Statement by H.E. Adela Raz,
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the I.R. of Afghanistan At the General Assembly on the adoption of Resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan
Thank you for convening this meeting to adopt the resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan.
Allow me to express my gratitude to the German Mission as a longtime facilitator of this very important resolution for Afghanistan, particularly Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, and his team, specifically Counsellor Friedrich Schroeder, for their leadership and able facilitation. Germany is one of the longstanding supporters of the Afghan people, and a genuine partner and ally in the efforts for ensuring peace, security, and prosperity in Afghanistan.
I also would like to extend my appreciation to the representatives of all other Member States, who participated in the discussions, demonstrated flexibility and supported this resolution through active contributions, especially those states that co-sponsored the resolution.
As we adopt this annual resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan, let me speak about some major political, security and socio-economic developments since the adoption of the resolution last year. These include holding of the presidential and parliamentary elections, the pursuit of peace and reconciliation efforts and the implementation of the reform agenda to achieve self-reliance.
On the Election, against the backdrop of serious security threats, the parliamentary elections were held on the 20th of October 2018, where 4.6 million Afghans voted. The new Parliament was inaugurated on the 26th of April 2019, where about 60% of the new members are the younger generation, below the age of 40, and about 25-28 percent are women.
This was another important step for strengthening and sustaining democracy in Afghanistan. Through their votes, the people of Afghanistan once again proved that no threat can ever hinder their strong will for consensus and that the essence of democracy is the corner stone of the new Afghanistan.
Following the parliamentary elections, on September 28, we held our fourth Presidential Election. Despite threats of violence and attacks, and in some cases, risking having their fingers cut off by the Taliban, people still came out to vote. For Afghans, this wasn’t simply a vote to elect the future president, but rather a vote for democracy and a vote for the Republic. People voted to defend the constitution and the sovereignty of the state; and they voted for the prosperity and stability of Afghanistan. For two million Afghans, their vote was their power to say No to Terrorism and Yes for Peace.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces participated in both elections with the utmost professionalism and bravery by protecting the constitutional right of every Afghan to vote. About 70,000 of our courageous soldiers safeguarded our people during this historical moment, and due to their effective measures and competence, most attacks were averted.
For the majority in here, elections and voting are a granted right and those who participate, perform their civic duty. For Afghans it is beyond a civic duty, it is our civic power that we can exercise equally to define the destiny of the New Afghanistan.
Here I would like to pause and congratulate our friends and allies, particularly NATO-member countries, who have stood by us during the past 18 years, as we took our journey of rebuilding this New Afghanistan.
You all invested in, with your blood and treasure, our pursuit of democracy and stability in Afghanistan and now there should be no doubt of our commitment to those values and principles.
Peace is an important priority for the people and government of Afghanistan. It was in February of 2018 that President Ghani made the first call of an unconditional offer for peace talks with the Taliban. Following the “unconditional offer for peace talks” in June of that year we saw a three -day ceasefire which showed the true ability of our society. Afghans absorbed the 20,000 Taliban who came to our big cities during the 3-days celebration of Eid holidays. This helped us see that reaching peace and an end to conflict is possible.
As we know, the success of every peace deal is in its sustainability and duration. This can only be accomplished if the public is involved, engaged, and consulted. For the government, in order to identify the framework for negotiations, a nationwide consultation was necessary. To do so, the government took the important step to arrange the consultative peace Jirga.
In April 2019, 3,200 representatives from every part of country participated in the Jirga to highlight their mandate for peace. The five-day Consultative Peace Jirga, of which 30% of the delegates were women, adopted a national Road Map and a mandate for peace. This Road Map was decisive in its parameters, calling for, amongst others, an immediate ceasefire, the call for a sustainable peace and direct talks with the government of Afghanistan, and the preservation of human rights, particularly women’s rights.
Women’s constitutional rights are an important feature of the New Afghanistan. As the Secretary General has said, the preservation and protection of women’s is not the only good thing to do, but the “right thing to do” for an effective, meaningful and lasting peace.
The government of Afghanistan welcomes all regional and international peace efforts which align with an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process that can help to facilitate the direct talks with the Taliban. In line with international norms, we firmly believe in the principles of respecting sovereignty and state-to-state relations and hold these values central to the success of our peace efforts.
We would like to thank our friends and allies that have supported our work to reach a dignified and sustainable peace, including the United States, the European Union, Germany, Norway, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan among others.
On the security situation, the Taliban and other transnational terrorist groups have continued to be relentless and violent to in their mission to spread terror and fear. Our National Security and Defense Forces have proved their ability to successfully defend our country in most courageous way, thwarting many attacks and protecting our people.
The Afghan soldier that fights today eliminates the threat posed to all of us globally. As we have said before, terrorism does not recognize boundaries and borders; it threatens the lives of everyone, everywhere.
As a result of the growing strength of our security forces, the Taliban and terrorist groups have resorted to cowardly and deadly attacks on civilian targets, causing record-high numbers of civilian casualties this year, with women and children comprising a third of them.
Targeting civilians and public institutions – including hospitals and clinics – and using individuals as human shields are violations of international law and go against all moral values. These acts need to be stopped immediately by the Taliban.
Among the persistent challenges that continue to threaten the peace and security of Afghanistan are terrorism and the presence of regional and transnational terrorist groups, including Taliban, ISIL and Al Qaeda affiliates. Recently, the government of Afghanistan carried an intense and successful operations in Nangarhar, to eliminate ISIL’s strongholds.
The past 18 years of conflict imposed by terrorist groups and the Taliban has not only resulted in the loss of innocent lives and instability in our country; it has also deeply impacted our joint efforts for achieving social and economic development goals.
The Afghan government has undertaken steps to implement and realize the Reform Agenda according to the commitments made in the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework and the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF). As we work towards fully implementing this agenda, we are making tremendous progress in our regional economic cooperation agenda. We have always supported and endorsed initiatives that help achieve connectivity and align with our national interests.
Terrorism is the not the only threat that the people of Afghanistan face; the effects of climate change has led to severe humanitarian crisis and is a critical challenge. Afghanistan is a predominately agricultural economy and the prolonged drought has had destructive effects on the wellbeing of our society and has driven many families to leave their homes and provinces in search of better alternatives. This has led to a severe humanitarian situation that requires an immediate response. However, I do need to highlight the leadership role the United Nations has taken in coordinating with the international community to facilitate the necessary response as soon as possible.
The threats of illicit drug cultivation, production, and trafficking pose a security a challenge for Afghanistan. The Afghan people have been the first victims of this menace and continue to pay the highest price. There is a direct link between narcotics and sources of funding for the Taliban. In this regard, the government of Afghanistan has been a committed partner and ally in fighting to eradicate and dismantle this threat. However, it is not a single-country issue. We need a regionally comprehensive and collaborated effort and strategy to counter the narcotics trade and market. There must be an inclusive approach involving all regional and international stakeholders to combat the root causes of the problem, including the trafficking of precursors, financial safe havens and demand reduction.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your governments for your sustained support in assisting the Afghan people and the government in our efforts to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan. We should look into the future of Afghanistan from our perspective, more forward looking and optimistic.
For some, 18 years may seem like a long time to rebuild a country from ruin and complete destruction. But for me, I still remember the dark days of the Taliban. In absence of hope, where the regime locked all of us in complete isolation and contact from the outside world, today is the brightest and the most fortunate future that I had ever dreamed.
Due to your tremendous support, we have come a long way and we have made great progress.
Today, your support in this resolution is an important step in sending a strong message of solidarity to the Afghan people, and also to those that still aim to turn Afghanistan into a safe haven for terrorist groups. Your voices in here will matter to people in Afghanistan: that they are not alone in the fight against terrorism and in the quest for peace.