STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Statement at the Security Council Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace
(Check against delivery)
10 January 2017
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Afghanistan wishes to thank Her Excellency Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom of the Kingdom of Sweden and her delegation for convening today’s important debate. We hope it will mark the start of a new phase in the UN’s efforts to embed conflict prevention at the core of its “Peace and Security Architecture.” We are also particularly grateful to Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his visionary and inspiring statement.
Today, we witnessed yet another bloody day in my country. The Taliban waged multiple terrorist attacks in Kabul, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan. Based on the most recent reports, around 135 people, mostly civilians including women and children have been killed and wounded in this carnage. Among the wounded are our Governor of Kandahar, Ambassador of UAE to Afghanistan, and a number of other diplomatic colleagues. We pray for those who lost their lives and wish a quick recovery of those injured.
These attacks in my country, and today’s debate illustrates in clear terms that sustaining peace is a complex undertaking, requiring consistency across multiple lines of effort. It also highlights that the UN is simultaneously preoccupied with an unprecedented number of security and humanitarian crises, and more focus is needed to overcome current conflicts and prevent those of tomorrow.
A glimpse at the current international landscape reveals that violent extremism and terrorism feature dominantly in several conflicts around the world. These two threats violate human rights, undermine stability and development, and take the lives of scores of innocent people worldwide. We believe terrorism can only be defeated with a multi-dimensional approach that focuses on both of their internal and external drivers.
The UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) constitutes a key preventive tool, to address some internal drivers of violent extremism at the societal level, beyond security and military measures. Addressing social grievances, ensuring inclusive and egalitarian communities; empowering the youth with economic opportunities; and countering the terrorist narrative at the national and local levels are all essential to address some of the drivers of violent extremist activity. We in Afghanistan have incorporated the goals of the PVE action plan into our national counter terrorism activities.
That said, the UN must also afford greater attention to some of the external drivers of these phenomenon. The cycle of violence and insecurity in Afghanistan and our part of the world is inextricably linked to the presence of sanctuaries and safe havens in the region, from which extremist groups are sustained and enjoy an incessant flow of political, financial, material, and logistical support for the continuation of their malicious activities. In this light, the UN, and this Council in particular, can devise a viable approach to identify situations where elements in some “State institutions” facilitate violence and extremist activities by non-state proxies as a means to advance their foreign policy agenda.
We concur that the Sustaining Peace Agenda goes hand in hand with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing a key tool in helping to prevent conditions that may give rise to conflict and instability, such as poverty, lack of development and dire humanitarian conditions. Consistent with Goal 17, the continued partnership of the international community, particularly for developing, land-locked developing and fragile countries, remains crucial for helping States to implement their national development goals.
National dialogue, mediation and reconciliation, aimed at fostering understanding to prevent conflicts, as well as resolve them through peaceful means are other important components of the “conflict prevention and sustaining peace” agenda. In our own case, the Government of National Unity is making every effort to ensure lasting peace for our peoples. In that effort, we are reaching out to reconcilable elements of Afghan armed groups willing to give up violence and embrace a new future as peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
We are pleased that our peace efforts enjoy broad support from regional and international partners, which is imperative for the success of our endeavor. That said, whether in our case, or any other peace process, it is imperative that the “principle of national leadership and ownership” are fully upheld, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, including the principle of respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. In this context, we have expressed strong reservations in regards to open declarations by some in our region of their counter-productive contacts with armed opposition groups active in Afghanistan, without the consent of the Afghan Government. Let me reassert, any kind of talks on the situation in my country has neither any value nor legitimacy without the participation and approval of our Government which is the most democratically elected administration in the history of our nation.
What additional steps are required by the Security Council and the UN system to bolster existing efforts, and how can current preventive tools be better utilized to prevent conflict and sustain peace?
The UN is well positioned to help address trust deficit associated with negative state rivalries which often leads to conflict, and wherein some actors go at all lengths, including the use of violent proxy forces in pursuit of political, security and economic objectives. This phenomenon is predominant in our region. The UN, and the Security Council in particular, can play an important role in addressing “root causes and structural drivers of conflict,” and in furthering efforts to foster mutual trust and confidence for common gain, at the national, regional and international levels.
Unity and consensus in the Council and ensuring justice are imperative for conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Far too often, lack of consensus in the Council has prevented necessary and effective action to avoid the exacerbation of a particular conflict, as well as the creation of fertile ground for healthy dialogue on the peace and negotiations front. Moreover, strengthening the UN’s early warning system requires greater coordination between relevant UN offices to monitor fluid and conflict prone settings to identify viable approaches to avert potential crises. We believe the role of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and its regional UN offices are of particular importance. In this respect new focus should be given to identifying aggressors who in fact are mainly responsible for fueling conflicts.
Afghanistan welcomes the focus with which the Security Council and the overall UN system are seeking to advance the role of women peace and security agenda. Experience has shown that peaceful settlement of conflicts is most probable when women have a clear and decisive role in peace processes. In that light, we have made sure to include women in all stages of our peace efforts, including in the decision making phase.
In conclusion, we hope 2017 will mark the start of a new era of the UN’s advantageous efforts to place prevention and the sustainability of peace at the forefront in its efforts to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous international landscape for humanity as a whole. We fully support the vision of the Secretary General presented today on conflict prevention and sustaining peace and look forward to work with him on its implementation.