Statement by Dr. Sima Samar, Vice-Chair of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and Minister for Women's Affairs,  to the Security Council on 25 April 2002

I am delighted to be here today in an institution devoted to peace. I congratulate the United Nations for standing behind its mandate of supporting global stability by rising to the responsibility of supporting the peace process in Afghanistan. That commitment by the United Nations and its Member States has given the Afghan people the confidence to stand against the forces of oppression and evil and to move forward in restoring peace in our war-torn country.

I am pleased that we have made great progress in this short period. In the past few months, we have moved quickly from Bonn to Tokyo to Kabul, putting in place political processes and a Government framework for the daunting task of reconstruction and rebuilding Afghanistan. The Afghan people stand behind the peace and pledge that they will work to bring about stability. We look forward to the day when our national army is prepared and mobilized well enough to respond to acts of violence and instability in any part of our country. But one cannot expect a Government in place for only four months to be able to respond to the level of challenges that we face after more than 20 years of destruction and of a culture of war.

Without the immediate expansion of international peacekeeping forces, peace, democracy, reconstruction and the restoration of women’s rights and human rights will not be possible in our country. The rights of women, in particular, are put at risk by the absence of security. Women continue to fear violence and to worry about the imposition of Taliban-like restrictions. Unless greater security is provided, the inclusion of women in the Loya Jirga may be undermined and the distribution of identification cards to enable women’s participation in future elections imperilled. Women in Afghanistan are finally beginning to see a little light after a very long darkness. But the gains that have been made in the past four months could easily be lost unless security is greatly improved.

We are told that an expansion of peacekeeping forces is too expensive. But another cycle of war will prove an even greater expense to the world: it will be costly in terms of the loss of human lives. Another period of violence will also risk the money and support that have already been invested in the peace process. Continued instability may also undo all the political work that has been put in place with so much effort by the people of Afghanistan and friendly nations everywhere. It will waste perhaps our last real chance to reverse the decades of violence and to create peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region.

We have heard that Member States are reluctant to extend the security forces in Afghanistan because of the fear that the soldiers will face risks of kidnapping and killing. Yes, those risks may be there, and we must respond by putting everything possible in place to give those soldiers the proper support so that they are not left vulnerable. But if we do not act against the problems that Afghanistan faces, the risks will be even greater.

I know that what I am asking for is not easy to provide. But I ask the leaders of all nations to consider carefully their responsibilities and to weigh the political and economic costs of expanding and extending the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) against the great risks of not taking action and not strengthening security.

Finally, security means immediate and long-term funds to strengthen the Government overall. The amount of aid that the interim Government has received has been very small compared with the pledges and, especially, with the tremendous need. We need financial resources to demonstrate that peace creates changes in the conditions of people’s lives.

Let us not leave the job of restoring peace in Afghanistan half finished. The international community must renew its commitment to come together collectively and decisively to root out the elements of instability and give sustained support to rebuilding the peace in Afghanistan and stabilizing the region. We have learned that violence does not simply stay within the borders of Afghanistan, but that it grows roots and extends to areas well beyond the country and the region. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Together, we have a chance to change the future of Afghanistan, to create a model of democracy and peace in an area that is fragile and to restore women’s rights and human rights. Help us move forward towards that hope and dream. Help us release the men and women of Afghanistan from a cycle of oppression, isolation and war. With the support of the world behind us, we will step forward confidently, step by step, to transform the future of Afghanistan, the region and the whole world.

Once again, I am deeply thankful to you, Sir, and your colleagues in the Security Council for this meeting on Afghanistan. I know how fully the Council has to concentrate its attention on the Middle East because of the dramatic urgency of the situation in that region. Let me express the support of the Afghan people and Government for the action of the Security Council in favour of peace in the Middle East. We highly support the necessary and urgent implementation of all the resolutions of the Security Council on the Middle East.

We hope for a world without violence and for peace throughout the planet.