Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Debate on Afghanistan - UNAMA
Statement23 March 2021
[Before commencing her remarks, Ambassador Byrne Nason expressed her condolences to the people and government of Niger on the recent tragic killings in the country, and expressed solidarity with Ambassador Abdou Abarry.]
Thank you Madam President.
I want to thank Special Representative Lyons and Ms Akbar for their informative but I must say, sobering, briefings today. I also want to welcome my dear friend and colleague Ambassador Adela Raz to the Council. Adela your passion and pain shown to your people humbles many of us here this morning.
Today’s debate comes at a pivotal moment for Afghanistan and also the people of Afghanistan. We’ve heard a lot reminding us of the truism that peace really is a process and not a moment. We have heard about the ongoing challenges for Afghanistan including the high levels of violence. We are forced once again to call for an end to that violence and for a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. This is clearly what the Afghan people desire and demand, and it is surely what the Afghan’s deserve. Deborah, I want to express Ireland’s appreciation and full support for UNAMA’s critically important work, under your leadership, in what we all know are really challenging circumstances in Afghanistan.
This Council’s recent condemnation of targeted attacks against women, human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, medical personnel and humanitarian workers, among others, demonstrates the scale but also the unity of our own purpose against this horrific violence. Ireland stands in support of those in Afghanistan who demonstrate such bravery in the face of threats, lest we forget, as Adela poignantly said this morning.
Ms Akbar you recently wrote powerfully about the terror and fear that these attacks have generated, including forcing many into silence or into leaving their own country, leaving Afghanistan. You highlighted that this will create a void in Afghanistan that will take another generation to fill. This violence and intimidation cannot stand. In response to the escalating threats, Ireland is increasing the assistance we provide in Afghanistan to support those who are in danger.
Today we are also at a critical juncture on the path to peace, we hope with new initiatives, in addition to the ongoing Doha negotiations. It is critical that Afghans remain engaged themselves at the core of all processes. We urge all parties to work in good faith to reach a negotiated settlement and a fully inclusive and sustainable, dignified peace that reflects and respects the needs and wishes of the Afghan people, who, after decades of conflict and instability, deserve no less.
Deborah you said this morning that building peace takes more than a deal amongst elites, the process must be inclusive, we reiterate that. It is vital that all peace negotiations protect the hard won gains of the last two decades and reinforce fundamental rights. The international community has a role to play in supporting these negotiations. The EU, as a longstanding partner, and significant donor, to Afghanistan can make an important contribution to any future discussions while recognising that, above all, it is the Afghan people, all Afghans – men, women, youth, and minorities – who belong at the heart of their own process, building their own future together. A future based on equality, based on democracy and on the rule of law. Only an inclusive peace, that upholds the inalienable rights of the Afghan people, will be sustainable.
Ireland is very proud to co-chair the UN Group of Friends of Peace Processes, with Afghanistan. We are committed to ensuring that all peace initiatives including the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, occur. Not just in words, but in actions. Their participation in the room and at the negotiating table is fundamental to the success of any peace process. I am very concerned at the shockingly low levels of female representation at the meetings in Moscow last week . I share the opinion expressed by Habiba Sarabi, the sole female delegate, that the views of “51% of people should not be ignored”. As my good friend Adela Raz has often said, “peace will fail if women’s rights are not guaranteed”.
The Secretary General’s report highlights the extremely high levels of violence faced by women and children in Afghanistan, as well as the difficulties victims of gender-based violence face in accessing justice. I echo the call on the Afghan Government to strengthen the implementation of the law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The Special Representative’s briefing on the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan today was really marked and stark. Half of the population, 18.4 million people, in humanitarian need. The ongoing violence is exacerbating this crisis. Interference with humanitarian access is always unacceptable, and always prolongs the suffering of vulnerable people.
We are gravely concerned about the impact of the drought, combined with Covid, on what is already the world’s second worst, and I underline this, the world’s second worst food insecurity crisis. At a time where the humanitarian plan for Afghanistan is chronically underfunded, Ireland, the EU and the wider international community will continue to stand with the Afghan people to provide the required assistance.
In conclusion, the challenges facing Afghanistan are many and complex. But peace would create the space to tackle them. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is also critical as we have heard for regional security, stability and development. We value the role played by UNAMA in Afghanistan and also welcome the appointment of Jean Arnaud as Personal Envoy of the Secretary General on Afghanistan and Regional issues.
Ireland, together with the EU and our international partners, continues to stand with the people of Afghanistan at this moment of hope and expectation, to build a dignified peace that will build a stable, inclusive and prosperous future for all Afghans.
Thank you, Madam President.