Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Debate on UNAMA, Afghanistan
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 17 September 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr. President,
And thank you, Special Representative Yamamoto for your briefing and for the important work of UNAMA in Afghanistan.
I would also like to thank Mr. Ramiz Bakhtiar for sharing his valuable insights this afternoon. With over 60 percent of the population in Afghanistan estimated to be under 25 years old, the future clearly lies in the hands of the youth. In line with resolution 2419 on Youth, Peace and Security adopted earlier this year, young people should be more actively and meaningfully engaged in all decision-making processes, including in this council.
The only viable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is an Afghan-owned and -led peace process. In this regard we commend the unprecedented steps taken by the Afghan Government this year. It is deeply regrettable that the Taliban did not accept the offer of a bilateral ceasefire, and we join others in urging the Taliban to cease violence and to immediately engage in talks with the Government. The peace process must be inclusive, involving both women and youth, for any agreement to be sustainable.
As stated by others, the upcoming elections will be decisive for the future of Afghanistan. That the elections are credible is a test to the Afghan reform agenda and is crucial for achieving long-term stability and strengthening of democracy.
It is a shared responsibility of the Government, the opposition and the electoral management bodies to create the conditions necessary. Responsible institutions must address unresolved preparatory issues without further delay. And any attempts to obstruct the electoral management bodies from carrying out their work is unacceptable. Adequate security measures need to be taken to prevent attacks on the elections and the electoral preparations.
Women and men must be able to safely run for elected office, campaign freely, and of course vote. Special attention should be given to ensure that also women in remote and rural areas are able to vote. UNAMA has a clear mandate to promote women’s participation and we encourage close cooperation with relevant actors, including UNWOMEN, in this work.
Coherent and coordinated international support for national peace efforts in Afghanistan is critical. All stakeholders and especially the neighbors, must now to act on their commitment to support a political solution. The role of UNAMA in backing these efforts remains important.
The ministerial conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, will be an important opportunity to bring key stakeholders together. The conference should focus on evaluating the reform agenda that has been mutually agreed by Afghanistan and the international community, including the conduct of the Parliamentary elections, anti-corruption efforts and the implementation of the National Action Plan for Security Council resolution 1325.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worsening. Due to conflict and drought about 4,2 million people now need humanitarian assistance. The situation has also led to an increase in internally displaced people. Safe and unhindered access is critical. It is also essential to ensure close coordination between humanitarian and development efforts, including on climate change mitigation.
The continuous horrendous attacks in Kabul and around the country, including targeted attacks on girls’ schools, religious minorities and journalists, must be condemned in the strongest terms. All attacks on civilians are unacceptable, including those against humanitarian and development workers. All parties must comply with obligations under international law. In this context UNAMA’s continued documentation of civilian casualties is important.
With continued attacks on civilians and a worsening humanitarian situation, the challenges in Afghanistan can sometimes seem overwhelming.
But renewed momentum for a peace process, and the upcoming elections offer opportunities to change trajectory.
We should jointly seize this opportunity. As a long-standing friend and partner to the people of Afghanistan, Sweden will continue to do its part.
I thank you.