Ambassador Adela Raz
Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
10 September 2019
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Allow me to begin by congratulating your delegation on assuming the Presidency of the Council, for the month of September. We thank you for holding today’s meeting on the Situation in Afghanistan.
This meeting comes at a crucially important time: when we are preparing for our presidential election, and continue to put efforts in reaching a sustainable peace.
I also would like to welcome Special Representative Ambassador Yamamoto, among us today, and thank him for his comprehensive briefing on the overall current situation.
Mr. President, & Members of the Council
As we meet, my country is taking another historic step towards strengthening and further institutionalizing democracy.
Later this month, Afghans from all walks of life, will exercise their constitutional rights, by casting their vote to elect their President through a democratic process.
They have eagerly anticipated this important national event as a measure to once again defy terror and extremism, determine their political destiny and secure the future of the country.
The Afghan government is approaching the elections with a full and unprecedented commitment to ensure a transparent, free, credible and inclusive process, in accordance with the strong demand of our people.
Preparations for the upcoming polls are moving ahead steadily following the electoral timetable of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). The government will spare no efforts in ensuring the safety and security of the voters, as well as putting all proper measures in place to achieve the most efficient possible process.
To this end, voting centers have been allocated countrywide and for the first time voter lists are available online, and bio-matrices verification, along the manual listing will be used. About 72 thousand security forces have been assigned to ensure the safety of voters. From those 72 thousand, almost 9900 female security officers will be tasked for the security of female voting centers. These elections further underscore Afghanistan’s commitment to taking ownership of strengthening the rule of law and democracy as, Namely, for the first time, the government has committed to cover the major part of the financial costs associated with the elections by allocating 90 million USD for the process.
Despite all the security threats and challenges, the people of Afghanistan are determined to hold and participate in the elections. The casting of each ballot by a cross-section of our society will, yet again, signify our people’s firm determination to our journey towards stability, democracy and prosperity. Afghanistan wants to move forward, not backward! We must respect the desire of Afghan people and should not pre-judge the credibility of the election, or question & underestimate the turn out. Afghans, again and again have proven that despite security threats, despite being attacked by the Taliban, they have come out to vote and participate in the future of their country. Peace and elections have been equally important to the Afghan people.
My request to this council and all our international partner & allies is to support the people of Afghanistan in their quest for democracy, as you have always done it. This chamber should also call on countries that could influence Taliban to respect the aspiration of every Afghan, and prevent them from attacks on the election day.
Peace is another top priority for the government of Afghanistan. President Ghani laid the foundation for a clear path for a carefully calculated and responsible peace process with the Taliban through various initiatives over the past two years. This included the announcement of unconditional peace talks, the enforcement of a ceasefire and the release of prisoners during the Eid festival last year. Those measures were reinforced by the holding of a grand consultative Loya Jirga for peace in April – where 3000 representatives from across the nation adopted a declaration, laying out the Road Map for Peace.
The government of Afghanistan has welcomed all international initiatives in support of our peace efforts that will lead to a dignified and lasting peace, will preserve the shared gains we have made, including but not limited to strengthening the Republic & women’s constitutional rights. The people of Afghanistan have always stressed that a real and genuine pledge to peace by the Taliban should be manifested in ending violence, as well as an engagement in direct peace talks with the Afghan government.
The Government of Afghanistan, as always, remains committed to peace talks, conducted on a set of common principles, in accordance with the demands and expectations of all Afghans from across Afghanistan. Any potential agreement should be endorsed by the people of Afghanistan and ensure their mandate of an immediate ceasefire, a long-lasting peace and stability, as well as the preservation of the gains and achievements of the past 18 years, which include the democratic values, the republic, and in particular, the rights of women as stipulated in our Constitution.
We cannot ignore the meaningful role and participation of women in Afghanistan. Our women, as agents of change and symbol of resilience, play a key role in the political, social and economic development of the new Afghanistan. They have the legitimate right to be an active part of all negotiations and decisions.
I would also like to take this opportunity to once again thank Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, and her accompanying UN high-level delegation for their visit to Afghanistan in July, in the context of Women, Peace and Security. Her recognition of the achievements made by Afghan women and her echo of their strong call for a peace that safeguards their hard-won rights at the Security Council reaffirmed once again the United Nations’ firm pledge to stand by our women and the progress they have made in our society. I thank her for her strong support and commitment on behalf of all Afghan women.
One of the greatest challenges for achieving a stable and self-reliant Afghanistan is the protracted war against international terrorism which we continue to pay a high price. Taliban and international terrorist groups continue their attacks on civilian targets creating horror & fear.
They further put civilians and civilian infrastructure at risk by using them as shields while conducting their operations. Furthermore, the Taliban have also remained hostile to humanitarian workers and have issued threats to members of the press. We call on the Taliban to end the senseless violence, show a true commitment to peace, and respect their pledge in the Doha Intra Afghan Peace Conference, of reducing civilian casualties to zero.
Contrary to that pledge, a heinous and cowardly attack happened at a wedding hall in Kabul on 17th of August and caused the death of more than 70 civilians, wounding 180 others. This was followed by 19th of August attacks in Jalalabad, which happened during our National Day’s celebration, and in Kabul by the green village and September 5th attack, which caused a high number of civilian casualties.
Additional attacks have also taken place last week in Kunduz and Pol-e-Khomri, but were repealed by the efforts of our Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. On that, allow me to highlight that our Forces, as true allies in the war on terrorism, are fighting fearlessly at the forefront of international terrorism and making sacrifices on a daily basis. Their bravery should be recognized and supported at the national, regional and international levels.
In line with efforts to defeat terrorist groups militarily, we have also been working on limiting their operational capabilities, including in tackling financing that may come from proceeds from narcotics operations. On this end, we have conducted counter-narcotics operations throughout the country seizing tons of illicit drugs and destroying hundreds of drug processing facilities.
Other efforts have included improved security at airports and border-crossings to detect and deter any instances of trafficking. These measures have concluded with the apprehension of individuals involved in the drug trade and our justice system is committed to holding them accountable for their actions. However, we must look into the issue of counter narcotics in a broader term, demand and supply aspects, and consider a regional counter-narcotics strategy.
My government is committed to the realization of a self-reliant Afghanistan as a hub of regional connectivity, a platform for global, economic and regional cooperation. This has been witnessed by the implementation of several mega-regional projects which are already paying economic dividends in our region and beyond. Increased trade, investments, infrastructure and development brought by these projects, coupled by other initiatives which have also enhanced regional efforts on security, truly show the direction of this new Afghanistan as a regional platform of cordiality and cooperation.
The gains of the last 18 years have left us with a committed young generation that continues to take charge of the future of our country. This includes men and women engaged within the private sector as innovative and successful leaders in industry and entrepreneurs, and in the public sector as loyal and dedicated civil servants. Among these, women have reached new heights, taking leadership positions in various ministries.
In standing by the reemergence of our country and the spirit of this new generation, we thank the United Nations and our international partners for their support since 2001. The role of the United Nations and the international community in helping us to get to this point has been evident through the work of UNAMA, the Security Council and other bodies of this organization. As we move forward to a new chapter in our modern history, new challenges require that we recommit and develop our relationship together.
On this, we hope for a thorough renewal of UNAMA’s mandate which highlights core priority issues for Afghanistan’s future in achieving a sustainable and lasting peace agreement, but also beyond that into a post-conflict development setting. A new mandate should incorporate updates to the country’s situation, and we hope for the mandate to be extended for a year at the minimum.
In closing, allow me to reiterate Afghanistan’s gratitude for the Council tireless work and in helping us progress towards stability and peace. We remain focused on facing the challenges ahead and trust in the support of this Council and our international partners in beating them together. As such, you can count on Afghanistan’s firm commitment as a partner to the defense of the rule of law, the respect of international rules and obligations, and the promotion of values of peace and international solidarity.