8613th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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10-Sep-2019 03:17:16
As Afghanistan elections approach, Special Representative underscores importance of resumed talks between Kabul, Taliban, in briefing to Security Council at 8613th meeting.

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While operational and technical preparations for the upcoming 28 September presidential election are on track, deep concerns such as voter security, turnout and possible fraud still remain, the top United Nations official for Afghanistan told the Security Council today.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that that the Organization is supporting the efforts of the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, security institutions, civil society, and above all, candidates, their supporters and voters to ensure that elections are credible and inclusive.

However, “we still hear much anxiety expressed by Afghan citizens particularly in view of the Taliban’s stated threat to disrupt the electoral process, especially by targeting civilians participating in the elections,” he said. Recent attacks by insurgents in Kunduz, Baghlan and Farah, and above all multiple attacks in Kabul, are of grave concern, he continued, reiterating that the targeting of civilians, including by Islamic State in Iraq and Levant-Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP), is a war crime.

Stressing the need to resume direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban, he emphasized that a political settlement must include a promise to continue to protect and advance human rights and fundamental freedoms for all who live in Afghanistan, including women, youth and minorities. “Many young people, especially young women, are worried about future restrictions to their participation in the socioeconomic and political life of their country,” he said.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that financial crime, corruption, money‑laundering and the financing of terrorism continue to severely strain the Government’s ability to create jobs and grow the private sector. “Insurgents and other non-State actors control areas under opium poppy cultivation and are raising hundreds of millions of dollars,” he warned. The Office remains committed to strengthening regional cooperation, creating jobs and disrupting terrorist linkages to drug trafficking.

Indonesia’s representative, speaking as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011), noted that the Committee in April adopted a nine-month travel ban exemption for 11 listed Taliban members to attend talks in the interest of promoting reconciliation. He also expressed concern for the continued strong association of the Taliban with the Haqqani Network and with Al‑Qaida, underscoring that the Taliban continues to participate in terrorist acts and remains involved in the cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics.

In the ensuing debate, Member States condemned recent attacks on civilians, especially those targeting women and children, and stressed the need to resume talks between the Government and Taliban, secure preparations for the upcoming elections, empower women and promote an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Belgium’s delegate called on the Taliban to engage in talks with the Government, adding also: “You cannot have peace in one hand and a bomb in the other.”

The representative of the United Kingdom noted that, on the eve of a historic meeting with the United States, the Taliban chose to deploy attacks against civilians. “These are not the actions of a group that is searching for peace,” she stressed, urging the Taliban to end its attacks and join the peace process.

The representative of the Russian Federation regretted the suspension of talks between the Taliban and the United States, adding that discussions could have paved the way to such fruitful dialogue.

The representative of the United States said his country supports Afghanistan’s political and electoral institutions, having pledged $29 million towards the presidential elections. He also expressed concern for Afghanistan’s narcotics trade.

Iran’s delegate said no country has the right to decide for the future of Afghanistan and any peace negotiation in the absence of Afghanistan’s Government and political factions or conducted in a unilateral, exclusive and non-transparent manner is doomed to fail.

“Afghanistan wants to move forward, not backward,” said that country’s delegate. Voting centres have been allocated countrywide and 72,000 security officers have been assigned to protect votes, including 9,900 female officers tasked with securing women’s voting centres. Afghanistan’s people are ready to cast their ballot, reflecting their determination to continue on the journey to prosperity and stability. The Government also remains committed to peace talks, she said, underscoring that the Taliban and global terrorist groups continue to attack civilian targets, and threaten people, infrastructure and aid workers.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, Peru, Poland, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Kuwait, France, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Italy, Kazakhstan, Canada, Japan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Australia, India and the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 1:24 p.m.

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