Afghanistan: time for cooperation has come [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 17 September 2018
First of all, allow me to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto, and Ambassador Saikal for their enlightening briefings on peace efforts and the electoral process. I would also like to warmly thank Mr. Ramiz Bakhtiar for his briefing, which clearly illustrated the essential role played by Afghan youth in building a peaceful, democratic, just and united society. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, young people must be fully recognized as agents of sociopolitical change and as key partners in efforts to bring about peace and development.
I will make three points today.
First, with regard to the security situation, the conflict in Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest and most violent on the Security Council’s agenda. France is very concerned about the increasing number of oreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, as well as by the one-upmanship of the Taliban and the Islamic State in the Khorasan Province, marked by a recent increase in the number of terrorist attacks, in Kabul in particular.
We again condemn such attacks, in the strongest terms, and reiterate our solidarity with the victims of terrorism and their families.
France also commends the courage and the determination of the Afghan forces, who were instrumental in retaking the town of Ghazni on 10 August. Nonetheless, such clashes confirm that terrorist groups are determined to continue their harassment in order to destabilize the country at a critical time, by creating a climate of perpetual insecurity and by seeking to undermine the
Afghan forces and the authority of the Government just ahead of the elections.
We are also concerned about the continued increase in drug trafficking, which fuels Taliban insurgency and threatens the lives of thousands of Afghans. The
presentation of a draft regional strategy by Afghanistan in July in Vienna marks the renewed commitment of the Afghan authorities to combating opiate production and trafficking, which deserves to be highlighted. We call on the countries of the region to resolutely commit to fighting such trafficking at all levels. We look to the Afghan Government to continue the important efforts needed to curb drug production, with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, regional partners and the international community, within the framework of the principle of shared responsibility, including the Paris Pact Initiative.
Secondly, the parliamentary and local elections scheduled for 20 October constitute a major challenge, given the context that I have just mentioned. France attaches great importance to the democratic process and the holding of free, transparent and credible elections. It is essential that the Afghan population be able to express itself and be represented in the Government.
All stakeholders must continue to work to ensure the broadest possible participation of the population in the elections, especially women. We are concerned about the many questions that remain about the preparations for the elections, which may compromise their integrity.
We also remain concerned about the low number of candidates in some provinces for district council elections, since a plurality of candidates is an essential criterion for holding credible elections. In that regard, we support the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) alongside the various Afghan stakeholders and the series of measures to combat fraud, promote trust and ensure the inclusivity and security of the elections.
Thirdly, concerning peace efforts, the seriousness of the security situation and the human cost of the conflict should serve to encourage renewed efforts to achieve lasting peace. Progress has been made, notably through the peace offer presented by President Ghani at the second Kabul Conference, on 28 February, and then with the ceasefire for the Eid Al-Fitr holiday and the unilateral Eid Al-Adha ceasefire proposal.
France urges the Taliban to respond to those gestures of openness. A lasting solution in Afghanistan can be only political in nature, negotiated through an inclusive Afghan-led process for Afghans. In that respect, it is essential to consult the Afghan population, including young Afghans, in order to take into account their expectations. Beyond Afghanistan, it is important that all States in the region unambiguously support the objective of peace.
The violence and power struggles have lasted far too long. Time for cooperation has come with a view towards peace, democratic good governance and development, which are incumbent upon the Afghan people to achieve, with the support of the international community. The Afghan authorities and UNAMA can count on the steadfast support of France in pursuit of that goal, as well as the unity of the Security Council, which is a critical and indispensable asset to make headway.