8481st Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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11-Mar-2019 02:15:53
Success of Afghanistan peace process will depend on international support for local efforts, Special Representative tells Security Council at 8481st meeting.

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As ongoing direct talks between the United States and the Taliban further open the door for peace in Afghanistan, success will ultimately depend on aligning such efforts with those led by the Afghan people, the senior-most United Nations official in that country told the Security Council today.

“I stress the imperative need for the Taliban to directly talk with the Government,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The centrality of Afghanistan in the peace process is essential, he added.

He went on to note that although a February meeting held in Moscow between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban offered hope for better understanding, the latter have not yet accepted direct negotiations. Emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the concerns of citizens that the gains made over the last 18 years might be compromised, he said all segments of society — women, young people, ulema (Islamic scholars) and community and political leaders alike — must be involved.

Against such a backdrop, he continued, presidential elections will be a critical step towards consolidating the representative political system, especially since the parliamentary elections in October 2018 were marred by widespread irregularities. That led to the selection of two new heads to lead the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, he noted. “Now is the moment for the international community to look at Afghanistan with renewed eyes” and reassess how to work with the people and Government to promote development, he said.

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, said the Government has accomplished “a tremendous amount” five years into the Decade of Transformation, despite the competing priorities of war, elections and drought, and considerable resistance from those benefiting from corrupt systems. The Government has worked to build consensus after President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional offer of peace talks in February 2018, and the announcement of the Afghan negotiating team and peace road map in November 2018.

In December, he further recalled, the Government hosted a Jirga with 2,500 young people from 34 provinces, and in February, the first women’s gathering was held in the Loya Jirga tent, where 3,500 women met to seek agreement on what they expect from the peace process. A consultative Loya Jirga will convene in the coming weeks, followed by the third Kabul Process Conference, he said, emphasizing that it is now up to the Taliban to prove their commitment through positive deeds rather than attacks against innocent people.

Storai Tapesh, Deputy Executive Director of the Afghan Women’s Network, briefed from Kabul, saying that whereas Afghan women are cautiously hopeful, they are also worried that their rights will be compromised in the peace process. Among other demands, she called for women’s equal participation in the peace process, an end to impunity, the inclusion of gender-awareness provisions in any final peace accord, the creation of a mechanism to register women’s complaints, and efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence.

In the ensuing debate, delegates agreed that the new dynamic in the peace process presents an opportunity that must be seized, especially in light of the record numbers of civilian casualties from the conflict. The Russian Federation’s representative pointed out that the growing influence of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) creates a threat to the countries of Central Asia and to the southern regions of his own country. He went on to welcome regional efforts to support Afghanistan’s peace process, notably through the renewal of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Contact Group.

The representative of the United States pointed out the steps that his country’s Government took in January towards a framework peace agreement, and again in February when the Taliban appointed a negotiating team. He stressed that, whereas the United States would prefer an agreement that brings the Taliban into the political process, elections must move forward, even if that goal is not achieved.

On that point, the United Kingdom’s delegate called for a stronger voter-registration system for Afghanistan and asked what specifically UNAMA can do to support the electoral process. He also underlined the need for the international community to remain united in its demand that the Taliban sit down with negotiating partners.

“Only Afghans can make peace with each other,” Germany’s delegate pointed out, underlining that international support during and after the peace process must be contingent upon the continuity of the State, its institutions and the constitutional framework.

Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, China, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belgium, Kuwait, Poland and France

At the outset of the meeting, the Council observed a moment of silence in honour of United Nations staff and others killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:21 p.m.

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