Afghanistan: tragically high level of violence [fr]
Security Council - Quarterly debate on Afghanistan - Speech by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations – 21 December 2017
"The importance of strengthening United Nations support to Afghanistan, and in particular that of UNAMA, around the four pillars reaffirmed in this summer’s strategic review.", Anne Gueguen, 21 December 2017.
I would first like to thank all our briefers, particularly Ms. Wazma Frogh, who embodies the voice of women and civil society that is so essential to building a lasting peace in Afghanistan. France associates itself with the statement to be delivered later by the observer of the European Union. I will limit myself to four main comments. I would like to begin by stressing France’s great concern about the persistent tragically high level of violence and suffering in Afghanistan and the presence of terrorist groups in the country, particularly Da’esh. That state of affairs and its consequences are worrying and should compel us to redouble our efforts to put an end to them. As the report (S/2017/1056) of the Secretary-General points out, it is civilians, particularly women and children, who are suffering and continue to pay the heaviest price. The Afghan forces, whose commitment and determination I should commend once again, are fighting the Taliban and the terrorist groups bravely and striving to better protect civilians. However, the continued armed clashes and terrorist attacks are still severely destabilizing to the entire country. France takes the establishment and proliferation of terrorist groups,particularly Da’esh, in Afghanistan and the region. We fully share the determination of the Afghan authorities and our allies to combat terrorism and its financing. This anti-terrorist effort, if it is to be successful, must be supported by all countries in the region.
My second comment has to do with the importance of ensuring that the Afghan Government continues the reforms it has begun with the aim of establishing democratic governance that can better serve the population. This relates in particular to electoral reform. Progress has been made in this area and preparations for the parliamentary elections have begun, in particular through the Independent Electoral Commission. Nevertheless, much remains to be done in order to ensure the crucial goal of holding free and transparent elections in 2018 in accordance with the official schedule, as Mr. Yamamoto has just emphasized. France encourages the Afghan authorities to continue those efforts, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The reforms aimed at combating corruption are also going in the right direction. However, I would like to take advantage of Mr. Fedotov’s presence today to briefly discuss the narcotics problem. Drug trafficking continues to fuel the illicit economy, fund the Taliban insurgency and terrorist groups and threaten the health of many Afghans. The latest Afghanistan Opium Survey 2017 of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime highlights some disturbing trends that Mr. Fedotov also just mentioned. Despite progress in the programmes for eradicating poppy production in a growing number of provinces, the report estimates that the area under cultivation has increased and that this year’s potential opium production, at around 9,000 tons, is almost double that of last year. France calls on the Afghan authorities to redouble their efforts in that area, with the support of the international community and the United Nations. In that regard, the Paris Pact Initiative continues to be the preferred forum for exchanges among all countries affected by the trafficking of drugs produced in Afghanistan.
On the human rights front, the situation of women and children remains very precarious. The Afghan Government must not relax its efforts to implement its commitments to women’s rights. With a view to the parliamentary and presidential elections, to be held in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the full participation of women in the electoral processes as voters and as candidates will be essential.
My third comment concerns the pursuit of a negotiated political solution to the conf lict and the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan. France hopes that Afghan actors will re-engage in the peace process as soon as possible, with the support of the countries of the region and of the international community.
The sincere commitment and unambiguous support of all Afghanistan’s neighbours to peace are essential to this work. We ask everyone to make a renewed effort in that regard, as well as concrete commitments. France took note of the announcement of a new meeting of the Kabul process early next year and hopes that that will make it possible to bring together existing initiatives under the authority of the Afghan Government.
My fourth and final remark relates to the importance of strengthening United Nations support to Afghanistan, and in particular that of UNAMA, around the four pillars reaffirmed in this summer’s strategic review — first, helping to establish peace in Afghanistan; secondly, facilitating the involvement of countries in the region; thirdly, guiding the dialogue between the Government and the Afghan political forces; and fourthly, coordinating international assistance. During the Security Council’s visit, a few weeks from now, France looks forward to the opportunity to discuss with the Afghan authorities and the actors on the ground the ways that the international community can continue to support Afghanistan.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate France’s full support to the Afghan Government and the efforts of the United Nations in their pursuit of lasting peace for all Afghans. Lastly, I would like to commend Japan’s work and leadership on this issue throughout the year.