Afghanistan:no lasting peace without the participation of Afghan women in the process [fr]
Statement by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 8 March 2018
I would like to begin by warmly thanking all the speakers, and in particular Ms. Sarabi and Ms. Safi, for their informative briefings. I also thank the Netherlands for taking the initiative to hold this important debate on 8 March, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, which is also being celebrated in French, as we heard from Ambassador Vassilenko. The country of Simone de Beauvoir, Marie Curie and Simone Veil — my country — takes this day very seriously. President Macron has made promoting equality between men and women the major cause of his five-year term. I will make four comments today on the situation in Afghanistan.
My first comment concerns the fragile security situation, which Ms. Safi described to us and which is illustrated in particular by the recent terrorist attacks on Kabul and Jalalabad and their impact on the Afghan population. France firmly condemns those terrorist attacks, which once again targeted Afghan civilians, especially women and children. We reiterate our sympathy and support for the victims of that cowardly and hateful violence and for their families.
As the report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/165) emphasizes, the level of violence in Afghanistan has grown in recent months as a result of the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban and the increased presence of Da’esh, which Mr. Yamamoto mentioned just now. France calls for all parties to protect civilians and welcomes the efforts of the Afghan authorities in that regard, as well as the determination of the Afghan security forces in their fight against terrorism. France also welcomes the commitments made in Kabul on 28 February by all of Afghanistan’s neighbours, and other international partners, to increasing their cooperation with the Afghan authorities in order to combat the double threat of terrorism and transnational organized crime. The ongoing efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners to fight drug trafficking deserve special emphasis and should be further strengthened, including within the framework of the Paris Pact Initiative.
Women are dying of terrorist violence in Afghanistan, but they are also victims of other types of violence related to the Afghan conflict. In particular, we condemn the executions of women ordered by the Taliban courts and the numerous cases of sexual violence, of which there have been more than 170 verified cases in 2017. We welcome the Afghan Government’s launch of an action plan to eliminate early marriages for the period from 2017 to 2021, which we hope will help to end that deplorably widespread practice.
Secondly, I would like to refer to the ongoing efforts to arrive at a lasting political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Since our last debate, in December 2017 (see S/PV.8147), progress has been made with an Afghan-led peace process. The proposal for peace talks without preconditions, made by President Ashraf Ghani to the Taliban at the second Kabul Process conference on 28 February, is a positive development. Along with the countries and international organizations that are participants in the Kabul process, France supports this peace proposal, which offers the Taliban recognition as a political force. However, we also want to emphasize our demand that the Taliban renounce all violence. France welcomes the efforts of the Afghan authorities to establish a broad national consensus in support of the peace proposal and encourages them to continue along this path, particularly by working to ensure the cohesiveness of the National Unity Government and avoiding the temptation to retreat into communities or ethnic groups, as well as by ensuring women’s active participation at all levels of decision-making.
With regard to that last point, we should note the significant progress that has been achieved, especially in the increase in the number of women in the High Peace Council, as Ms. Sarabi mentioned today. The gradual implementation of the national action plan on the women and peace and security agenda is essential in that respect. The time has come to make a qualitative leap and ensure that Afghan women can fully participate in all decision-making processes. That should begin, for example, with greater participation in the joint secretariat of the High Council, in which there are currently only three women. There can be no lasting peace without the active and effective participation of Afghan women in the process, and that must be an integral part of the national consensus forged during the second Kabul conference. Finally, France urges all partners in Afghanistan, especially its neighbours, to support and facilitate this inclusive peace process. The Security Council should also make itself available in support of that process.
My third comment concerns the elections, which are the other high priority for Afghanistan in 2018 and 2019. While progress has been made with electoral reform and the preparations led by the Independent Electoral Commission, there is still a long way to go. France encourages the Afghan Government to continue its efforts to fulfil its responsibilities, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and its international partners, in order to guarantee the holding of free, transparent and inclusive local and parliamentary elections before the end of the year. In that regard, as resolution 2405 (2018), which we have just adopted, emphasizes, it is essential to ensure that women are able to fully participate in the electoral processes as voters and candidates. That means renewed efforts to make sure that people understand the importance of everyone’s vote, including through awareness-raising campaigns. That participation also means that women who have decided to run as candidates must be protected and assisted, and that those who have not yet dared to run should be encouraged to do so. On this 8 March, we also hope that the willingness of the Afghan authorities to give women their rightful place will result in equal access to education.
My fourth and last remark concerns the importance of international support, and in particular UNAMA, for Afghanistan. Following the Council’s visit to Kabul in January, the unanimous adoption of resolution 2405 (2018), renewing the Mission’s mandate, is another demonstration of the international community’s unwavering support for Afghanistan. By endorsing the recommendations of the strategic review conducted in the summer of 2017, the resolution enables UNAMA to refocus on its core missions in support of peace efforts and the preparation of the elections.
I pay tribute to the remarkable work done by your delegation, Madam President, in the conduct of the negotiations and I congratulate you on this excellent result.
Finally, I welcome the Secretary-General’s decision to host the next ministerial conference in Geneva in November, two years after the Brussels Donors Conference. It will demonstrate once again our collective and lasting commitment to peace, security and development in Afghanistan.
Allow me in conclusion to reiterate France’s full support for the Afghan Government in the search for lasting peace for all Afghan women and men, and for United Nations personnel working in particularly difficult conditions