Italy aligns it itself with the statement [to be] made by the European Union. Italy also supports the statement [to be] made by the Representative of the Netherlands as part of our cooperation in the framework of the upcoming split term in the Security Council.
I would like to express my appreciation to SRSG Yamamoto for his comprehensive briefing and for the opportunity of addressing the Council regarding the situation in Afghanistan.
The successful outcomes of the Warsaw Summit and the Brussels Conference are a testament to the enduring partnership between the International Community and Afghanistan. Together, we will persist in our common efforts to create an environment that allows the Afghan people to look towards a future of peace, economic prosperity and self-reliance.
This partnership is essential precisely because Afghanistan continues to face daunting challenges, first and foremost in the security arena. Since the last debate, Afghan forces have continued to confront a determined assault from a wide range of violent extremist groups, which they have faced with great courage and valor. Italy continues its support in this area as a framework nation in the ‘Resolute Support’ mission, which provides crucial training, advising and assistance so that the Afghan security forces can continue to make important progress in their ability to counter these threats.
But the situation remains fragile, and we note with concern that the violence continues to take its heaviest toll on the innocent and most vulnerable. Civilian casualties are still at record levels, and I also wish to call your attention to reports that, according to several sources, the conflict has forced the closure of up to one thousand schools.
The plight of internally displaced persons and the general deterioration of humanitarian conditions require our sustained attention. The dramatically increased flow of returnees from neighboring countries this year is especially challenging, and Italy is proud to support UNHCR with a voluntary contribution of 1 million Euro in order to meet the humanitarian needs of IDP’s and returnees.
Afghanistan must now complement this support from the International Community with an unwavering commitment to carry out the reform agenda, in line with the expectations of the donor community and the Afghan population and the principle of mutual accountability reaffirmed at Brussels.
This effort will require sustained unity of purpose within the Government. The recent nomination of the Commissioners of the electoral management bodies is a positive step in this regard, which we hope will be followed by further action, such as an agreed electoral timeline.
The fight against corruption must also be a top priority, and the recent inauguration of the anti-corruption justice center must be quickly followed up with effective investigation and prosecution of cases, in close cooperation with all relevant institutions.
The renewed commitment at Brussels to the rights of women and their empowerment in society is also crucial. While the improvements made in the last 15 years are important, more must be done. Consider, for instance, the fact that literacy rates for women are still unacceptably high, especially in rural areas.
We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the important work by the Security Council’s Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security. Together with UNAMA, they continue to assist the Afghan Government in its commitment to implementing Resolution 1325. We endorse their recent conclusions and we welcome the progress made by Afghanistan thus far, while also encouraging more focused efforts where gaps still remain, such as women’s effective participation in the security sector. The only way for Afghanistan to fully achieve peace and prosperity is if women become primary stakeholders in the process.
The same concept equally applies to peace and reconciliation, where women must play a prominent role. Italy supports all efforts in this field, and we encourage the participation of all actors who can engage positively in this area. The involvement of regional partners is a key factor, and we continue to encourage all initiatives aimed at establishing a framework of dialogue and collaboration between Afghanistan and its neighbors.
Thank you Mr. President.