8687th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Afghanistan

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16-Dec-2019 02:02:26
Peace efforts of ‘paramount importance’ to new administration in Afghanistan, special representative tells Security Council at 8687th meeting.

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The results of the 28 September presidential election in Afghanistan must be accepted by all stakeholders, especially the candidates, if it is to move forward along a path to sustainable peace, the top United Nations official in that country told the Security Council today.

“Whatever the outcome of the presidential election may be, peace will be the issue of paramount importance to the new Administration,” added Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), during the Council’s quarterly meeting on the situation in the country.

For Afghanistan to successfully address the key issues of peace, development, poverty reduction, human rights and accountability, credible election results must be delivered that reflect the genuine will of the Afghan people and which are accepted by all stakeholders, particularly the candidates, he stressed.

In the three months since the election, peace efforts have continued, he said, pointing to intra-Afghan dialogue as well as talks in Qatar between the United States and the Taliban. Peace will have wide-ranging implications, he added, including on international efforts to counter Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) and other terrorist groups.

He also underscored the human cost of the conflict, with the third quarter of 2019 seeing the most civilian casualties since UNAMA began keeping a tally in 2009. On the humanitarian front, the United Nations and its partners expect to reach 7.1 million people by the end of 2019 — and that $733 million will be needed to reach a like number of Afghans in 2020.

Also briefing the Council, Aisha Khurram, Afghanistan’s youth delegate to the United Nations, said the key to sustainable peace and reconciliation is ensuring that the voices of young people from both sides of the conflict are taken on board. Emphasizing that 63 per cent of Afghans are under the age of 25, she said the conflict’s greatest price is paid not by politicians and battlefield elites, but by Afghan children and youth.

Almost a year after peace negotiations between the Taliban and the United States began, Afghan youth want a transparent mechanism protecting their rights and achievements in any peace deal, she said. The Council should play an active role in guaranteeing the rights of youth in such a deal, committing itself to peace and an end to suicide bombing, air strikes and night raids, she added.

In the ensuing debate, delegates voiced their concern over ongoing terrorist attacks and civilian fatalities, as well as the gravity of the humanitarian situation, while also emphasizing the urgent need for reconciliation and for the peace process to remain Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

Afghanistan’s delegate said the holding of the presidential elections represented a rejection of extremism. As the results are methodically counted, all parties must allow the process to unfold according to the election law. She thanked international partners, particularly the United States, for building an environment for Afghan-owned talks between the Taliban and the Government. She reiterated, however, that a willingness to move forward can only come in the form of an immediate Taliban ceasefire, and that the gains of the past 18 years, particularly by Afghan women, must be protected and expanded.

The representative of the United States, noting that Afghans are ready for a peaceful and democratic future, said the goal of her country’s efforts in the peace process are to enable direct negotiations among Afghan stakeholders and ensure that Afghanistan is never again a platform for international terrorism.

The Russian Federation’s delegate, describing Afghanistan as “a long-suffering land”, said ISIL’s presence is a threat to the south of his country as well as the wider region. All peace initiatives should aim at unification with the inclusion of all Afghans alongside close regional cooperation, he added.

Germany’s representative, noting that his country is the second-largest international donor to Afghanistan, said the electoral process must be completed if uncertainty is to end. He welcomed efforts to strengthen rule of law, services and institutions and looked forward to a new Government being formed to make progress in those areas.

Kuwait’s delegate said the Council must help create a conducive environment for peace talks to take place. The increase in attacks on civilians and other security incidents demonstrate the need to achieve a peace agreement despite all the challenges faced, he added.

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

The meeting began at 3:09 p.m. and ended at 5:11 p.m.

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