Supporting Afghanistan on the path to peace [fr]
Statement by Mme. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 19 June 2019
Allow me in turn to thank Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto, Ms. Sima Samar and Ambassador Adela Raz for their very enlightening briefings and their commitment to their respective roles in the promotion of peace and of the rights and respect for the freedoms of all Afghan men and women.
France aligns itself with the statement to be made later on behalf of the European Union. I will make three observations.
1/- The primary and fundamental urgent need is to redouble efforts to protect civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, and to respond to humanitarian needs. The number of casualties, although it has decreased slightly compared with last year, is of particular concern. With 11,000 deaths in 2018, Afghanistan has the most civilian casualties of any conflict-affected country. The number of attacks against aid workers increased by more than 150 per cent in one year, and schools are also being targeted. This is unacceptable. It is imperative that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, and France welcomes the efforts undertaken by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in support of the Afghan authorities to limit the number of civilian casualties and minimize the impact of operations on civilians and their infrastructure. France welcomes the laws and action plans adopted to protect children, which must be fully implemented and provide protection against the six serious violations. This must also be the case more broadly with regard to laws on the protection of women and children from violence, including sexual violence. It is vital that the capacities of the judiciary be strengthened in that respect.
As the Secretary-General notes in his report (S/2019/493), we must meet the growing humanitarian needs of the 6.3 million Afghans requiring assistance and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout the country.
2/- Secondly, our priority must be, now more than ever, to ensure the success of efforts to achieve a negotiated and lasting peace in Afghanistan. I commend the work carried out by several partners, including the United States, Qatar and Germany, which have engaged in discussions with the Taliban with a view to bringing them to engage in peace talks with the Afghan Government. France calls on the Taliban to immediately and concretely demonstrate its commitment to peace by accepting direct talks with the Afghan Government and declaring a ceasefire.
As the Special Representative recalled, the peace process must be inclusive, led by and for the Afghan people. It is crucial in this regard that women participate directly and meaningfully in peace talks at all levels of decision-making. The preservation and strengthening of the achievements made in the areas of justice, the rule of law and respect for rights and freedoms must remain a top priority, particularly concerning respect for the rights of women, respect for fundamental freedoms in particular, the freedoms of opinion and expression and the protection of journalists. Sacrificing those achievements could jeopardize the support, including financial support, of the international community for the ongoing process.
3/- Finally, the third priority is to ensure the holding and smooth conduct of the presidential elections of 28 September, which must be free, transparent and inclusive. The weaknesses identified in previous elections must be remedied and preparations intensified. The Independent Election Commission must continue to work to enable the widest possible participation of the people in the elections, including that of women as candidates and as voters.
Given the high level of threat, including in Kabul, poll security will also be a determining factor. We reiterate our full support for the Afghan security forces, whose efforts during the legislative elections were notable.
Allow me to conclude by recalling the vital role of the United Nations in continuing to support Afghanistan. In this regard, I wish to commend the outstanding work of UNAMA and of the various United Nations agencies in Afghanistan in a particularly difficult security context. In reviewing the mandate of the Mission, which we will be doing soon, we must not lose sight of the crucial work that it does on a daily basis. It is imperative that the international community, in particular the Security Council, remain united in supporting Afghanistan’s journey towards peace, democracy and economic and social development.