UN envoy calls for peace agreement to stop ‘ongoing suffering of millions of Afghans’
NEW YORK - As this calendar year closes, we are still left to tackle the issue that concerns us most in Afghanistan, a convincing peace process to end the 40 years of conflict, said the UN Secretary-General’s special Representative for Afghanistan at United Nations headquarters today.
“One year ago in this Council, I called upon all Afghans to come together and find ways to build their own joint future,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “We must use the upcoming winter months, when conflict levels tend to decrease, to advance on this issue before the cycle of violence is renewed next spring.”
The UN envoy described the 1 February 2018 Kabul Process meeting, where the Government of Afghanistan is expected to present its strategic concept for reaching a political settlement with the armed opposition, as an opportunity that must not be missed.
“I once again call on the Taliban to express a clear willingness to begin negotiations towards a political settlement, and to start the initial dialogue,” he said, calling attention to the increased consultations among the countries in the region about securing peace in Afghanistan.
Another issue Yamamoto highlighted to the Security Council during the debate on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Afghanistan is the holding of parliamentary elections next year, followed by presidential elections in April 2019.
“The holding of timely, credible, and accepted elections is indispensable to maintaining the constitutional order and trust in the representative system of government,” he said, underlining that security and women’s political participation are vitally important to the credibility of the elections.
In addition to these issues, Yamamoto outlined issues around civilian casualties, Afghanistan’s economy and its regional relationships. “I am particularly concerned about recent reports of increased military activities between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said, calling on Afghanistan and Pakistan to find ways of collaborating more effectively to address the issues that affect the populations of both countries.
In closing, the UN envoy said that the United Nations is ready to do whatever it can in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. “I truly hope that empathy for the ongoing suffering of millions of Afghans will move us all to make the efforts necessary to achieve peace and realize the important opportunities that lie beyond a much needed peace agreement,” he said.