Media stakeout following SRSG Tadamichi Yamamoto's briefing to the Security Council

19 Dec 2016

Media stakeout following SRSG Tadamichi Yamamoto's briefing to the Security Council

NEW YORK - Media stakeout following the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto's briefing to the Security Council.




New York – 19 December 2016

(lightly edited for clarity)

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  • UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto

Tadamichi Yamamoto: Good afternoon. Thank you very much for gathering here. We had the regular quarterly briefing on the Afghan situation in the Security Council. I thought it was a really good meeting with countries covering all the key issues.

From the United Nations, we stressed two things. One is the need for peace efforts and the other one is the issue of returnees, particularly from Pakistan. I stressed that now is the time to try to refocus attention on peace efforts in Afghanistan for several reasons.

One reason is that this year we are seeing thousands and thousands of people losing lives because of conflict. For the civilians it is more than 3,000, but for the soldiers and the police and also the insurgents, the number of deaths is large. The suffering of people, the tragedy, is great, and we cannot go on like this.

The second reason is because, despite the enormous amount of international commitment to assist Afghanistan in the economic and development field, the full potential of such assistance will not be realized without peace. We had, as you know, seen the commitment of the international community at Brussels to assist Afghanistan up to 2020 with $15.2 billion – that is $3.8 billion a year, which is a large amount of money. So this is the second reason.

Also the fighting season, the height of the fighting season, will be over very soon because of the weather. Winter is setting in, and it allows us to increase our efforts in the field of diplomacy. We need to make real efforts for peace now.

I have also stressed the need for each country, particularly the countries in the region, neighbouring countries, to ask themselves what more they could do to contribute and to create the environment conducive to peace. Each of the steps that these countries may take may be small, but together there will be opportunities. This is very important for countries in the region. We had a very successful Heart of Asia Meeting, when regional cooperation was agreed to not only in the field of development but also in the field of counter-insurgency.

The other thing – I shan’t go into detail, because I think you know – is that we are seeing close to a million returnees coming from Pakistan, and about more than a half million internally displaced persons exist because of the conflict within Afghanistan. Almost one and a half million people are going to be on the move. The winter is setting in, and these people will need to be assisted. The UN has made an appeal for the immediate needs because winter is coming, but the government is also coming up with a longer term policy of integration. The international community has to help these efforts, and there is a lot of support for this.

So I will stop here and I’ll take questions.

Inner City Press: Thanks for doing the stakeout. I wanted to know if you could say anything about the status of the inquiry into the US airstrike in Kunduz in November, in terms of the UN role in investigating it, and there are also reports that the International Criminal Court is considering some Afghan cases. What impact do you think that would have on the political situation between the government and the Taliban and otherwise?

Yamamoto: When there are military incidents which involve civilians the United Nations always looks at the case, investigates, and tries to find out the situation. So on all these cases, including the ones you mentioned, we do conduct investigations. Usually we lump them up, and bring them together into a civilian casualty report, to give an overall picture of what the situation is. We are seeing a large number of civilian casualties as I mentioned. We work with the Afghan government, the Afghan military, the international military, and also Taliban, and speak to all of them to make more efforts to change the way they fight so that there are less civilian casualties. And I think this is accepted by everybody.

Kyodo News: As you mentioned before, the Afghan government had a peace agreement with Hizb-i Islami. I was just wondering how it will work for the whole peace process. Could you give us some update on the peace and reconciliation?

Yamamoto: Sure. That is actually a very important agreement as a precedent to many peace agreements which would come, because it addresses some difficult issues, for instance how to treat prisoners, how to treat people on the sanctions list, how to integrate those people back into society, both into the government and also into the community. And this is in a way a test case. The government of Afghanistan is committed to do its utmost to try to integrate those people. It takes the efforts of both sides, not just the government but on the side of the Hizb-i Islami people. The international community understands the importance of this as a precedent for possible peace agreements for the future, so we all hope that this can be done successfully, without much difficulty.

Kyodo News: Following up. How about the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan government now: Could you give us some update on it?

Yamamoto: Efforts are being made. No immediate moves are being announced, but efforts continue to be made. And as I say, now as the winter season sets in, a lot more diplomatic efforts are going to be made by all sides, and so we hope that even small steps are going to be possible. It is clear that in order for peace to be obtained, the Taliban and the Afghan government have to talk to each other and try and set a stage for the eventual formal peace talks.

Inner City Press: I just wanted to ask you about another aspect of this ICC question, the International Criminal Court. I wanted to know, because it has come up in other missions… If for example the ICC were to request information from the mission, UNAMA, would you be at liberty to provide it? Is that something… Is that within the mandate of the mission?

Yamamoto: The United Nations actually works and cooperates with the ICC. So if there is a formal request, we will cooperate with them, naturally, and help them according to the agreement that we have with the ICC.

Inner City Press: I think, maybe with UNAMID in Darfur, there was an issue… maybe because Sudan is not a member of the ICC or because it’s a joint mission, but in your case, you said you could cooperate fully?

Yamamoto: We haven’t actually received anything yet, so we have to look at what they are requesting. But if there were to be a request and if it’s on the basis of the agreement we have with them, naturally we will cooperate with them. But the ICC I think is also very much aware of all the implications of their work, including political work.

Thank you very much.