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Security Council – The situation in Afghanistan

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, at the Security Council Open Debate on the situation in Afghanistan —

Thank you Mr. President, and allow me to thank the representative of Afghanistan for his comprehensive briefing. I would also thank Sima Samar and welcome the fact that she is the first woman to speak in the Security Council on Afghanistan.

Italy’s strongest condemnation of the heinous terrorist attack against Kabul Military Hospital that hit the country. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims’ families.

We also reiterate our support for the efforts by the National Unity Government to combat terrorism and violent extremism, which continue to represent serious threats to the security and stability of Afghanistan. It is essential to have Afghan security and defense forces that are capable of addressing these persistent challenges effectively and autonomously.

Mr. President, in the framework of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, Italy is committed to providing tangible support to the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to strengthen the ANDSF, whose bravery deserves to be recognized. We also note the important progress achieved thus far in improving the capabilities of the security forces, also thanks to the assistance of NATO and its partners, and we hope these achievements can become a solid foundation for further progress.

UNAMA’s figures for 2016 show persistently high levels of violence in the Afghan conflict. We are deeply concerned by the further increase of civilian casualties, as outlined in UNAMA’s recent report, as well as the alarming situation of internally displaced persons and returnees.

Our imperative must be to work together and renew our efforts to break the spiral of violence and lay the foundation for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. In this context, my country wishes to reiterate its full support to the National Unity Government’s commitment to launching an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

This objective will require the constructive involvement of all international and regional stakeholders capable of making a significant contribution. Italy, especially in its capacity as non-permanent member of the Security Council, will strongly support all initiatives in this regard.

Mr. President, in order to increase opportunities for dialogue and a political understanding in Afghanistan between the Government and insurgent movements, it is essential that there also be a positive climate and true cooperation among neighboring countries. It is our sincere hope that these conditions will soon be established, on the basis of enduring common interests, such as the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, which are a dangerous destabilizing factor not only for Afghanistan but for the region as a whole.

Winning the challenge of peace, stability and development in Afghanistan also requires a consolidation of its institutions and a transformation of the State through effective Government action that can meet the needs and legitimate expectations of its people.

The National Unity Government is engaged in a fundamental reform process, articulated most recently in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework and the National Priority Programs. We therefore welcome the determination of the Government of Afghanistan, and the many results already achieved in various sectors. Together with our partners in the International Community, Italy renewed its tangible support for this process of internal reform at the Brussels Conference last October.

Nevertheless, it is crucial that these reform efforts – for which the internal cohesion in the Government is an essential prerequisite – continue making further progress towards self-reliance. Quick and decisive action towards further reforms is especially important in order to meet the legitimate aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people. Should these hopes be disappointed, it would inevitably foment distrust in the institutions of the Afghan State.

Mr. President, the fight against corruption must continue to be a top priority. We therefore appreciate the engagement and the initial measures adopted by the Government in this regard, and we urge it to proceed resolutely forward in this struggle. Another priority must continue to be the persistent defense and promotion of the rights of women and their empowerment at every level of society. We are thus concerned by the risk of setbacks in this area, such as access to education for young women and girls, also because of the deteriorating security situation. We invite the Government of Afghanistan to make further efforts in this regard. Furthermore, we hope that the affirmation of the rights of women can be achieved also with a view to the peace process, through their active participation in the framework of future negotiations.

In light of encouraging developments in recent months in the area of elections, we urge the Government of Afghanistan to urgently complete the reform process so as to allow the holding of parliamentary and district elections in a democratic, transparent and inclusive manner.

Afghanistan and its Government can count on the International Community’s full support, which has destined exceptional levels of assistance to this end. But the Afghan institutions have to be in the driver’s seat, as they bear the primary responsibility for progress, also in light also of the principle of mutual accountability that, today more than ever, constitutes a cornerstone of our partnership.

Lastly, in the difficult and complex circumstances that Afghanistan is currently facing, UNAMA continues to play an essential role in coordinating the International Community’s support, with the common goal of achieving peace and sustainable development for the Afghan people. Italy therefore associates itself with the expressions of warm appreciation for its work and supports the upcoming renewal of its mandate.

I thank you.