17 January 2018
8158th Meeting* (AM)

Persistent Insecurity in Afghanistan ‘Main Obstacle to Stabilization Efforts’, Says Representative, Briefing Security Council on Visiting Mission

The Security Council’s visiting mission to Afghanistan in January had revealed that it would take more than a military solution for the conflict in that country to end, and that there had been added challenges to the peace process such as the existence of sanctuaries for the Taliban abroad, the permanent representative of Kazakhstan told the 15‑member organ today.

Briefing the chamber on the 13‑15 January mission to take stock of progress made in Afghanistan, Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), Council President for January, spoke in his national capacity, noting that it had been an opportunity for members to gain a first‑hand understanding of that country’s needs and priorities.

The visit to Afghanistan, the first by the Council since 2010, had revealed that persisting insecurity continued to be the main obstacle to stabilization efforts, he said.  The mission had noted with concern the increasing number of casualties as terrorist groups were adopting increasingly violent tactics.

Continuing, he said one worrying trend was the presence and activity of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant‑Khorasan Province in the east and north of the country.  Members of that group had intensified attacks on Shia populations and their places of worship, he said, exposing the potential for deepening sectarian and ethnic divisions.

There was also the added challenge of the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters from Syria and Iraq, which were regrouping in Afghanistan, he noted.  The main obstacle to peace was the existence of “safe havens” and sanctuaries for the Taliban abroad.  The Government had reiterated its readiness to engage constructively with neighbouring countries to curb terrorism and negotiate.

More tangible results were needed as the peace process seemed to have made little advancement, he said, noting that the visit had come ahead of the Kabul process meeting that was scheduled for February.  There was unanimity that the conflict had to end and that it would take more than a purely military solution.

The mission was also briefed about the structure and work of the High Peace Council and its plans for 2017 to 2020, he said.  Building on the positive experience of the 2016 peace agreement with Hizb-i Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Peace Council planned to initiate talks with the Taliban.  Some interlocutors were not too optimistic, claiming that there were no significant steps towards a peace process by the Taliban, despite overtures by the Government.

The peace process was being pursued in tandem with efforts to advance inclusive and transparent governance, elections and reforms, he said.  Members of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission had briefed the delegation on the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections in 2018, including the development of an improved voter registry.  Those members had also outlined measures to address a lack of trust in the electoral management bodies through regular meetings with political parties and civil society.  Council members had reiterated the need to hold elections in 2018 that were transparent, timely, inclusive and impartial to ensure the credibility of the Government, rebuild people’s trust in their institutions and prevent further destabilization.

International assistance remained essential for peace and reconciliation, he noted.  The Kabul process had foreseen a transition to greater Afghan responsibility and ownership in both security and civilian areas, he underscored, but that did not mean that the country did not need more support from the international community.  Council members had also heard about the importance of continuing support to Afghanistan, through extending support to counter‑terrorism or through development assistance to the reconstruction process.  Afghanistan should lead those processes and have the central role to coordinate aid.

He highlighted that peace and stability could be intensified through economic integration and connectivity with the region.  While the Government had emphasized the importance of development assistance in promoting the country’s stability, discussions revealed a preference for a new paradigm, based not just on aid but also on increasing investment opportunities for trade, infrastructure, energy exchanges, market solutions and connectivity.  Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and ministers had emphasized the investment possibilities of the country and how the independence of markets and transportation roads between States could create incentives for peace and development in the region.

The meeting began at 9:37 a.m. and ended at 9:50 a.m.


*     The 8157th Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.