8162nd Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security

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19-Jan-2018 03:51:38
Security Council presidential statement calls for action to avert threats against security, stability In Afghanistan ahead of debate on pressing challenges at 8162nd meeting.

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Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the Central Asian States, the Security Council today adopted a presidential statement, expressing its continued support to the Secretary‑General’s call to action to avert threats, ahead of holding a debate on pressing challenges ahead.

Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, whose country holds the Council presidency for January, presented presidential statement S/PRST/2018/2, in which members reiterated their concern over the continuing threats to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as by Al‑Qaida, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs.

In that vein, the Council called upon all States to effectively implement all relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council further encouraged making conflict prevention and resolution central to the work of the United Nations system in the region while stressing the importance of preventive diplomacy through engaging constructively with Member States to ensure long‑term stability, security and development.

The Council reiterated the importance of increasing the full and effective participation and leadership of women in decision‑making, including in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict. It also underlined the importance of paying due attention to child protection concerns within peace and reconciliation efforts and called on all parties to take the necessary measures to do so.

The Council further emphasized that, in order to support Afghanistan emerging sustainably from conflict, there was a need for a comprehensive and integrated approach that incorporates and strengthens coherence between all sectors and stressed the importance, where appropriate, of advancing a regional approach as a means to minimize conflict and enhance effectiveness and efficiency of interventions.

At the outset of the meeting, Secretary‑General António Guterres extolled the benefits of regional cooperation, stressing the important role Afghanistan and neighbouring countries played in forging coordinated partnerships in a range of sectors, from energy to transportation. Despite grave security challenges, with greater regional collaboration and investment Central Asia and Afghanistan had the potential to become symbols of dialogue, peace and the promotion of contacts between cultures, religions and civilizations.

Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, said a new dynamism had taken shape in Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries. Emphasizing that prosperity was not possible without security, he said Afghanistan was fighting terrorism on behalf of the region and the world at large, with its forces making progress against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al‑Qaida, Daesh and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, among others. Related initiatives should reinforce Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace efforts, with the Kabul process remaining the overarching framework, he said, adding that the first meeting of the C5+Afghanistan — an important new regional initiative — would be held on the margins of the Tashkent meeting.

Meanwhile, he went on to say, the Afghan‑led Heart of Asia‑Istanbul Process would remain a key focus in strengthening regional cooperation. Projects such as the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and the Five Nations Railway Corridor would have a profound impact on the movement of people, goods and ideas, he said, adding that Afghanistan would strive in 2018 to further progress on other mega‑projects. There was a unique opportunity to shift the dynamic and transform the nexus of regional threats towards a nexus of peace, security, and economic growth and development. A new start towards regional engagement and convergence had begun, he said, adding: “It is up to us to do our share and transform this new vision into reality.”

Likewise, during the debate, representatives firmly supported ongoing efforts to boost economic growth, sustainable development and to target initiatives aimed at stamping out terrorism. Some expressed worries about the illicit drug trade and its destabilizing effects across Afghanistan and the region. The representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States, among other Council members, pledged support for ongoing peacebuilding efforts.

However, many delegates raised concerns about continued violence and instability. On the heels of a Council visiting mission to Afghanistan earlier in January, France’s delegate highlighted the fragile humanitarian situation, particularly the precarious conditions facing women and children, who remained the majority of victims of the conflict. Noting that the presidential statement for the first time shed light on links between security and development in the region, he said efforts could be made to combat the spread of extremism and illicit drug trafficking. For economic development, Afghanistan must leverage its location in the region, including in energy and transit sectors, he said, encouraging neighbouring countries to “green” their energy sectors.

Elaborating on that point and shedding light on the situation on the ground, several representatives of countries of the Central Asian region described ongoing initiatives and challenges, with resounding support for pursuing a political solution to the persistent violence and instability. Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Erlan Abdyldayev, said the region’s countries stood ready to become actively involved in the process of building peace and stability in Afghanistan. Yet, challenges remained, he said, stressing that despite significant investments in improving rail and road infrastructure, the existing trade barriers, lack of political confidence and other factors meant that opportunities were missed to solve common problems by coordinating efforts at the regional level.

Highlighting security challenges, Sirodjidin Aslov, Tajikistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that given his country’s shared border with Afghanistan, regional cooperation in that regard was vital. It played an important role in both combating cross‑border crimes such as drug trafficking and strengthening stability in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the joint promotion of projects in the fields of transport, communications, energy, investment, education, human resources, border management and other areas could become the basis for the rehabilitation and sustainable development of Tajikistan’s neighbour.

Summing up a common view, Uzbekistan’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdulaziz Kamilov, said peace in Afghanistan would indeed bring benefits to all countries of the vast Eurasian continent, and would promote the construction of roads and railways, and the development of regional and trans‑regional trade in all directions.

Also delivering statements were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Poland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, China, Sweden, Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Iran, Belgium, Germany, India, Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Italy, as well as the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 2:06 p.m.
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