Security Council Adopts Resolution 2405 (2018), Extends Mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan amid Calls for Women’s Empowerment

SC/13240
8 March 2018
8199th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Adopts Resolution 2405 (2018), Extends Mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan amid Calls for Women’s Empowerment

Permanent Representative Calls for Debate on Regional State Sponsors of Terrorism

The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) ahead of a debate during which speakers — on International Women’s Day — placed women’s vital role front and centre in achieving a sustainable peace and security after years of conflict.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2405 (2018), the Council extended through 17 March 2019 the Mission’s mandate in support of Afghanistan’s full assumption of leadership and ownership of its security, governance and development.  It welcomed the findings of a strategic review of UNAMA’s mandated tasks, priorities and related resources, and called for implementation of the Secretary‑General’s recommendations in that regard.

By the 12‑page text, it was decided that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General would coordinate international civilian efforts, in full cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan.  They would focus in particular on supporting the Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace process, and preparations for both parliamentary and district council elections in 2018, and presidential elections in 2019.

The Council called on regional and international partners to support the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation initiated in June 2017, working towards early and direct talks between the Government and authorized representatives of Taliban groups.  It reiterated concern over attacks by the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al‑Qaida and affiliates of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), and called on all States to strengthen their security cooperation.

The debate featured presentations by two prominent Afghan women and by Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA.  It also followed last week’s proposal by Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to begin talks with the Taliban without preconditions.

Habibi Sarabi, Deputy Chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, said there were two indicators that the lives of Afghan women had changed over the last 17 years:  the tireless efforts of women themselves, and the country’s Constitution, which enabled women to become engaged in political and social issues.  The Taliban would be recognized as a political party so long as it obeyed the rule of law and respected women’s rights.

Mariam Safi, Executive Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies, cautioned that the hope of a brighter future was beginning to fade.  Safe zones had become battlefields, and for the first time, young single women comprised a significant number of refugees.  “For Afghan women, it is imperative for the State to define the type of peace that would ensue from negotiations,” she said, stressing that they believed their rights to be intricately linked to the peace process outcomes.  She urged the Council to persuade Pakistan to curb terrorism and support an intra‑Afghan dialogue.

Mr. Yamamoto said the second conference of the Kabul Process, on 28 February, had endorsed a call for direct talks between the Government and the Taliban.  It was up to the Taliban to respond, he said, adding that a prolonged impasse over the governorship of Balkh Province should be swiftly resolved through negotiations.  With more than 1,200 women killed or injured last year, he voiced particular concern over an increase in civilian casualties by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Khorasan Province, which had expanded its geographical spread from eastern Afghanistan into the north.

In the ensuing debate, Afghanistan’s representative said regional sponsors of terrorism had unleashed a new wave of attacks, and he asked when the perpetrators, organizers and financiers would be held accountable, given the evidence against them.  More than 10,000 civilians had been killed per year since 2014, mainly by terrorist attacks plotted outside Afghanistan’s borders.

“The time has come that we openly debate the regional State sponsorship of terror outfits exported to our country and let the world know more of its behaviour,” he said.  The Kabul Process was not just about outreach to the Taliban, but rather ending the conflict and preserving democratic order.  “We look to international partners, this Council included, to remain beside us in this endeavour.”

Pakistan’s delegate said the President of Afghanistan had made a dignified proposal for talks with the Taliban.  Her country would play its part in fostering a dignified peace process, while the Taliban must renounce violence and join the talks.  She added that Pakistan had delayed sending back refugees to Afghanistan on compassionate grounds, and that she stood with her “sisters in Afghanistan” in support of their rights and liberty.

On that point, Iran’s delegate said his country hosted millions of Afghan refugees and had provided education to nearly 400,000 undocumented Afghan students in 2018 alone.  He advocated efforts to strengthen regional economic cooperation, notably by facilitating regional connectivity, trade and transit.

The representative of Kazakhstan said the idea of starting negotiations with the Taliban must be carefully studied.  It was essential to consider the Taliban a political party, alongside a ceasefire, confidence‑building measures, relevant Constitutional amendments and the release of certain Taliban members from prison.

And yet, said the United States delegate, the Taliban must explain how it would fit into a changing society.  While the Afghan people were ready for peace, they would not return to the oppression of late 1990s.

Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, China, Peru, Ethiopia, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Kuwait, France, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Canada, India and Belgium, as well as the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1:51 p.m.

Briefings

TADAMICHI YAMAMOTO, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Afghanistan, introduced the Secretary‑General’s latest report (document A/72/768‑S/2018/165).  Noting that today was International Women’s Day, and recalling the Council’s recent visit to Kabul, he said all participants at last week’s second conference of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation had endorsed the call for direct talks between the Government and the Taliban.  President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani had offered peace without preconditions to the Taliban and it was now up to that group to present an offer of its own.  It was gratifying that the President had stressed that women would be included in all stages of peace negotiations.  Emphasizing that Afghan political leaders must place the national interest first, he said a prolonged impasse over the governorship of Balkh Province should be swiftly resolved through negotiations.  It must not undermine the authority of the National Unity Government nor hinder the delivery of key Government functions, he said.

Upcoming elections in Afghanistan would be an opportunity to ensure that unity and stability prevailed, with all groups represented, he said.  The Independent Election Commission was carrying out electoral preparations, but its Chairperson had acknowledged that voting might be delayed to later this year.  Afghans must understand the importance of casting their votes even if they had serious concerns about the electoral system, he said, adding that the United Nations was working with the Commission to ensure women’s participation as candidates, campaigners and voters.  He drew attention to a new penal code that had gone into effect on 14 February, saying it reinforced Afghanistan’s compliance with international human rights and criminal justice standards.  An amendment would give Afghan women legal protection against violence.  Emphasizing that women had been disproportionately affected by the conflict, with more than 1,200 killed or injured last year, he voiced particular concern over an increase in civilian casualties caused by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in the Khorasan Province, which had expanded its geographical spread from eastern Afghanistan into the north.

Turning to the question of refugees and displaced persons, he said 1.5 million people had come back to Afghanistan in 2016 and 2017, straining the Government’s ability to provide services.  Assurances that returnees would have access to land, housing and basic services had not been realized.  That gap must be addressed before encouraging more refugees to return, he said, underscoring the likelihood that hundreds of thousands of Afghans would return from Pakistan alone this year.  He described the start of construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline as a success for regional cooperation and integration that would significantly enhance Afghanistan’s economic self‑reliance.  Turning to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), he said its important tasks this year would include peace efforts, upcoming elections, human rights, anti‑corruption reforms and the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan that the United Nations would host with the Government in Geneva on 28 November.

HABIBI SARABI, Deputy Chairperson of the High Peace Council, said she was hopeful that the Council had gained a clear picture of the situation in Afghanistan from its visit to Kabul, paving the way for new opportunities to express support for the people of that country, especially women.  There were two indicators that had changed the lives of women in Afghanistan over the last 17 years:  the tireless efforts of women themselves, and the country’s Constitution, which included exceptional articles that enabled women to become engaged in political and social issues.  Afghanistan also had joined the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2003.

Today, she said, Afghanistan was considered rich with national policies and international commitments in the support of women’s empowerment.  Its Constitution guaranteed equal rights for women and men before the law, while the role of women in decision‑making positions the central and provincial levels was remarkable, especially their presence in the Cabinet, ministries, Parliament and Senate.  In Government leadership, there were 3 female ministers and 11 female deputy ministers, as well as a significant number of women in middle management.  Further, women were represented at all levels of the High Peace Council, a body that had always respected the idea that peace without women’s meaningful participation was impossible.

In the second Kabul Process, the Government had shared a road map for peace, she said, and the President had offered to talk with the Taliban without preconditions.  The Taliban would be recognized as a political party in the structure of the Government if it obeyed the rule of law and respected women’s rights.

MARIAM SAFI, Executive Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies, highlighted current trends, ground conditions and issues related to the peace process.  While great progress had been made since 2001, with a vibrant generational youth, women’s representation and a promising democratic system of governance, the hope of a brighter future was beginning to fade.  In an ever more complicated theatre of conflict, safe zones had become battlefields, with the Taliban, along with its Haqqani Network, and ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates targeting civilians.  It was extremely alarming that 1,224 women had been killed in 2017, compared to 285 in 2009, she said, imploring the Council and the international community to ensure that transitional justice was not compromised in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation.

Security challenges were not the only cause of despair, she said, emphasizing that for the first time, young single women comprised a significant number of refugees.  While Afghans had long agreed on the need for peace, differences persisted on the best way forward, including how the rights of women would be protected and how their participation would be guaranteed in the implementation and monitoring of a peace agreement.  “For Afghan women, it is imperative for the State to define the type of peace that would ensue from negotiations,” she said, adding that Afghan women believed the future of their rights to be intricately linked to the outcomes of the peace process.

The time had come to expand the role of Afghan women from mere presence to active engagement, consultation and inclusion, she said.  Any changes to the Constitution resulting from a peace agreement with the Taliban must not erode the rights and freedoms of Afghan citizens.  The Council must closely monitor any such amendments and ensure that the Taliban implemented confidence‑building measures.  Emphasizing that an Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace process would not in itself halt terrorism, she said that almost all rural women — when asked to identify obstacles to peace — had highlighted regional interference.  “The Security Council and the international community must persuade Pakistan to engage constructively in all efforts to curb the threat of terrorism and support an intra‑Afghan dialogue for peace,” she said, asking international partners “to stand beside us, not behind us”.

Statements

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said increased international support over the past three months had raised the pressure on terrorist groups.  Governance reform and economic development had continued alongside a national dialogue on peace efforts and elections.  Thanking the international community for its support, including a Security Council visit to Kabul in January, he welcomed recent counter‑terrorism efforts.  However, regional sponsors of terrorism had unleashed a new wave of attack, he said, asking when perpetrators, organizers and financiers would be held accountable, given evidence linking the acts to regional sponsors.

Turning to the peace process, he highlighted achievements.  In addition to Afghanistan convening the second conference of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation, President Ghani had reached out to the Taliban in an unprecedented manner, calling for direct talks without preconditions.  The time was now for the Taliban to respond affirmatively and seize the historical opportunity before them.  As for the conference, which had renewed the call for counter‑terrorism measures, he expressed hope that States failing in that endeavour would adopt a new approach.

In that vein, he said for too long the debate on State‑sponsored terrorism had been kept away from international forums.  Regional State sponsors of terrorist groups exported to Afghanistan had pursued new methods of denial and belligerence by playing reverse psychology and attempting to distort narratives.  Irrefutable evidence of complicity in facilitating the establishment of safe havens and logistical support had been addressed with counter‑narratives, accusing Afghanistan of providing safe havens to terrorists.  Exploiting the democratic political dynamics of Afghanistan, they had attempted to sow discord among the Afghan people, victimize refugees by unfairly linking them to terrorism and portray their orchestrated terror attacks as “civil war”.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 civilian casualties yearly since 2014 had been mainly caused by terrorist attacks plotted outside Afghanistan’s borders, he said.  State sponsors of terrorist groups abused and manipulated friendships in international relations by concealing evidence of their sponsorship of terrorism, obfuscating facts and distorting narratives at regional and global forums.

“The time has come that we openly debate the regional State sponsorship of terror outfits exported to our country and let the world know more of its behaviour,” he said, adding that the Kabul Process was not just about outreach to the Taliban, but rather ending the conflict, achieving peace and preserving democratic order.  The Taliban should not be permitted to misuse the opportunity at hand, as they had done in the past.  While grappling with security challenges, Afghanistan was working to achieve important objectives, as stipulated in the agreement that had founded the National Unity Government, and he reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to empower their role in all facets of society.

Against all odds, he said, Afghanistan had progressed steadily on the path of economic cooperation, increased regional connectivity and shared prosperity.  Welcoming support from partners, including UNAMA, he said priorities ahead included combating the illicit network of narcotics, money‑laundering and terrorism financing.  On the repatriation of refugees, Afghanistan was working with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and he called for continued support for the joint humanitarian response plan for 2018 to 2021, requiring $437 million for 2018 to assist 2.8 million people.

The new spring season, with Nowruz to be observed on 21 March, was one of hope, determination and confidence, he said.  “We have taken a historic step for the restoration of a durable peace,” he said.  “We look to international partners, this Council included, to remain beside us in this endeavour.”

SIGRID KAAG, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Council President for March, spoke in her national capacity to stress that without women, peace did not stand a chance.  Recalling the Council’s support for resolution 1325 (2000) and Afghanistan’s progress in empowering women, she said the international community must continue to address the needs of Afghan women.  While Afghanistan had achieved much since the fall of the Taliban regime, many reforms were vulnerable, fragile and by no means irreversible.  High levels of violent attacks, poverty, corruption, discrimination and lack of opportunities for young people persisted.  Peace could only be built through inclusive Afghan‑led negotiations, she said, citing the Government’s gesture at the Kabul conference as a step in the right direction.  The international community should support the peace talks, with regional partners and donors playing their constructive roles.  Following impressive progress in Afghanistan since 2001, she expressed confidence that the Council would continue to support Afghan‑led efforts to achieve peace, harness stability and reinforce development.

ANNIKA SÖDER (Sweden) said that despite gains in empowering women, more must be done, particularly at the current critical moment ahead of the elections.  “We expect the Government and electoral management bodies to take all necessary steps to develop and implement gender‑sensitive security and electoral plans,” she said.  As the Government realized its vision for peace, she called on the Taliban to engage in dialogue on the road map.  Efforts that would make a real difference for Afghan women included providing safe access to health care and education, investments to protect their rights, ending violence against them and ensuring their presence across the whole of society.  “Afghanistan does not lack strong female leaders,” she said.  “Yet, they are not often enough at the table when decisions about peace and security are being made.  This must change.”  Welcoming the UNAMA mandate renewal, she said that must now be backed up with sustainable resources and the Council’s support.  “After years of conflict and violence, Afghanistan has reached yet another milestone,” she said.  “Elections are around the corner and the outlines of a path to peace are on the table.  The potential for peace must be fully realized with the meaningful participation of Afghan women.”

RUTH ANDREYEVA (United Kingdom) said women had a vital role to play in securing Afghanistan’s future, as the country would not achieve peace with only half its population.  The United Nations should maintain a strong role in promoting and protecting the rights of Afghan women, as ensuring equal access to justice for all was essential for peace and stability.  UNAMA played an essential role in bolstering the country’s recovery from conflict.  Its presence — and resourcefulness in supporting the Afghan people — was a strong signal of the international community’s commitment.  Implementing the findings of the strategic review and the Secretary‑General’s report would allow UNAMA to adapt as circumstances changed, a point reflected in today’s resolution.

ZHAOXU MA (China) said peace and stability in Afghanistan had a bearing on the people of that country as well as the region, stressing that the international community should continue to provide support as a way of responding to the economic and security challenges.  He expressed support for an Afghan‑led and ‑owned peace process, and for the Government to unveil its reconciliation plan as soon as possible, in order to reach an agreement with armed rebel groups, notably the Taliban.  Having participated in the Kabul Process in February, China would continue to work towards the goal of peace in Afghanistan, he said.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that during its visit to Afghanistan in January, the Council had seen the praiseworthy efforts of the Government and women’s organizations in promoting peace and security.  Ongoing terrorist violence must be condemned, he said, adding that the Taliban and others must be held accountable for their crimes.  Efforts to tackle corruption and illicit drug trafficking, which benefited terrorist groups, must be strengthened.  Given the worsening security situation, stability was essential for advancing national reconciliation and holding elections in 2018 and 2019, he said, stressing the need for greater political participation among women and young people.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), echoing concerns that women and children paid the highest price for Afghanistan’s crisis, took note of Government efforts to improve their plight.  While the country’s long‑term stability could only be ensured through an inclusive Afghan‑led and -owned reconciliation and political process, including talks with the Taliban, the support of regional and international stakeholders was essential for the success of those processes.  Expressing concern about tensions between the Presidential Palace and the Jamiat‑e‑Islami party, and hopes that they would be quickly resolved, she said the holding of peaceful and democratic parliamentary and district council elections within the set timeframe was critical.  Afghanistan’s peace and security challenges would not be addressed without sustained and inclusive economic growth and development, meaning that the Government required coordinated and comprehensive international support to push forward the political reform and development priorities outlined in the National Peace and Development Framework.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) welcomed the Kabul Process as a way to bring stakeholders together — including the European Union and the United Nations — and catalyse efforts towards a peaceful and prompt settlement of the crisis.  She urged the Government to consult with the High Peace Council and put in place clear procedures on how to engage and include women in peace negotiations with the Taliban, among other actors.  Women were most affected by the Taliban’s presence, with girls’ exclusion from schools and warnings to women not to leave their homes often emerging as the first threats to their rights.  However, women frequently had the best access to critical information on the ground, could help de‑escalate tensions and were often able to detect early signs of radicalization.  Yet, there were many challenges to women’s engagement in Government.  No woman had a single seat on the National Security Council, and more work was needed to increase women’s leadership in the security sector.  She voiced concern about additional challenges to Afghanistan’s protection of civilians and the recent increase in its production and trafficking of illicit drugs.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) said terrorist attacks since the start of this year were a reminder that the Council must focus on Afghanistan.  Welcoming the second meeting of the Kabul Process, he said the olive branch offered by the President of Afghanistan to the Taliban was a decisive step that could lead to a truly inclusive peace process.  Paying tribute to Afghan women’s contribution to reconciliation, he called on the international community and the Council to provide Afghan women with the means to bolster their role in society and participation in regional and international peace efforts.

AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States) commended Afghan leaders for their courageous stance during the Kabul Process conference.  The onus now was on the Taliban to demonstrate it was ready to talk, she said, emphasizing that the only way to end the conflict was through negotiations.  The Afghan people were ready for peace.  They would not return to the oppression of late 1990s, and the Taliban must explain how it would fit into a changing society.  Groups and countries providing weapons and other support to the Taliban were only prolonging the conflict.  During the Council’s visit to Kabul, the United States delegation had been encouraged by discussions with Afghan officials on the status of women, she said, expressing support for the conduct of timely, credible and transparent elections.  Only the Afghan people could choose who would represent them.

AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea), calling 8 March an important day for all women, said her country recognized UNAMA’s crucial role in promoting peace, monitoring human rights and helping to promote inclusion during the electoral processes.  While the report stated that the number of civilians who had lost their lives had dropped compared to 2016, she nonetheless expressed dismay over the numbers of civilian deaths in 2017 and 2018.  It was extremely concerning that the proportion of women who had died or been injured was increasing.  Attacks on public places were particularly worrisome, and she called on all parties to take all measures necessary to protect civilians, particularly women and children.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) expressed concern over the complex security situation in Afghanistan, a point confirmed by the Council’s January visit to Kabul.  Terrorist groups had shown no sign of slowing down, he said, noting that ISIL (Da’esh) jihadists were converting Afghanistan’s north into a platform for expansion into Central Asia.  The group had set up fighter training camps, where citizens of Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation had received instruction.  Decisive measures were needed to root out terrorists from the north.  He voiced support for the extension of UNAMA’s mandate, given the importance of its presence, but warned that it could not become a panacea for all of Afghanistan’s problems.  He expressed regret that his country’s concerns about the role of ISIL (Da’esh) had been disregarded during negotiations of the resolution, stressing that attempts to minimize that issue might have disastrous consequences.

CARLA C. CARDONA MOSCOSO (Bolivia) said the efforts made by women in conflict situations must be recognized constantly through actions which empowered them.  The inclusion of Afghan women in all areas was important for achieving peace, stability and development.  Expressing deep concern over violent incidents in Afghanistan since the start of the year, and firmly condemning terrorist acts, she said negotiations must make progress to avoid undermining efforts towards a peaceful solution.  She went on to express Bolivia’s concern at the prolonged stagnation in the dialogue between the Government and the Jamiat‑e‑Islami political party.  She also encouraged efforts to promote regional cooperation on trade, development and infrastructure, and called on regional countries to create conditions for refugee returns.

STANISLAV VASSILENKO (Kazakhstan), welcoming Government actions to promote gender equality and women’s rights, noted his country’s education programmes for Afghan citizens.  He expressed concern over violence against Afghan women and a growing number of deaths resulting from both terrorist attacks and military air strikes.  He welcomed UNAMA’s solutions aimed at reducing civilian casualties and improving living standards and called on all countries to implement recommendations in that regard.  Citing Kazakhstan’s participation in the second Kabul Process conference, he said the idea of starting negotiations with the Taliban must be carefully studied.  It was essential to consider the Taliban a political party, alongside a ceasefire, confidence‑building measures, relevant Constitutional amendments and the release of certain Taliban members from prison.  He called for a regional approach to address cross‑border challenges and greater coordination in the Organization’s work during a time of budget cuts.  Concluding, he cited a Kazakh proverb:  “Women rock the cradle with one hand and run the world the other.”

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) welcomed the extension of UNAMA’s mandate, noting that for more than four centuries, Afghanistan had suffered from political instability.  Such conditions required all political leaders to prioritize national interests over partisan concerns.  The Council must continue to support the political process and encourage the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections on time.  He welcomed progress made by the Independent Election Committee towards holding elections next July, despite recent unrest.  He voiced support for the Secretary‑General’s appeal to lower threats in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) noted the fragile security situation in Afghanistan, condemning recent terrorist attacks targeting civilians, particularly women and children.  As the Secretary‑General had pointed out, violence had increased due to the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban and growing presence of ISIL (Da’esh).  She called on all parties to protect civilians and welcomed efforts by the Afghanistan authorities in that regard, stressing that women died from terrorist violence and were subjected to other forms of abuse.  Welcoming the plan to prohibit childhood marriage, she called for an end to that unfortunate practice.  Advances had been made in the peace process by Afghans themselves, she said, calling the President’s proposal for unconditional peace talks with the Taliban a positive development.

JULIE BISHOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, called on the international community to stand with the Afghan people in their efforts to defeat terrorism and pursue peaceful development, stressing that the struggle against extremist ideologies was an existential one for many communities in that country.  “There is no place in our world for a doctrine that defines women and girls as second‑class citizens,” she stressed, noting that Australia would maintain its 300‑strong commitment to the NATO‑led Resolute Support Mission; train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces; and continue its annual $100 million commitment to such activities.  Recalling that Australia had recently listed Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant‑Khorasan Province for counter‑terrorism targeted financial sanctions, and citing some advances in lifting the Afghan people out of poverty, she said more work was needed.  In that regard, she announced a new $60 million humanitarian support package for Afghan refugees, displaced persons and their host communities in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

KERSTIN PÜRSCHEL (Germany), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed President Ghani’s offer to enter talks with the Taliban without preconditions as a critical step towards a sustainable peace “without losers”.  It was now up to the latter to respond.  Deploring that 2017 had seen the highest number of security incidents ever recorded in the country, she said Germany intended to increase the number of troops to the Resolute Support Mission to 1,300 soldiers — making it the second‑largest contributor after the United States — tasked with training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.  Today’s emphasis on women, peace and security was critical, especially in the context of important reforms recently implemented by the Afghan Government, such as increasing women’s representation in civil service to 24 per cent by the end of 2018.  Equally essential would be enforcement of the law on the elimination of violence against women, as too many cases remained unheard by competent courts.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that as International Women’s Day was marked, it was time to recognize the enormous achievements of Afghan women and girls, who had strived for and contributed to their country’s prosperous, peaceful future.  Consolidating Afghanistan’s achievements over the last 16 years would require sustained international support.  He commended UNAMA’s role in coordinating the efforts of international stakeholders, stressing that Afghanistan was at yet another critical juncture, where it was critical to establish sustained peace and stability.  At the second Kabul Process meeting in February, Turkey had reiterated that lasting peace could be achieved through an Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned process.  He expressed hope that President Ghani’s call for peace negotiations without preconditions would be positively received by the Taliban.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said UNAMA played a vital role in the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.  He welcomed President Ghani’s peace offer, presented at the second Kabul Process meeting, demonstrating that authorities were determined to pursue peace through dialogue with insurgent groups.  The proposal opened a window of political opportunity for peace and reconciliation, which must be explored and pursued to its fullest potential.  S/he expressed hope that the Taliban would grasp that significance and accept the invitation to engage in sincere dialogue.  It was also essential that Afghan women played a primary and active role in promoting the rights enshrined in the Constitution and the broader gains made over the last 16 years.  He appreciated the Government’s role in that regard, which should be reflected in the road map for peace.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the Secretary‑General’s report painted a bleak picture of Afghanistan, marked by its political impasse and economic situation, as well as production and trafficking of drugs.  Such activities took place within a security environment that, in 2017, had witnessed an increase in air strikes and terrorist attacks, and the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded in that country.  The President had made a dignified proposal for talks without preconditions with the Taliban, offering an opportunity to advance a credible peace process.  The international community had endorsed the goal of a negotiated settlement through an Afghan‑led and -owned process.  Pakistan would play its part in fostering such a dignified process, she said, renewing the call for the Taliban to renounce violence and join the peace talks.  Her country also had offered hospitality to Afghan people over the past several decades, and continued to host the largest protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world.  It had delayed sending those refugees back to Afghanistan on compassionate grounds.  She said she stood with her “sisters in Afghanistan” in support of their rights and liberty, calling an assault on their rights an assault on those of women everywhere.

MICHAEL BONSER (Canada) said all parties must engage in sincere peace negotiations, particularly in the wake of a spike in violence.  Urging the Taliban and other insurgent groups to cease using violence and to engage in a negotiated peace, he commended the Government for recently convening the Kabul Process conference, and Afghanistan’s neighbours for their efforts.  Women’s inclusion in all aspects of society on equal footing to men was required to achieve a peaceful, prosperous future.  In addition, promoting and protecting human rights, with a focus on women and girls, was at the core of Canada’s engagement with Afghanistan.  Despite notable progress, the metrics on gender equality remained among the worst in the world.  For its part, Canada remained committed to advancing the rights of all Afghans by helping to improve governance systems, increasing the capacity of institutions and meeting the people’s basic needs.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) recalled that 2017 was perhaps the worst year for civilian casualties and security incidents in Afghanistan, stressing that thousands of innocent Afghan lives had been lost due to mindless violence.  He welcomed the extension of UNAMA’s mandate as an affirmation of the collective objective to support Afghans, as well as the Council’s focus on links among extremism, terrorism, drug production and illegal exploitation of natural resources in Afghanistan.  On International Women’s Day, he acknowledged that women were the worst affected by the protracted conflict in Afghanistan.  Yet, the country had come a long way since the days of the Taliban, a despotic regime that had reduced women to less than second‑class citizens.  Women in Afghanistan were no longer imprisoned in their homes, and were now making progress in all sectors.  They had achieved much, and those gains should not be lost.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said security remained the major challenge for Afghanistan.  The Government was in the forefront of fighting terrorism, in particular the Taliban, Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) and its affiliates, as well as other terrorist and extremist groups and criminals.  Sustained international support was needed to help the Government in that fight, as well as in addressing its complex security, economic and political challenges. For more than three decades, Iran had hosted millions of Afghan refugees, and had shared much needed subsidized goods and services with them, including basic commodities, public health and public education.  In 2018 alone, its schools provided education to nearly 400,000 undocumented Afghan students.  With that in mind, he advocated further efforts to strengthen regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, expressed support for the second Kabul Process meeting in February, where the Afghan Government had extended an important offer of peace to the Taliban.  Encouraging the latter to seize upon the offer and work towards a genuine peace process, she noted that the joint committee under the Cooperation Agreement for Partnership and Development had also convened its first meeting last month, establishing a formal bilateral relationship between Afghanistan and the European Union.  Respect for human rights, women’s full and equal participation, and democratic elections would be the bloc’s focus in that dialogue, she said, stressing that elections scheduled for 2018 and 2019 must ensure women’s participation as candidates, voters and staff members.  The European Union also continued to engage Afghanistan in a comprehensive dialogue on migration.  The “Joint Way Forward” would help prevent irregular migration, while establishing a rapid, effective and manageable process for the smooth, dignified and orderly return of Afghan nationals who did not fulfill conditions for entry to, presence in or residence in territory of the European Union.

KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, said her country had regularly and significantly contributed to the trust fund for Afghanistan.  It was the right moment to be talking about women, peace and security in that country, where women continued to be impacted by the conflict.  In 2017, female mortality had risen by 5 per cent compared to 2016.  Studies showed that greater participation by women led to more effective humanitarian assistance, lasting peace agreements and recovery after conflict.  There was also a direct correlation between women’s education and development, she said, stressing that the women, peace and security agenda deserved all the support that could be extended.  The upcoming election would be an ideal opportunity to increase Afghan women’s role in public life, she said.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2405 (2018) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its previous resolutions on Afghanistan, in particular its resolution 2344 (2017) extending through 17 March 2018 the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),

Stressing the important role that the United Nations will continue to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan,

Recalling its recent visit to Kabul from 13‑15 January as an affirmation of the international community’s continued and steadfast support for a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, as well as its continued support for the Government and people of Afghanistan as they rebuild their country and strengthen democratic institutions,

Stressing the central importance of a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned political process to support reconciliation for all those who are prepared to reconcile as laid forth in the Kabul Conference Communiqué and further elaborated in the Bonn Conference Conclusions, aimed at creating a peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Afghanistan and welcoming efforts to advance the peace process, including via the High Peace Council,

Emphasizing the vital role of the Kabul Process and welcoming the strategic consensus between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community on the Self‑Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework,

Welcoming the start of the fourth year of the National Unity Government and emphasizing the importance of all parties in Afghanistan working within its framework in order to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Afghanistan,

Recalling the announcement by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan that parliamentary and district council elections will take place in 2018, emphasizing the importance of accelerated progress on electoral reform in Afghanistan and towards the holding of credible and inclusive parliamentary and district council elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019, and stressing the need for continued support of UNAMA in this regard, at the request of the Afghan authorities,

Stressing the importance of a comprehensive approach to address the security, economic, governance and development challenges in Afghanistan, which are of an interconnected nature, and recognizing that there is no purely military solution to ensure the stability of Afghanistan,

Reiterating the importance of advancing regional, interregional and international cooperation, in support of building a community of shared future for mankind, to promote long‑term peace, security, prosperity, sustainable development and human rights in Afghanistan, and welcoming joint efforts to enhance dialogue and collaboration and to advance shared goals of economic development across the region,

Recognizing in this regard the positive impact and ongoing importance of international commitments made at the NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016, and as reiterated in 2017, and the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in 2016, and welcoming the announcement of the US Strategy for Afghanistan on 21 August 2017, and the European Union Strategy on Afghanistan adopted on 16 October 2017 as important developments in the context of continued international support for security, development and stability in Afghanistan,

Welcoming the contribution of the International Contact Group to the United Nations efforts in coordinating and broadening international support for Afghanistan,

Taking note of the Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on November 14‑15 2017 and the Heart of Asia‑Istanbul Process Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on 1 December 2017,

Underlining the importance of operationally capable, professional, inclusive and sustainable Afghan National Defence and Security Forces for meeting Afghanistan’s security needs, stressing the commitment of the international community to support their further development, and commending the resiliency, progress and exceptional courage displayed by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces as well as their leading role in securing their country and fighting against international terrorism, and welcoming in this regard ongoing commitments to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of Afghan national security institutions,

Expressing its deep concern about the continuous high level of violence in Afghanistan, especially the number of civilian casualties, condemning in the strongest terms all terrorist activity and all violent attacks, reiterating that attacks deliberately targeting civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes, and calling for compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable,

Recognizing the continuously alarming threats posed by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as by Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups and illegal armed groups, as well as the challenges related to the efforts to address such threats, and expressing its serious concern over the harmful consequences of violent and terrorist activities by all the above‑mentioned groups on the capacity of the Afghan Government to guarantee the rule of law, to provide security and basic services to the Afghan people, and to ensure the improvement and protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Expressing concern with the serious threat that anti‑personnel mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices pose to the civilian population, and noting the need to enhance coordination and information‑sharing, both between Member States and with the private sector,

Expressing serious concern at the presence and growth of ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates activity in Afghanistan, posing serious threats to the security of Afghanistan and the countries of the region, including in Central Asia, and affirming its support to the efforts by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to combat them as well as assistance by Afghanistan’s international partners in this regard,

Reaffirming that all parties to armed conflict must take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians, especially women, children and displaced persons, including from sexual and gender‑based violence, and that perpetrators of such violence must be held accountable,

Noting the ongoing work of the Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1988 (2011) and the continuation of the cooperation of the Afghan Government, the High Peace Council and UNAMA with the Committee, including its Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, and expressing its concern over the increasing cooperation of the Taliban with other organizations involved in criminal activities,

Expressing its deep concern about the continued high level of civilian casualties, as noted in the February 2018 UNAMA report on Protection of Civilians in armed conflict, and condemning the suicide attacks, often in civilian‑populated areas, and the targeted and deliberate killings, in particular of women and girls, including high‑level women officials and those promoting women’s rights, as well as journalists,

Expressing its deep concern about the significant increase in the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, as reflected in the Afghanistan Opium Survey published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 15 November 2017, encouraging the government of Afghanistan, supported by the international community and regional partners, to intensify efforts to address drug production and trafficking in a balanced and integrated approach, in accordance with the principle of common and shared responsibility in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan, and recognizing the important role played by UNODC in this regard,

Reaffirming that gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment, education, human rights and full participation and engagement in all levels of decision‑making are critical to efforts to maintain peace and security in Afghanistan, urging the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), and emphasizing the need for protection for women’s rights activists,

Expressing serious concern over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and supporting the Afghan Government’s essential role in the provision of humanitarian assistance to its citizens in coordination with efficient and effective delivery by United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, consistent with a “One UN” approach,

“1.   Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 27 February 2018 (document S/2018/165);

“2.   Expresses its appreciation for the United Nations’ long‑term commitment, including throughout the Transformation Decade, to support the Government and the people of Afghanistan and reiterates its full support to the work of UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, and stresses the need to ensure continued adequate resourcing for UNAMA to fulfil its mandate;

“3.   Welcomes the findings of the strategic review of the mandated tasks, priorities and related resources of UNAMA, and calls for the implementation of the recommendations of the Secretary‑General, including with a view to aligning the mission’s substantive functions in support of peace efforts with the Secretary‑General's emphasis on integrating conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding into the three pillars of the work of the United Nations within Afghanistan, including in support of an intra‑Afghan dialogue leading to a stable and inclusive political environment;

“4.   Decides to extend until 17 March 2019 the mandate of UNAMA, as defined in its resolutions 1662 (2006), 1746 (2007), 1806 (2008), 1868 (2009), 1917 (2010), 1974 (2011), 2041 (2012), 2096 (2013), 2145 (2014), 2210 (2015), 2274 (2016), 2344 (2017) and paragraphs 6 and 7 below;

“5.   Recognizes that the renewed mandate of UNAMA is in support of Afghanistan’s full assumption of leadership and ownership in the security, governance and development areas, consistent with the Transformation Decade (2015‑2024) and with the understandings reached between Afghanistan and the international community in the international conferences in Kabul (2010), London (2010 and 2014), Bonn (2011), Tokyo (2012) and Brussels (2016), and the NATO Summits held in Lisbon (2010), Chicago (2012), Wales (2014), Warsaw (2016) and Brussels (2017);

“6.   Decides further that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, within their mandate and in a manner consistent with Afghan sovereignty, leadership and ownership, will continue to lead and coordinate the international civilian efforts, in full cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan and in accordance with the London, Kabul, Tokyo and Brussels Conferences Communiqués and the Bonn Conference Conclusions, with a particular focus on the priorities laid out below:

(a)   provide outreach as well as good offices to support, if requested by and in close consultation with the Government of Afghanistan, the Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace process, including through support to the High Peace Council and its activities and proposing and supporting confidence‑building measures also in close consultation with the Government of Afghanistan within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and with full respect for the implementation of measures and application of the procedures introduced by the Security Council in its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1988 (2011), 1989 (2011), 2082 (2012), 2083 (2012) and 2255 (2015) as well as other relevant resolutions of the Council;

(b)   support, at the request of the Afghan authorities, the organization of future Afghan elections, including the parliamentary and district council elections as foreseen for 2018 and the presidential elections in 2019, as well as to strengthen, in support of the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts, including electoral reform efforts, the sustainability, integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral process, as agreed at the London, Kabul, Bonn, Tokyo and Brussels Conferences and the Chicago Summit; and provide capacity‑building and technical assistance to the Afghan institutions involved in this process in close consultation and coordination with the Government of Afghanistan;

(c)   promote, as co‑Chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, more coherent support by the international community to the Afghan Government’s development and governance priorities, including through supporting the ongoing development and sequencing of the Government’s reform agenda, mobilization of resources, coordination of international donors and organizations as facilitator and co‑convener of development policy fora, including in developing and monitoring frameworks of mutual accountability, promoting coherent information sharing and analysis, design and delivery of development assistance in a manner consistent with Afghan sovereignty, leadership and ownership, and direction of the contributions of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, based on the “One UN” approach, in particular for counter‑narcotics, reconstruction and development activities; at the same time, coordinate also in a manner consistent with the Afghan leadership, ownership and sovereignty, international partners for follow‑up, in particular through information‑sharing, prioritize efforts to increase the proportion of development aid delivered through the Afghan Government, in line with the commitments made at the Kabul and Tokyo Conferences, and support efforts to increase the mutual accountability and transparency, and the effectiveness of aid use in line with the commitments made at the Kabul, Tokyo and Brussels Conferences, including cost‑effectiveness in this regard;

(d)   support regional cooperation, with a view to assisting Afghanistan utilize its role at the Heart of Asia to promote regional cooperation, and to work towards a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, building on the achievements made;

(e)   continue, with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to cooperate with and strengthen the capacity of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, to cooperate also with the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non‑governmental organizations to monitor the situation of civilians, to coordinate efforts to ensure their protection, to monitor places of detention, to promote accountability and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

(f)   closely coordinate and cooperate, where relevant, with the non‑combat Resolute Support Mission agreed upon between NATO and Afghanistan, as well as with the NATO Senior Civilian Representative;

“7.   Calls on UNAMA and the Special Representative to further increase efforts to achieve greater coherence, coordination and efficiency among relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in Afghanistan based on a “One UN” approach in close cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan with a view to maximizing their collective effectiveness in full alignment with the Government of Afghanistan’s reform agenda, and continue to lead, in a manner fully consistent with the Afghan leadership, ownership and sovereignty, international civilian efforts aimed at reinforcing the role of Afghan institutions to perform their responsibilities, with an increased focus on capacity‑building in key areas identified by the Afghan Government, with a view, in all UN programmes and activities, to move towards a national implementation model with a clear action‑oriented strategy for mutually agreed condition‑based transition to Afghan leadership and ownership including making greater use of country systems, in the following priority areas:

(a)   support through an appropriate UNAMA presence, to be determined in full consultation and cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, and in support of the Afghan Government’s efforts, implementation of the Kabul Process throughout the country, including through enhanced cooperation with UNODC, in line with the Government’s policies;

(b)   support the efforts of the Afghan Government in fulfilling its commitments as stated at the London, Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo Conferences, to improve governance and the rule of law including transitional justice, budget execution and the fight against corruption, throughout the country in accordance with the Kabul Process and the Self‑Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework, with a view to helping bring the benefits of peace and the delivery of services in a timely and sustainable manner;

(c)   coordinate and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including in support of the Afghan Government and in accordance with humanitarian principles, with a view to reinforcing the Government’s capacity, including by providing effective support to national and local authorities in assisting and protecting internally displaced persons and to creating conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees from neighbouring and other countries and internally displaced persons, with a particular focus on development solutions in areas of high returns;

“8.   Calls upon all Afghan and international parties to coordinate with UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate and in efforts to promote the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel throughout the country;

“9.   Stresses the critical importance of a continued and appropriate presence of UNAMA and other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the provinces, based on a “One UN” approach and in close consultation and coordination with and in support of the priorities of the Afghan Government, in response to needs and with a view to security and including the objective of overall United Nations effectiveness;

“10.  Welcomes the continuing efforts of the Afghan Government to advance the peace process, including by the High Peace Council and the provincial peace committees, and the implementation of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, to promote an inclusive, Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned dialogue on reconciliation and political participation, including the effective and meaningful participation of women and women’s rights groups, as laid forth in the Kabul Conference Communiqué on dialogue for all those who as part of an outcome of such a process renounce violence, have no links to international terrorist organizations, respect the Constitution and are willing to join in building a peaceful Afghanistan, and as further elaborated in the principles and outcomes of the Bonn Conference Conclusions, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan to make use of UNAMA’s good offices to support this process as appropriate, in full respect of the implementation of measures and procedures introduced by the relevant Security Council resolutions;

“11.  Stresses the role of UNAMA in supporting, if requested by and in close consultation with the Government of Afghanistan, an inclusive Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace process, while continuing to assess, including in collaboration with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the impact of the aforementioned peace process, with reference to the relevant parameters set out in the Kabul Conference Communiqué and the Bonn Conference Conclusions, and encourages the international community to assist the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan in this regard;

“12.  Calls on all regional and international partners of Afghanistan to continue efforts to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, through the Kabul Process for Peace and Security, initiated on 6 June 2017 in Kabul under the leadership of the Government of Afghanistan, working toward holding early, direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and authorized representatives of Taliban groups, and welcomes ongoing international efforts to advance peace and stability in Afghanistan;

“13.  Welcomes the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Peace and Reconciliation presented by the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, calls for its effective implementation, emphasizes that the peace agreement signed between the Government of Afghanistan and the High Peace Council with Hizb‑i Islami of 29 September 2016 is an important development in the Government’s overall peace efforts and calls for its effective implementation;

“14.  Underscores the importance of a sustainable democratic development in Afghanistan based on inclusive, transparent and credible elections, welcomes in that regard the forthcoming organization of parliamentary and district council elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019 in line with the relevant international conferences and the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan to deliver further improvements to the electoral process and emphasizes the importance of accelerated progress in this regard, and requests that, upon the request of the Government of Afghanistan, UNAMA provides assistance to the relevant Afghan institutions to support the integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral process, including measures to enable the full and safe participation of women, both as voters and candidates;

“15.  Welcomes the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework setting out the strategic policy priorities of Afghanistan towards achieving self‑reliance and the presentation of five new national priority programs, on a citizens’ charter, women’s economic empowerment, urban development, comprehensive agriculture and national infrastructure, to improve the conditions for advancing sustainable development and stability, and welcomes the international community’s long‑term support for Afghanistan on the basis of mutual accountability as stated in the Self‑Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework, and underlines the crucial importance of continued and sequenced implementation of the reform agenda, national priority programs and the development and governance goals as agreed in the Self‑Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework;

“16.  Calls on international donors and organizations and the Afghan Government to adhere to their commitments made at the Kabul, Bonn, Tokyo, London and Brussels Conferences;

“17.  Calls on the United Nations, as well as the broader international community, to continue to support the Government of Afghanistan’s reform agenda;

“18.  Reaffirms the central role played by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, in a manner consistent with Afghan leadership, ownership and sovereignty, in facilitating the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Government of Afghanistan’s reform agenda, and calls upon all relevant actors to enhance their cooperation with the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in this regard;

“19.  Reiterates the importance of increasing, in a comprehensive framework, the functionality, professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector in line with resolution 1325 (2000) and its successor resolutions on women, peace and security, including 2242 (2015), through appropriate vetting procedures, women’s equal and effective participation and full involvement in all stages of the security sector reform process, and training, including on women’s and children’s rights and their protection, in support of the implementation of Afghanistan’s 1325 National Action Plan, and stresses the importance of the commitment by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to ensure a capable, professional and sustainable Afghan National Defence and Security Forces;

“20.  Welcomes in this context the continued progress in the development of the Afghan National Army and its improved ability to plan and undertake operations, and encourages sustained training efforts and assistance, including through the contribution of trainers, resources, advisory teams, advice in developing a sustainable defence planning process, and assistance in defence reform initiatives;

“21.  Welcomes the ongoing efforts of the Afghan authorities to enhance the capabilities of the Afghan National Police, calls for further efforts towards that goal, including the commitment by the Ministry of Interior and the Afghan National Police to develop an effective strategy for coordinating increased recruitment, retention, training and capacity development for women in the Afghan National Police, fully implement Afghanistan’s 1325 National Action Plan, and further the implementation of their gender integration strategy, stresses the importance of international assistance through financial support and provision of trainers and mentors, and notes the importance of a sufficient and capable police force for Afghanistan’s long‑term security;

“22.  Reiterates its concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, in particular the ongoing region‑based violence and attacks by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as by Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and foreign terrorist fighters, and calls upon all States in this regard to strengthen their international and regional security cooperation to enhance information‑sharing, border control, law enforcement and criminal justice to better counter the threat posed, including from returning foreign terrorist fighters;

“23.  Condemns in the strongest terms all attacks, including improvised explosive device attacks, suicide attacks, assassinations and abductions, targeting civilians and Afghan and international forces and their deleterious effect on the stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan, and condemns further the use by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network as well as Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates, and by other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, and illegal armed groups of civilians as human shields, and underlines the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such acts accountable and bring them to justice, and urges all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard;

“24.  Strongly condemns the continued flow of weapons, including small arms and light weapons, military equipment and improvised explosive device components to the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as by Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups and criminals, and encourages Member States to share information, establish partnerships and develop national strategies and capabilities to counter improvised explosive devices;

“25.  Further condemns in the strongest terms all acts of violence against diplomatic and consular officials and other representatives of the international community in Afghanistan;

“26.  Strongly condemns the continued attacks against humanitarian and development workers, and urges all parties to the conflict to comply fully with international humanitarian law, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to ensure the safe, rapid, and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel, as well as the delivery of supplies and equipment, in order to allow such personnel to efficiently perform their task of assisting affected civilian populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons;

“27.  Reiterates that all parties to armed conflict must comply fully with the obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law to ensure the respect and protection of humanitarian personnel and medical personnel, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities;

“28.  Reiterates its support for the Government of Afghanistan, and in particular to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, in securing their country and in their fight against terrorism, including in relation to the nexus with transnational organized crime, and against violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, and calls upon the Afghan Government, with the assistance of the international community, to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as by Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs;

“29.  Stresses that effective inter- and intra‑agency cooperation by law enforcement and security agencies is a critical element of an effective counter‑terrorism strategy, and encourages Afghanistan to further strengthen coordination, both among national law enforcement bodies and with counterparts in other States, recognizes the ongoing efforts by Afghanistan in creating a comprehensive and integrated national strategy to counter terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, and encourages Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, to further develop such a strategy as well as effective mechanisms for its implementation that include attention to the conditions conducive to terrorism in accordance with obligations of Afghanistan under international law, and recalls the recommendations and related technical assistance needs identified in the report on the focused visit of the Counter‑Terrorism Committee to Afghanistan;

“30.  Encourages the engagement of relevant local communities and non‑governmental actors and the participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, including through countering incitement to commit terrorist acts, creating counter‑narratives and other appropriate interventions, and building their capacity to do so effectively;

“31.  Stresses the importance of relevant national strategies for the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters;

“32.  Welcomes the achievements to date in the implementation of the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan, notably the ratification of Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan, with the support of the United Nations and all the relevant actors, to adopt an action plan for its effective implementation and to continue its efforts towards the removal and destruction of anti‑personnel landmines, anti‑tank landmines and explosive remnants of war, and to provide assistance for the care, rehabilitation, and economic and social reintegration of victims;

“33.  Notes concern over the continued high levels of child casualties and recruitment and use of children in Afghanistan, in particular by terrorist and extremist groups, commends the Government of Afghanistan for introducing legislation banning the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces and for establishing local child protection units, and welcomes the progress made on the implementation of the action plan for the prevention of underage recruitment, stresses the need for protection of schools and hospitals, reiterates its strong condemnation of all violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict, and calls for those responsible to be brought to justice, and in this context, requests UNAMA to continue to support efforts to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, including engagement with the Afghan Government to fully implement the Action Plan and Road Map, and actions to promote accountability and address other violations and abuses, including sexual violence against children, and requests the Secretary‑General to continue to give priority to the child protection activities and capacity of UNAMA and to include in his future reports the matter of children and armed conflict in the country in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions;

“34.  Calls upon States to strengthen their efforts as well as international and regional cooperation to counter the threat to the international community posed by the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs originating in Afghanistan which significantly contribute to the financial resources of the Taliban and its associates and could also benefit Al‑Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, and to act in accordance with the principle of common and shared responsibility in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan, including through cooperation against the trafficking in illicit drugs and precursor chemicals, also underlining the importance of border management cooperation, emphasizes the need for enhanced regional and international support of Afghanistan's National Drug Action Plan, and welcomes the continued efforts of UNODC in empowering the Afghan Ministry of Counter‑Narcotics in its implementation, and appreciates the work of the Paris Pact initiative, its “Paris‑Moscow” process and its partners, including the European Union, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as the work of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, and encourages the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011) and the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) to continue to pay attention to the linkages between the proceeds of organized crime, inter alia, the illicit production and trafficking of drugs and their chemical precursors and the financing, respectively, of the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, and of ISIL (Da’esh), Al‑Qaida, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities;

“35.  Reiterates the importance of accelerating the establishment of a fair and transparent justice system, eliminating impunity and strengthening the rule of law throughout the country, stresses the importance of further progress in the reconstruction and reform of the prison sector in Afghanistan, in order to improve the respect for the rule of law and human rights therein, emphasizes the importance of ensuring access for relevant organizations, as applicable, to all prisons and places of detention in Afghanistan, welcomes the National Plan on the Elimination of Torture as well as the revised Penal Code and efforts of the Government of Afghanistan at taking steps to ensure consistency with Afghanistan’s international obligations and commitments, emphasizes the need for full implementation of such efforts, calls upon the Government of Afghanistan to fulfil its expressed commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and calls for full respect for relevant international law including humanitarian law and human rights law;

“36.  Recognizes the anti‑corruption commitments by the Government of Afghanistan and welcomes in this regard the establishment of the High Council on Rule of Law, Governance, Justice and Anti‑Corruption, the Anti‑Corruption Justice Center and National Procurement Commission, and the adoption of the national anti‑corruption strategy on 28 September, and calls for its effective implementation, encourages all Afghan institutions, including the executive and legislative branches, to tackle corruption and to ensure good governance, welcomes progress in this regard, and stresses the need for further national efforts to implement plans for addressing corruption as well as international efforts to provide technical assistance in this area;

“37.  Calls for full respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law, throughout Afghanistan, and notes with concern the continued restrictions on freedom of media, including attacks against journalists by terrorist as well as extremist and criminal groups, as well as ongoing reports of threats against human rights defenders, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, religious figures as well as investigators, judges and prosecutors;

“38.  Calls for enhanced efforts to secure the rights of women and girls and to ensure that women and girls are protected from violence and abuse, including from sexual- and gender‑based violence, and that perpetrators of such violence and abuse are held accountable, and emphasizes the importance of ensuring equal protection under the law, equality before the courts in accordance with international law, and equal access to justice, including through measurable and action‑oriented objectives and the integration of gender expertise, knowledge and capacity;

“39.  Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan to empower women politically and economically, and reiterates in this regard the importance of increasing the full and effective participation and leadership of women in decision‑making, including in peace talks and overall peacebuilding strategies at the national and subnational level, and calls on the Government of Afghanistan to fully implement and finance the 1325 National Action Plan, and encourages the Government of Afghanistan to identify further opportunities to support participation of women in the Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned peace process, and requests the support of UNAMA in this regard, and requests the Secretary‑General to continue to include in his reports to the Security Council relevant information on the process of integration of women into the political, economic and social life of Afghanistan, and further calls upon members of the international community to provide assistance as appropriate;

“40.  Reaffirms its support to the ongoing Afghan‑led regional efforts within the framework of the “Heart of Asia‑Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan” and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan Summits, and welcomes ongoing efforts to build trust and cooperation, including by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including its Afghanistan contact group which met in Moscow on 11 October 2017, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, as well as through the Moscow dialogue consultations, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States of America, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey, the Trilateral Summit of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK, the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Minister’s Dialogue, and the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter‑Terrorism by Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan;

“41.  Welcomes and urges further efforts to strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative, and regional development projects, such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India  gas pipeline project, the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project, the Chabahar port project, agreed between Afghanistan, India and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Lapis Lazuli Transit, Trade and Transport Route agreement and the Turkmenistan‑Aqina and Herat‑Khawaf railway segments, and bilateral transit trade agreements, expanded consular visa cooperation and facilitation of business travel, to expand trade, increase foreign investments and develop infrastructure, including infrastructural connectivity, energy supply, transport and integrated border management, with a view to promoting sustainable economic growth and the creation of jobs in Afghanistan and the region, and in this regard urges all relevant stakeholders to ensure a secure environment, integrate their development policies and strategies and promote the practical connectivity cooperation for these development initiatives and trade agreements to be fully implemented;

“42.  Recalls that regional security cooperation plays a key role in maintaining stability in Afghanistan and the region, welcomes the progress achieved by Afghanistan and regional partners in this regard, and calls for further efforts by Afghanistan and regional partners and organizations, to strengthen their partnership and cooperation, including to enhance the capabilities of the Afghan security forces and to enhance security in the region;

“43.  Expresses its concern over the continued high levels of internally displaced persons in and refugees from Afghanistan, strongly encourages intensified efforts by the Government of Afghanistan in ensuring the protection of all internally displaced persons in line with the Afghanistan national policy on internally displaced persons and in making voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Afghan refugees in safe and dignified conditions among its highest national priorities, strongly supports the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to create the necessary conditions for the voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees in the country, and calls for continued and enhanced international assistance in this regard;

“44.  Requests that the Secretary‑General reports to the Council every three months on developments in Afghanistan, and to include in his reports an evaluation of progress made against the benchmarks for measuring and tracking progress in the implementation of UNAMA’s mandate, including at the subnational level, and priorities as set out in this resolution;

“45.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

For information media. Not an official record.