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Statement by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz at the Plenary of the General Assembly introducing the resolution “The Situation in Afghanistan”

27.11.2019 - Speech

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Mr. President,

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

It is again my pleasure to introduce this year’s draft resolution entitled “The Situation in Afghanistan” to the General Assembly. As you know, this resolution was first adopted in 1980 and has been re-introduced every year since then. The resolutions have been mirroring the dynamics of the conflict and the international community’s continuing endeavor to help restore peace and stability and end the long suffering of the Afghan people. Since 2002, Germany has served as facilitator of this resolution. During these years, we were able to adapt the resolution to changing circumstances  and also to revise it to increase its effectiveness. This has never been easy, but always resulted in a demonstration of the international consensus on Afghanistan.

This year has been no exception, even though the goal posts were continuously shifting. Afghanistan held presidential elections in late September and there were promising attempts to initiate a peace process. However, while these efforts suffered a setback, there are ongoing attempts to reinvigorate a political process.

The presidential elections in September were  a crucial moment for the democratic transition of the country – yet, even preliminary results are still not in, with no clear date for their announcement. This has made it hard to put anything definitive into the resolution on these two issues.

Last year was the first year on record in which a vote was called on the draft resolution. This showed that there are a few delegations that do not see eye to eye when it comes to the often-cited “situation on the ground”, but in the end the result was resoundingly supportive.

Unfortunately, it is not different this year. Consensus – at least in the negotiations – has remained elusive. This was not for lack of trying. My expert held almost a dozen meetings in various formats, among them four in the plenary format with almost 60 delegations at the table for up to seven hours at a time.

These extensive consultations have prepared us well for presenting you with a draft that reflects all the positions communicated to us to the maximum extent possible.

Mr. President,

As last year, I would like to remind everyone that this resolution remains first and foremost an important expression of support for Afghanistan and its people by the entire membership of the United Nations. I would like to thank all the delegations which have demonstrated great flexibility to maintain this unified show of support.

Turning to the substance of the resolution, our preeminent concern remains the fragile security situation in Afghanistan. Throughout the last six months alone, we have seen a number of high-profile attacks. Just last Monday, an American UN aid worker was killed in Kabul, and I want to convey my condolences to the victim’s family and loved ones. Furthermore, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan is at an all-time high. It simply cannot go on like that. The country needs peace, finally.

We also pay tribute to the patriotism and sacrifices of the Afghan Security Forces. Together with our international partners, Germany will continue to support them through NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in their efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

But this support is only viable if matched by and linked to continued support to civilian development and stabilization as well as diplomatic efforts aimed at a political solution.

An inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process involving all parts of Afghan society including the Taliban is the only path towards a sustainable resolution of the conflict. Despite the recent setback, we need to continue on this path.

On behalf of the international community, this resolution reiterates the call on the parties to the conflict, in particular the Taliban, to recognize their responsibility for peace and to enter into direct talks without preconditions. Just this past July, we saw that it is possible to have direct and in-depth interactions with all parties involved, when Germany and Qatar jointly organized the Intra-Afghan Dialogue in Doha. Most remarkably, 20% of the participants were women – and they were key to making this meeting a success. We need to build on this and increase and strengthen the role of women in the peace process!

The support of Afghanistan’s neighbours and the other countries of the region to a peace process is crucial for its success. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is to the benefit of everyone. It will lay the groundwork for much needed regional cooperation and connectivity.

Afghanistan has come a long way. However, numerous challenges still remain. The fight against corruption, women empowerment and good governance continue to be of crucial importance. We encourage the government of Afghanistan to continue its efforts in this regard and to implement the announced political and economic reforms. We also encourage all sides involved to speed up the process that leads to democratic transition in Afghanistan, thus reassuring the voters that they made the right decision when they risked their lives casting their ballot in September’s election.

Germany remains deeply committed to supporting Afghanistan – in close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan and our international partners. German also remains deeply committed to acting as a facilitator on this important resolution – a resolution that merits all of our countries’ support.

Finally, Germany aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union later in this debate.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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