Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Debate on UNAMA
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 25 September 2017, New York.
I would like to align myself with the statement to be made later this afternoon on behalf of the European Union.
Let me begin by thanking the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his comprehensive briefing to the Council and say that we much appreciate the presence and intervention by Minister Rabbani. Over the last 15 years impressive progress has been achieved in the consolidation of Afghanistan's democratic institutions and the protection of human rights and civil liberties for the Afghan people.
At the same time, persistent high-levels of violence remain a major concern. As highlighted by the Secretary-General, the rise in sectarian attacks is deeply troubling. Civilians in Afghanistan continue to disproportionately shoulder the burden of the conflict. The statistics suggest that their burden is not getting any lighter. 2016 saw record levels of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, including a rise in the number of women and children killed and injured. We have – together – to try to stop this.
We call on all parties to do their utmost to protect the civilian population, particularly women and children, as a matter of priority.
Building peaceful and inclusive societies is not easy. It takes patience, courage and determination from all parties. A politically negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is the only way to achieve a sustainable peace. It is therefore imperative that urgent steps be taken to engage in dialogue to reach a political settlement and end violence.
Regional tensions continue to undermine long-term stability and economic growth in Afghanistan. Sustained and constructive engagement by countries in the region will be essential for a long-term solution. All stakeholders, especially neighboring countries, must assume their responsibilities and work together towards a sustainable peace. The Kabul Process to foster a genuine peace and reconciliation process should be supported, including by the UN and all other initiatives.
We fully support the government's efforts to put in place a reform process to ensure strong and independent institutions and a robust democratic process. Sweden has high expectations of the government's reform agenda and for its delivery. The upcoming elections are one key element of this effort. We welcome the fact that a date for the district council and parliamentary elections has now been set. The UN has an important supportive role to play in this process. But the main ownership and responsibility of ensuring meaningful elections rest with the afghan authorities.
Since 2002, UNAMA has played an essential role in support of the Afghan people. We welcome the strategic review of UNAMA and its recommendations, particularly its important emphasis on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.
This emphasis is an acknowledgement that the conflict in Afghanistan is not over.
Despite our efforts, including the tireless work of the UNAMA and the whole of the UN system, the country has not yet entered a post-conflict phase. Therefore, a continued focus on supporting peace efforts remains a key priority. With the new US strategy there is now an opportunity for enhanced diplomatic and political efforts.
Concrete measures must be taken to strengthen implementation of the National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security, as recommended by the Secretary-General. UNAMA has an important role to play in supporting an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, which includes women, in line with the Constitution. We further welcome the intention to relocate the Senior Gender Advisor to the Office of the Special Representative as outlined in the Strategic Review and we appreciate UNAMA's integrated reporting on these issues.
In order to fulfill the important responsibility of the UN in Afghanistan, the UNAMA leadership and the UN Country Team should make full use of the strategic review and fully implement its recommendations. They should do so in the spirit of the One UN concept and the Sustaining Peace Agenda by working in a coordinated fashion for peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Socioeconomic improvements and service delivery throughout the country continues to be critical, also to maintain support and momentum for the peace process.
Sweden's support to the people of Afghanistan has remained firm for over three decades. In line with the Secretary-General's approach, we have adjusted our policy and our very concrete support to focus more on conflict prevention and peace-building, including through mediation training for Afghan women. As the Afghan people enter this next phase in efforts towards peace, they can count on Sweden's continued support for state- and peacebuilding efforts toward a prosperous and stable Afghanistan.