8294th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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26-Jun-2018 03:34:12
As Afghanistan elections approach, people’s demands for peace must not be ignored, Special Representative tells Security Council at 8294th meeting.

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There were unprecedented opportunities for Afghanistan to seek peace and consolidate its political foundation, the Special Representative for that country told the Security Council today, pressing the international community to seize that critical opening to adjust how it supported the war-torn nation in bringing about democracy and self-reliance.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), presented the Secretary-General’s latest report (document A/72/888–S/2018/539), describing “extraordinary” events that spoke to both possibilities and enduring structural obstacles. Among them was Afghanistan President Asraf Ghani’s 7 June declaration of a unilateral ceasefire from 12 to 19 June, echoed days later by the Taliban in its own ceasefire from 15 to 17 June.

The three overlapping days of calm marked the first time in 17 years that both sides had honoured their truce, he said. While the Taliban had not accepted the President’s proposal to extend it, the offer for peace talks without preconditions had created a new reality: Afghans in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces protesting for peace, 2,000 religious scholars declaring that suicide bombings were against the teachings of Islam and a 500-kilometre march from Helmand to Kabul to demand an end to the conflict.

“The Afghan people’s genuine demand for peace, coming from the bottom of their hearts, must not be ignored,” he said. With preparations under way for parliamentary elections in October, and presidential elections next spring, 7 million people had registered to vote since mid-April — the first time since 2003 that a complete voter registration would be carried out for both polls. The evolving development needs, and the strategies to address them, were being re-evaluated ahead of the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan on 28 November.

Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said global opium production was up 65 per cent in 2017, reaching 10,500 tonnes. Most of that product had originated in Afghanistan. Global attention had shifted away from counter-narcotics. “We cannot afford such inattention” he said, pressing the Council to keep the focus on that threat posed to Afghanistan, the region and beyond.

Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, said deadly violence continued across Afghanistan, with 5,675 security incidents between 15 February and 15 May. In two days, the Secretary-General would host the first ever High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies, providing a platform for long-overdue discussion on how to boost global cooperation.

In the ensuing debate, delegates stressed the importance of Afghan‑owned, Afghan‑led efforts to build a resilient country that could eventually provide for its own security needs, with the United States delegate urging the United Nations to ensure that UNAMA was fully staffed throughout the electoral period.

Several decried the Taliban’s rejection of the offer for an extended ceasefire. Pakistan’s delegate called the idea for direct talks without preconditions one not to be missed, stressing that his country would do its utmost to assist the process. Uzbekistan’s delegate, meanwhile, offered to host the talks. Meetings had been held with the Afghanistan Government, among others, he said, as well as with the Taliban, where the prospects for dialogue had been discussed.

Iran’s delegate said special attention should be given to combating the production of and trade in narcotic drugs as a major source of income for terrorist, extremist and illegal armed groups. India’s delegate similarly recalled that terrorism in Afghanistan was not a local problem. The Council must better tackle transnational drug, terrorism and criminal networks, as some continued to provide sanctuary to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, ISIL, Al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Ultimately, said Afghanistan’s delegate, success hinged on strengthening Afghan unity, keeping people involved, managing future ceasefires and negotiations, ensuring genuine implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan action plan for peace and solidarity, and improving consensus on international efforts in the country.

“It is imperative that our zeal for peace should be based on political, social and diplomatic efforts, coupled with security considerations, which should only aim to strengthen our unity and stability,” he said. Opportunities must be seized, not lost. His Government was looking ahead to the Ministerial Conference, where it would present its progress made against benchmarks set at the 2016 Brussels Conference.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Netherlands, Peru, China, France, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Sweden, Côte d'Ivoire, Poland, Kuwait, Ethiopia, Bolivia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia and Belgium, as well as the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 1:40 p.m.
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