21 December 2017, New York – Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council debate on UNAMA
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its 28 Member States.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report, as well as for his report on the Strategic Review. I would also like to thank Special Representative Yamamoto for his briefing.
As stated on several occasions, the EU strongly acknowledges the crucial role played by UNAMA and all the UN agencies in supporting the Afghan people, encouraging peace and reconciliation, monitoring and promoting human rights, helping to improve the credibility, integrity, inclusiveness and sustainability of electoral processes and in coordinating the international community’s assistance. The EU wishes to have the closest and strongest relationship with UNAMA, in a spirit of transparent and open cooperation on the ground and in international formats for the ultimate benefit of Afghanistan.
The European Union remains fully committed to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Such a process must include all Afghan men and women and their legitimate interests and must preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity as well as the equal rights of all Afghans under the Constitution of Afghanistan. The EU takes note with interest that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States has started to reconvene, for the first time in more than a year, and welcomes the preparations of the Kabul Process meeting scheduled for 1 February 2018.
The EU supports the Kabul Process on Peace and Security and other meaningful international efforts feeding into the Kabul Process iniative to establish a genuine Afghan peace and reconciliation process. The Kabul Process should encourage more discussions between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries to increase regional cooperation for peace and stability. The EU expects the February 1st 2018 Kabul Process meeting to yield concrete results, and to pave the way to further constructive discussions. We also welcome all initiatives held in close coordination with the Kabul Process to create a conducive environment for such a process and call on all parties, including the regional stakeholders, to engage in working towards constructive solutions.
On 16 October, the Council adopted a new EU Strategy on Afghanistan setting out our vision for how the European Union will support Afghanistan both to address its formidable challenges and to bring about positive change for the lives of the ordinary Afghans.
The Strategy lays out a path for a coherent, ambitious and forward-looking strategy for EU engagement and partnership with Afghanistan. It focuses on four priority areas critical to achieving progress in Afghanistan: a) promoting peace, stability and regional security; b) reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and human rights and promoting good governance and women empowerment; c) supporting economic and human development; and, d) addressing challenges related to migration.
The new EU Strategy is one of several steps taken to reinforce the European Union’s strong commitment to Afghanistan more than a year after the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, that was held in October 2016 in Brussels. In addition, the provisional application, as of December 1st, of the EU-Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD) establishes a formal bilateral relationship between the EU and Afghanistan. Finally, the appointment of a Brussels-based Special Envoy to Afghanistan earlier this year to complement the work of the EU Delegation in Kabul, has essentially doubled the EU’s capacity for engagement in Afghanistan, including on regional cooperation and peace.
As the United States have also recently adopted a new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia, let me emphasize that, the EU will continue to work together with the U.S. and the international community in support of lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
Respect for human rights and democratic elections continue to be a focus for the EU’s dialogue with the Afghan authorities and the EU’s actions in the country. In this regards EU congratulates Afghanistan for its election to the Human Rights Council.
The EU maintains close contacts with Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan. On 10 December, the EU marked Human Rights Day with a meeting of grass-root Human Rights Defenders in Kabul. In general, the EU has a high expectation towards the Afghan authorities to advance on the protection of human rights. In this context, however, the EU is extremely concerned by the execution of five prisoners on November 29th – the first executions to take place in Afghanistan since February 2015. Hence we call on Afghanistan to re-establish the moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, a penalty that constitutes serious violation of human rights and human dignity. Human rights will be from now on part of the structured dialogue between the EU and Afghanistan under the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD) framework which I have just mentioned.
With regard to elections, the EU and its Member States had welcomed the announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission of the date for the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan which are to be held in 2018. This announcement was reassuring for both the Afghan people and the international community in view of the further democratisation of the country. However, there are signs that the process has been slowed down by technical and political difficulties. All efforts must be deployed now to resolve these difficulties, and make those elections possible in the announced time frame, and in a democratic, inclusive, transparent and credible manner. There is still a lot to be done, in particular regarding the proper functioning of the Electoral Commission. The EU and its Member States remain committed to support the Afghan electoral process. The EU has committed € 15.5 million to assist the parliamentary and district elections alongside other members of the international community and under the coordination of UNAMA.
On behalf of the EU and its Member States, I would like to reiterate that joint state-building and development efforts in Afghanistan need to build on reinforced regional cooperation.
Regional cooperation is a key to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. Threats of terrorism affecting all countries of the region can only be confronted with increased political, economic and security cooperation. Such cooperation is indispensable for sustainable development. Afghanistan continues to engage with its neighbours through international fora such as the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan. The EU supports such regional fora to facilitate economic and political cooperation among all regional stakeholders.
In June 2016, Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, presented the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy. Its main objective is to strengthen the EU’s relations with a “connected Asia”. Afghanistan’s own Infrastructure and Connectivity Programme supports transit and connectivity. And Afghan economic and human development would benefit substantially from better regional and domestic connectivity, which, in fact, would also help regional partners to engage positively in Afghanistan and to contribute to peace and stability. It is noteworthy that, through the deepening of its trade relations, the EU is becoming the largest market for a number of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries.
The EU also stands ready to accompany the efforts of the Afghan authorities to develop international trade and investment, including with the EU and its Member States.
The EU and Afghanistan continue to engage in a comprehensive dialogue on migration. The implementation of the EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward is part of this discussion, with several planned common actions related to the fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings and awareness raising activities on illegal migration.
Discussions also take stock of the implementation of the reintegration assistance programme adopted in 2016, aiming at ensuring a sustainable reintegration of returnees from both the EU and neighboring countries. By the end of this year, the total amount of EUR 78 million allocated to Afghanistan will have been mobilised and the activities will have been launched.
This EU support will be soon complemented by a new regional programme on migration and forced displacement with a budget of about EUR 200 million, of which – like in 2016 – Afghanistan is the main beneficiary. It will include activities at both country and regional level to address the challenges of migration and forced displacement, including support to Afghan refugees, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and returnees.
In October 2017 UNAMA reported a six per cent decrease in the number of civilians killed and wounded in the conflict this year compared to the first nine months of 2016 – a year which saw record highs in civilian harm. In total, UNAMA documented 8,019 civilian casualties in the first nine months of the year: 2,640 people killed and 5,379 injured. However, amid these horrific figures, it is extremely worrying that the proportion of women killed and injured is on the rise, and extreme harm to civilians continued to be inflicted amid a worsening toll from suicide attacks, and a greater impact on women and children. Attacks against mosques, as witnessed in October, are particularly disturbing. We call on all parties to protect the civilian population, especially women and children in line with international humanitarian law and human rights standards. We also need to continue to protect the vital role of humanitarian agencies and respect their impartiality and humanitarian space in addressing the most urgent needs of the most vulnerable. In view of the threat posed by the many mines and IEDs to the population, the EU also encourages Afghanistan to maintain the current demining rhythm.
Insecurity and instability are also fueled by the illicit cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics. We have seen alarming UN figures of significant increase in opium production. This has severe consequences for Afghanistan and remains an important concern for the EU. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to continue to forcefully implement its National Drug Action Plan, with the full support of the international community, and in close cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other relevant regional frameworks such as the Paris Pact initiative.
To conclude, Mr. President,
It is important that the international community remains strongly committed to accompany Afghanistan towards long-term peace, security and stability. The EU continues to consider UNAMA as a key partner in achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan. UNAMA has an invaluable role in ensuring the broader possible international support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. The EU will continue to support these efforts with all the means at its disposal.
Thank you very much.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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