6 April 1998


Press Release
SC/6499



SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ALL PARTIES IN AFGHAN CONFLICT TO ENGAGE IN POLITICAL DIALOGUE AIMED AT NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

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Presidential Statement Calls on Afghan Factions, Particularly Taliban, to Take Steps to Assure Safety of UN Personnel

Expressing its grave concern at the continued war in Afghanistan, the Security Council this afternoon urged all Afghan parties to agree immediately on a ceasefire and to engage without preconditions in a political dialogue aimed at national reconciliation and the formation of a broad-based fully representative government.

Through a statement read by its President, Hisashi Owada (Japan), the Council reaffirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and respect for its cultural and historical heritage.

The Council warned the parties that the resumption of large-scale fighting would seriously undermine the attempts of the international community to assist them in finding a political solution to the conflict and urged them to live up to their declared desire for it. The Council also reiterated its call to all States to immediately stop interference in the conflict through the supply of war-making materials and the active political and military support of one faction or another.

The Council called upon all Afghan factions, in particular the Taliban, to take necessary steps to assure the safety of United Nations personnel and allow humanitarian agencies to attend to the needs of the population. It also expressed concern over the sharp deterioration of the humanitarian situation in central and northern Afghanistan caused by the Taliban-imposed blockade of the Bamyan region, as well as the lack of supplies from the northern route due to insecurity and looting. The Council also expressed deep concern at the continuing discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights in Afghanistan.

The Council reiterated that the continuation of the conflict provided a fertile ground for terrorism and illegal drug production and trafficking, and called upon the leaders of the Afghan parties to halt such activities.


The Council supported the steps of the Secretary-General to launch investigations into alleged mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians in Afghanistan. It commended the convening of the "six plus two" group -- China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan as well as the Russian Federation and the United States -- and called upon those countries to continue discussions on devising effective and impartial ways to curb the flow of arms and other war-making materials into Afghanistan.

The Council reiterated its position that the United Nations must continue to play a central and impartial role in a peaceful resolution of the conflict. It extended full support for the activities of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan and those of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan.

The meeting, which convened at 12:47 p.m., was adjourned at 12:58 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1998/9 reads as follows:

"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation in Afghanistan of 17 March 1998 (A/52/826-S/1998/222).

"The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the continued Afghan war, which is a serious threat to regional and international security, and causes extensive human suffering, further destruction, refugee flows and other forcible displacement of large numbers of people.

"The Security Council is concerned by the increasingly ethnic nature of the conflict, by reports of ethnic-based persecution, and by the threat this poses to the unity of the Afghan State.

"The Security Council urges all Afghan parties to stop the fighting, to agree immediately on a ceasefire, and to engage without preconditions in a political dialogue aimed at achieving national reconciliation, a lasting political settlement of the conflict, which has no military solution, and the formation of a broad-based fully representative government.

"The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and respect for its cultural and historical heritage.

"The Security Council deplores the fact that foreign interference in Afghanistan continues unabated in the form of the supply of war-making materials to the factions. It also deplores the active political and military


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support from outside Afghanistan to the factions, thereby reinforcing the reluctance of faction leaders to engage in serious political dialogue with one another. The Council reiterates its call to all States to stop such interference immediately.

"The Security Council notes with concern that all the Afghan parties have been actively engaged in arms replenishment throughout the last months, warns the conflicting parties that the resumption of large-scale fighting will seriously undermine the attempts of the international community to assist them in finding a political solution to the conflict and urges them to live up to their declared desire for such a solution.

"The Security Council reiterates its position that the United Nations, as a universally recognized intermediary, must continue to play a central and impartial role in international efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict and extends its full support for the activities of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan and those of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, particularly in his current mission in the region.

"The Security Council commends the consolidation of the process, initiated by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan with the convening of the 'six plus two' groups, and calls upon all countries involved in it to continue to participate in its work in good faith, including in the discussion to devise effective and impartial ways to curb the flow of arms and other war-making materials into Afghanistan. The Security Council welcomes the support of other Member States for this process.

"The Security Council is deeply concerned by the deteriorating security conditions for United Nations and humanitarian personnel and calls upon all Afghan factions, in particular the Taliban, to take necessary steps to assure their safety.

"The Security Council remains deeply concerned at the continuing discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights as well as violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan.

"The Security Council supports the steps of the Secretary-General to launch investigations into alleged mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians in Afghanistan, the outcome of which will be submitted to the General Assembly and Security Council as soon as it becomes available.

"The Security Council is also concerned with the sharp deterioration of the humanitarian situation in several areas in central and northern Afghanistan, which is caused by the Taliban-imposed blockade of the Bamyan region remaining in place despite appeals by the United Nations and several of its Member States to lift it, as well as by the lack of supplies coming in


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from the northern route owing to insecurity and looting. The Council strongly urges the Taliban to let the humanitarian agencies attend to the needs of the population.

"The Security Council reiterates that the continuation of the conflict in Afghanistan provides a fertile ground for terrorism and illegal drug production and trafficking which destabilize the region and beyond, and calls upon the leaders of the Afghan parties to halt such activities.

"The Security Council will remain seized of the matter and requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep it regularly informed of the situation in Afghanistan."

Secretary-General's Report

For its consideration of the situation in Afghanistan, the Security Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the matter and its implications for international peace and security (document A/52/826- S/1998/222 of 17 March).

In the report, the Secretary-General states that he remains convinced it is imperative for the United Nations and Member States to take a hard look at the external aspects of the Afghan question and attempt to address them in earnest. That would include genuine efforts on the part of the countries concerned to find a common approach to the Afghan question and to agree on measures to curb the flow of arms and other war-making materials in Afghanistan.

Also in the report -- which covers developments since his report of 14 November 1997 on the matter -- the Secretary-General notes with increasing alarm that, in recent months, the repeated mutual allegations of mass killings by the Afghan factions have further heightened ethnic and sectarian tensions in Afghanistan and warrant urgent action on the part of the United Nations. He states that credible efforts should be made immediately in order to separate fact from rumour. The need to verify accusations of human rights violations is indispensable, not only because of the gravity of the acts, but also to demonstrate United Nations responsiveness and even-handedness regarding the Afghan factions.

The Secretary-General recalls in that context that in paragraph 13 of resolution 52/211 B -- which established the mandate of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) -- the General Assembly requested him to continue to investigate fully reports about mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians, and incidents of rape in Afghanistan. He also recalls that the Security Council, in its presidential statement of 16 December 1997 (document S/PRST/1997/55), noted with deep concern the reports about mass


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killings of prisoners of war and civilians in Afghanistan and supported his intention to continue to investigate fully such reports.

The Secretary-General states that with the above resolution and statement in mind, a thorough examination was made of the report provided by the forensic expert who accompanied the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights for Afghanistan, as well as of reports of the Special Mission on the subject. The Secretary-General notes that he is in close consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights about launching the investigations called for under resolution 52/211 B. Those investigations would establish, to the extent possible, the facts with respect to the allegations. The findings of those investigations will be reported to the General Assembly and the Security Council.

The Secretary-General further states that in the meantime he is obliged to repeat the plea that those States concerned should heed the wish of the ever more desperate Afghan people that they cease supplying war-making materials to the Afghan factions.

The Secretary-General states that in view of the unabated supply of arms and the divergence of ways in which the countries concerned seem to be dealing with the Afghan conflict, a solid international framework must be established in order to address the external aspects of the Afghan question. It was in that context that on 3 March the fourth meeting of the "Six plus Two" group was convened. The group comprises the neighbours of Afghanistan -- China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- and the Russian Federation and the United States.

The report states that at the meeting, the "Six plus Two" discussed and finalized their common talking points -- included as an Annex to the current report -- which were to be used by them individually and collectively when consulting the Afghan factions. They also had a preliminary exchange of views on effective and even-handed ways to curb the flow of arms and other war- making materials into Afghanistan.

Also in the report, the Secretary-General notes that the military situation in the region remained stalemated, with occasional flare-ups of fighting along the front lines between the predominantly Pushtoon Taliban and the mostly Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara Northern Alliance. The continued fighting has not produced any significant changes in the front lines, but it has caused further destruction, deaths, injuries and internal displacement of large numbers of people.

The Secretary-General further notes that Afghanistan remained in political deadlock throughout the reporting period. Foreign military assistance continued to pour into the country, inhibiting all peacemaking efforts by fuelling the war machines of the Northern Alliance and the Taliban.


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Despite their rhetorical support for the United Nations and a negotiated settlement, neither side appeared ready to abandon the military option.

The humanitarian situation deteriorated sharply in Bamyan Province, where several hundred thousand people suffered from severe food shortages, the Secretary-General notes. Those shortages were due to poor harvests caused by bad weather, a blockade of the Ghazni-Kabul trade route in the south of Bamyan and the lack of supplies coming in from the northern route owing to insecurity and looting. The Secretary-General adds that despite numerous appeals for the blockade to be lifted, at the time of the writing of the report, it remained in place.

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