Security Woes, Terrorism, Efforts to End Corruption Highlighted in Ensuing Debate
Reaffirming its support to Afghanistan ahead of next month’s major donor conference, the Security Council today adopted a presidential statement calling on Member States to continue their assistance to the conflict-affected country.
Speakers addressing the 15-member body during the subsequent debate considered recent developments, including efforts by the Afghan Government to combat corruption and violence against women, while many warned of a deteriorating security situation and increased attacks by terrorist groups.
Issuing presidential statement S/PRST/2016/14, which was read out by Murray McCully, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand and Council President for September, the Council underscored the importance of progress made by Afghanistan and called on all political entities to work together to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for the country’s people.
Reiterating its concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, the Council condemned terrorist activities by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as Al-Qaida, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) affiliates and other illegal armed groups. The Council further reiterated its support to the Government — in particular the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces — in their task of securing the country and combating terrorism and violent extremism.
Among other things, the Council also reaffirmed its support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process with a view to achieving lasting peace and stability and called on all national, regional and international actors to cooperate in that regard.
Briefing the Council, Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, said the situation in the country today presented opportunity and hope but also formidable challenges. Despite very real progress, Afghanistan still had a long way to go to fully meet the needs of its people. Success at the upcoming donor conference — slated for 5 October in Brussels — would provide the time and space for the Afghan National Unity Government to move towards stability and self-reliance.
Underscoring the need to resolve the Government’s precarious political situation, including tensions between President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, he went on to voice concern that intensive fighting continued in hotspots around Afghanistan and that Kabul had been the recent target of several horrendous suicide attacks. The impact on civilians remained severe, with 388 children killed in six months and with a 23 July attack by Da’esh claiming 85 lives.
Speakers throughout the debate expressed alarm at such escalating statistics, with several stressing that the Council needed to find ways to rapidly reverse the deteriorating security situation. India’s delegate said that, in light of the Taliban’s increasing attacks and military gains, “current efforts by the international community to assist Afghanistan have clearly not been adequate”. Groups and individuals that perpetrated violence against the Afghan people and Government must not be allowed safe haven in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood.
In that vein, the representative of Afghanistan told the Council that savage terrorist attacks in populated urban centres had illustrated the “cowardly behaviour” of those groups and their supporters. Growing extremism and terror worldwide were proof that the current pace of counter-terrorism efforts was insufficient to address the magnitude of the threat. It was critical that the international community move beyond rhetoric and address the enablers of terrorism, while United Nations efforts to identify and address gaps in implementation must also be reviewed.
Many delegates throughout the debate also urged all of Afghanistan’s political actors — including the Taliban — to engage in meaningful dialogue aimed at restoring stability. In that regard, the representative of the Russian Federation stressed that attempts to eliminate the group had led to the spread of the so-called Islamic State. The main task in the reconciliation process, involving the Taliban in the discussions, had not yet been achieved. Among other things, he expressed concern about narcotics, noting that the flow of opium in the region continued.
Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. McCully stressed that Afghanistan had been at war for far too long. Emphasizing the importance of continued international support for the Afghan Government, he nevertheless said that “it is time for an honest conversation about why peace is proving so elusive”. Poor governance had plagued Afghanistan for 35 years, with its leaders prioritizing group and personal interests over the welfare of their people. Promised reforms had not been implemented and continued division within the National Unity Government threatened Afghanistan’s progress. At a time when the international community was renewing its commitment, the Government must meet its expectations in return, he said.
A number of speakers voiced their intentions to participate in the upcoming Brussels Conference and urged other States to do the same. In that regard, the representative of the United States noted that pledges made in Brussels would define the nature of international assistance to Afghanistan for the next four years, warning that any precipitous decline in aid would put in jeopardy the gains made over the last 15 years. “Afghanistan’s security is our security,” she said, adding that now was not the time for the international community to disengage from the country.
Also speaking were the representatives of Spain, Ukraine, France, Malaysia, Egypt, Angola, Uruguay, Japan, United Kingdom, China, Senegal, Venezuela, Italy, Pakistan, Germany, Australia, Iran, Netherlands, Canada and Turkey, as well as the European Union.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 1:16 p.m.
TADAMICHI YAMAMOTO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, said the situation in the country today presented opportunity and hope but also formidable challenges. Despite very real progress, Afghanistan still had a long way to go to fully meet the needs of its people. Success at the upcoming Brussels Conference would provide the time and space for the Afghan Government to move towards stability and self-reliance, he said, stressing that the precarious political situation — including tensions between the Government’s two leaders — must be brought to a resolution.
Describing positive developments that gave cause for hope, he said Afghanistan continued to advance its reform agenda, in particular efforts to tackle corruption. International support for Afghanistan was vital and the decision at the recent Warsaw Summit to maintain the current level of security assistance had sent a strong message to the Afghan people, including anti-Government elements. However, the National Unity Government faced fundamental challenges, both from the outside and within. Security and stability were critical, he said, noting that intensive fighting continued in hotspots around Afghanistan and Kabul had been the target of a series of horrendous suicide attacks. The impact on civilians remained severe, with 388 children killed in six months and with a 23 July attack by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) claiming 85 civilian lives in Kabul. In that regard, all parties to the conflict must strictly abide by their obligations to always place the preservation of human life above all other considerations.
The number of people newly displaced by conflict had swelled recently due to a massive increase in the number of Afghan families returning from Pakistan, he said. If current trends continued, Afghanistan would have to meet the needs of at least 1 million “people on the move”, requiring greater assistance. No effective policies were possible, however, if the Government was internally divided. Tensions within the Government had surfaced, with public criticism by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah about what he viewed as the incomplete implementation of the 2014 political agreement. “The National Unity Government is at a defining moment,” he said, stressing that a way forward must be found through realistic and flexible compromise and a show of true statesmanship. Indeed, “Afghanistan cannot afford political instability.” The political agenda must progress constructively, stability must be maintained and elections must take place. The recent signing by the President of the legislative decree for electoral reform was a constructive development in that regard.
Stressing that peace for Afghanistan was a necessity, he said the Taliban had still not demonstrated a clear commitment to the peace process despite many offers of engagement by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and the international community. The intensive fighting in recent months had shown the conflict to be an endless cycle of gains and reversals, of destruction instead of development and continued suffering for Afghan civilians. The agreement being negotiated between the Afghan Government and Hizb-e Islami (Hekmatyar) showed that the Government was sincere about negotiations. Measures should be taken to build confidence between the Government and the Taliban to prepare the way for substantive talks, he said, adding that the sooner the process began the less Afghans would suffer.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said since the Council’s last deliberations, his country had seen increased armed clashes and suicide attacks, with high civilian casualties, bringing the peace process to an impasse. At the same time, Afghanistan had continued to steadily enhance the capacity and sustainability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Furthermore, the country had achieved progress in the areas of regional trade and infrastructure connectivity, anti-corruption, governance, rule of law and human rights, legal reform, social inclusion and private-sector development.
Drawing attention to the increasing terror attacks, he noted that in September, the Taliban had attacked civilians, security officials and an aid group in Kabul. Approximately 180 people had lost their lives and 435 had been wounded, with extensive damage to infrastructure. He said that the savage attacks in populated urban centres had illustrated the “cowardly behaviour” of terrorist groups and their supporters to compensate for their so-called spring offensive losses. However, the response from the national forces had shown that extremists did not have the capacity to hold territory anywhere in Afghanistan.
Growing violent extremism and terror worldwide were proof that the current pace of counter-terrorism efforts was insufficient to address the magnitude of the threat, he continued. “Current efforts remain scattered, slow, and at times static, and have proven incapable to match the sophistication and ever changing tactics of global terror for its eventual threat,” he emphasized. It was critical that the international community move beyond rhetoric and address the enablers of terrorism. The United Nations efforts to identify and address gaps in implementation must also be reviewed.
On 21 September, Afghanistan would celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the Agreement of National Unity Government of Afghanistan, he said. His country was fully committed to fully implement the Agreement as discussions were ongoing among the leadership to address overdue commitments. “Our entire political elite, irrespective of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and political standing, is committed to preserving the national interest of Afghanistan,” he said, noting that tensions in the National Unity Government and rising pressures by political opposition groups were part of the democratic debate.
Highlighting recent achievements in development, he noted extensive reform measures to curb corruption, improve service delivery and promote transparency. In August, a major housing project of 2015 residential units in Kabul was completed. Last week, for the first time in the history of Sino-Afghan relations, a special cargo train between two countries had been officially welcomed. Such developments reflected a spirit of constructive cooperation for mutual benefit in the region, he stressed. Among others bodies, the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre and High Council on Governance, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption were already operational, addressing corruption cases. In the light of increased opium production and cultivation the Government was focused on eradication efforts. Concluding, he said that the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan would be an opportunity to showcase hard-won gains to the global community.
MURRAY MCCULLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, stressing that Afghanistan had been at war for far too long. Sustainable peace remained a distant prospect and the Taliban and other extremist groups continued to pose an existential threat to the Afghan State. Emphasizing the importance of continued international support for the Afghan Government, he nevertheless said that “it is time for an honest conversation about why peace is proving so elusive”. Poor governance had plagued Afghanistan for 35 years, with its leaders prioritizing group and personal interests over the welfare of their people. Today, the relationship between the President and the Chief Executive was dysfunctional, promised reforms had not been implemented and continued division within the National Unity Government threatened progress made over the last 15 years. At a time when the international community was renewing its commitment, the Government must meet its expectations in return. In addition, the Taliban sanctions regime should be used to create, not obstruct, an environment in which talks could take place.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said the presidential statement adopted today was timely and underscored the Council’s unity in its support for the Government and citizens of Afghanistan. The upcoming Brussels Conference would be a major event for that country, giving the international community a chance to recommit to supporting Afghanistan. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s call to that country’s political leaders to reach a compromise in their differences, he said Spain adamantly condemned all acts of terrorism in Afghanistan — regardless of their justification — and reaffirmed its support for the country’s efforts to combat that scourge. Welcoming efforts to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan, he said “this is not a side issue” but a central one. The next Council debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), to be held under the Spanish presidency, would be another opportunity to address that issue. Peace and reconciliation, led for any by the Afghans, was the only way forward to a sustainable peace, he concluded.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said there had been several encouraging signs of progress achieved by Afghanistan in addressing security, economic and development challenges. However, ongoing political tensions did not reflect well on the National Unity Government, and Afghan leaders must reunite and focus on addressing the promotion of good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption and human rights, among other issues. Expressing regret that there had been no meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group during the reporting period, and that the Taliban had continued to reject calls to join the peace and reconciliation process, he said there could be no tangible progress towards stabilization without the readiness of other regional players to set aside differences and exert influence on Taliban leaders to renounce aggression and participate in peace negotiations. Expressing concern about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, he said it was essential to provide the country with appropriate military and financial assistance to achieve palpable results. A stronger partnership between the international organizations engaged in Afghanistan was also critical.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the security situation in Afghanistan gave no cause for optimism as it remained highly volatile. The number of armed clashes had increased compared with previous months, and the attempts to eliminate Taliban had led to the spread of the so-called Islamic State. He was surprised that the United States colleagues had refused to include ISIL’s growing threat in the Council presidential statement. Offering condolences to the families of those who had lost their lives in Kabul, he expressed support to Government efforts to ensure stability in Afghanistan. The main task in the reconciliation process, involving Taliban in the discussions, had not been achieved yet. It was not likely that the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban would hold direct talks anytime soon. Among other things, he expressed concern about narcotics, noting that the flow of opium continued. Regional players should play a decisive role, he said, emphasizing that Istanbul process must generate new ideas.
ALEXIS LAMEK (France), while reiterating his country’s full support to Afghanistan, expressed concern about the persistent security challenges and rising pressure from political opposition groups. “The situation is fragile and challenges remain daunting,” he said. The black economy, corruption and drug trafficking were main challenges to Afghanistan’s development. To move forward, it was essential to maintain Government unity and ensure the process was Afghan-led.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) drew attention to the persistent challenges in Afghanistan, particularly on the security front. Welcoming the progress made by the Government, he noted that it had filled key positions and held parliamentary elections. Progress achieved so far was the outcome of steps in the right direction and must be further encouraged. The deliberate targeting of civilians and security forces, however, was highly concerning. Promoting socioeconomic development was essential for achieving long-term development. He believed that the country’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) had provided an opportunity to promote the well-being of the Afghan people.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), congratulating the Afghan Government on its efforts to build national institutions and confront the threat of terrorism, nevertheless expressed concern that ISIL/Da’esh had posed an increasing threat over recent months. Egypt had continued to cooperate with Afghanistan in the area of strategic military and police training, he said, expressing hope that donors would provide the necessary expenses for that important work. The strengthening of Afghanistan and its political development were critical, as were the various economic initiatives under way across the region. Calling on the Afghan authorities to step up efforts to fight the drug trade, he said his country planned to take part in the Brussels Conference in October.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said today’s presidential statement accurately reflected the realities on the ground in Afghanistan, in particular with regard to security and terrorism. “Now is not the time for the international community to disengage from Afghanistan,” she said, stressing that partners must work to bring about a better future for the Afghan people. Underscoring the devastating effects of the violence that had affected numerous generations of Afghan civilians, she said that “all of us need to step up to help Afghanistan and end this scourge”, and noted that President Obama had decided to maintain 8,400 service members in Afghanistan. The country’s neighbours, in particular, should support Afghanistan in its pursuit of a negotiated settlement, and must not provide safe havens for terrorists. Commending the National Unity Government on its efforts to end corruption, she said it should make similar efforts to address other issues, such as electoral reform. The pledges to be made at the upcoming Brussels Conference would define the nature of international assistance to Afghanistan for the next four years, and any precipitous decline in assistance would put in jeopardy the gains made over the last 15 years. “Afghanistan’s security is our security,” she stressed in that regard.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that two years after the establishment of the National Unity Government the situation in Afghanistan remained unpredictable. Among the many challenges facing the country, the fight against poverty, the implementation of important reforms and the security situation remained the most serious concerns. Cooperation and a spirit of compromise, as well as strong leadership, were needed. While there had been some remarkable progress, the security situation in Afghanistan had not improved and acts of violence persisted. The indiscriminate killing of civilians, in particular, deserved energetic condemnation, as did deep-rooted attitudes of violence against women. In that regard, he noted that women were increasingly taking up senior posts in the Afghan Government and the country had recently undertaken efforts to combat violence against women and girls. Reiterating his country’s continued support for the Afghan Government, he said the upcoming Brussels Conference would help the country’s people to foster prosperity and self-reliance.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) acknowledged that the Government of Afghanistan was working towards addressing its security and economic challenges. To make further progress, it was essential to hold direct talks between the Government and the Taliban, and overcome ongoing security challenges. The upcoming summit in Brussels would provide a platform for the Afghan Government to set out its vision and track record on reform. For the international community, it would be an opportunity to reaffirm sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, State-building and development. Among other situations, he noted that the humanitarian situation remained of concern, with a significant number of internal displacements exacerbated by continuing access challenges. “Blocking humanitarian aid is a clear violation of the international law,” he said. The Government must meet the basic needs of its people, address malnutrition, and ensure the protection of civilians.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) welcomed the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre, which would deepen trust between the Government and Afghans, as well as between the international community and the Government. Highlighting Afghanistan’s membership in the WTO and the extension by the International Monetary Fund of a $45 million credit facility agreement, he said the country was aiming to become an export-oriented economy, with a focus on expanded agricultural productivity, efforts that Japan supported. On the political and security fronts, he expressed concern at abductions, assassinations and military clashes, as well as increased tensions between the President and Chief Executive and the lack of progress in the peace process. He urged political actors at all levels to work together to support a united Afghan Government.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) said Afghanistan still faced enormous security challenges. At the recent Warsaw Summit, his country had promised to increase troops and provide funding to Afghanistan at current levels through 2020. Unity of purpose and political cohesion were essential in making progress, he said, calling upon the international community to support the Afghan Government and its ambitious programme, which included electoral reform and anti-corruption. Also welcoming the Government’s efforts to address violence against women and girls, he expressed support for all relevant initiatives. The upcoming summit in Brussels would provide a platform to create a prosperous future for Afghanistan, but he was well aware of ongoing challenges posed by the Taliban. “Political settlement is the only viable solution,” he said, urging the Afghan Government to have constructive engagement with Taliban.
WU HAITAO (China) welcomed the Afghan Government’s efforts to promote national reconciliation and economic development, but acknowledged that the country continued to face grave challenges. Achieving national reconciliation was essential for progress, he said, calling upon the international community to support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. Terrorism was an enormous threat to build a stable country and capacity-building must be promoted to overcome it. Furthermore, good governance, with the participation of the Afghan people, must be bolstered. All parties should defuse tension and advance the peace process.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said the present debate was another opportunity to examine the situation in Afghanistan, which remained concerning. While some progress had been achieved in the country, the political situation remained fragile and the security situation continued to deteriorate. There were numerous human rights violations and humanitarian concerns and continuing clashes with the Taliban and other armed groups had claimed the lives of many civilians as well as caused much displacement. Prospects for a possible peace process with the Taliban remained limited, as the groups continued efforts to expand their territorial gains. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) support for the Afghan Government was critical, he said, also paying tribute to the work of the international humanitarian community in Afghanistan. Welcoming cooperation between Afghanistan and its regional neighbours, he said the upcoming Brussels Conference would help to bolster the Afghan-led process aimed at achieving lasting peace and social development.
DOUGLAS NICOMEDES ARCIA VIVAS (Venezuela) expressed concern about the delicate political and security situation in Afghanistan, noting that the Taliban’s ongoing military operations had tested the Afghan Government. That situation continued to affect the civilian population, with the highest number of civilian casualties reported since 2009. There had also been an increase in the executions of women by non-State actors and continued reports of the enlistment of child soldiers. Dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan Government was critical, as was the strengthening of trust between all parties. With regard to women’s empowerment, he recognized the establishment of a Strategy and Plan of Action for the Elimination of Violence against Women and efforts to bring more women into leadership positions. Dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan was critical, he said, expressing hope that differences between the two countries would be overcome for the benefit of both their people. The upcoming Brussels Conference would be important to promote Afghanistan’s stability, security and social development, he concluded, urging Member States to take the opportunity to provide both resources and capacity.
Taking the floor a second time, the representative of Afghanistan thanked the Council for adopting the presidential statement and the Foreign Minister of New Zealand for chairing the meeting. While he appreciated the frank statement delivered by that delegation, the debate over Afghanistan’s governance was an internal matter and he expected the country’s friends and partners to respect their limitations in light of Afghanistan’s sovereignty. The two leaders of the National Unity Government had already proven their statesmanship, having come together to put the Government together.
Also taking the floor a second time, the representative of New Zealand said the issue of the Afghan Government’s stability was fundamental to the success of the international efforts in that country.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, condemned terrorist attacks, such as those in Kabul, and reiterated his support for Government efforts to combat them. There had been no encouraging developments towards a peace process and he urged renewed efforts in that regard. To that end, cooperation among regional countries was essential and should be based on the understanding that fighting terrorism and those aiming to destabilize Afghanistan was in the common interest. Strengthening institutions and consolidating economic and social development were other challenges and the upcoming Brussels Conference would be a key moment in the country’s journey to self-sufficiency, and in progress to consolidate democracy and address the causes of Afghan migration, notably to Europe. He also urged further progress in the fight against corruption and the promotion of women’s rights.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) joined the Secretary-General’s call on the Afghan leadership to achieve a meaningful peace agreement for the benefit of its people. To overcome current challenges, the upcoming conference in Brussel would be an opportunity to bring peace and security to Afghanistan. While expressing support for international efforts, she noted that external support could not substitute internal stability. In that regard, the active promotion of peace and reconciliation was necessary, she said, encouraging the Afghan authorities to hold direct talks with the Taliban to end their “long night of suffering”. Meanwhile, new actors had been introduced to the conflict, and the efforts were threatened by Da’esh. Afghanistan must ensure that its territory was not used by others.
HEIKO THOMS (Germany) expressed concern at the rising number of civilian casualties, stressing that civilian protection in armed conflict was paramount under international law. He welcomed the national policy on civilian casualty mitigation, which must be implemented. The Afghanistan conference in Brussels would allow the international community to underline its political and financial support, and the Afghan Government to outline its achievements and challenges in implementing the reform agenda. For its part, Germany would continue to support Afghanistan, he said, stressing that inclusive, effective and reform-oriented governance would be a priority beyond Brussels and include progress on electoral reforms that would pave the way to parliamentary and district council elections. Economic reforms were also important, as were efforts to fight corruption and implement existing strategies in a transparent manner. Peace and reconciliation was the only path to long-term stability in Afghanistan and the region.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia), describing the security situation across Afghanistan as challenging, said recent violent attacks in Kabul were concerning. Expressing support to the efforts of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to maintain the Government of National Unity, he said that constructive working relationships and a shared vision across all levels were essential for managing the country’s security and economic interests. During the recent Warsaw Summit, Australia and international partners had reaffirmed their commitment to support Afghanistan’s security forces and provide sustained funding at current levels through to 2020. In Brussels, the international community would focus on future support for Afghanistan’s development. Recognizing the country’s efforts to push forward key national reforms in difficult circumstances, Australia supported the Brussels Conference’s emphasis on economic growth, revenue mobilization, employment and countering corruption.
JOANNE ADAMSON, of the European Union Delegation, said progress in Afghanistan had been remarkable but uneven, and required consolidation in many areas. Political tensions amid economic and security challenges highlighted a persistent fragility. Urging sustained and predictable international support, based on mutual accountability principles, she said the European Union was committed to fostering regional stability, fighting terrorism and narcotics production and alleviating migratory pressures. As the Brussels Conference would focus on State and institution-building through implementing reforms, among other things, cross-Government buy-in of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework and its timely implementation would determine that reform programme’s success. Completion of the national priority programmes was important in that regard, as was agreement on a new annex to the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework. Joint State-building and development efforts could be sustained only if built on reinforced regional cooperation, notably on the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
TANMAYA LAL (India) said that, in light of the Taliban’s increasing attacks and military gains, “current efforts by the international community to assist Afghanistan have clearly not been adequate”. The Council needed to find the means to reverse the deteriorating security situation in order to preserve the gains made by the Afghan people over the last 15 years. Groups and individuals that perpetrated violence against the people and Government of Afghanistan must not be allowed safe haven in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood. While the Afghan Government had made efforts to combat terrorism, others had callously looked the other way when the country was targeted by the Taliban, Haqqani Network, ISIL and others. The effective implementation of the Council’s sanctions regimes were essential for it to serve as a strong deterrent to the listed entities and individuals. The fact that the leader of the Taliban — a proscribed entity — was not yet designated as a terrorist individual remained a mystery, he said, as were the outcomes of the discussions of Security Council Committee 1988 last month. His country remained strongly committed to Afghanistan, including by offering a further $1 billion for capacity-building in areas such as education, health, agriculture and the empowerment of women.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said the continuing deterioration of Afghanistan’s security situation indicated that the country and the region were no safer than they had been a decade ago. Uncertainty prevailed over the prospect of peace between the Afghan Government and the Taliban, he said, condemning all violent attacks committed by the latter or by other terrorist groups. Recalling that, in his June statement to the Council, he had warned of the emergence of Da’esh and its offshoots in Afghanistan, he said the sustained backing of the international community was critical to support the Afghan Government in its fight against terrorism. His country had long worked to strengthen its regional cooperation with Afghanistan, in particular through infrastructure development, training and human resources capacity-building. Calling on the international community to address the threat posed by narcotics in a serious and comprehensive manner, he said Iran continued to participate in the work of the Tripartite Commission in order to plan for the voluntary, safe, dignified and gradual repatriation of Afghan refugees. Meanwhile, it continued to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, especially in the fields of education and medical services.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) noted that the overall security situation had deteriorated since the beginning of the year and civilian casualties had reached their highest level since 2009. Recent attacks in Kabul demonstrated the urgent need to improve the security of ordinary Afghans; peace and reconciliation were paramount. The agreement between the High Peace Council and the Hezb-e Islami was an encouragement for other insurgent groups to engage in serious peace talks. Turning to the upcoming Brussels Conference, he said that it would provide an opportunity for the international community to renew its commitment to the Afghan people. He commended the National Unity Government for pursuing an ambitious reform agenda and urged the authorities to implement the plan without further delay. Among other things, he welcomed the adoption of a national action plan on women, peace and security. For its part, the Netherlands would continue to cooperate with the Afghan Government and civil society partners to expedite the plan’s implementation.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), noting that his country had had a development presence in Afghanistan for decades, said that commitment had been expressed recently with a $465 million contribution for security and development assistance. No development could be achieved without the participation of all members in society, especially women and girls, and as such, Canada supported “Women’s and Girls’ Rights First” in all its health, education and human rights programming in Afghanistan. “The path to a prosperous and stable Afghanistan is one of empowering Afghan women,” he said, welcoming the country’s steps to promote and protect women’s rights, including stronger legal protection from violence and more inclusion in public life. He expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation, noting Canada’s support for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and an increase in the number of female recruits into their ranks. Canada supported Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, and called on the Taliban to negotiate.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey) said that while the Afghan security forces were improving their fighting capabilities and coordination skills, at the same time the insurgents were improving their techniques. That constituted a source of concern. Continued international support was vital, but the peace and reconciliation process must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. “It is of utmost importance that Taliban is convinced to come to the negotiation table,” he said, expressing support for coordination efforts in that direction. For its part, Turkey would continue its bilateral assistance to Afghanistan in the security and development areas and contribute to NATO’s efforts. In June 2016, within the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, Turkey had organized a course on critical infrastructure protection from terrorist attacks. The country would soon finalize preparations for two more events on radicalization and the financial aspects of combating terrorism.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2016/14 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its support to the Government of Afghanistan and, in advance of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan to be held on 5 October 2016 co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan, calls on the international community to continue their civilian and development efforts to assist the Government and the people of Afghanistan in a manner consistent with the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and with the Afghan leadership and ownership.
“The Security Council underscores the importance of the progress attained by Afghanistan and calls on all political entities to work together to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan.
“The Security Council reiterates its concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, its condemnation of the terrorist activities by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as Al-Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other illegal armed groups, and its support to the Government of Afghanistan and, in particular, to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, in their task of securing their country and in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
“The Security Council also reaffirms its support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process with a view to achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and calls on all national, regional and international actors to cooperate in this regard.
“The Security Council reiterates its full support to the work of UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate as per resolution 2274 (2016), and to the Special Representative of the Secretary General.
“The Security Council reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and reaffirms that Afghanistan’s future lies in the building of a stable, secure, economically sustainable State, free of terrorism and narcotics, based on the rule of law, strengthened democratic institutions and the guarantee and enforcement of citizen’s rights and obligations.”