8147th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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21-Dec-2017 03:18:08
After 40 Years of conflict in Afghanistan, peace process still not assured, Special Representative tells Security Council, urging timely elections at 8147th meeting.

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After four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, a convincing peace process was still not assured, the top United Nations official for that country told the Security Council today, calling on the Taliban to express a clear willingness to begin negotiations.

In his periodic briefing, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said a crucial issue was the holding of parliamentary elections in 2018, followed by presidential elections in April 2019. He noted there had been insufficient progress on those preparations, as well as intense criticism from electoral stakeholders. The Independent Election Commission needed to demonstrably advance preparations to regain its credibility. UNAMA would continue efforts to advance women’s political participation. Despite intense fighting, recent efforts by Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to protect civilians had resulted in reductions in civilian deaths and injuries, he said.

He said the Government’s goal to reduce reliance on aid and secure its own tax base would require concentrated efforts to stimulate the private sector, reduce corruption and red tape, and build infrastructure, after which Afghanistan’s mineral wealth could be exploited. Although the achievements in regional cooperation were encouraging, he said the main dividends of regional cooperation could not be achieved until there was peace and stability.

“I truly hope that empathy for the ongoing suffering of millions of Afghans will move us all to make the efforts necessary to achieve peace and realize the important opportunities that lie beyond a much needed peace agreement,” he said.

Also briefing the Council, Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), drew attention to the “unprecedented” highs in opium poppy cultivation and production, with an increase of almost 90 per cent to a record 9,000 metric tons in the past year. Recent seizures showed interregional links between organized crime and terrorist groups exploiting drug manufacturing and trafficking. It should be recognized that in recent years, attention had progressively shifted away from the threats posed by drugs.

He said comprehensive counter‑narcotics programmes which mainstreamed drugs in national development agendas were essential, including promoting alternative development to create new jobs, as well as access to education, financial services and markets. Illicit financial flows must also be intercepted, he said, and prevention and treatment responses must be urgently scaled up.

Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011), Kazakhstan’s representative said that the Committee had in 2017 removed one reportedly deceased individual from the sanctions list. No other person or entity was delisted or added. Emphasizing that implementation of the sanctions regime depended on internal, regional and international actors, he encouraged Member States to play a more active role in providing information that would help to keep the sanctions list up‑to‑date.

Wazhma Frogh, Founding Member of Women and Peace Studies Organization and Member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, said her country was still one of the most dangerous places for women. In 2017, the Afghan Human Rights Commission had reported more than 5,000 cases of severe violence against women. All Government and armed groups were still complicit in rape and extortion, she said.

She underlined the importance of the peace process including all sectors of society. Even though women and children suffered from ongoing violence, women were excluded from the peace and reconciliation process. Lasting peace could only be achieved if women sat at the negotiating table, she said.

The representative of Afghanistan said that the so‑called “fighting season” of the Taliban and other terrorist groups had nearly ended. Those groups had failed to make any notable gains on the ground. Increased dialogue was needed among regional and global powers, he said. Turning to bilateral relations with Pakistan, he highlighted substantial improvements. He said, “Afghanistan has the will and capacity to defend its territory and our patience should not be tested.”

Regarding peace efforts, he noted that the Kabul process was now fully operational and provided an overarching framework to harmonize international and regional efforts in that context. The February meeting of that process would represent an opportune moment for the Taliban to change course, denounce violence and join the peace process. He noted recent progress in implementing projects visualizing Afghanistan as a land bridge, business hub and trade and transit roundabout between Central Asia, South Asia, the Far East and the Middle East.

Speakers in the ensuing debate stressed the importance of an Afghan‑owned, Afghan‑led and Afghan‑controlled process, with the support of neighbouring countries through the 2018 meeting of the Kabul process. Expressing concern about the increased levels of violence in the country, due to activities of the Taliban and terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh), they urged the former to participate in the reconciliation process.

Commending the effort of UNODC, speakers expressed concern at the increased opium cultivation and production, stressing the connection between criminal organizations and terrorist groups to fund the latter’s activities, and urged for regional and international cooperation in that regard.

The representative of the United States said Americans were impatient with the conflict in Afghanistan, but would continue to support Kabul in its efforts against Al‑Qaida, ISIL and the Taliban. Her country did not intend to prolong the war in Afghanistan through military gains, but rather it sought to accelerate the peace, she said, emphasizing its commitment to an Afghan‑owned peace process.

Pakistan’s representative said that the war, violence and terrorism afflicting Afghanistan were the consequences of foreign military interventions, occupation and imposed war. Preventing cross‑border terrorism was essential for both countries and could only be achieved through constant vigilance. She reported that the armed forces of both counties agreed to place liaison officers in each other’s army headquarters and establish ground coordination centres. She urged the Taliban to give up violence, stressing that the other side, too, must display a genuine desire for dialogue.

The representative of India said the Council had not effectively used its 1988 sanctions regime in the context of funds generated by terrorist networks. “We need to go after the leaders of the terrorist organizations” and investigate and designate illicit drugs trafficking businesses, he said. He drew attention to the New Development Partnership launched by Afghanistan and India in September, but regretted that overland access between the two countries had been blocked for many years.

The representatives of Japan, Italy, China, Ukraine, France, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Sweden, Uruguay, Senegal, Egypt, Ethiopia, United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Canada, Netherlands, Iran and Australia also spoke, as did the delegate of the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 1:47 p.m.
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