Suffering of the Afghan people needs to end – Intra-Afghan talks the answer
NEW YORK – The UN’s top envoy in Afghanistan urged the Taliban to engage in direct Afghan-owned talks with authorities in Kabul and start a peace process to bring the suffering of the Afghan people to an end.
“President Ashraf Ghani offered peace to the Taliban without preconditions, and laid out a path for negotiations with a series of concrete proposals to create space for the opening of talks,” Tadamichi Yamamoto told the Security Council on Thursday.
“The offer of negotiation is on the table,” said the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), referring to the offer made on 28 February at the second Kabul Process conference at which all participants from more than 25 states and international entities endorsed the call for intra-Afghan direct talks to commence without pre-conditions.
“All relevant parties, including the Taliban, agree that a negotiated political settlement is the way to bring an end to the conflict,” Yamamoto said. “The Taliban’s argument that they will not talk to the Afghan government because the conflict is not between Afghan parties misrepresents the reality that tens of thousands of Afghan people are killed and maimed every year in direct confrontations between the Taliban and the government forces.”
Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, went on to say that making peace and reaching out to opponents requires resolve, courage, and, above all, national unity. He urged all political leaders to demonstrate statesmanship and to place the national interest above a partisan agenda.
“National unity provides the only basis for the continuation of international support for Afghanistan, and for the implementation of effective reforms,” he said, noting that the upcoming elections provide a further opportunity to ensure that unity and stability prevail.
The UN envoy touched on several other pressing issues in Afghanistan, including civilian casualties from the conflict, refugees, regional trade developments, and Afghanistan’s new penal code, which he called a milestone in the country’s criminal justice reform.
Throughout his remarks, Yamamoto referred to the importance of women’s role in peace and decision-making processes, saying that Afghan women’s strength holds the fabric of society together. He stressed their important role in elections, and noted that the UN is working with the Independent Election Commission to ensure women’s participation at all stages, as candidates, campaigners and voters.
In closing, the envoy said that the UN has important tasks ahead this year, including the upcoming elections and the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, which he said the United Nations looks forward to hosting with Afghanistan in Geneva on 28 November.