Continued silence by the Security Council in the face of "open and naked aggression" against Afghanistan by Pakistan would constitute a blow to the essence of the United Nations, the Council was told today, as 27 speakers took part in a day-long orientation debate on the situation in that country.
The Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Rahim Ghafoorzai, told the Council that when the Taliban movement had invaded Kabul on 27 September, it had been accompanied by Pakistani military officers and militias. In fact, Pakistan's Interior Minister had been referred to as the "Commander of the Taliban" by a member of Pakistan's Parliament. Since the invasion of Kabul, women had been forced to leave their jobs, girls had been turned out of schools, and some 250,000 refugees had fled to northern Afghanistan. Now, he had heard proposals made for an arms embargo on his country. Such an embargo "should be applied against the Government that had sent mercenaries to Afghanistan in blatant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law", he said.
In response to the statement of Afghanistan's Vice-Minister, the representative of Pakistan said that the present conflict in Afghanistan dated from the refusal of President Burhanuddin Rabbani to step down at the end of his term in June 1994, thus triggering widespread disaffection against his State apparatus. In response, the Afghanistan Students Militia -- the Taliban -- had restored relative peace to the two thirds of the country that they now held.
A number of Central Asian members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) told the Council that events in Afghanistan threatened the political stability of the subregion. The representative of Kazakstan said that any actions which threatened the borders of the States of the Commonwealth would be met with an appropriate response.
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Uzbekistan's representative said that an embargo on the delivery of weapons to Afghanistan could be a positive element in the search for peace in that country, and the United Nations should help organize an international conference on Afghanistan. The representative of Tajikistan said that stability on the southern borders of the CIS could help prevent the trafficking of arms, drugs and criminal elements.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that the approach of the flames of the Afghan war was a threat to Russia's national interests, as well as to stability in the region. The armed conflict must stop, and dialogue must resume for there to be a solution to the conflict.
Speakers in the debate also agreed that a military solution was not possible and called for an immediate end to the conflict. There was no alternative to negotiation and compromise, they said. Participants specifically urged all States to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and to end the flow of arms into the country.
Representatives also condemned the recent violation of the United Nations offices in Kabul and called for the security of all international humanitarian assistance personnel to be guaranteed. At the same time, they called on the international community to continue assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Several speakers supported the convening of an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations to search for ways to end the conflict.
Also participating in today's debate were the representatives of the Kyrgyz Republic, Germany, United Kingdom, Indonesia, France, Republic of Korea, Botswana, Egypt, Italy, Chile, China, Guinea-Bissau, Poland, United States, Honduras, Iran, Turkey, India, Japan and Ireland (on behalf of the European Union and associated States). The observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
In a letter to the Secretary-General dated 8 October (document S/196/838), the permanent representatives of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, transmit the text of a joint statement made by the leaders of their countries concerning developments in Afghanistan. The leaders proposed that a special meeting of the Council be held without delay to adopt urgent measures to halt the fighting and achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Afghan conflict, and to arrange for international humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and refugees.
In their 4 October joint declaration, the leaders expressed concern at the expansion of the armed confrontation and stated that any actions that undermined the stability on the borders between Afghanistan and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) would be deemed a threat to the common interest of those States. They appealed to the Afghan parties, first of all the Taliban, to halt hostilities and begin to seek ways to achieve national accord. An obligatory condition must be non-interference by foreign elements.
The Council has also received a statement from the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan in which he accuses "Taliban mercenaries" of using an internationally banned weapon against its forces in battlefields where there was strong resistance against the Taliban forces. According to the Vice-Minister, whose statement is transmitted to the Council in a letter dated 10 October from the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan (document S/1996/842), the banned weapon "was provided to the Taliban by their cross- border supporters". His Government calls urgently on the Council to use its international influence to prevent such acts.
He states that as fear rises that the Taliban will lose control of the capital, their supporters have provided more militia and weaponry from Pakistani territory, thus lessening the chance of a negotiated settlement under United Nations auspices. The Vice-Minister expresses the hope that the United Nations will supervise those border crossings to help avoid additional tension in an already volatile situation.
The Council has also received a statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakstan in which he calls on the parties to the conflict, on all concerned States in the region and on the international community to take urgent measures to halt the military action, ensure non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and guarantee its territorial integrity. The statement is conveyed to the Council in a letter dated 30 September from the Permanent Representative of Kazakstan (document S/1996/810).
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On 28 September the Council, in a Presidential statement, expressed dismay at the brutal execution by the Taliban of former President Najibullah and others, who had sought refuge in the compound of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan and called for the immediate cessation of alarmed hostilities.
The Credentials Committee, on 11 October, deferred a decision on accepting credentials from the representatives of Afghanistan, following a statement by the Legal Counsel that two communications had been received challenging the formal credentials submitted for the representatives of that country. On 3 October, a note verbale had been received by the Secretariat from the "Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic State of Afghanistan" stating that the credentials issued by President Burhanuddin Rabbani were "not authoritative and legally valid". On 10 October, letters addressed to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly and signed by "Haji Mula Mohammad Ghaus Akhund, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs" stated that "at the top of the diplomatic mission of Afghanistan there are individuals and personnel who belong to the previous regime, who are not acceptable to the new ruling Government of Taliban". However, the Legal Counsel pointed out that neither communication listed purported new representatives of Afghanistan and, thus, did not constitute either formal or provisional credentials of representatives.
RAHIM GHAFOORZAI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said that for four years the Government of Pakistan had acted as an obstacle to peace by means of conspiracies and schemes. Afghanistan had repeatedly complained about measures taken by Pakistani military intelligence, but the United Nations had only adopted resolutions and issued statements. For the Security Council to remain silent in the face of open and naked aggression would be a blow to the essence of the United Nations. The Pakistani Interior Minister had been referred to as the "Commander of the Taliban" by a member of Pakistan's parliament. Press reports had repeatedly named Pakistani military personnel captured in Afghanistan. Afghanistan would present the Security Council with videotapes of Pakistani captives in the custody of Afghan authorities.
Foreign militias had taken part in military actions undertaken by the Taliban, he said. Twenty-three members of those militias had been returned to Pakistan by Saudi Arabia's Security Minister, in a gesture of goodwill. When the city of Herat was overrun by the Taliban on 5 September 1995, Afghanistan had asked the Security Council to put an end to Pakistani participation in that onslaught and requested the dispatch of a fact-finding mission. The Council had not responded. On 9 April 1996, Afghanistan had suggested the establishment of a United Nations monitoring post along the Afghan-Pakistani
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border. On 27 September, Taliban, accompanied by Pakistani military officers and militias, had invaded Kabul.
He said that in the weeks since that invasion, women had been forced to leave their jobs and schools had been closed to girls. Women who went shopping had faced public chain-lashing and beatings. Some 250,000 persons had fled to northern Afghanistan because of the Taliban. Mass arrests, abduction and house-to-house searches were still taking place in Kabul. According to Amnesty International, some 1,000 civilians had been rushed to the front lines to clear mines by walking over them.
The United Nations should dispatch a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan, he continued. That mission should look into reports that chemical weapons were used against Afghan government troops in the battles of Lata Band, Bande-Ghazi and Puli-Charkhi. Regarding a possible arms embargo on Afghanistan, he said that the embargo should be applied against the Government that had sent mercenaries to Afghanistan in blatant violation of the United Nation Charter and recognized principles of international law. He wondered if the United Nations had not become merely a tool of power politics for the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor, oppressed and weak. Under Article 51 of the Charter, Afghanistan had a right to defend itself and any attempt to prevent Afghanistan from doing so would violate the terms of the Charter and work against the interests of peace, stability and security in the region.
Military forces of the Government of Afghanistan had recently recaptured most areas seized by the Taliban, he said. Government forces were, in fact, at the "gates of Kabul". The Pakistani-backed invasion of Kabul had brought together forces that had stood against each other for the past four years. Despite past enmity, Afghans would unite in the face of foreign conspiracies. That had been the case against both the British Empire and the Soviet Union.
He said the Government of Afghanistan would observe an immediate cease- fire provided that: Taliban forces immediately evacuate Kabul; their heavy weapons be withdrawn beyond artillery range; the city of Kabul be recognized as a demilitarized zone; a police force for Kabul be formed under the supervision of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference; and negotiations begin on the formation of an interim government of national unity.
AKMARAL ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakstan) said that recent military events had threatened the disintegration of Afghanistan and destabilization of the central Asian region. On 4 October, the Presidents of the Central Asian Republics, together with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, met in Almaty, Kazakstan, and expressed serious concern over the armed conflict in Afghanistan, the murder of the ex-President and threats to the stability of the region. The participants of that meeting had stated that any actions which threatened the borders of the CIS would be met with an appropriate
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response. They had demanded that the Taliban cease hostilities and that non- interference in the affairs of Afghanistan be strictly observed.
Today's session of the Security Council had been in response to the appeal by those present at the 4 October meeting, he said. The Council should intensify activities aimed at ending the conflict and protecting the civilian population in Afghanistan, particularly women and children. The Council should also play a fundamental role in the preservation of Afghanistan as a unified State. He appreciated the international community's delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Political stability in Afghanistan could only be achieved through respect for the various religious and ethnic groups in the country.
ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said that the question of Afghanistan was repeatedly appearing on the agenda of the Council due to the continuing exacerbation of conflict in that country. Today's meeting of the Council should contribute to a sense of involvement on the part of the international community in the search for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. His Government carefully followed the situation in Afghanistan and the expanding scale of conflict there. The civil war represented a seriously destabilizing element in the central Asian region. The conflict must not be allowed to affect the national security of a neighbouring State. The territory of Afghanistan was now a source for the uncontrolled production of illegal drugs that were being transported through neighbouring States. External States should strictly adhere to principles of non-interference in the Afghan conflict.
He endorsed efforts in the United Nations to contribute to resolution of the Afghan conflict. The Organization must play a leading role in any resolution of the conflict. His Government supported the idea of an international conference on Afghanistan under the aegis of the United Nations. An embargo on the delivery of weapons to Afghanistan could be a positive element in the search for peace in that country. Such an embargo should be aimed primarily at suppliers of weapons from outside Afghanistan.
ZAMIRA ESHMAMBETOVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that her Government did not directly border Afghanistan, but as a Central Asian State could not remain unaffected by military operations on the Tajik-Afghan border and by the growth of the military conflict, which could threaten regional peace and stability. General Assembly resolution 50/88 of 1995, recent statements by the United Nations Secretary-General and the 4 October statement by the Central Asian Republics had all underscored concern over the situation in Afghanistan.
She said the parties in Afghanistan should undertake negotiations, enact a cease-fire, respect human rights, particularly of women, and preserve the unity of Afghanistan. Those actions could promise peace and economic revival in the long-suffering nation of Afghanistan.
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RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that the new wave of military confrontation in Afghanistan had caused his Government serious concern. He was outraged by the expansion of the scope of armed conflict, extra-judicial executions and the brutal murder of the former President of Afghanistan carried out by Taliban, the violation of human rights, particularly of women, and the outflow of refugees from Kabul. Those actions threatened the whole central and south Asian region, particularly the borders of the CIS States. The flames of war were directly threatening the national interests of those States, thereby destabilizing international peace and security.
The Afghan crisis had demonstrated the futility of attempting to achieve national stability by military means, he said. He attached particular concern to a meeting of the Security Council as an essential step towards the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The international community must prohibit external intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. His Government urged all Afghan leaders to engage in dialogue aimed at national reconciliation and the independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. Tajikistan was linked to Afghanistan by age-old historical ties. The border between those States was still a source of tension. Stability on the southern borders of the CIS could help prevent the trafficking of arms, drugs and criminal elements.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the events in Afghanistan had taken a highly dangerous turn. The approach of the flames of war was a threat to Russia's national interest and to stability in the region. He called on all factions to cease hostilities. The seizure of Kabul had not brought the State closer to stabilization. By their inhumanity the Taliban had set themselves apart from the majority of the Afghan population. The armed conflict must stop and dialogue must resume for there to be any solution to the conflict.
During the past two years, he said, his Government had called on the Council to be more active in helping to find a solution to the problems of Afghanistan. He attached great importance to the United Nations role as an impartial mediator in the conflict and he supported the efforts of the Special Mission. Unfortunately, the Taliban refused to participate in inter-Afghan talks.
He said the brunt of the conflict was being borne by the long-suffering Afghan people. His own country had rendered emergency humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and was counting on continued cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in those efforts. The Council should appeal to all Afghan parties to immediately cease hostilities, begin mediation and establish a lasting peace. The primary responsibility for peace lay with the parties involved, but the international community could render important assistance. Outside forces must refrain from interfering, he stressed.
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GERHARD HENZE (Germany) said that less than three weeks after Kabul had changed hands, Afghanistan faced the danger of another battle for its capital. However, recent events in Afghanistan made clear that there was no military solution to the conflict. His Government deplored the ongoing civil war and its political, economic and humanitarian consequences. The urgent priority must be to help Afghanistan leave the vicious circle created by nearly 17 years of war and enter a meaningful peace process.
The international groundwork for a viable intra-Afghan peace process had been laid by the General Assembly and the Security Council, but the main responsibility for accepting or declining the offer of a United Nations- sponsored or facilitated peace process lay with the Afghan parties. At the same time the United Nations should continue to try to convince the parties to commit themselves to such a process, as it represented the best change of peace, stability and, in the long run, prosperity returning to Afghanistan.
He said that United Nations efforts in Afghanistan could be further strengthened through the coordinated participation of regional organizations, States of the region and other important States. One important step to muster increased international support would be the expansion of contact between the United Nations Special Mission in Afghanistan and regional and other governments. He proposed that the Secretary-General explore the idea of convening a United Nations international meeting or conference on Afghanistan.
He said that every day that Afghanistan remained without a broad-based interim government and an effective civil administration, the country was pushed further backward on the scale of economic and human development. It also preserved the lawlessness that had allowed parts of Afghanistan to become notorious for producing and exporting drugs. Time to find a solution to the conflict was not unlimited. Only if all concerned united behind a United Nations-led impartial approach, would there be a chance for the war in Afghanistan to end.
Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom) said the aims of the international community must be: an agreement to an immediate cease-fire; negotiations between all the parties; and the establishment of a peace process leading to the formation of a broad-based representative government which respected human rights. The strongest possible political support must be given to the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission, but the responsibility to achieve a settlement lay with the parties themselves.
He called for an end to outside interference, and an end to the continuing supply of arms and ammunition to the factions. He remained concerned about the use of the territory of Afghanistan for the production of drugs and the training of terrorists. Expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, he called on all factions to cooperate in the delivery of humanitarian aid to all people of Afghanistan irrespective
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of ethnic group, race or gender. The United Kingdom remained a major aid donor to Afghanistan, contributing around $10 million annually. The United Kingdom was also gravely concerned about measures implemented to restrict girls' rights to education and women's rights to employment. He called on all the factions to respect international human rights norms and to act in accordance with relevant international instruments.
He was surprised by the failure of the Afghan Vice-Minister to mention the role of the United Nations in coordinating international humanitarian activities in Afghanistan. The collective effort of the international community deserved to be recognized. Further, the Security Council and the international community must keep a close watch on the rapidly-changing situation in Afghanistan. Coordination of all efforts must remain a priority. He looked forward to hearing the considered views of the Special Mission on the best way for the Council to support its efforts. There was a risk that precipitate action in the Council might jeopardize those efforts.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said it was of utmost urgency that the parties involved in the Afghan conflict initiate broad-based inter-Afghan talks to establish a government of national unity and achieve a lasting political settlement. He hoped initiatives would be taken to establish contacts and open a conduit for talks. The role of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan had become indispensable to the establishment of a cease-fire and a political settlement. He urged the warring parties to accept United Nations mediation efforts. It would also be an opportune time to reconsider convening an international conference on the situation in Afghanistan under the auspices of the United Nations.
It was incumbent upon the parties to observe the fundamental tenet of respect for the sanctity of United Nations premises and its personnel without any exceptions, he said. Also, given the risk involved in extending assistance, the parties should fully cooperate with the United Nations, its associated bodies and all humanitarian organizations in their endeavours to alleviate the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. He called upon the parties to respect the human rights of all civilians. He reaffirmed Indonesia's commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan. In the end, the restoration of peace would finally be determined only by the political will of Afghanistan's leaders to reach an agreement.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the situation in Afghanistan today was characterized by a war of attrition, offensives and counter-offensives which endangered the stability of the entire region. His Government would not take sides with the forces concerned. Rather, he called for a cease-fire, dialogue and national reconciliation. Successive alliances and counter-alliances in
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that country made clear that the situation in Afghanistan could only be resolved through a political settlement that took into account the interests of all, free from external interference.
His Government hoped to contribute to reconciliation and respected the energy and courage of the Afghan people. The continuation of conflict in Afghanistan had created fertile soil for terrorist activities, he said. His Government was concerned about respect for human rights in Afghanistan, particularly regarding the right of women to education and employment. France would continue to provide humanitarian assistance through French non- governmental organizations, which had always played an indispensable role.
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said the international community should renew its commitment for a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict. In the face of conflict escalation, the Afghan parties must cease immediately all hostilities so that the political process to create a broad-based government acceptable to the Afghan people could be initiated without further delay. The most important task for the international community was to reaffirm the continued relevance and feasibility of the steps set out in General Assembly resolution 50/88 and to encourage the Afghan parties to move towards those agreed measures.
He called for more resolute action by the international community. The flow of arms to the Afghan parties from outside had to be stopped. States, particularly the neighbouring ones, must strictly refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and use their influence on the Afghan parties impartially. He again urged all States, particularly those neighbouring Afghanistan, to immediately review their policies towards Afghanistan in a manner that fully addressed the need for an unconditional cease-fire and for a real political process to start without any preconditions.
He said the Council should reaffirm the principles of national reconciliation, democracy, protection of human rights, national unity and the territorial integrity of Afghanistan. In the meantime, the suffering of the Afghan people must be alleviated by making all Afghan parties fully observe international humanitarian law in all its aspects and making those who violate such law bear individual responsibility. The involvement of certain Afghan parties in the narcotics trade, as reported by various sources, should not be tolerated.
He emphasized that the ultimate responsibility to find a peaceful solution lay with the Afghan parties themselves. He expressed concern about the lack of progress in reaching an agreement on an immediate and durable cease-fire and the establishment of an acceptable and broadly representative
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mechanism in which all segments of society were represented. He called upon all Afghan parties to renounce the use of force and settle their differences by peaceful means, at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield.
LEGWAILA J.M.J. LEGWAILA (Botswana) said the greatest losers in the fratricidal conflict in Afghanistan were the ordinary people. The recent take-over of Kabul might have been a boon for some, but it was a severe blow to several others who found their civil liberties curtailed. He also expressed concern that the fighting had affected personnel of humanitarian organizations, many of whom had been forced to leave the country. If the current situation continued unchecked it could have a disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation of the people of Afghanistan.
The sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan could only be assured by the Afghans themselves, he said. They had so far failed to attain their objectives, whatever they were, through war, and it was unlikely they would in future. It was time they committed themselves to national reconciliation through an all-encompassing negotiation process.
He said foreign interference had hampered the search for a political settlement in Afghanistan. He regretted the continued flow of arms and ammunition across its borders. The countries of central Asia should be united in the search for peace and not fuel the fires of war in Afghanistan. They should be supporting the valuable efforts of the United Nations Special Mission for Afghanistan to find a lasting settlement and not to undermine them. The situation in Afghanistan constituted a serious threat to international peace and security. The war in Afghanistan could easily spread to the neighbouring countries and engulf the whole region of central Asia. The active involvement of the international community was indispensable to the search for a peaceful solution to the human tragedy there.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said that Afghanistan had fallen victim to civil war and foreign intervention from external actors, who were supporting factions with military supplies. Afghanistan had been turned into a stronghold for the training and export of extremists. That trend had exacerbated instability in the entire region. Individuals of different nationalities, trained in Afghanistan, had carried out terrorist activities, such as the bombing of Egyptian diplomatic offices in Pakistan last year.
The pursuit of power by factions in Afghanistan had been complicated by external powers that had desires that did not take into account the interests of the Afghan people, he continued. After the signing of the Geneva Agreement of 1988, everyone expected foreign powers to cease military assistance to the Afghan parties. Unfortunately, the Afghan problem remained before the General Assembly and financial and military assistance to the factions continued. Recent developments had raised the possibility of increased military
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confrontation, which could result in additional casualties. He rejected any attempt to bring into question the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.
The Security Council should study the idea of an international conference, which might help facilitate a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan, he said. Such a settlement required a complete halt to the shipment of arms into Afghanistan. It was also important that the role of the "friends of Afghanistan" be reformed to support the efforts of the Secretary- General in bringing about national reconciliation, elections, sovereignty and national unity in Afghanistan.
LORENZO FERRARIN (Italy) said that the split of Afghanistan into two opposing camps could cause a chain reaction and jeopardize peace and stability in central Asia. Those hostilities must immediately cease and political negotiations should be quickly resumed. There was no room for uncompromising behaviour in those talks. Constructive dialogue must include all the parties on the basis of respect for an effective truce and renunciation of the use of force. There was no room for extremist views with regard to human rights, particularly the condition of women.
Regardless of who was in power in Afghanistan, that country was required to scrupulously respect the principles of the United Nation Charter and the human rights guarantees provided for by several international treaties, he said. Afghanistan was also bound by the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Italy was outraged at the treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan. Recent events in Kabul and other cities had seriously undermined the social fabric of Afghanistan and compromised the international community's ability to assure sorely needed financial support and resources.
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said that just six months ago the Council had undertaken an orientation debate on the serious crisis in Afghanistan. The international community had expressed its concern and willingness to help the factions overcome their internal differences and move along the road towards national reconciliation. The Secretary-General had subsequently taken important measures to strengthen the role of the United Nations in facilitating a cease-fire and the establishment of a broadly-based government. The Afghan parties must take part in a broad political process. The establishment of an acceptable transition government would be an essential first step.
The events of the last few weeks had made clear that resolution to military means could only bring more suffering to the Afghan people, he continued. The Afghan parties should undertake political dialogue, and external intervention into the affairs of Afghanistan should cease. The international community and neighbouring States should respect that principle.
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Illicit arms trafficking to the parties only supported those who preferred military to political means in resolving the crisis. The Security Council should give serious thought to placing an arms embargo on Afghanistan. His Government would support such a proposal.
He appealed to the international community to support reconstruction in Afghanistan, but stressed that the Afghan people must play their role in re-establishing their Government and rebuilding their country. Violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan were also of concern. No Afghan faction should be allowed to trample on essential human rights. The Taliban should repeal their discriminatory laws against women, which would only serve to slow down reconciliation and economic recovery. Chile was encouraged by the active role of neighbouring States of central Asia in facilitating stability in their strategic region.
QIN HUASUN (China) said that, as a neighbour, China was deeply concerned about developments in Afghanistan. The only way to develop a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan was through genuine national reconciliation, and the key to that effort was in the hands of the Afghan people. The parties should cast away their political, religious and racial difference, stop the armed conflict and establish, through negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, a broadly-based government acceptable to all parties. He was confident that the Afghan people were fully capable of resolving their problems.
The prolonged ravages of war in Afghanistan were detrimental to peace and stability in neighbouring countries and in the region at large, he continued. Only when genuine national reconciliation and stability was achieved in Afghanistan would the people of that country be able to rebuild their homeland, and live and work in peace and contentment.
The meeting suspended at 1:13 p.m.
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The meeting resumed at 3:24 p.m.
ALFRED LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) said his Government was concerned by the expansion of the fighting in Afghanistan and its effect on the many civilian victims. It was also concerned by the fundamental violation of human rights, especially actions against women and girls. The Afghan war was even more threatening to the stability of neighbouring States. He urged all parties to cease fighting and to cooperate with the United Nations to achieve a peaceful settlement.
National reconciliation must be promoted, he said. Furthermore, a government of national unity was needed that would include all elements of Afghan society. The flow of arms into the country from outside sources must stop. The humanitarian activities of the United Nations deserved international gratitude, but the effectiveness of their efforts hinged on a political settlement. Council action must take into account all aspects of the situation.
ZBIGNIEW MATUSZEWSKI (Poland) said that only genuine political will on the part of the Afghan parties could lead to a peaceful settlement of the armed struggle in that country. The situation in Afghanistan had led to a build-up of tensions around its borders. Military confrontation would lead nowhere. National dialogue and political reconciliation were essential if Afghanistan were to avoid threats to the territorial integrity and unity in the country.
He was very concerned over recent development and the prospect of continuing hostilities. He called on all States able to do so to assist Afghanistan. In addition, all concerned should exercise restraint when it came to supplying the parties with weapons or other military supplies. The warring factions in Afghanistan should accept that their country was the common heritage of all ethnic and cultural groups in the country. The United Nations could play an important role in achieving a peaceful settlement to the conflict. His country was ready to examine ways in which the Security Council could respond to the challenges posed by the situation in Afghanistan.
MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT (United States) said the parties should stop fighting and begin negotiations aimed at a political settlement. The conflict would never have a military solution. Peace could only be achieved by a broad-based government which represented and respected the rights of all of Afghanistan's diverse peoples.
The United Nations had an essential role to play as an impartial facilitator among the Afghan factions, she continued. All outside parties should refrain from meddling in the country. The regional powers and Afghanistan's neighbours should work with the United Nations to encourage the Afghan parties to move towards peace. The United States would support an arms
embargo on Afghanistan. The continuing flow of arms to the parties would only perpetuate the fighting and make it less likely that they would come to the negotiating table.
All parties in Afghanistan should recognize international standards of human rights, she said. The Charter of the United Nations had affirmed the principle of equal rights for men and women. In parts of Afghanistan, decrees were being issued which deprived women of all rights, except the right to remain silent, indoors, uneducated and invisible. Reports that women and girls were being denied the right to study, work or participate in the life of their communities could not be justified. Such actions were medieval. If they continued, those practices would doom prospects for economic and social progress. They would make it extremely difficult, or even impossible, for the international community to administer humanitarian assistance.
Speaking in his capacity as his country's representative, the President of the Council, GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras), said prospects for peace in Afghanistan seemed to be receding. The parties to the conflict must engage in dialogue to re-establish peace and national reconciliation. The United Nations Special Mission had a primary role in the promotion of a peaceful solution to the conflict and the parties must cooperate with the mission to achieve success.
He expressed concern that the recent political events could further aggravate the human rights situation in Afghanistan. He called on the Afghan parties to respect the basic rights of the civilian population and to strictly observe international humanitarian law. The sense of insecurity was fueled by the flow of arms and munitions from other countries to the Afghan factions. He reminded all States to observe the international laws against illicit traffic in arms. He called on the Afghan factions to desist from armed struggle, establish a cease-fire and begin a peaceful dialogue.
KAMAL KHARRAZI (Iran) said that, as a neighbouring country, Iran had rendered humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, while encouraging the warring factions to settle their differences through dialogue and by peaceful means. His Government had spent weeks and months in different parts of Afghanistan to facilitate dialogue between different factions. The fratricidal conflict between Islamic Afghan factions was so appalling that it had become imperative to appeal in the name of Islam to all Afghan leaders to end the violence and bloodshed. The Ayatollah Khamenei had sent a message that further violence was Islamically unjustified, and Afghan leaders were under Islamic duty to proscribe it.
The conflict had no military solution, he said. No faction or State could endorse the ongoing violence in the name of Islam. There was already a convenient tendency to label Islam as a religion of the past, ill-equipped to
deal with modern problems. Therefore, Muslims must avoid attributing to Islam policies and practices that were not only un-Islamic, but also anti-Islamic.
The international community, countries in the region and others with influence should support and facilitate the establishment of peace and security, he said. The Council should adopt effective measures to set in place a mechanism for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a broad-based government. The General Assembly should double its efforts to fulfil the obligation of the Organization towards one of its Members. Only a broad-based government, free from foreign interference, could protect and guarantee the rights of all Afghan people. Iran could not remain indifferent to developments that might affect its national security, he said. It had redoubled efforts to convene a regional conference in Tehran later this month, with the participation of regional foreign ministers and representatives of the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The holding of a United Nations meeting of interested countries on the situation in Afghanistan deserved serious consideration.
HUSEYIN E. CELEM (Turkey) said the situation in Afghanistan warranted the continued concern of the international community which had identified the essential political elements for the restoration of peace and a return to normalcy. The most urgent need was for an immediate and unconditional cessation of all armed hostilities. The Council must give new impetus to the efforts of the Special Mission to bring together the Afghan leaders to negotiate an immediate and durable cease-fire and to resolve their internal political differences. That would facilitate national reconciliation and start the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
He stressed that the primary responsibility lay with the warring parties as the destiny of Afghanistan could only be determined by the Afghan people. He appealed to all sides to lay down their arms and agree on a national reconciliation process, conducive to the restoration of the Afghan statehood. He said his Government attached special importance to the role the Organization of the Islamic Conference had been playing to forge a common understanding among the parties in Afghanistan. He also welcomed the decision to send another Conference mission to Afghanistan. The efforts of the Conference would be conducted in close cooperation and coordination with the Special Mission and complemented those of the United Nations. Turkey stood ready to host a meeting with the participation of all parties to the Afghan conflict, under the auspices of the United Nations, to help bring about reconciliation and a settlement based on the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and unity of Afghanistan.
PRAKASH SHAH (India) said that the offensive by the Taliban in Afghanistan had taken place while the Head of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan was engaged in active parleys with different parties, examining ways of bringing them together so that peace could be achieved. At
that time, the Government of President Rabbani, recognized by India, had actively taken interest in promoting intra-Afghan dialogue. Despite those efforts, some groups had remained intransigent and refused to negotiate with other groups. Peace would only return to that country if all groups accepted the proposition that they could not achieve their objectives through violence.
Afghanistan had suffered from foreign interference, he said. There was ample evidence to show that some Afghan parties who had engaged in violent activities had been supported, trained and assisted by foreign Powers. Only the cessation of foreign interference could allow peace and stability to return. The ideological orientations of Taliban were of concern to India, he added. Their wanton disregard for human rights, especially the rights of women, had given rise to misgivings throughout the world.
AHMET ENGIN ANSAY, observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that in its missions to Afghanistan, the Conference had tried to emphasize the futility of attempting a military solution, rather than seeking a solution through negotiations. The historic struggle for liberation from foreign invaders was quite different from wrestling over the reins of government within one's own country. A forced solution to an internal conflict that did not carry the sincere commitment of all parties could not provide a lasting solution. More often than not, it would boomerang.
The effects of instability and chaos in Afghanistan were being felt beyond its borders, he said. The return of peace and tranquillity to Afghanistan should bring relief to the governments and peoples of other countries that had felt the repercussions of the foreign occupation, and then civil war, in Afghanistan. All States should play a constructive role by preventing the supply of arms to any and all factions in Afghanistan. A high level Conference mission was about to visit Afghanistan to complement the United Nations efforts aimed at reconciliation.
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said the continued hostilities among the various Afghan factions threatened the territorial integrity and unity of Afghanistan and posed a threat to neighbouring countries and to the stability of the region. The situation also seriously hampered efforts to tackle drug problems and international terrorism. The international community must uphold the basic principles that: no infringement of the principle of territorial integrity and unity of Afghanistan should be allowed; no foreign intervention in Afghanistan should be tolerated; and no country should attempt to provide arms and money to various factions.
He said the mediating role of the United Nations had to be re-evaluated and reinforced, in particular, through an intensified framework of cooperation by the countries in the region and other interested countries. The Afghan parties should also be urged to work more closely with the mediating efforts of the United Nations Special Mission. Japan supported those efforts, and had
recently sent a political affairs officer to participate in the Special Mission. A further proactive initiative by the United Nations could be a step towards the attainment of national reconciliation, with the ultimate aim of establishing a broad-based government in Afghanistan. Japan would, in principle, support the convening, under United Nations auspices, of an international meeting among concerned countries.
He said Japan had maintained close and impartial contacts with the various Afghan parties, and thought that they might be persuaded to listen to the call of the international community to work out a political settlement. Japan could consider hosting a meeting among them, if and when such an offer would assist in bringing the parties to the negotiating table. It might also be important to consider organizing a forum to examine possibilities for offering help and support to the Afghan parties for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, once they had demonstrated the political will to achieve a settlement. Japan was prepared to make an appropriate contribution in that regard.
J.H.F. CAMPBELL (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, as well as of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Iceland and Norway, said the European Union called for the immediate cessation of armed hostilities and urgently exhorted the leaders of all the Afghan parties to renounce the use of force and to engage in political dialogue. He attached great importance to the United Nations' readiness to assist the dialogue and supported every effort undertaken to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. The Union also fully supported the United Nations Special Mission.
He urged all States to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. In particular, the flow of arms into Afghanistan from outside its borders must end. He expressed concern about the use of Afghan territory for the production of drugs and the training of terrorists. He reaffirmed the Union's commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan. Only negotiation and cooperation between the parties could offer the opportunity of a new stable Afghanistan to which all its people could freely owe allegiance. He called on all the parties in Afghanistan to respect human rights. The Union could not accept discrimination on the basis of gender and, accordingly, was particularly concerned over the recent measures restricting the education of girls and female employment. He recalled that among the instruments formally signed by Afghanistan was the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
He condemned without reservation the recent violation of the United Nations Office in Kabul. The rights and immunities under international law of the United Nations and its specialized agencies must be fully respected, he said. Likewise, the security of all international personnel involved in the
provision and distribution of humanitarian aid must be guaranteed. The Union and its member States were the largest donors of aid to Afghanistan, a role which they were willing to continue. He looked forward to a dialogue on the methods of cooperation which ensured assistance for all the people of Afghanistan, irrespective of their gender or ethnic background. He called on all parties to cease their armed struggle and to find a peaceful means to resolve their differences.
SAHIBZADA MUHAMMAD NAZEER SULTAN (Pakistan) said that the turmoil in Afghanistan could have been contained had competing regional and non-regional powers not fuelled the fire, turning the country into a battlefield for the pursuit of their own narrow strategic and political interests. Afghanistan was a country that had been systematically ravaged by long years of foreign military occupation. That occupation had ended, but the Afghan people had been left to cope with a society in which traditional structures had broken down.
The establishment of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in April 1992 and the installation of a mujahidin government should have ushered in a period of peace and reconciliation. But Afghan President Rabbani had refused to step down at the end of his term in June 1994, thus triggering widespread disaffection against his State apparatus, which had never extended to more than five of Afghanistan's 32 provinces. The Rabbani regime depended for its survival on massive foreign assistance. In response, the Afghanistan Students Militia -- the Taliban -- had restored relative peace in the two thirds of the country that they now held.
With the arrival of the Taliban militia in Kabul on 27 September, a new interim government had been constituted. The Taliban government had affirmed its commitment to peace and to solving problems through dialogue. In the past few days, Afghanistan had again witnessed a marked intensification in the conflict, which, once again, was directly attributable to massive foreign interference. Eighteen planeloads of ammunition had landed in Mazar-i-Sharif. Tanks and helicopter gunships were being supplied to factions and batteries of missiles were being ferried to Bander Sheikhan. Afghanistan today was witnessing a "brute power play".
Rather than cooperating on ways to end the tribulations of the Afghan people, many in the international community remained preoccupied by social aspects of the situation, he said. Afghanistan's neighbours that had participated in the 4 October summit in Almaty, Kazakstan, had affirmed the need for the United Nations to step up its efforts to promote durable peace and reconciliation in that country. Any other course of action would be fraught with grave consequences for the region.
The Security Council should now adopt a binding resolution, under Chapter VII of the Charter, on the situation in Afghanistan, he said. Pakistan had circulated a draft resolution which would have the Council: call for an immediate cease-fire; express support for the United Nations Special Mission; affirm the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan; call upon all States to respect the principles of non- intervention; impose an immediate arms embargo; and establish a monitoring mechanism to verify compliance with the cease-fire and arms embargo.
Mr. CHARFOORZAI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said that all sides to the Afghan conflict had realized that a military solution could not bring peace. Independence could only be gained through negotiation. But, the Taliban continued to reject any viable solution to the conflict.
His Government had always given special importance to the role of the Special Mission and valued the good offices of the Secretary-General. The Mission must be further strengthened to facilitate an early return of peace to war-shattered Afghanistan.
He said the representative of Pakistan had reaffirmed his country's attitude of impartiality to the different groups in Afghanistan. Yet, the Pakistani Minister of the Interior had flown yesterday to Kabul and Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taliban. Such meetings could only be interpreted as an exacerbation of the conflict. At the same time, the people of Afghanistan, with deep-rooted religious and cultural ties to the people of Pakistan, still appreciated their assistance during the 14-year jihad.
Ironically, however, the representative of Pakistan had blamed the continuation of the conflict on interference by others, he said. Such a position was like -- to recall an old Afghan adage -- the fox in the chicken coop with eggs and the chicken in his mouth blaming the cow in the field for causing the chicken to cry out.
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