UN envoy stresses critical need for Afghanistan to find political route to peace

21 Dec 2015

UN envoy stresses critical need for Afghanistan to find political route to peace

NEW YORK - The most important development that would enable Afghanistan to continue to face its substantial economic, security and political challenges would be identifying a political path to peace, said Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, in a briefing to the Security Council today.

“While the challenges are of such a scale and complexity that any government would be tested in its efforts to meet them head on, there has been progress nonetheless,” said the UN envoy, noting that on the political front, the National Unity Government is advancing its reform agenda.

Mr. Haysom said that, beyond tackling corruption and continuing with reform, “the single development” that would allow for material progress toward a stable and self-reliant Afghanistan would be an agreement between Afghans as to the arrangements by which they can live together in peace and harmony.

“The war is impeding efforts to bring the political and economic progress that ultimately will ensure stability,” he said, noting that substantial human and material resources are being blocked or diverted because of insecurity.

“This situation cannot continue indefinitely,” he stated, saying that, sooner or later, the financial resources currently available to the country will diminish.

“Afghanistan needs to find a political route to peace,” he stressed.

Calling attention to Afghanistan’s fiscal challenges, the UN envoy said that Afghanistan’s economic growth, while low, is projected to increase in the coming years. He said the government this year was able to avert a fiscal crisis, and commended its leaders for continuing to put in place the building blocks for long-term economic development, including through an increased commitment to promoting regional ties.

On security, the UN envoy commended the Afghan National Security Forces for showing resilience in the face of an intensified insurgency. “Certainly, the temporary loss of key district centres and the provincial centre of Kunduz city were worrying developments and revealed major ANSF shortcomings,” he said. “The ANSF may be stretched to capacity, but, for the most part, they are holding their ground.”

Afghanistan, confronting countless challenges, has made it through its first post-transition year, said the UN envoy. “But in 2016, it is vital that the National Unity Government demonstrates increasingly its effectiveness, not only for the Afghan people but also for donors, on whom it is largely dependent for financial, material and technical assistance,” he stressed.

Mr. Haysom said that Afghanistan must show that it is committed to tackling corruption, making necessary governance reform and generating hope for the future, which he said will decrease the rate of emigration. “UNAMA will be encouraging donors to invest in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and security, rather than bear the costs of immigration,” he said.

In closing, the UN envoy called on the Taliban, which he said has not yet committed to entering into a peace process, to reciprocate the government’s commitment by stepping forward. “There is no other way for insurgent groups to demonstrate a commitment to the welfare and prosperity of their fellow citizens than to search for a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” he said.

The envoy stressed the necessity for face-to-face negotiations between the Afghan Government and Taliban leadership, and emphasized that UNAMA will continue to support all efforts to establish a peace process. “We continue to offer our good offices in any facilitative role while recognizing that any peace process must be Afghan-owned and led,” he concluded.

Read Nicholas Haysom's briefing to the UN Security Council.

Listen to audio of Nicholas Haysom's briefing to the UN Security Council.

Watch video excerpts of Nicholas Haysom's briefing to the UN Security Council.

Read a transcript of Nicholas Haysom's remarks at a media stakeout following his briefing.