To redouble efforts to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan [fr]
Statement by Mrs Anne Gueguen - Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Mme Anne Gueguen
Security Council – 26 June 2018
First of all, let me thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Yamamoto for his very enlightening briefing, especially on peace efforts and the electoral process. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Voronkov and Executive Director Fedotov for their briefings on combating terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan, where the conflict is tragically illustrative of the persistent combination of local and global factors, whether relating to terrorism, drug trafficking, negative climactic developments or non-respect for basic rights, in particular those of children and women. France associates itself with the statement to be delivered shortly by the observer of the European Union. I will comment on four areas today.
My first observation concerns the security situation in Afghanistan, which continues to be extremely unstable and calls for pursuing efforts to protect civilians. France condemns in the strongest terms the two suicide bombings perpetrated on 16 and 17 June by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province in the province of Nangarhar. That type of asymmetrical attack — whether carried out by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province or the Taliban — has become the leading cause of civilian deaths, as the Secretary-General pointed out in his quarterly report (S/2018/539). In that regard, more must be done to protect women and children, who are especially vulnerable should there be a resurgence of violence. Almost one in three victims in Afghanistan last year was a child. The implementation of the national action plan deserves praise, but much remains to be done — for example, concerning the detention of children, their recruitment by parties to the conflict and the police force, and early or forced marriages. France reiterates its full support for the Afghan Government in its struggle against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province and the Taliban insurgency. In particular, we must see to it that foreign terrorist fighters fleeing Iraq and the Syria are prevented from finding refuge in Afghanistan.
France remains very concerned about drug trafficking, which continues to fuel the illicit economy, finance the Taliban insurgency and terrorist groups, and threaten the health of many Afghans. As Mr. Fedotov just underscored, recent developments give cause for concern, with an unprecedented level of opium production since 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. We hope that this subject, which is crucial to the future of the country, will be brought up at the ministerial conference on Afghanistan to be held in Geneva in November. In that regard, the Paris Pact Initiative remains an optimal framework for sharing ideas among all countries affected by drug trafficking in Afghanistan.
My second point concerns the fact that the dire security situation and the human cost of the conflict must motivate us to redouble efforts to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. We have seen encouraging signs over recent weeks. The ceasefires, which were honoured during Eid Al-Fitr, at the Afghan Government’s initiative, have given hope to the Afghan people, who have begun their march towards peace. France welcomes the unilateral extension of the ceasefire by Afghan forces but regrets that the Taliban did not respond positively to President Ghani’s offer to extend the ceasefire beyond Eid Al-Fitr. In that regard, France highlights the importance of the Kabul process for peace and security and calls on the Taliban to engage in direct negotiations as President Ghani has proposed. At the same time, we recall the demand of the international community that the Taliban renounce all forms of violence. Lastly, the improvement in the regional dynamic must be commended and encouraged.
With regard to the electoral process — this being my third point — France welcomes the preparatory efforts of the Afghan Independent Election Commission. As of today, nearly 7 million registrations have been recorded on the electoral lists — an encouraging, albeit inadequate, number. We call on the Afghan Government to pursue those efforts, with the support of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and its international partners, to conduct free, credible and transparent elections according to the agreed timeline. The Independent Election Commission must continue to work towards ensuring the largest voter turn-out among the population. In that regard, we are concerned about the dearth of candidates in some provinces. It is also important to recall that women can fully participate in the electoral process both as voters and as candidates. In order to sustainably improve women’s political participation, support — including financial support — for the national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), on women and peace and security, is needed today.
Lastly, my fourth remark concerns indispensable international support for Afghanistan. By renewing UNAMA’s mandate in March, the Council reiterated its unwavering commitment to restoring peace in Afghanistan. In conclusion, I welcome the exceptional dedication of UNAMA’s personnel, who work with courage and perseverance in particularly difficult conditions.