President Karzai, Mr Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Secretary General of NATO, distinguished delegates and dear friends.
I should like to bid you all a very warm welcome to Rome for the Conference on the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, jointly organised by the Italian government, the government of Afghanistan and the United Nations.
I should also like to greet the representatives of all the countries and the other international organisations are present here: the quality of your cooperation has made the Rome Conference possible, and confirms the commitment of the international community to support the strengthening of the administration of Justice in Afghanistan, as the keystone to the rule of law.
I am particularly delighted to be able to count on the participation of such a high-level Afghan delegation led by President Karzai, whom I would like to thank most particularly. The preparatory work and the coordination efforts made in Kabul are evidence of the value of one of the key principles to the reconstruction of Afghanistan which was so forcefully affirmed in London in 2006 and in the Afghanistan Compact: the principle of Afghan ownership, whose importance is particularly evident for the purposes of strengthening the institutions. Given the central place of the administration of Justice in the lives of individual countries, and Afghan guidance and ownership is, and will remain, essential. Consolidating the Justice system is also a necessary condition if the overall efforts being made by the international community which believes in the stable and democratic future of Afghanistan are to be successful.
I am very grateful to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for having agreed to the proposal to co-chair the opening of the Plenary Session of the Rome Conference. And I should like to thank UNAMA for having actively contributed to the preparatory work, the results of which are already coming from the panels now deliberating the Foreign Ministry since yesterday afternoon.
It is the intention of the Italian government to ensure that this joint debate does not remain a formality alone. The ambition is to produce tangible results: jointly agreed recommendations and commitments on the part of the Afghan government and the international community so that palpable progress can be made in the field of Justice, considering its crucial importance to the establishment of the rule of law in Afghanistan.
I should like to say a few words about Italy's specific commitment in this regard. As you know, Italy took on a major role in 2002 to coordinate international support for the reconstruction of the Justice system. Through this Conference we intend to confirm and further step up that commitment. The Italian government is today announcing an extraordinary pledge of €10 million for 2007, which will be additional to the funds already allocated and the pledges of the other donors. These are necessary supplementary funds. The lack of adequate resources is partly responsible for the shortcomings in the Justice sector.
The central importance of Justice for the purposes of guaranteeing success in the reconstruction of Afghanistan is evident to all: security, economic development, and respect human rights will also depend on the solidity, effectiveness and transparency of the administration of Justice. Justice is the absolute condition for ensuring that the efforts being made elsewhere do not fail: it is not a sufficient condition, but it is essential, particularly to consolidate confidence between the institutions and the people. From the point of view of the citizens, reliable and accessible Justice is a crucial means of reassuring them, as the data on the increasing demand by the Afghan people for justice have confirmed. A Justice system which is efficient and transparent is not only a right of citizens but a right to which they may lawfully aspire.
Italy's commitment in Afghanistan – and I would just like to say a few words about this – is not limited to the administration of Justice, however. We are directly committed with our presence and international security forces, as evidenced from the level of the Italian contingents working with the ISAF mission. We are committed in the civil sector, too, providing humanitarian assistance and development cooperation to Kabul and in the Afghan Provinces. In this connection I would like to refer in particular to the major contribution that Italy made only a few days ago to support the UNHCR programmes in Afghanistan. Lastly, as a member of the Security Council for the biennium 2007-2008, Italy has taken on the role as the Afghanistan rapporteur, contributing in that capacity to the Resolution on the renewal of the UNAMA mandate last spring.
The reason I am recalling the magnitude of Italy's commitment here is to emphasise the fact that the Rome Conference is a consistent response to a continuing effort being made by our country. But I would also add that this Conference is certainly not the end of five years' efforts in the Justice sector. On the contrary, it is one further contribution to organising them better within the context of the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
And this brings me to the issue that all of us have to address: a great deal has been done already, but much more remains to be done to establish the rule of law in Afghanistan. I am personally convinced that it is essential that we should not underestimate the progress already made in the course of what have been difficult years in the life of a country devastated by a dramatic history. What has already been achieved is essential, as demonstrated in particular by the Constitution which became effective in 2004, enshrining the institutional form of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, based on a balanced separation of powers.
If we fail to take account of the progress made we would also lose any confidence in the important efforts that still have to be made. It is by comparing the history of other countries' experiences of post-conflict reconstruction that e have learned that time is a fundamental factor: Afghanistan needs time to become consolidated; the international community must remain committed for a long time to come. We owe this to a government who is a friend of ours, and we owe it to a courageous people whom we have tried to help in an extremely difficult phase of transition. The more successful the international community's mission, the less it will become necessary. Today it is indispensable, in both civil and military terms. It is vitally important for the action being carried out in both these fields to be mutually reinforcing, at all times and at all events focusing as the main goal on the well-being of the Afghan civilian population.
But the progress made needs to be further consolidated if the institutions that have been established by the Constitution are to work fully in reality. We also know that further progress will be possible only if three conditions are met: the honesty to recognise what is not functioning properly - any form of complacency, to use a word with which all of us are familiar, is a certain recipe for disaster; the joint will of both the Afghan government and the international community to continue co-operating, taking on new mutual commitments; and finding effective responses to the as-yet unresolved issues. We have come to Rome for this very purpose: to show honesty, to show the will, and to provide effective responses to the unresolved issues.
In the Justice sector, as the link which connects all the various dimensions of the rule of law, better remedies are always possible. The preparatory work in Kabul and the deliberations of the groups that have been meeting since yesterday in Rome, have already brought forward major ideas about the avenues to be pursued in future which we shall have the opportunity to discuss later today. I am confident that after this Plenary Session we shall succeed in agreeing on them and on summarising them in the final documents of this Conference.
I do not want to anticipate this afternoon's debate. But I would like to recall the idea with which we started, as the co-organisers of the Rome Conference. It is an idea which I might sum up in the following terms: faced with the great challenges that are still present in the Justice sector, it is essential to adopt a fully comprehensive and fully agreed strategy, led by the Afghan government and supported by international donors. This should comprise:
- first, a definition of agreed guiding principles underpinning consistency between the national policies and decisions and international support for them;
- second, defining clearer and more concrete priorities by both the Afghan government and the international donors, according to a series of incremental specific commitments is, phased in across time;
- third, a more rational sharing of responsibilities, based on the key concept of Afghan ownership, that I mentioned earlier. This being so it is essential to lay down the criteria to be used for linking the support of the donors to the forthcoming Afghan National Justice Programme;
- fourth, a more effective mechanism for monitoring and appraising the results, headed by the Afghan authorities under the supervision of the Secretariat of the ANDS and the JCMB.
Any tangible progress made in the Justice and Rule of Law sectors makes general progress possible in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The quality of justice and sound public administration is an essential condition for good governance. And good governance is itself an indispensable part of any sound strategy for economic development: the quality of the institutions for the administration of justice and the well-being of the Afghan people will be indissolubly linked.
The reasons are appropriately recalled in the strategic document for Afghan reconstruction, the Afghan National Development Strategy, which opens with an ancient maximum by an Islamic scholar. I think it is useful to recall it here: "there can be no government without an army, no army without money, no money without prosperity; and there can be no prosperity without justice and sound administration".
There can be no prosperity and no security in Afghanistan without justice. Without justice and good governance all the efforts being made to disarm the illegal militias will be weakened, as will the efforts to combat drug-trafficking and to form autonomous, democratic and efficient Afghan security forces. Without justice and without the rule of law there can be no real security and no genuine confidence between the institutions and the Afghan citizens: only a complementary approach will make it possible to obtain both objectives.
It is therefore indispensable in this decisive phase for the security and the trust of the Afghan people to step up the efforts made to strengthen the Afghan institutions. And to make them more consistent and coherent with the many programmes which the international organisations and individual states are promoting to support the rule of law, but which today are also being asked to step up and rationalise their efforts: the consistency and coherence of the international efforts will also be as important as the magnitude of the resources employed.
And greater consistency must also steer the commitment of the Afghan institutions, based on a common strategy for Justice which will be rapidly translated into a National Programme. On this point I would like to stress the need to guarantee access to Justice by the weaker sections of the Afghan population, particularly the women and children. And I would emphasise the importance of giving an appropriate and adequate role to civil society.
The definition of a national Justice programme will also enhance the capacity of Afghanistan's institutions to make better use of international financing.
So far, other areas of Afghanistan's reconstruction - of undeniable importance to the people - have been given priority attention. It is essential for some of the major players in the international community, beginning with the European Union, to decide to allocate fresh resources to the strategic area of Governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
A country can only be stable, secure, prosperous and democratic when it succeeds in consolidating the transition from the rule of force to the rule of law. It is vital for the administration of Justice to function properly during this transition. The Rome Conference is intended to be a contribution to this end - an ambitious but realistic contribution, provided that we take upon ourselves the commitments that stem from it.