15 March 2019
8485th Meeting (PM)

Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2460 (2019)

Kabul Expects Council’s Firm Engagement, Delegate Stresses, as Members Criticize ‘Self-Serving Issues’ for ‘Technical Rollover’ Text

The Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today, expressing support for the country’s full assumption of its own security, governance and development, consistent with priorities outlined in the Transformation Decade (2015-2024).

Unanimously adopting resolution 2460 (2019) – tabled by Germany and Indonesia – the Council called upon all local and international parties to coordinate with the Mission’s efforts to promote the security and free movement of United Nations personnel throughout Afghanistan.  UNAMA’S mandate will now run until 17 September 2019.

Stressing the critical importance of the Mission’s continued presence, the Council requested that the Secretary-General include an evaluation of its progress towards implementing its mandate in his quarterly reports.

Christoph Heusgen (Germany) said it is essential that the Council send a unified message to the people of Afghanistan.  While today’s resolution is not the kind towards which members have worked, nor similar to those adopted over the last 17 years, there is strong consensus on the most important substantial issue – the urgent need for progress on an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.  Unfortunately, he added, issues that have nothing to do with UNAMA’s mandate emerged, making it impossible to pass the resolution that the penholders sought.

He went on to express regret that Council members were unable to overcome their differences, pointing out that the text no longer reflects the upcoming elections, the participation of women in the peace process, the situation of children in armed conflict and the nexus between conflict and climate change.  However, the resolution has UNAMA’s mandate at its heart, he said, adding that the six-month extension should recall the fact that the Mission’s engagement in Afghanistan is broad.  Noting that the Council will have the opportunity later this year to reflect on the dynamics around the peace process and the elections, he expressed hope for refocusing the resolution.  “This six-month extension does not mean the international community is not united in support,” he said, emphasizing that the commitment remains.

Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia) said it was “not an easy task” to negotiate a text agreeable to all.  However, a balance had to be struck in the interests of Council unity, he added, emphasizing:  “Unity is the priority.”  While the resolution does not answer all challenges, it reinforces the indispensable role of the United Nations in support of Afghanistan, he noted.  It focuses on what matters most:  UNAMA’s continued operation in support of an Afghan-led and -owned peace process, as well as sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity.  The text focuses on the primary interests of the Afghan people, he stressed.

Jonathan R. Cohen (United States) expressed strong support for UNAMA’s role in the peace process, electoral reforms and coordination of international assistance, citing the intense diplomatic engagement of his country’s special envoy.  He said he was, therefore, deeply disappointed that the Council was unable to renew UNAMA’s mandate for a year as China held it hostage and insisted on making it about Chinese political priorities, thereby forcing a technical rollover.  National initiatives cannot be allowed to derail negotiations on international peace and security issues, he emphasized.  China’s Belt and Road Initiative suffers corruption and lack of transparency, he said, adding that he looks looked forward to a more complete resolution that would extend UNAMA’s mandate for a longer period.  He also expressed hope that China will focus on how best to advance peace and security, rather than inappropriately promoting self-serving issues.

Vladimir K. Safronkov (Russian Federation), citing UNAMA’s important role in coordinating international assistance to Afghanistan, emphasized that the adoption of decisions based on scrupulous analysis must be a precondition for productive efforts.  Stabilization and the resolution of complex challenges will be impossible without an integrated international approach, he said, stressing that the Russian Federation is working to ensure that all Afghan political forces and key external players act on a unifying platform with unifying rule book.  It is regrettable that the Council was unable to adopt a substantial resolution, he said, pointing out that external pressure brought to bear on the penholders prevented joint efforts.  Some colleagues ignored the opinions of other Council members, and at the last moment, “changed tack” on previously agreed wording, he recalled.  He urged the Council to consider military and political realities rather than paying constant attention to combating drug trafficking.

Stephen Hickey (United Kingdom) expressed regret over the Council’s inability to adopt a more comprehensive resolution with a 12-month mandate renewal.  Emphasizing that Afghanistan faces crucial months ahead with the need to ensure a transparent, inclusive presidential vote, he said it is important that UNAMA work with the new election commissioners to identify challenges and priorities.  Women’s participation at all levels of decision-making is essential, he stressed.

Karen Van Vlierberge (Belgium), also expressed regret at the Council’s inability to reach consensus on a more detailed resolution, noting that whereas a one-year extension would have allowed for better operational planning, renewing the mandate again in September will allow for rectifying that situation.

Joanna Wronecka (Poland) said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution as an expression of support for an Afghan-led and -owned process.  She encouraged the Government to work on risk assessment and management strategies to mitigate climate change and other threats to stability.

Wu Haitao (China), noting that UNAMA’s mandate remains unchanged, he said that his delegation made reasonable suggestions on reconstruction, the fight against terrorism, reconciliation and regional cooperation.  China supports a technical rollover, but only as a temporary arrangement, he emphasized.  Describing comments by the representative of the United States on China’s Belt and Road Initiative as “at variance with the facts”, he said the framework has been widely welcomed in the six years since its launch, with more than 123 countries having signed cooperation agreements.

The Belt and Road Initiative is suitable for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, he continued, adding that China and Afghanistan will promote economic and social development, as well as regional integration, by cooperating in the fields of trade and transport, energy and health, with an emphasis on transparency.  Twenty-seven countries, including China, have established guiding principles on financing for development to create a friendly and predictable financing environment, he said, noting that the Belt and Road Initiative seeks to achieve common development.  “It has nothing to do with geopolitics,” he stressed.  The Council failed to reach agreement on the resolution’s substantive content, notably as one member persistently refused to accept constructive opinions, he pointed out.  That poisoned the consultation atmosphere.

Anne Gueguen (France), Council President for March, speaking in her national capacity, said that despite laudable efforts for a mandate renewal that is satisfactory in substance, ideas with no link to UNAMA’S mandate pushed the Council to adopt a technical rollover.  “This is not the single message we should be sending,” she emphasized, expressing hope that bilateral disagreements will be overcome and the focus restored to support for peace efforts, the presidential election, the coordination of humanitarian assistance and the promotion of human rights, notably women’s rights.

Adela Raz (Afghanistan) underlined her country’s commitment to taking charge of its own destiny, a struggle long supported by the Council.  While the adoption of today’s resolution allows UNAMA to continue its mandated activities, she said, it is nevertheless regrettable that the nature of negotiations on the draft led to a divergence among Council members and ultimately to a mandate extension of only six months.  “Afghanistan stands at a critical juncture,” she emphasized, citing the approaching presidential election to be held in July.  The country is committed to ensuring a credible and transparent electoral process that will mark yet another important step forward, she said, adding that the Government is working towards an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process focused on enhancing development, governance, the rule of law and the promotion of human rights.  “We expect the Security Council to remain firmly engaged in our stabilization efforts in the way forward,” she stressed.

The meeting began at 3:26 p.m. and ended at 4:04 p.m.

For information media. Not an official record.