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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on UNAMA, September 3, 2020

03.09.2020 - Speech

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My first remark is on the recent outbreaks of violence we have seen in Afghanistan. In March, the Secretary General called for a global ceasefire. In July, the Security Council did the same. We will have a discussion in the Security Council next week on the follow-up. Violence in Afghanistan has once again claimed numerous victims. The persistently high level of attacks by Taliban against Afghan security forces, like the current escalation around Kunduz, is diametrically opposed to the creation of an environment conducive for peace negotiations. Recent targeted killings are especially heinous crimes that must stop immediately. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims.

On the peace process, a negotiated and inclusive political settlement, owned and led by the people of Afghanistan, including the women of Afghanistan, is vital. Any talks and negotiations need to build on what has already been achieved, namely regarding human rights – including those of women, girls and minorities. We might witness the start of intra-Afghan negotiations very soon. I have listened very carefully to Deborah [Lyons, SRSG UNAMA], who has informed us that we are speaking about days, not weeks. The Security Council should welcome this. The international community must encourage both sides to take constructive and confidence-building steps towards successful negotiations and peace. Germany will continue to support the process, in close cooperation with its partners, including our co-penholder Indonesia, as well as Norway, Uzbekistan, Qatar and the US. We highly recommend an active role of the United Nations in the process.

Let me say a word on UNAMA. Deborah [Lyons], we commend the important role that UNAMA plays in engaging with conflict parties and supporting the preparation of negotiations, but also in coordinating international assistance, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The members of the Council should continue to lend their support to this vital mission. Germany and Indonesia have started engaging with all Council members to renew this mandate. I call upon all sides to approach these negotiations with a spirit of cooperation. Let us build on progress reached in the last negotiations in September 2019. The UN needs to continue to play an important role in Afghanistan. The protection of human rights, the safeguarding of women’s and children’s rights as well as the promotion of sustainable development in Afghanistan will remain important tasks for the UN and the international community.

This brings me to COVID-19 and the future role of international assistance. We all know the COVID-19-crisis will continue to affect Afghanistan for years to come. Beyond safety and security, Afghanistan needs continued and reliable international assistance to address the immediate humanitarian needs and the long-term economic and social challenges ahead. The 2020 Afghanistan Conference, co-hosted by Finland and Afghanistan in Geneva will be a milestone for the future support. Continued funding is vital if we want to minimize the risk of jeopardizing the progress achieved over the last 19 years, which Saad [Mohseni, Chairman and Chief Executive MOBY Media Group] has just reminded us of in such an inspiring way. Such a commitment will and must be based on the joint understanding that Afghanistan will continue on the path of reforms and adheres to international human rights, especially of women, girls and minorities. I think it is politically important to bear that in mind.

Let me finish by asking a question to Saad Mohseni. We appreciate the government’s commitment to reform the NGO law. I would be interested to hear how you assess the government’s attitude towards NGOs and the reform process? Also, let me commend the people of Afghanistan for what has been reached regarding press freedom in the country. Afghanistan does perform quite well in indices regarding this. What perspectives do you see in this regard, also in the context of the peace process ahead?

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