Sharp Increase of Deadly Attacks Overshadows Gains in Human Rights, Development, Speakers Stress during General Assembly Debate on Afghanistan

GA/11733
30 November 2015
Seventieth Session, 65th Meeting (AM)

Sharp Increase of Deadly Attacks Overshadows Gains in Human Rights, Development, Speakers Stress during General Assembly Debate on Afghanistan

Gains made in the areas of human rights and development contrasted sharply with the volatile and deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the General Assembly heard today from three dozen speakers as the 193-member body took up the situation in that country.

Implementation of most of the September 2014 agreement on the National Unity Government had already improved political stability in the country, Afghanistan’s representative told the Assembly, adding that, this year, the Government had set up a Special Electoral Reform Commission to help restore credibility in the electoral process and had bolstered healthcare, education, water and electrical services.  Tackling poverty and unemployment were top priorities of the self-reliance reform plan.

Nevertheless, 2015 had been the bloodiest year since 2001, with a sharp increase in civilian and military casualties, he said.  This year, Pakistani security forces continued regular attacks across the Durand Line in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty and territorial integrity.  His Government had discussed the issue with its Pakistani counterpart pursuant to Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, but no action had been taken to rectify the situation.

Pakistan’s representative, meanwhile, countered that assertion by pointing out that it was Pakistan and its people who had suffered the most from the 35 years of wars, violence and terrorism in Afghanistan.  Pakistan was mounting the largest and most effective anti-terrorism campaign in the world to root out the “scourge of terrorism” from its territory.  That process would be complete only after the sanctuaries and safe havens of terrorists who had fled Pakistan’s operation had been eliminated.

Also addressing the broader issue of terrorism was the representative of India, who said that, as recent attacks in Beirut, Syria and Paris all pointed towards rising extremism and the extension of the arc of terrorism, the Security Council had to act against that threat with a sense of urgency and within a defined time frame, in addition to strengthening its sanctions regime in order to effectively impose and implement the restrictions placed on the listed terrorist organizations, so as to deny them sanctuaries and safe haven.

The European Union’s representative, meanwhile, focused on the gender aspect of the post-Taliban Afghanistan, noting that gains made by Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban regime had to be protected.  Access to education for girls had proven one of the most important measuring sticks for progress in any country, the United States’ representative agreed, adding that it also mattered that Afghan women, once confined to their homes, now served as cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, judges, security officers and business leaders.

Japan’s representative, looking at civil society from the economic angle, noted that the development of human resources was essential to laying the foundation for Afghanistan’s economic development and self-reliance, and enhancing the capacity of future Government operations.

Iran’s representative focused on the criminal side of economic activity, saying that regional cooperation such as the Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan triangular initiative was important to counter the narcotics trade in the country.  The representative of New Zealand said it was a sad reality that organized crime continued to undermine Afghanistan’s economy and stability.  Having invested 10 years of effort into building security and governance in Bamiyan and into training Afghanistan’s National Defence and Security Forces, New Zealand, like everyone else in the Assembly, wanted Afghanistan to succeed.

Also speaking at today’s debate were the representatives of Armenia (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Germany, China, Australia, Spain, Lithuania, Netherlands, Turkey, Romania, Italy, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 December, to discuss the report of the Credentials Committee and the Secretary-General’s report on the promotion of a culture of peace and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.

Statements

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said that despite continued challenges, the country’s overall progress in the last 15 years stood as a symbol of international cooperation, for which Afghans were truly grateful.  However, 2015 had been the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, with a sharp increase in civilian and military casualties.  The foreign orchestrators of such attacks had taken advantage of the withdrawal of international forces, lack of coordination of Pakistan’s “untimely” counter-terrorism operations with Afghanistan, and Afghanistan’s preoccupation with its 2014 political transition, which slowed development of good governance.  This year Pakistani security forces continued regular attacks across the Durand Line in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty and territorial integrity.  His Government had discussed the issue with its Pakistani counterpart pursuant to Article 33 of the United Nations Charter but no action had been taken to rectify the situation.  The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces had faced the challenges of attacks from foreign-based Taliban, among other groups, on their own, with international partners playing only a supporting role.

He welcomed the United States’ announcement in October to support the Forces and counter-terrorism operations beyond 2016 and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members would make similar announcements during the forthcoming NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels.  Without foreign planning, logistical support, safe havens, the abundance of deadly weapons and suicide bombers, the Afghan elements of the Taliban would be just another political group whose grievances could be easily addressed by the Constitution and through legitimate political processes.  External support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups was motivated mainly be regional rivalry, with suspicion of one state over its rival’s otherwise ordinary relations with Afghanistan, fuelling a lack of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  “The peace process can only bear fruit if there is a paradigm shift and these issues are addressed,” he said.

He appealed to Pakistan to increase direct bilateral contacts with Afghanistan.  Reviewing a number of initiatives, such as talks, taken to build trust with Pakistan, he added that his Government was currently following a two-track policy pursuing the peace process and increasing the country’s security capacity.  Implementation of most of the September 2014 agreement on the National Unity Government had already improved political stability in the country.  This year the Government had set up a Special Electoral Reform Commission to help restore credibility in the electoral process, begun a systematic performance review of the country’s judiciary, appointed a significant number of female judges, and bolstered healthcare, education, water and electrical services.  Tackling poverty and unemployment were top priorities of the self-reliance reform plan.  He asked Member States to renew financial support to Afghanistan to help the country increase income and national revenue.

Many Afghan nationals were associated with the refugee crisis, he said.  President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was in Europe to bolster international coordination and support for the war against terror and for the proper treatment of refugees.  The connection between criminality, terrorism, and opium production was obvious as Taliban and various international terrorist groups benefited from it.  Just as Afghanistan had stood since 2001 as a symbol of international cooperation, a failed Afghanistan could entail far-reaching repercussions globally.

IOANNIS VRAILAS, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation, said Afghanistan had made considerable political, security and economic progress over the past decade, although the gains were fragile and major challenges remained.  The past months had seen a spike in the exodus of refugees and migrants from the country.  Insecurity also drove the production and trafficking of narcotics which in turn fueled the growth in the illicit economy and the financing of international terrorism.  The regional bloc welcomed the recent adoption of Afghanistan’s national drug action plan and encouraged its effective implementation.  The Government should pursue a balanced and integrated approach to battling the narcotics trade in conjunction with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other regional frameworks such as the Paris Pact initiative.

The European Union was committed to Afghanistan, he said, and would co-host the NATO ministerial conference in Brussels on 4 to 5 October 2016, which would be a catalyst for mobilizing political and financial support for the country.  On human rights, in particular those of women and girls, the situation in the Afghanistan had advanced considerably in the past decade, which was commendable.  However, much remained to be done and the gains made by Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban regime must be protected.  To break free from the cycles of poverty, violence and extremism, increased regional cooperation was needed.  Collaboration on trade and energy and the protection of minorities was necessary, as well as jointly combatting militant groups who murdered indiscriminately without regard for international borders.  In that regard, the European Union would continue to support the Heart of Asia process and was looking forward to the ministerial meeting in Islamabad on 9 December.

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, especially in its northern region, was due in part to the increased of activity of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) in the country.  Against the backdrop of reduced foreign contingents, the intensifying military conflict was leading to many victims.  The Government of Afghanistan in conjunction with foreign donors and suppliers of military contingents must step up the fight against Afghan narcotics production and distribution.  His organization supported peaceful talks driven by the Afghans themselves while observing the Security Council’s sanctions regime and the principles of national reconciliation.

HARALD BRAUN (Germany), associating with the European Union, said the first year of the transformation decade had posed many challenges for the Afghan Government and people.  The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces had assumed full responsibility for national security and had shown “remarkable resilience”.  However, he was concerned about the deteriorating security situation in some areas, and strongly encouraged the Government to advance its reform agenda agreed at the recent Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul.  Implementation of political and economic reforms as well as combatting corruption was vital, as was the core principle of mutual accountability.  Germany would continue to finance assistance and support for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in the years ahead, he said, adding that the German parliament had recently voted to continue its military engagement in Afghanistan in the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s Resolute Support Mission for another year and to increase its troop level from 850 to 980. 

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said that despite progress made by the Government of Afghanistan, the road to peace and stability remained challenging.  The Afghan people were still threatened by the Taliban.  Afghanistan’s electoral system was in need of serious reform.  Corruption and abuses of human rights continued to be matters of grave concern.  The international community must remain committed to supporting the path to peace and stability across the region.  The United States would continue to support President Ghani and the National Unity Government as they pursued critical reforms.  United States’ forces would remain engaged in critical missions, training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces; and conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations to ensure that Afghanistan would never again serve as a safe haven for terrorism.  The Afghan people’s unyielding spirit and commitment to a better future for their children were reminders of what a strong Afghan Government and international support could accomplish.  Not long ago, Afghan girls received little or no formal education.  Today, millions of girls sat in classrooms.  That mattered because access to education for girls had proved to be one of the most important measuring sticks for progress in any country.  It mattered as well that Afghan women, once confined to their homes, now served as cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, judges, security officers, and business leaders.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that recent military developments in Kunduz had illustrated the vulnerabilities of the Afghan Security Forces and their continued reliance on the international military presence.  There were two paths to peace in Afghanistan:  a military victory, which had proved elusive for 14 years, or a negotiated peace, which was the only viable option to bring peace, stability and development to the country.  A unified policy in support of a peace process was lacking within the Afghan National Unity Government.  Pakistan remained ready to assist in reviving an Afghan-led and –owned peace process, but could do so only once requested by the Afghan Government.  It would also be important for the anti-Pakistan rhetoric from Kabul to cease.

There could be no doubt regarding Pakistan’s sincerity in seeking peace within and with Afghanistan, she said, adding that it was Pakistan and its people who had suffered the most from the 35 years of wars, violence and terrorism in Afghanistan.  Pakistan’s resolve to root out the “scourge of terrorism” from its territory, by which it was mounting the largest and most effective anti-terrorism campaign in the world, was and would conclude only once Pakistan’s objectives had been accomplished.  Those objectives were the elimination of the sanctuaries and safe havens of terrorists who had fled Pakistan’s operation.  Turning to the issue of refugees, she said that those who were erecting barricades against refugees from Syria and other conflict zones should not expect Pakistan to host more than 3 million Afghans indefinitely and without international support.  Pakistan stood ready to resume the positive momentum from last year after President Ghani’s inauguration.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) recalled that, three years ago in Tokyo, partners had agreed to the principle of mutual accountability between Afghanistan and the international community in order to realize the country’s self-reliance.  Japan had been one of Afghanistan’s strongest supporters.  Strengthening the agricultural sector in the country was important for generating jobs and income, he said, adding that traditional Japanese irrigation technology was being combined with Afghanistan’s own traditional methods in the “Green Ground Project”, which had brought about greater wheat production.  Regional cooperation with improved regional connectivity would provide a stronger foundation for economic growth; the under-developed transportation infrastructure both within and outside Afghanistan was one of many obstacles.  In that regard, his country and the Asian Development Bank were jointly promoting studies on improving regional inter-connectivity.  Additionally, development of human resources was essential to laying the foundation for Afghanistan’s economic development and self-reliance, and enhancing the capacity of future Government operations.

WANG MIN (China) welcomed the report submitted by the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and supported the resolution to be adopted on the same subject.  Afghanistan was at a critical juncture of transition.  Its people were faced with a precious opportunity and also with challenges.  It was essential to respect the Afghan peoples’ ownership of the situation in their country, and also to firmly promote the political reconciliation process.  Assisting the Afghan Government in capacity-building, and supporting the integration of Afghanistan into the family of nations, were also essential.  As a reliable neighbour, China stood ready to join the international community to help realize peace and stability in Afghanistan so Afghan people could enjoy the fruits of progress.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said the National Unity Government under the leadership of President Ghani had made valuable gains in combatting corruption and enabling economic growth.  As the path to successful reform was a difficult one, he encouraged continued efforts on reform and providing security for the people of Afghanistan.  Much had been achieved in the country in the area of human rights, but more remained to be accomplished.  The Elimination of Violence against Women Law and National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security were essential elements of the reform agenda.  To that end, he urged the Afghan Government to expedite implementation.  For its part, Australia provided shelter and support to over 2,300 Afghan women and girls, and provided training for more than 2,800 Afghan police and justice sector officials to uphold women’s rights.

ASOKE K. MUKERJI (India) said terrorism, not tribal differences or ethnic rivalries, was the main source of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan.  The revelation in recent reports of links of intra-insurgent violence between ISIL and its affiliates with the Taliban was alarming.  Also disturbing was that the majority of alleged ISIL-affiliated fighters appeared to have been drawn from disaffected former members of the Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or groups previously associated with Al-Qaida.  As recent attacks in Beirut, Syria and Paris all pointed towards rising extremism and the extension of the arc of terrorism, the Council must act against that threat with a sense of urgency and within a defined time-frame.  In addition, the international community must take a fresh look at the manner in which the drawdown of the international military presence in Afghanistan was happening.  The patterns of violence in Afghanistan were mutating.  Terrorists were not only attempting to grab territory, but also injecting sectarianism in an already complex situation.  The Council must look at ways to paralyse those terrorist organizations.  It must strengthen its sanctions regime in order to effectively impose and implement the restrictions placed on the listed terrorist organizations, so as to deny them sanctuaries and safe haven.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) supported approval in the coming days of a new General Assembly resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, which Spain was ready to co-sponsor as proof of its solidarity with that country.  Taking note of the first anniversary of the establishment of the Afghan National Unity Government, he welcomed the path set forth in the self-reliance reform plan.  He encouraged the Government to continue its efforts to reinvigorate sustainable economic growth and welcomed in that context Afghanistan’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Economic progress required a secure environment.  Spain was willing to continue supporting the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces, the Resolute Support Mission and the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan.  Expressing concern over the surge in activities of terrorist and insurgent groups, he underlined the importance of a cooperative relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours in security and economy.  Further, he encouraged the continuation of efforts aimed at lasting reconciliation in the country, and welcomed Government efforts to consolidate human rights, particularly the rights of women and children, and to combat illegal drug production and trafficking.

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania) said that growing insecurity in Afghanistan showed not only the strength of the Taliban but also the weakness of local government institutions.  Challenges such as lack of economic progress, corruption and the incompetence of some local officials required improving the rule of law and strengthening human rights protection.  As Afghanistan accounted for an estimated 85 per cent of global opium production and 77 per cent of global heroin production in 2014, it was imperative for the new National Drug Action Plan to have a tangible impact.  Young and capable Afghans leaving the country was yet another troubling phenomenon, requiring the National Unity Government to increase efforts aimed at creating employment and improving the country’s business climate.  Despite progress, violence against women and girls remained widespread.  A plan addressing some of the difficulties facing Afghan women must be implemented vigorously.  Also crucial was regional cooperation in the effort to find a sustainable solution, and he pledged his country’s full support of that endeavour. 

KAREL VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), associating with the European Union, commended the work of the Government of National Unity and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, while emphasizing the increasingly worrisome security challenges still facing the country.  He cited, among others, recent developments in Kunduz.  It was important that lasting peace and stability in that region be Afghan-led, and the Netherlands hoped that peace talks could resume with a representative Taliban delegation.  With 40 per cent of Afghans unemployed, he welcomed the Government’s jobs plan, which the Netherlands would support through contributions to reconstruction as well as through the political and economic empowerment of Afghan women.  Afghanistan had improved accountability and reduced corruption.  He welcomed the concrete deliverables in the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework, including the establishment of prosecution units dealing with violence against women.  Improving the human rights situation overall was crucial to a more inclusive, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.  He noted the Afghan people’s resilience, reflected in the returns of many to Kunduz, despite the severe threats posed by the Taliban and other insurgents.

Y. HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) said Afghanistan’s security should remain a priority for the international community as it also had consequences for the stability of the region as a whole.  A successful peace process was an important element of the political transition in the country.  Many problems faced by countries in the region such as terrorism, organized crime and the illegal narcotics trade were of a transboundary nature.  Regional collaboration was important in that regard and the Istanbul Process was an effective cooperation model brining practical solutions to the current challenges of the Heart of Asia region.  Turkey’s assistance to the Afghan people was the most comprehensive development aid programme directed at a single country throughout its history.  Turkey had completed 800 projects since 2004 and the programme would continue with a commitment of $150 million for 2015-2017.  Turkey was one of the four framework nations of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission for Afghanistan and it would continue its capacity-building programmes for Afghanistan’s national army and police within NATO as well as on bilateral basis.

ION JINGA (Romania), associating with the European Union, said that under the Resolute Support Mission, his county had deployed 615 troops, continuing its enduring engagement to support national peace and stabilization.  Romanian armed forces were involved in training and education missions for the new Afghan armed forces and military advisory teams.  His country had also deployed to Afghanistan mixed-gender teams such as the civil and military cooperation unit, with the aim of engaging Afghan women and girls.  As that country’s stability could not be achieved by security activities alone, the Romanian Ministry of Education offered every year, between 2012 and 2016, 10 scholarships for higher education to Afghan students.  In 2013 and 2014, the Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs had organized training programmes for young Afghan diplomats.  In 2014 and 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had organized training programs for high-ranking officers of the Afghan counterpart.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), associating with the European Union, said there was a risk of losing ground in Afghanistan.  Education for girls was at constant risk, violence by insurgent groups had worsened, the number of civilian victims of conflict had increased, and the security situation was cause for great concern.  Uncertainty was prompting growing numbers to leave Afghanistan.  Italy was staunchly supporting the Government of National Unity and participating in a NATO-led training mission.  However, long-term stability would require internal reconciliation.  It was necessary to promote conditions for a meaningful peace process, including genuine cooperation between all countries in the region.  It was also crucial for Afghanistan to quickly implement internal reforms, which would increase public trust in State institutions, encourage investment and strengthen democracy.  Partnership with the international community could also be strengthened, with a view towards the Brussels Conference in October 2016.  Action to promote women’s rights was a priority, as was countering violence against them.  Fully empowering women in society must be pursued with utmost determination.

FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia) said Afghanistan was not at war, but the Taliban, illegal armed groups and criminals continued to pose a threat to the country’s security and stability.  While wars and armed conflicts tended to be primary reasons to flee, the dire humanitarian and economic situation in the country had also led to the massive displacement of people, in particular the young, productive generation.  To that end, an improved security environment, implementation of reforms, and creation of opportunities were prerequisites for Afghan citizens not to choose the life of a migrant.  Further, regional cooperation, supported by the international community, was paramount.  Recognizing the key role of institutions in Afghanistan and the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework, he noted that Slovakia had continued to provide development assistance for education, agriculture, and security-sector reform.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said Afghanistan’s territorial integrity should be paramount rather than the interests of other nations when it came to the country’s security.  Given the activity of ISIL/ISIS in the region, the international community had a greater responsibility to assist the Afghan National Unity Government in its fight against terrorism.  On countering the narcotics trade in the country, regional cooperation such as the Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan triangular initiative was important.  The commitments of international donors and UNODC were also essential in that regard.  On Iran’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan, there was cooperation on security and counter-narcotics, as well as agriculture and infrastructure projects.  There was also potential for bilateral relations in the areas of trade and transportation.  Cooperation between India, Afghanistan and Iran in that regard was a milestone for the region as a whole.  Landlocked Afghanistan would have access to Iran’s port.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan), reiterating his country’s unfailing commitment to enhance peace, stability and development in Afghanistan, acknowledged the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating international assistance to that country.  The threats of ISIS/ISIL and the Taliban compelled the international community to be proactive in supporting the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.  Multilateral action could only be strengthened through the implementation of all relevant United Nations resolutions and recommendations.  Similarly, the fight against drug trafficking and manufacturing required better cooperation among law enforcement agencies and purchasing Afghan-produced drugs by international organizations for medical purposes.  Continuing, he referred to several bilateral and multilateral initiatives of the Government of Kazakhstan to address some of the challenges Afghanistan faced concerning religious extremism, economic growth and humanitarian aid.  He then called for the establishment of a United Nations-led coalition and the development of further legally binding mechanisms to unite global efforts in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the entire world.

MOHAMMED A. AL-BUAINAIN (Qatar) said that the international community shouldn’t lose sight of the historic set of circumstances facing Afghanistan, and should be watchful of the security situation since it was vulnerable to foreign terrorist fighters.  Qatar would continue to work with international partners to back the Afghan Government in facing challenges.  Qatar had provided humanitarian and educational aid, he said, noting that the Afghan Red Crescent Society had opened an office in Kabul, where participation was being given to a project called “Warm Winter” to provide shelter for those most in need.  Qatar was also providing equipment for clinics in remote villages, and working for disaster-risk reduction to mitigate various impacts of earthquakes, which often struck Afghanistan.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said like everyone else in the General Assembly, he wanted Afghanistan to succeed.  For its part, New Zealand had invested 10 years of effort into building security and governance in Bamiyan, and had trained Afghanistan’s National Defence and Security Forces.  Despite progress in developing the Government institutions, much more was needed to overcome existing challenges through, among others, direct talks between the Government and Taliban, and maintaining peace and security.  At the federal level, additional appointments should be made to fill such key positions as the Minister of Defence and Attorney General.  It was a sad reality that organized crime continued to undermine the country’s economy and stability.  He looked forward to the adoption of the resolution on the situation, which his delegation co-sponsored.

HUSNIYYA MAMMADOVA (Azerbaijan) reaffirmed support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and expressed concern over security challenges in light of the expansion of conflict.  Military operations must be conducted with respect for international human rights law.  Azerbaijan appreciated the ongoing work of humanitarian actors.  Regional and international assistance was essential for fulfilling hopes of peace, stability and prosperity.  Reviewing details of Azerbaijan’s contributions to international forces in Afghanistan, such as helping assisting training with NATO in Baku, she added that a new transport corridor would facilitate Afghanistan’s links to the European market.  Azerbaijan supported Afghan sovereignty and territorial unity and thanked United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) personnel for their dedication to peace in the country.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives) expressed his delegation’s solidarity with the Afghan Government in its efforts to maintain peace and security in the country, despite existing challenges.  Welcoming the positive political developments, he hoped for the continuation of dialogue between all parties as a way forward to cease hostilities.  Despite progress over past years, his delegation remained concerned about the ongoing security-related incidents, including armed clashes which had resulted in significant casualties and displacement of the Afghan people.  Turning to the reform initiatives, he acknowledged comprehensive steps by the Government to recognize the important role of women in society and promote the rule of law, as well as address corruption.

SAUD HAMAD GHANEM HAMAD ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said the international community should support Afghanistan in its implementation of the outcomes of previous international conferences, and his country looked forward to the upcoming ministerial conference on the country in Brussels.  Political progress in the country, especially the agreement over the Executive Branch, was commendable.  The role of the United Nations system, including UNAMA, was also praiseworthy, as it improved international cohesion in supporting the Afghani-led political process.  On the humanitarian level, the United Arab Emirates had provided assistance to Afghanistan in meeting its healthcare and nutrition needs.  The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for humanitarian work had implemented a project that improved food for children and pregnant mothers and had benefited around 18 million Afghans.  The United Arab Emirates had also allocated $25.8 million for demining activities in Kandahar since 2013, enabling the cleared land to be used for agriculture and housing for returning refugees.

For information media. Not an official record.