Security Council Meeting on Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. André Haspels, Vice- Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

New York, 19 January 2018

Mr Chair, distinguished delegates,

It’s an honour for me to address the Security Council for the first time since the Kingdom of the Netherlands began its 2018 membership.

Right before I entered this Council this morning, I spoke with two of Afghanistan’s leading citizens: Roya Mahboob and her sister Elaha. They founded an organisation to teach Afghan girls programming and robotics. Both are present here today. Sitting high up there in the audience. Roya, Elaha, and their students are a living example of what has been achieved in Afghanistan. Thanks to their organisation, Afghan girls today can study in Herat, where they are learning to build robots for hospitals and farms.

The difference between today and the Taliban era couldn’t be greater. Back then, women were marginalised to the point of complete invisibility. Today, they can study, travel, make films and build robots. Since the fall of the brutal Taliban regime, a lot has been achieved. In only 16 years, life has improved greatly in Afghanistan.

But when we spoke, Roya and her sister reminded me of the many obstacles Afghans still face. The security situation is still volatile. Access to justice is limited. There are still barriers to girls who want to go to school. Insecurity and corruption are hampering economic growth. And, as a result, Afghans are seeking shelter and opportunity elsewhere. That is one reason why the Kingdom of the Netherlands supports Afghanistan in its efforts to improve the lives of its people. We choose an integrated approach. Combining military, development and political efforts. Investing in security, good governance, the rule of law and accountability- together with other countries, partners, and of course the Afghans themselves.

Our contribution to peace and security in Afghanistan has sometimes involved painful sacrifices. We will remember those who paid the ultimate prize with great respect.

Mr. President,

UNAMA is playing a key role in coordinating the many elements of the international effort in Afghanistan. As a penholder on Afghanistan in the Council, we look forward to working with you all, to ensure that the UN can continue to play its essential role after March.

But in the long run, Mr President, true stability in Afghanistan can only be guaranteed by an inclusive peace-and-reconciliation process. One that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. The Kabul Process meeting in February must bring us closer to that goal. It is paramount that all neighbouring countries take up their responsibility by actively contributing to that goal.

At the same time, we encourage the Afghan government to continue on the path of reform. To continue the fight against corruption. To strengthen good governance and the rule of law. And to uphold human rights and hold timely and credible elections. Because only a secure and stable Afghanistan can offer the Afghan people the opportunities they so deserve.

That is what today’s debate is all about: the need to achieve long-term peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. Here, the region also has an important role to play. I commend the Republic of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian nations for their efforts to increase regional cooperation – especially where economic ties are concerned.

In closing, I’d like to thank Kazakhstan for arranging this highly topical debate. And I thank the Secretary-General, for his briefing. And of course Vice-Minister Karzai of Afghanistan for his government’s leadership.

Mr. President, Roya and Elaha remind us that we need to invest in young Afghans. After all, the future stability of the country will depend on the prospects that Afghanistan can offer them. We all have a responsibility here. The Kingdom of the Netherlands will remain a committed partner, both during our term on this Council, and beyond.

Thank you.