The Security Council this afternoon, deeply concerned by the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, expressed its support for the Secretary-General's proposal to establish a civil affairs unit in the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) to promote respect for minimum humanitarian standards and deter massive and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law. An assessment team would be sent to Afghanistan, as soon as security conditions permit, to determine the exact mandate, composition and location of the civilian monitors.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1214 (1998), the Council also demanded that the Taliban stop providing sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organizations, and that all Afghan factions cooperate with efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice.
Condemning the Taliban's capture of the Iranian Consulate-General and the murder of Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Mazar-i-Sharif, the Council stressed that those acts were flagrant violations of international law. It called on the Taliban to cooperate with the United Nations in investigating the crimes.
The Council also encouraged the Secretary-General to dispatch a mission to Afghanistan to investigate reports of grave breaches of international humanitarian law, particularly mass killings and mass graves of prisoners of war and civilians, and the destruction of religious sites. The Council urged all parties, especially the Taliban, to cooperate with the mission.
Further, the Council demanded that the Taliban and other Afghan factions stop fighting, conclude a ceasefire and resume negotiations under United Nations auspices without delay or preconditions. It deplored the failure of the Taliban leadership to comply with previous resolutions and expressed its readiness to consider the imposition of measures, in accordance with Council responsibilities under the Charter, with the aim of achieving full implementation of those resolutions.
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It also demanded that the Afghan factions end discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and adhere to international norms and standards. It further demanded that the Taliban and others halt the cultivation, production and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Prior to adoption of the resolution, the representative of Pakistan said it painted a pessimistic picture of the situation and ignored the fact that peace prevailed in nearly 90 per cent of the country. The text also ignored some recent positive developments, including the exchange of prisoners between the Kabul authorities and the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud, and the stationing of United Nations personnel in several cities to monitor the violation of human rights. Most conspicuously, the text ignored the ongoing shelling of Kabul by the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud. In general, its overall tenor was biased against one party to the conflict.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his Government had offered the latest initiative to solve the Afghan conflict. It was high time for the Taliban leaders to acknowledge that there could be no military solution to the Afghan problem. They must immediately halt such activities and agree to a long-term ceasefire, leading to the establishment of a durable peace. Only by implementing Council resolutions could the Taliban form the basis for constructive interaction with other Afghan parties and with the world community.
The representative of Iran said his Government was determined that those responsible for the murder of the Iranian diplomat and journalists killed in Afghanistan last month be apprehended and brought to justice. It was an important issue, which Iran intended to pursue vigorously through the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy. The Taliban's persistence in seeking a military solution posed an increasing threat to regional peace and security and caused more human suffering. He supported the draft resolution, although the gravity of the situation warranted a stronger and earlier response by the Council.
Statements were also made by the representatives of United States, Costa Rica, Japan, China, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Gambia, Portugal, Kenya, Brazil and Bahrain.
The meeting, which convened at 4:55 p.m., was adjourned at 6:32 p.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Afghanistan, it had before it the Secretary-General's report of 23 November (document S/1998/1109). It covers the activities of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) and major developments since 14 November 1997, including: the failed talks in Islamabad, which opened in late April and generated expectations of an agreement, but subsequently collapsed and jeopardized intra-Afghan talks; the tense situation along the Iran-Afghanistan border; and the attack on UNSMA personnel, which led to United Nations staff withdrawing from Afghanistan.
The Secretary-General states that he intends to add, with the consent of the Taliban and other Afghan authorities, a new monitoring function to UNSMA, primarily to promote respect for minimum humanitarian standards and to deter massive and systematic human rights violations. The proposed separate civil affairs unit will initially have 12 monitors who, conditions permitting, will be deployed in major centres in Afghanistan. Their exact location, mandate and function will be determined after the return of an assessment team, which he will dispatch at an early date, with the agreement of the Afghan authorities.
In a subsequent letter to the Council, dated 3 December 1998 (document S/1998/1139), the Secretary-General states that the Afghan parties had agreed in principle to the deployment of civilian monitors. If the Council agrees to its deployment, the unit would assist the Secretary-General's Special Envoy in his peacemaking activities, monitor the overall political and military situation and maintain contacts with all Afghan factions, as well as with governments and organizations concerned with the future of Afghanistan.
According to the Secretary-General's report, the human rights situation has not improved over the last year. Of particular concern are allegations of mass killings and other serious violations of human rights and international law by all sides in northern Afghanistan in 1997 and 1998. Many of the killings were retaliatory in nature. The situation for women and girls has deteriorated in all areas under the control of the Taliban movement. They are denied access to adequate health care, to all levels and types of education, to employment and, at times, to humanitarian assistance.
United Nations agencies, particularly the High Commissioner for Human Rights, received disturbing information about massive rights violations following the Taliban's occupation of Mazar-i-Sharif in August and the northern and central provinces formerly held by the United Front. Testimonies mentioned indiscriminate targeting of the Hazara community. The United Nations is considering a mechanism for a full inquiry into all allegations of human rights violations, including those reported in 1997, as soon as security and conditions permit United Nations international staff to travel and work inside the country again.
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On 21 August, two UNSMA officials, a Political Affairs Officer and a Deputy Military Adviser, travelling in a clearly marked United Nations vehicle, were shot by two gunmen in a vehicle bearing official Taliban markings. The Deputy Military Adviser later died. Taliban authorities expressed regret at the incident and said they had arrested two suspects, identified as Pakistani nationals, in connection with the case. Two Afghan United Nations workers were also murdered in Jalalabad. The fatal attacks and other security incidents led to the withdrawal of all United Nations international staff. Full reports by the Taliban on the incidents have been made a condition for an assessment on whether or when United Nations personnel, programmes and funds should return, as has the Taliban's readiness to cooperate, in accordance with the memorandum of understanding of 13 May and its supplementary protocol, signed between the Taliban and the United Nations on 23 October.
A vicious cycle has developed in which the inability of the Afghan factions to agree on a political settlement is both the cause and the effect of persistent outside interference in the country's affairs, the report says. Although the Taliban control most of the country, a political solution remains elusive. The United Front, except for fighters under the command of Ahmed Shah Massoud, have largely been eliminated. However, the Taliban success appears to have reduced the willingness of some parties to negotiate further and has also increased the prospect of a deeper regionalization of the conflict.
The Secretary-General says a durable settlement required a ceasefire and a political dialogue among Afghans leading to national reconciliation and a genuinely broad-based, multi-ethnic and representative government. Those goals could not be attained without a concerted effort by all the outside powers. The "six plus two" group of countries (China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russian Federation, United States) has provided a useful forum in which to discuss the Afghan issue. But, the Secretary-General says, he is disappointed by the failure of some of those countries to narrow their differences and to stop supplying weapons and other matÚriel that fuel the conflict. Instead of genuinely promoting a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, those countries continue their clandestine military support for their favoured Afghan factions, despite their professed recognition that prolonging the conflict posed a threat to their own stability.
There have been many allegations and credible reports of external, mostly covert, interference for both sides of the war, he continues. One stark example was the recent interception by Kyrgyz authorities of a full train-load of weapons and ammunition said to be destined for United Front factions. The UNSMA has also received reports of large numbers of non-Afghans, mostly of Pakistani origin, said to be engaging in all aspects of fighting alongside the Taliban. The UNSMA interviewed several captured fighters in Bamiyan, who admitted to being Pakistani, but without any affiliation to any official institution of the Pakistani State.
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Despite modest achievements to date, the Secretary-General says he will continue to convene meetings of the "six plus two group". A promising development is the proposed ministerial meeting of the group which, he says, should be convened after adequate preparation and the participation of all major Afghan factions. He welcomed the success of his Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, in diffusing a possible military confrontation between Iran and Afghanistan following the August murder of eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Mazar-i-Sharif. He says Iran and the Taliban must open a bilateral dialogue at an early date to further reduce tensions, particularly on the border.
The Secretary-General says he strongly hopes that United Nations staff will be able to return to Afghanistan shortly. But, before that can happen, Taliban authorities will have to provide repeatedly requested information about the murders of United Nations international and local staff. They will also have to provide credible assurances that United Nations agencies will be able to work free from the obstacles and harassment that they have faced in the past.
Draft Resolution The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/1140) which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Having considered the situation in Afghanistan,
"Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 1189 (1998) of 13 August 1998 and 1193 (1998) of 28 August 1998, and the statements of its President on the situation in Afghanistan,
"Recalling resolution 52/211 of the General Assembly,
"Expressing its grave concern at the continued Afghan conflict, which has recently sharply escalated as a result of the offensive by the Taliban forces, which is continuing despite the repeated pleas by the Security Council to cease the fighting, and causing a serious and growing threat to regional and international peace and security, as well as extensive human suffering, further destruction, refugee flows and other forcible displacement of large numbers of people,
"Deploring the fact that despite the readiness of the United Front of Afghanistan to conclude a durable cease-fire and to enter into a political dialogue with the Taliban, fighting continues on both sides,
"Concerned also by the increasingly ethnic nature of the conflict, by reports of ethnic and religious-based persecution, particularly against the Shiites, and by the threat this poses to the unity of the Afghan State,
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"Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and its respect for its cultural and historical heritage,
"Reiterating that any outside interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, including the involvement of foreign military personnel and the supply of arms and ammunition to all parties to the conflict, should cease immediately,
"Reaffirming its full support for the efforts of the United Nations, in particular the activities of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) and those of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan in facilitating the political process towards the goals of national reconciliation and a lasting political settlement with the participation of all parties to the conflict and all segments of Afghan society, and reiterating its position that the United Nations must continue to play its central and impartial role in international efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict,
"Welcoming the work of the "six plus two" group, and supporting in this regard the "points of common understanding" (A/53/455-S/1998/913, annex) adopted at its meeting, at the level of Foreign Ministers, convened and chaired by the Secretary-General on 21 September 1998,
"Deeply concerned at the serious and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, deploring in this regard the measures taken by the Taliban which resulted in the evacuation of the United Nations humanitarian personnel from Afghanistan and underlining the urgent need for the prompt implementation of the necessary security requirements to allow their early return,
"Reaffirming that all parties to the conflict are bound to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and in particular under the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and that persons who commit or order the commission of breaches of the Conventions are individually responsible in respect of such breaches,
"Deeply disturbed by the continuing use of Afghan territory, especially areas controlled by the Taliban, for the sheltering and training of terrorists and the planning of terrorist acts, and reiterating that the suppression of international terrorism is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security,
"Deeply disturbed also by the growing cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs in Afghanistan, especially in areas controlled by the Taliban,
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"Reiterating its deep concern at the continuing discrimination against girls and women and at other violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan,
"1. Demands that the Taliban, as well as other Afghan factions, stop fighting, conclude a ceasefire and resume negotiations without delay and preconditions under United Nations auspices, and cooperate with the aim of creating a broad-based and fully representative government, which would protect the rights of all Afghans and observe the international obligations of Afghanistan;
"2. Welcomes the progress made by the Special Envoy of the Secretary- General in his efforts based on resolution 1193 (1998) and its relevant preceding resolutions to reduce tensions in the region and towards improving the human rights and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and calls upon all concerned to implement fully the commitments they have already entered into;
"3. Reiterates its very strong support and appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to secure the full implementation of its resolutions and demands that all parties, in particular the Taliban, cooperate in good faith with these efforts;
"4. Reiterates its strong call on the Taliban to inform the United Nations without further delay about the results of the investigation into the killing of the two Afghan staff members of the World Food Programme and of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jalalabad, and the Military Adviser to UNSMA in Kabul;
"5. Condemns the capture by the Taliban of the Consulate-General of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the murder of the Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Mazar-e-Sharif, stresses that these acts constitute flagrant violations of international law, and calls upon the Taliban to cooperate with the United Nations in investigating these crimes with a view to prosecuting those responsible;
"6. Encourages the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to dispatch a mission to Afghanistan to investigate numerous reports of grave breaches and serious violations of international humanitarian law in that country, in particular mass killings and mass graves of prisoners of war and civilians and the destruction of religious sites, and urges all parties, especially the Taliban, to cooperate with this mission, and in particular to assure the safety and freedom of movement of its personnel;
"7. Supports the Secretary-General's proposal, as contained in his letter to the President of the Security Council of 23 November 1998 (S/1998/1139), to establish within UNSMA, without prejudice to its mandate and taking into account security conditions, a civil affairs unit with the primary
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objective of monitoring the situation, promoting respect for minimum humanitarian standards and deterring massive and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the future, and to send an assessment mission to Afghanistan, as soon as security conditions permit, in order to determine the exact mandate, composition and location of the civilian monitors;
"8. Encourages the initiatives of the "six plus two" group to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan;
"9. Encourages further the additional support of other Member States for the peace process in Afghanistan;
"10. Reiterates its call upon all States to take resolute measures to prohibit their military personnel from planning and participating in military operations in Afghanistan and immediately to end the supply of arms and ammunition to all parties to the conflict;
"11. Urges all Afghan factions, and in particular the Taliban, to demonstrate their full commitment to the safety and security of all international and humanitarian personnel, which is a prerequisite for their activities in Afghanistan, to facilitate their work and to ensure unimpeded access and adequate conditions for the delivery of aid to all in need of it;
"12. Demands that the Afghan factions put an end to discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, and adhere to the international norms and standards in this sphere;
"13. Demands also that the Taliban stop providing sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organizations, and that all Afghan factions cooperate with efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice;
"14. Demands further that the Taliban, as well as others, halt the cultivation, production and trafficking of illegal drugs;
"15. Deplores the failure of the leadership of the Taliban, in particular, to take measures to comply with the demands made in its previous resolutions, especially to conclude a ceasefire and to resume negotiations, and in this context, expresses its readiness to consider the imposition of measures, in accordance with its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations, with the aim of achieving the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;
"16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
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SEYED MOHAMMAD HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) thanked the Secretary- General for efforts that had removed some of the problems caused by the murder of Iranian diplomats and journalists in Mazar-i-Sharif last August. His Government was determined that those responsible for their deaths be apprehended and brought to justice, in keeping with international standards. Four months after the murder, the first preliminary report of the Taliban investigation was still not available. It was an important issue, which Iran intended to pursue vigorously through the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy. The issue added to the chronic problem in Afghanistan, which threatened regional and international peace and security.
He said his country was concerned about the political and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban's persistence in seeking a military solution posed an increasing threat to regional peace and security and caused more human suffering. He supported the draft resolution, although the gravity of the situation warranted a stronger and earlier response by the Council.
No single group, regardless of its outside support, could rule over Afghanistan and bring back peace and normalcy, he said. The Taliban ruled by brute force and was financed by drug money and outside interests. The solution lay in a resolute process of international persuasion for inter-Afghan political negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, with a view to establishing a broad-based and representative government.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said that, despite recent positive developments, much needed to be done to steer Afghanistan out of the devastation of a protracted conflict and to put it on the track of reconciliation, progress and prosperity. The people of Afghanistan deserved peace after the plundering of their country, resulting from a prolonged and brutal Soviet occupation and the subsequent internal power struggle among the Afghan factions.
He said that the tension between Afghanistan and Iran had eased, owing to the fact that the Kabul authorities had addressed most of the demands of the Foreign Ministers of the "six plus two" group of countries. Moreover, the Kabul authorities had also expressed their readiness to broaden the ethnic dispensation of their Government. There was now a distinct possibility for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. Yet, that was not possible without the cessation of all outside interference. The recent impounding by the Kyrgyz authorities of a full train-load of weapons destined for Ahmed Shah Massoud, reportedly some 700 metric tons, showed that massive arms supplies continued to be smuggled into the country by outsiders.
The resolution before the Council, while significantly modified since the first text submitted some months ago, continued to have serious shortcomings, he said. It painted a pessimistic picture of the situation and ignored the fact
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that peace prevailed in nearly 90 per cent of the country. It also ignored some recent positive developments, including the exchange of prisoners between the Kabul authorities and the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud, and the allowing by the Taliban of the stationing of United Nations personnel in several cities to monitor the violation of human rights. Most conspicuously, the text ignored the ongoing shelling of Kabul, frequently by Luna rockets, by the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud.
He said that, furthermore, while the Taliban authorities had formally imposed a ban on the production, transport and sale of landmines, there were reports that the northern alliance had continued to lay mines periodically. The resolution neither referred to that important issue nor censures the northern alliance for their indiscriminate use of landmines. The overall tenor of the text was thus biased against one party to the conflict. That, as well as its omissions, did not augur well for the image of the United Nations as an impartial player. The Council expression of its readiness to consider the measures against the Taliban would likely send a wrong signal to the Taliban authorities. Dialogue and engagement, rather than coercion and intimidation, would produce the desired results.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his country had offered the latest initiative to solve the Afghan problem. Yet, the Taliban had again disregarded the will of the international community for a peaceful settlement and preservation of the country's integrity with another attempt at imposing, by force, a regime based on religious fanaticism, extremism and intolerance.
He said that his country viewed that military escalation as a real threat to the southern border of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As such, all necessary measures should be undertaken to protect those borders. The Taliban's military expansion in the north was carried out with the direct involvement of foreign military personnel. That massive military assistance had, among other things, strengthened the Taliban's claims for unilateral control over the country and led to a squandering of civilized conduct and the resurgence of mass crimes.
He said the Taliban had, among other things, refused a durable ceasefire and withdrawn from negotiations. Further, the Taliban had killed foreign diplomats and journalists, committed mass persecutions and even executions for national and religious reasons, and carried out other systematic and flagrant violations of human rights. The Taliban had also contributed to the spread of drug trafficking and the support of international terrorism.
It was high time for the Taliban leaders to acknowledge that there could be no military solution to the Afghan problem, he said. Those leaders must immediately halt their military activities and agree to a long-term ceasefire leading to the establishment of a durable peace. Only the steadfast implementation by the Taliban of Security Council resolutions could form the
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basis for constructive interaction with other Afghan parties and with the world community. In elaborating a settlement plan, the coordination and integration aspects were the responsibility of the United Nations. The Secretary-General's proposal to create a civil affairs unit within UNSMA was justified, and his country continued to place great hope on the work of the "six plus two" group, as well as to the forthcoming meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said "Afghanistan-based terrorism has become a plague". Terrorists trained or based in Afghanistan had been responsible for incidents in all corners of the globe. That had been brought home by the bombing of United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam last August.
The killing of the Iranian diplomatic staff at the Consulate-General in Mazar-i-Sharif had been publicly condemned, she said. That criminal act must be investigated and the perpetrators punished. She supported an international investigation into those deaths and reminded all Afghan factions of the special protected status of diplomats under international law.
Concern about the safety of international and humanitarian personnel hamstrung programmes to relieve the suffering of the Afghan people and rebuild the country, she said. The Taliban must implement safeguards for the return of the United Nations and other international personnel. Noting that respect for human rights was at the foundation of a long-term solutions to the conflict, she said the Taliban must, in particular, respect the rights of women and minorities.
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said that, given the disquieting picture in Afghanistan, it was essential to issue a new and strong appeal to all parties to shoulder their responsibility and seek a negotiated solution to the conflict. A ceasefire was only possible through negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. That effort would call for credibility and confidence among all parties. The Taliban also must assume responsibility in undertaking an investigation of the murder of diplomats and journalists last August and find the perpetrators. There must be an end to the violations of human rights, in particular, those of women and girls.
He demanded that all factions, the Taliban in particular, cease actions in contradiction of humanitarian law. Such matters were of extreme importance in finding a solution to the situation. He said that activities in Afghanistan had implications beyond the Afghan borders. The Taliban had lent and still offered shelter to foreign terrorist groups. He was also concerned by the continuation of drug trafficking, which must unconditionally cease as soon as possible. The main responsibility for finding a solution to the situation rested with the factions within Afghanistan. At the same time, however, there were external factors that had promoted internal groups and had not used their influence to bring an end to the conflict.
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MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) said that the parties to the Afghan conflict had not shown any willingness to heed the voice of the international community and enter into direct negotiations towards a ceasefire or the achievement of peace. It was now necessary to build upon the results of efforts by Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, by dispatching a team to investigate the killing of the Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif on 8 August. His country supported the Secretary-General's proposal that UNSMA monitor the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, provided that the safety and security of the monitors were guaranteed and its mandate clearly determined.
He said his Government believed that, in addition to peacemaking, the United Nations must play a central role in addressing a range of issues in Afghanistan, improving humanitarian conditions, providing assistance for internally displaced persons and refugees, and combating the trafficking of illegal drugs. At a two-day meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group just concluded in Tokyo, the early return of international humanitarian personnel to Afghanistan and the resumption of their assistance activities was emphasized. The Group also called upon all factions, and particularly the Taliban, to guarantee the safety and security of those personnel. His country also supported the points of common understanding of the "six plus two" group, which encouraged direct talks between the parties to the conflict, with the aim of achieving an immediate ceasefire and national reconciliation.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said Afghanistan was a multi-ethnic country where ethnic problems had a long history. The conflict had not ended, even though one faction had achieved military victory. Resumption of United Nations- sponsored negotiation was the only way to end the conflict. He called for the parties to establish a broad-based and representative government.
He said he appreciated the mediation of the Special Envoy of the Secretary- General and the work of the "six plus two" group. He was ready to actively support the work of that group. The settlement of the Afghan question ultimately rested with the Afghan people themselves, but outside forces must also halt their attempts at influencing events. He added that he was grateful to the sponsors of the draft for taking accepting suggestions proposed by his delegation.
DANILO T▄RK (Slovenia) said he was concerned by the continued harbouring of terrorists in Afghan territory and the illegal drug production and trafficking. No real solution was in sight and the logic of military action still prevailed over that of political settlement. Moreover, while the Taliban had made large military advances, the ethnic factors in the conflict were being enhanced. Recent reports of mass killings of civilians belonging to the Hazara minority and other allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were a cause for serious concern. "Afghanistan remains one of the world's most intractable human rights disasters", he said.
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He called on the Taliban to cooperate with the United Nations in investigating the killings of Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif, with a view to prosecuting those responsible. In addition, political efforts within the "six plus two" group should continue to assist in creating conditions conducive to a successful peace process. A coherent approach to the problem also implied renunciation of military assistance to all sides in the conflict. Efforts to investigate the alleged massacres and violations of international law must be strengthened. The delays in the efforts to investigate atrocities committed in earlier periods must not become standard procedure. Careful investigation would be of great value and could contribute to the political efforts to initiate a meaningful peace process.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that the international community had witnessed another year of continual conflict, population displacement and further suffering of the Afghan people. With the murders of Iranian diplomats and United Nations staff, it was not only the Afghan people who had suffered. The Taliban must cooperate in investigating those crimes. There had also been a further deterioration of the human rights situation in the past year. The latest abuses of ethnic and religious minorities were particularly worrisome, following the massacres of prisoners of war last year. There was a grave danger that Afghanistan would be drawn into a "spiral of atrocities" by one group against another.
He said that for those reasons, his country supported the Secretary- General's proposal to establish a unit of civilian monitors within UNSMA. Those monitors, hopefully, would be able to provide early warning of ethnic or religious conflict, in order to help prevent further gross human rights violations. It was also deeply disturbing that some countries that professed their support for peace in Afghanistan continued to propagate war by supplying the factions with arms, funds and matÚriel. The call on all States to stop supplying arms was as clear and strong in the current resolution as it was in resolution 1193 (1998). No Member State should doubt its legal obligation to comply with that call.
The Council's responsibility was to the Afghan people, he said. Thus, it must increase the pressure on all factions to stop fighting and recognize that only a political solution to the conflict was the answer. The Council's first objective must be to get the factions back to the negotiating table. It was deeply frustrating that the factions were preventing humanitarian aid from reaching their own people. They must allow the safe and effective delivery of aid without delay, in accordance with international principles. The international community must also act to prevent the conflict from threatening lives beyond Afghanistan's borders, through the export of international terrorism and illegal drugs. Afghanistan's record in those areas was one of the worst in the world.
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ANDERS LIDEN (Sweden) said a political system had to be established in Afghanistan that took into account the legitimate concerns of the ethnic, religious and social groups in the country. He called on the Taliban and the other factions to follow that road. It was equally imperative that all States in the region and elsewhere support such a course of action and refrain from fanning the flames of war. He was perplexed by reports that some of the countries of the "six plus two" group continued to supply weapons and war matÚriel that fuelled the conflict, instead of promoting long-term interests. The flow of arms into that country must cease.
He said Sweden, a main donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, was concerned about the humanitarian situation there. He demanded that all parties comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. All violations of human rights must cease, including the systemic discrimination against women and girls, practised in particular by the Taliban. Other fundamental international norms must also be complied with, including those on combating terrorism and illegal drugs.
All Afghan factions must close down training camps for terrorists inside Afghanistan and participate in the international struggle against terrorism, he said. Due to war and conflict, the economy of Afghanistan was largely dependent on illegal activities, but the illegal drug business was a cause of human suffering far beyond the borders of Afghanistan.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the resolution accurately described a situation that had become intolerable over the years. It was characterized by conflicts, discrimination, external interference, the killing of Iranian diplomats and of United Nations officials, humanitarian crises, and unacceptable constraints imposed upon the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. The Secretary-General's proposal could be implemented, if all necessary security measures were taken.
Meanwhile, fighting continued and negotiations had still not resumed, he said. The United Front was prepared to begin a political dialogue with the Taliban and to conclude a ceasefire. The Taliban, for its part, had shown no readiness to resume those negotiations and end the hostilities. It was, therefore, just that the present resolution should first address the Taliban and set out the Council's demands. It was also appropriate that the resolution reflect the Council's readiness to envisage proposing other measures, to fully implement its resolutions. Thus, the text adequately responded to the difficulties and gravity of the events, and he would, therefore, vote in favour of it.
BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said that, faced with overwhelming evidence that the Taliban controlled most of the national territory, issuing vain threats and ultimatums through inflammatory language might be counter-productive. It must also be made very clear that a military solution to the Afghan crisis was
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not the best option and not in the long-term interest of the Afghan people. His country favoured a negotiated settlement through the "six plus two" group, not through a military onslaught.
He said that, since the "six plus two" process had thus far achieved little, moving the peace process forward depended largely on adopting the same attitude and speaking with one voice. Yet, he wondered how it was possible to address the legitimate concerns of the countries involved, if they themselves did not take the process seriously. His delegation, therefore, looked forward to the next meeting of the "six plus two" group, with the participation of all interested parties. If they mustered enough political will, the serious quest for conflict resolution could emerge.
Demonizing the Taliban alone would not yield the desired results, he said. With the "six plus two" talks holding the key to a lasting solution in Afghanistan, the parties concerned must redouble their efforts. That approach offered a better prospect for the formation of a broad-based government, which could ensure a lasting peace in Afghanistan and adequately respond to the security concerns of its neighbours.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) said he was concerned by the increasing threat that the Afghan civil war could become a regional conflict, particularly in light of the rise of military tensions along the Afghan borders. One of the parties to the conflict had taken control of most of the country and seemed convinced that it was in a position to militarily take over the entire territory. In reality, the warring factions must recognize that the conflict could not be settled on the battlefield. He supported the demand that the Afghan factions stop fighting and enter urgently into negotiations, under United Nations auspices, aimed a creating a fully representative government.
He said that all countries with influence on the factions in Afghanistan could do more to promote peace and regional stability, in particular by preventing the supply of arms and other military support and encouraging the parties to negotiate. The increasingly ethnic nature of the conflict posed a threat to the unity of the Afghan State and made it more difficult to find a peaceful political solution. He urged all factions to ensure the safety of civilian communities and to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The Afghan factions must not expect the international community to accept their general lack of commitment towards recognizing, protecting and promoting human rights, he said. Two more issues of grave concern were drug trafficking and the continuing presence of terrorists and terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. No political movement would gain international respectability if it was perceived to be harbouring terrorist activities.
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said that the Council's repeated calls for restraint, diplomacy, as well as appeals to cease all foreign involvement in
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overt military and financial support, had "fallen on deaf ears". The Secretary- General's current report crystallized those concerns and disappointments. Although the Council had always stressed that foreign involvement in the Afghan quagmire was the main cause of the conflict's continuation, that interference had not changed at all. His country, therefore, shared the Secretary-General's frustration that some members of the "six plus two" group had continued to supply weapons and other war matÚriel, thereby fuelling the conflict. It was hypocritical for such nations to speak of a peaceful solution while continuing covert, and now overt, military support for the Afghan factions.
He said it was increasingly difficult for the Council to continue supporting rhetorical demands for compliance with its resolutions. The countries in question should be more transparent in their dealings with the United Nations with regard to their involvement in Afghanistan. Although diplomatic efforts had not completely succeeded, consistent pressure under the aegis of the United Nations would eventually lead to a peaceful solution. Equally important was the continuation of a parallel effort between UNSMA and all United Nations funds and programmes in the context of a post-conflict peace-building effort. His delegation also appreciated the Secretary- General's intention to establish a civilian unit within the peacekeeping mission.
The present resolution, he said, sharpened the Council's previous message by demanding that the Taliban stop providing sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organizations, and that all Afghan factions cooperate with efforts to bring the indicted terrorists to justice. That was why his country had co-sponsored the draft and would vote in its favour.
ENIO CORDEIRO (Brazil) said that, despite the deep involvement of the United Nations in restoring peace and normalcy to Afghanistan, the situation was bleak. A lasting peace could only be achieved through dialogue. Internally, that meant the creation of a democratic process that included all ethnic and culture groups. Externally, the involvement of all neighbouring countries was essential. The "six plus two" process seemed to be a useful one, which should engage the various Afghan parties in the peace negotiations. With respect to the forthcoming meeting in Tashkent, the Taliban should not be allowed to impose preconditions to its attendance.
The present draft was a balanced one, which appropriately addressed the plethora of problems that afflicted the Afghan people, he said. It also supported the Secretary-General's suggestions, especially the establishment of a small observer civilian unit charged with preventing gross human rights violations, and the provision concerning United Nations cooperation in the investigations of alleged massacres and the murder of the Iranian personnel. The Afghan people deserved a participatory democracy and freedom from foreign interference, as well as from the scourge of drugs and terrorism. A legitimate
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Afghan government, however, had to base its power on the will of its people, provide safety to its minorities and follow some minimum standards of international norms.
The President of the Council, JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain), speaking as the representative of his country, said he was concerned with the situation in Afghanistan. He appealed to all parties to seek a political solution, rather than a military one. He paid tribute to the efforts of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to reach a peaceful solution and said the efforts of the "six plus two" group would be successful, if carried out in parallel with those of the United Nations. He affirmed the importance of continued United Nations contributions in providing humanitarian relief to the Afghan people. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Council.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution unanimously as Security Council resolution 1214 (1998).
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