Security Council Debate: UNAMA

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 17 December 2018

Thank you, Mr. President.

I would like to thank Special Representative Yamamoto and Executive Director Fedotov for their briefings. I also thank Ambassador Umarov of Kazakhstan for his annual briefing on the excellent work of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988.

And I would also like to express my gratitude to professor Haress for sharing her in depth analysis and valuable recommendations, and Ambassador Saikal for his insightful statement. And I’d also like to thank you for your kind words on our penholdership that I will gladly transfer to my team, as they did all the hard work.

Mr. President, in previous debates, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has always stressed the need for an integrated and inclusive approach to the challenges in Afghanistan.

With this in mind, I will focus on three issues:

  • Human rights and the rule of law;
  • Elections;
  • And peace.

1. Human rights and the rule of law

Mr. President, this month we celebrated 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under Taliban rule, human rights were denied to most of the Afghan people. 17 Years since the end of brutal Taliban rule a great deal of progress has been made.

But many challenges remain, as our briefers have pointed out. The Afghan people cannot enjoy many of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Afghan constitution.

We support UNAMA’s efforts to work closely with all Afghan institutions in overcoming challenges relating to these rights. This includes a justice system that is able to fully implement the progress the country has made in legislative reform and in constitutional provisions guaranteeing women’s rights and the elimination of violence against women.

The security situation also forms a major obstacle for safeguarding fundamental rights. In this regard, we are concerned about the continuously high level of civilian casualties.

The deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-government forces is entirely unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest terms.

2. Elections

Mr. President, in October, an estimated 4 million Afghans contributed to shaping the future of Afghanistan by casting their vote in the Parliamentary elections. This sent a very hopeful and powerful message. We hope the turnout for the Presidential elections will prove even higher, with further increased participation of youth and women.  

The Parliamentary elections showed that improvements must be made to the electoral process. The Afghan government and the Independent Election Commission will have to do their utmost to ensure that the Presidential Elections planned for 2019 will take place in an orderly and credible fashion.

We strongly urge them to implement the lessons learnt, and we call on UNDP and UNAMA to support this process. There must be improvements in the implementation of biometric verification, training of election staff and voter education.

Also, the Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission both have their respective roles and mandates, which are separate yet interdependent. It is important that both institutions work together towards the common goal of organizing credible, legitimate and free and fair elections.

Across the political spectrum, all stakeholders need to engage in political campaigning in a constructive and peaceful fashion, upholding the highest democratic standards.

3. Peace

Mr. President, peace is possible and the moment is now. We urge the Taliban to reciprocate the offer of the Afghan government to engage in direct peace negotiations. We commend President Ghani for his courageous leadership in preparation of negotiations.

There is no alternative to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, supported by UNAMA and the international community.

The Geneva Communique, besides agreeing on new benchmarks for the important implementation of reforms, once more reiterated the support of the international community for peace in Afghanistan.

But such a peace should not roll back the progress made over the last 17 years, and can never come at the expense of the fundamental rights of all Afghans.

Conclusion

Mr. President, in conclusion, a new generation of Afghans is knocking on the door of a new Afghanistan. Young, educated, talented women and men who don’t want to return to the dark period of clerical rule.

This was put on clear display by Ramiz Bakhtiar, the first Afghan Youth Representative to the UN, whom we invited to brief this Council in September. Ramiz was elected as part of a joint initiative by Afghanistan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

It was also reflected on 8 March, when many members of this Council underscored the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Afghanistan. This message was reinforced by the fact that the majority of Council members were represented by female leaders.

The voice of Afghanistan’s people is clear: we need a workable peace deal. This will require political courage of all parties involved. It will require perseverance. And it will require unity of effort of this Council.

This unity of effort is something we as penholder this year have consistently strived towards. By acting collectively and agile, the Council was able to give clear guidance and messaging on important developments in Afghanistan, including with regards to the peace process, the elections, the reform efforts, and the many terrorist attacks affecting the daily lives of the Afghan people.

Outside the Council the Netherlands will continue to focus on these important themes and challenges. These need to be carefully addressed on the difficult road towards the sustainable peace and development that the people of Afghanistan so rightfully deserve.

Finally, I want to thank both Ambassador Saikal and Special Representative Yamamoto personally, as well as their respective teams, for the excellent cooperation over the past year. You can count on our continued support, also from outside the Council. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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