Remarks by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz in the Security Council VTC Meeting on the UNAMA, June 25, 2020

25.06.2020 - Speech

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I would like to thank our briefers, the SRSG, the Executive Director of UNODC, and Mrs. Akbar for their informative briefings and assessments. It's always great to see the PR of Afghanistan in the Council. I also would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to SRSG Deborah Lyons in her new job. You are indeed taking up your duties in a particularly crucial year for Afghanistan. As you have said, there is COVID-19 and the challenge it represents to the prospect of the nascent peace talks. There is also the 2020 pledging conference that will be so crucial. So we wish you every success and rest assured that we will do anything we can to support you in your important job.

Madam President, let me start with some condolences, because the recent week in Afghanistan were among the most gruesome of the last two decades. The attacks on a maternity ward and on a funeral in May were terribly shocking. We did right to condemn them as a Council. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. 

The overall level of violence with continued Taliban attacks – more than 90 attacks a day – is extremely worrying. These attacks go against the spirit of the Taliban agreement with the US of 29 February. Violence must be reduced and eventually end for intra-Afghan negotiations to start.

We reiterate that all parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and take immediate measures to prevent civilian casualties. Recent reports have indicated that Afghanistan is the most deadly conflict for children globally. The perpetrators must know that they will be held accountable for their brutal, cynical acts.

We reiterate the importance of a sustainable peace, which can only be achieved through a negotiated and inclusive political settlement, owned and led by the people of Afghanistan, including its women. 

This will require flexibility on all sides. Any talks and negotiations need to build on what has already been achieved. Women must be equally and meaningfully represented within the negotiation team.

We highly appreciate all steps taken to move that process forward, namely the direct talks between the conflict parties to implement the exchange of prisoners and hostages.

While some steps are yet to be taken, we welcome the plans to start intra-Afghan negotiations soon. Such an arduous process needs a united international effort of support. We need to to encourage both sides to take constructive and confidence-building steps.

Germany will continue its work to support the process, in close cooperation with its partners, including our co-penholder Indonesia, and also Norway, Uzbekistan and especially Qatar. We highly recommend an active role of the United Nations in the process.

We commend the important role that UNAMA plays in coordinating international assistance, particularly during this pandemic, but also in monitoring the situation on the ground, and in engaging with conflict parties to bring the peace process forward. The members of the Council should continue to lend their support to this vital mission. Germany will engage soon with all Council members to renew this mandate.

Afghanistan is severely affected by the COVID-19-crisis. The official number of 30.000 cases  can only be the tip of the iceberg. Ending the violence is of paramount importance. In March, the Security Council urged the conflict parties to respect the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. We reaffirm that call today. There are also worrying reports about attacks on health facilities and health workers. During the current pandemic, these facilities are even more relevant. They must not be targeted! 

Afghanistan needs continued and reliable international assistance to address the immediate humanitarian needs and the long-term economic and social challenges. We highly appreciate the coordinating role of UN organisations, through which we channel most of our immediate aid to fight the pandemic in AFG. For effective implementation, close cooperation of the AFG government with the United Nations and other international agencies is paramount. We urge all sides to cooperate with relevant UN agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders in the COVID-19-response.

The 2020 Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by Finland and Afghanistan, in Geneva is a milestone for the continuous support to Afghanistan, Continued funding is vital if we want to minimize the risk of jeopardizing the progress achieved over the last 19 years. Such a commitment will be based on the joint understanding that Afghanistan will continue on the path of reforms.

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