The situation in Afghanistan- Security Council, 8997th Meeting

Preview Language:   Six Official
17-Mar-2022 01:03:05
Adopting resolution 2626 (2022), Security Council extends United Nations Mission in Afghanistan for one year.

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Delegates Say New Mandate Reflects Increased Commitment to Women’s, Girls’ Needs

The Security Council decided today to extend the mandate of the United Nations special political mission in Afghanistan for one year, shifting its priority tasks to better align with the evolving reality on the ground.

By the terms of resolution 2626 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2626(2022)) — which was adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against with one abstention (Russian Federation) — the Council decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until 17 March 2023. It further decided that the Mission will focus on several key activities, including coordinating the provision of humanitarian assistance and the delivery of basic human needs; providing outreach and good offices for dialogue between Afghan stakeholders and the international community; and promoting good governance and the rule of law.

Other highlighted tasks included promoting human rights, supporting and promoting gender equality and monitoring, reporting and advocating with regard to the situation for civilians.

Further by the text, members stressed the critical importance of a continued UNAMA presence, as well as that of other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in Afghanistan. It called on relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders — including relevant authorities as needed — to coordinate with the Mission in the implementation of its mandate and to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel.

Following the adoption, the representative of Norway said the text sends a clear message that the Council stands firmly behind Afghanistan’s people at a time of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty. It provides a strong mandate, asking it to engage with all Afghan actors — including the Taliban — on all relevant matters, and strengthens the Mission’s activities related to the promotion of women’s rights and their participation in public life. Emphasizing that Afghanistan is currently experiencing its worst drought in decades, she expressed regret that the Council could not agree on including direct references to climate change in the text.

The representative of the United Kingdom, welcoming the adoption, said the Council “spoke with one voice” today in support of a robust United Nations Mission in Afghanistan. Expressing regret that one Council member decided to abstain just when the country’s people need support the most, she recalled that the United Kingdom has doubled its support to Afghanistan in 2022. Beyond the humanitarian crises, she voiced concern over reports of reprisals against former government officials and attacks and intimidation against members of minority groups and civil society. “The Taliban need to demonstrate that extremist groups are no longer able to flourish in the country,” she added, noting that the international community will base its future actions on the path the group decides to take.

The representative of the United States said today’s resolution demonstrates the international community’s enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan. It empowers UNAMA to serve as an advocate for people across the country and focuses on the promotion of inclusive, responsive and participatory governance that serve the needs of all Afghans. It further maintains a robust human rights monitoring mandate and allows the Mission to continue its important child protection work. Critically, the new mandate ensures that UNAMA can continue its vital work in support of women’s and girls’ empowerment and their full, equal and meaningful engagement in all stages of decision-making. It also ensures that UNAMA will continue to address the humanitarian emergency and the widespread economic crisis, he said, expressing United States commitment to the Mission’s work and outlining its humanitarian contributions to Afghanistan.

Ireland’s representative agreed that the vote demonstrates the Council’s resounding support for UNAMA “at this extremely difficult time for the people of Afghanistan”. It provides a clear and unambiguous foundation on which the Mission can engage with all stakeholders — including on the coordination of urgent humanitarian aid — to promote inclusive and participatory governance and promote human rights for all Afghans. At the same time, he expressed regret that the Council could not agree to include a reference to climate and security at a time when that link is becoming all the more clear.

The representative of Albania said her delegation stands for a robust mandate for UNAMA to serve as a crucial bridge between Afghanistan and the international community. The resolution adopted today constitutes a positive initial step towards helping the country and its people return to normality, she said.

Brazil’s representative said the text adopted today reflects the concerns of most Council members and provides UNAMA with a robust mandate that matches the expectations of the international community. It sends a clear message to the Afghan people and the de facto authorities conveying those expectations for the future of their country, which include respect for human rights and the dignified treatment of women and minorities. It further consolidates the Mission’s role as a mediator and as a bridge between the country’s stakeholders and the international community, he said, adding that it is now up to the de facto Afghan authorities which path they wish to take in the future.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation was compelled to abstain in today’s vote, as its attempts to secure consent for the United Nations presence from the host country were ignored. Underlining the need to shift away from past irresponsible actions in Afghanistan, he warned against continuing a path of “stubborn ignorance” and the pursuit of irrelevant approaches. Wishing UNAMA every success, he nevertheless cautioned against turning it into a “United Nations mission impossible”, and stressed that support from the de facto authorities in Afghanistan would help it achieve its mandate. Citing various economic challenges facing the country, he advocated for more action to address them swiftly and for renewed efforts to pursue Afghan self-reliance free from international financing. “The key is maintaining stability, from which everyone would win,” he said.

Meanwhile, the representative of China said that, since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, Afghanistan has now entered a new phase of peaceful reconstruction. Economic recovery is now the most urgent task and should be pursued by UNAMA. Welcoming a reference in today’s resolution to the fact that “Afghan assets belong to the Afghan people”, he urged UNAMA to pursue further work on unfreezing such assets and called on the country concerned in that regard to return the assets taken from the Afghan people. Meanwhile, the global community should adhere to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principles, help establish an open and inclusive governance structure, combat terrorism in all its forms and restore economic development. “We still have many doubts as to whether the tasks laid out in this mandate are appropriate,” he said, noting that the situation is rapidly evolving and calling for the flexibility needed to make mandate changes at any time.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, President of the Security Council, speaking in her national capacity, said the new mandate reflects the international commitment to respond to Afghans’ needs, especially those of women and girls. She expressed concern over the humanitarian situation, noting that the country lacks the financial liquidity to provide basic services and faces a heightened terrorist threat. Today’s renewal seeks to put the country “on the right track” to achieve a more sustainable future, she said, welcoming its focus on protecting the rights of women and girls. The renewed mandate will also allow UNAMA to continue to coordinate humanitarian efforts with all parties in the country. She emphasized the importance of political access, allowing the Mission to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban and convey international messages on the importance of sound governance, and pointed to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as an important partner for both Afghanistan and UNAMA in the cultural, religious and humanitarian arenas.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:36 a.m.

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