues in the Government for the progress they have achieved. They are giving the men and women of Afghanistan back their individual and national dignity and they are leading their country’s giant efforts to overcome the ugly legacy of 23 years of vicious conflicts. Their achievements have been remarkable. But the road they have to travel is long, difficult, and still dangerous.
May further express my gratitude to my colleagues in UNAMA and the Agencies working in Afghanistan. A few of them are here, along with Nigel Fisher, who led with exemplary dedication, patience and determination, their work together and with the Government. They too, have every right be proud of what they have achieved; but they too, are aware that much remains to be done.
I repeat, in this context, what I have said many times before. Our goal, as UN staff members working in Afghanistan, individually and collectively, is to work towards the day when we are no longer needed. If there is one lesson that years of experience in peacekeeping and peacebuilding around the world have taught us, it is that peace and reconstruction processes stand a far better chance of success when they are nationally owned and based on nationally articulated priorities.
Mr. Chairman, Norway kindly invited the Secretary-General to this Conference but unfortunately he has not been able to extract himself from the commitments that keep him in New York. He asked my colleague Keno Oshawa and myself to represent him here and he sent a message to your Conference, which have the honor to deliver on his behalf:
[…Statement of the Secretary-General follows…]