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Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council VTC meeting on UNAMA, December 17

18.12.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery


First of all, let me start by thanking SRSG Deborah Lyons for her briefing. I can only echo that 2020 showed a profound shift in the developments in Afghanistan. We have seen in the last few weeks that this year has, on the one hand, been full of hope, but then at the same time full of despair. We have seen the peace process gaining traction in Doha, but at the same time, we have witnessed that the violence has reached its highest levels. According to the Global Peace Index, the least peaceful country in the world is Afghanistan. It is a very worrisome message that attacks are targeting infrastructure, particularly schools. It is a nightmare that human rights defenders and journalists are killed. A couple of days ago, the Deputy Governor of Kabul was killed. This is just too much. The violence has to stop. We should be united in the Security Council and call for an end to this violence.

On the peace process, I can only echo what Deborah Lyons said. Doha really is a wonderful achievement. I would like to congratulate our Afghan, American and Qatari friends who made this possible, as well as so many partners. The agreement that was reached on the rules of procedure is important. These are early positive signs, but that gives us hope for future talks. We are not there yet: both sides should now use the next 20 days wisely and consult with their leadership and constituencies on the proposals on the table and the way forward.

The negotiation team of the Afghan government decided that they would talk to the youth. To hear that the youth was excluded from the peace process so far is very worrying. We have always said that it is, from our perspective, absolutely necessary that on both sides, women must be represented. We hope for a renewed commitment so that we can achieve the pathway to a political settlement and a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

We need a full and lasting ceasefire. The strategy of the Taliban to negotiate on the one hand, but to continue violence on the other is just extremely cynical. If the Taliban really want peace for the country, why do they continue to destroy infrastructure and schools? Why do they destroy their motherland, where they want to be part of the government? This has to stop.

We will continue to support the peace process as Germany, in close cooperation with our partners, including our co-penholder Indonesia, and with Norway, Uzbekistan, Qatar, as well as the United States.

On UNAMA, I find it very good that Deborah Lyons continues to have a small team in Doha to accompany the negotiations with an active role. It is very important that the negotiating parties hear from you what the international community expects, what the Afghan people expect. I hope we can launch a forum of key regional and international partners to further strengthen the efforts to support the negotiations.

The UN and UNAMA need to continue to play an important role in Afghanistan, protecting human rights and safeguarding of women and children, and the rights of minority groups, using a victim-centered approach and promoting sustainable development. What is really worrying is drug trafficking which we need to continue to fight against. All these remain the important tasks for the UN, but also for the international community at large.

On international assistance, Geneva was a success. It sent a strong signal of continued international support. Countries altogether pledged more than 3.3 billion U.S. dollars. I am very happy to confirm that Germany alone pledged more than 500 million U.S. dollars in international assistance and stabilization funds. Germany continues to be the second largest donor to Afghanistan.

Assistance comes with conditionality, to which the Afghan government itself attaches great importance. For the current and for any future Afghan government, the same standards have to apply and be brought into practice: preserving human rights, protecting women and minority groups, maintaining the constitutional achievements of the past 19 years and fighting against corruption. COVID has been a huge challenge, and we know that we need to support Afghanistan in this respect as well. Afghanistan is in need of increased, continued reliable international assistance to address all humanitarian needs. The Humanitarian Response Plan has only been fulfilled by 50 percent. I know there are so many demands left and right, but we can do better than that. On the sanctions regime, we do not yet see sufficient reasons for lifting sanctions on the Taliban or water down their direct link to terrorism.

I thank the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NGO Afghans for Progressive Thinking, and the my colleagues in the embassy in Kabul for identifying Shkula Zadran as our youth briefer representative. It was a wonderful briefing that made it very clear where the deficiencies are. We, the Security Council, listen to you, but everybody should listen to you, including the Afghan government and the Afghan public. The Taliban have to understand that for peace in the country, the issues that you raised, the protection of youth, the preservation of what has been achieved over the last few years in Afghanistan with regard to the role of women's participation in economic and political life. This must not only be preserved, but also has to be increased.

We need a firm commitment to the human rights constitutionally guaranteed to all in Afghanistan. We will continue to support civil society organizations and the NGOs. They are the backbone of a democratic Afghanistan. Also, accountability is key. Whoever commits a war crime must be prosecuted. If impunity prevails, there will be no reconciliation or a peaceful future for the country.

I would like to thank Indonesia as co-penholder over the last two years. It was very hard work, but it was wonderful to work with you. I wish good luck to our successors. I am sure Estonia and Norway will do an excellent job.

Germany will continue to support the Afghanistan portfolio at the UN. We are very proud to be the facilitator for the General Assembly resolution that was adopted last week: a resolution that brought the solidarity of the wider UN membership to Afghanistan. They stand behind the peace process. We are very happy that we got received 131 votes in favor of the resolution, many of which came from the region, such as Iran. We even had co-sponsors from the region, like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Mongolia. We do regret, though, that although we had 131 votes in favor, there were four countries that did not vote in line with us. We would have loved to have them on board. It is unfortunate that two of these countries are actually permanent members of this Council.

Thank you.

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