U.N. Security Council on June 19 held a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan. Officials urged for the inclusion of Afghan government in peace negotiations, human rights protection, and a credible and timely presidential election. Tadamichi Yamamoto, U.N. Special Representative to Afghanistan, said that there is reason for “cautious” optimism.

During his briefing, Yamamoto, who is also the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), stressed the need for formal negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Yamamoto told the Security Council that Afghans are focused on the need to reach a negotiated settlement. He said that “all such efforts must aim towards one common objective:  the start of formal negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.” He continued that “the common message to the Taliban is clear:  come to the table and negotiate directly with the Afghan Government.” He also said that he’s encouraged by increasing support for a political settlement and called on countries “with direct contacts and with influence over the Taliban to intensify their efforts toward this goal.”

Yamamoto addressed Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election which is scheduled for September 28, 2019. He said that this election “will be a key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure and there are significant operational and technical challenges to be overcome.”  Yamamoto also showed concern over the civilian casualties stating that “the first quarter of 2019 saw almost 1,800 civilians killed or injured — fewer than in previous quarters but still far too many.” He insisted that, “the targeting of civilians by anti-government elements is a war crime and must stop.”

Adela Raz, Afghanistan’s first woman Ambassador to the U.N. said that “the Government of National Unity has long believed that peace can only be achieved through a process supported by all Afghans.” She continued that, “protecting the essence of the Constitution, especially equal rights, reflects the strong desire of the Afghan public — and as such, the outcome of any agreement should retain, expand and enhance women’s rights.”  Speaking about Afghan security forces, Raz said that they “have prevented the Taliban from capturing territory, stressing that 85 to 90 percent of productive territory is under government control.

Leading Afghan women including Raz, Dr. Sima Samar Chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and representatives from Afghan Women Network, Afghan female journalists participated in the meeting. Dr. Samar conveyed to the Security Council the demand of Afghan women to make women and human rights a non-negotiable element in the peace negotiation with the Taliban. She also raised her concern by saying that although “hope and optimism for protecting human rights has never been higher in Afghanistan, fear of returning to a time when people — especially women and minorities — were denied their freedoms has never been greater.” Dr. Samar also called for international community to support the upcoming presidential election. According to Samar, a free and fair election is critical to ensuring stability and security in Afghanistan.

 

Media Resources: UN 6/19/19, 6/19/19

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