Statement by Minister Coveney at the UNSC Debate on UNAMA - Afghanistan
Statement22 June 2021
Madam President, thank you.
I would also like to thank Special Representative Lyons, Executive Director Waly, and in particular Ms Akrami for her remarks and her personal experience.
I would also like to acknowledge the presence of my colleague, Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and also thank him for his contribution.
Given the magnitude of the challenges facing Afghanistan, this Council must ensure UNAMA has the backing necessary for its critical work.
Ireland looks forward to working with you, Special Representative, and with Council members, on the UNAMA mandate renewal over the coming months.
I would like to make three points if I may, on today’s debate..
My first point is to express our concern at the lack of progress in the peace process.
Violence is causing or exacerbating the many challenges facing Afghanistan, making it the most dangerous country in the world for civilians today. Continued conflict and instability in Afghanistan also threatens regional peace and security as well.
Recent months have seen deliberate and sickening attacks against journalists, civil society actors, human rights defenders, humanitarian and medical workers, as well as minorities.
We have seen abhorrent violence directed towards schoolchildren, adding to the already high level of grave violence committed against Afghan children.
It is deeply disturbing, that women and girls are being specifically targeted, to sow fear about the exercise of their fundamental rights.
I utterly condemn these attacks and their intent, and our thoughts are of course with the victims and their families.
The people of Afghanistan have repeatedly made clear their strong desire for peace. Those engaged in violence - including the Taliban - must respect this desire. A ceasefire, and a serious engagement in peace negotiations, is the only way to end the cycle of violence.
Ireland and our EU partners are also clear that any easing in sanctions and restrictions can only be considered when genuine progress is demonstrated on reducing violence and in progressing the peace negotiations, in accordance with Resolution 2513.
The Doha negotiations have the full support of the international community, and I thank Qatar for facilitating these negotiations.
The peace process must remain Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, but Ireland supports an enhanced role for the UN in facilitating and supporting the parties.
I urge Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional partners to use their influence to promote a sustainable peace, and welcome the engagement of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy in building regional consensus for peace initiatives.
It is also crucial that Afghanistan never again be used as a base for international terrorism, or as a centre for illicit drug production that finances and fuels terrorism and organised crime.
My second point is that all Afghans, and especially women, need to be meaningfully engaged in peace negotiations, and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
For Ireland, ensuring women are at the table in all peace talks and processes is not empty rhetoric. It is a position that has been informed by lived experience on our own Island.
Globally, the evidence speaks for itself. Women’s participation in peace processes contributes to stronger outcomes, and to better and more enduring peace agreements.
Afghan women are demanding to be heard. Yet they continue to be severely underrepresented in, and excluded from, peace negotiations. This is unacceptable and must be remedied. Participation is their right.
The peace process in its substance must also protect the rights of women. The international community cannot support any rollback of the rights of more than half of the Afghan population. Women’s rights can’t be the price of peace.
Fair and inclusive representation also means ensuring the participation of Afghanistan’s young people, civil society and minority groups.
When I spoke at the Afghanistan Conference last November, I set out our position on current and future support to the Afghan government, which relies on the adherence to the principles set out in the Afghanistan Partnership Framework.
Minorities in Afghanistan must be able to live in peace and security.
All Afghans must be afforded equal rights to reach their own potential.
My third point is on the need for a response to the rapidly deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
14 million Afghans are experiencing severe food insecurity. Half of all children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition.
Ireland will support the Afghan government in addressing the country's urgent humanitarian and security needs. Humanitarian actors are needed in Afghanistan now more than ever and must be protected and supported.
I condemn in the strongest terms the recent attacks on vaccination workers, and against Halo Trust employees, whose demining work was helping local communities to live and farm safely.
While having made little contribution to climate change globally, Afghanistan is particularly at risk from the impacts of climate change.
Compounding this are the decades of conflict, which have prevented the necessary adaptation and mitigation measures being taken, further increasing the country’s vulnerability.
Ireland, as co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, will work to ensure that this Council does more to understand the impact of climate-related security risks which undoubtedly are contributing to an already difficult and unstable situation in Afghanistan.
In conclusion, I call again on the Taliban to re-join and constructively engage in the Doha process, which clearly has not been happening.
Doing so is essential to building peace. It is essential to determining Afghanistan’s governance and its future. And it is essential to addressing the urgent humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people.
We as a Council must stand with Afghanistan and its people.
We will continue to support their desire to build a fair and sustainable peace, and a stable and prosperous future, for all Afghans.