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I wish to express the Italian Government’s appreciation of UNAMA’s work in this third trimester, and renew our support for its mission – carried out in difficult circumstances, often placing the staff and its safety in harm’s way.

The security situation in Afghanistan continues to be alarming. According to the data in UNAMA’s Mid-year Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, there has been a rise in the number of civilian victims from 2009. In recent weeks there has been a surge in terrorist violence by rebel groups, with brutal attacks in Kabul and other areas of the Country. These criminal acts affect innocent victims we condemn them, today as we have before, in the most absolute terms.  

I take this opportunity to reiterate Italy’s full support for the efforts of the National Unity Government to secure peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. Our support takes the concrete form of active participation in the non-combat Resolute Support Mission, led by NATO, as a Framework Nation for Afghanistan’s western region.

In the few short months since our previous meeting here on UNAMA and the completion of the Government formation, we have seen encouraging results. The first recommendations of the Special Electoral Reform Commission (SERC) on adequate tax measures, for example, have led to an increase in internal revenue, and a monetary policy in the framework of the Staff- Monitored Programme (SMP) of the International Monetary Fund, as agreed with the Afghan Government.  

The recent Senior Officials Meeting on the refreshed Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) of 5 September in Kabul was very constructive, resulting in the establishment of clear indicators and deadlines in all of the sectors needing reform. These useful tools help build our confidence in the Country’s progress toward economic and social sustainability and further democratic consolidation. 

The concrete implementation of Afghanistan’s complex reform agenda under the Self Reliance Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) is now more than ever a fundamental goal for the sake of the Afghan people, and in compliance with international agreements. I thus welcome the EU’s decision to accept the Afghan Government’s invitation to host and co-chair the next Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, which we hope will be a landmark moment in the Country’s path to Self-Reliance. 

Against this background, the promotion of the rights of women and children and protecting them from any form of violence must remain a priority. A milestone was clearly reached on 30 June with the adoption of the National Plan on Women, Peace and Security, pursuant to resolution 1325 of the Security Council. We also greatly appreciated the decision of President Ghani to present the candidacy of the first woman judge to the Supreme Court, although she was ultimately not appointed.

Efforts must continue in this direction. The data collected by UNAMA is dismaying, in that it highlights an alarming increase during the first half of the year in victims of conflict who are women (+ 23%) or children (+13%). Action to strengthen women’s empowerment in every sector of society – where Afghanistan has made undeniable progress – must continue, since there is still much work to be done. We thus strongly support the Afghan Government in its commitment to upholding women’s and children’s rights, and we acknowledge this commitment and trust that the results obtained to date will be further consolidated and broadened. 

A few months ago there were encouraging signs of a possible reconciliation process and cessation of the violence in Afghanistan, such as the Murree Meeting of 7 July – the first direct encounter between representatives of the Afghan Government and of the Taliban movement. Recent developments have renewed uncertainties about the future of this process.

It is our hope that genuine cooperation within the region – a prerequisite for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan – can be immediately established to help overcome the current difficulties. Italy will support, with strength and determination, any and all initiatives to this end.