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Security Council – Open Debate on “UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)”

Statement delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on “UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)”. —


Mr. President,

The Secretary-General’s report, for which we are grateful, highlights the rapid changes we are witnessing in Afghanistan. At the outset I wish to underline how UNAMA remains crucial for the stabilization and development of the country. Italy thanks SRSG Yamamoto and his staff for their laudable commitment. The attainment of peace is the most formidable of the many challenges facing Afghanistan today. The latest diplomatic developments, with the efforts of the US Special Representative to set up the groundwork for peace negotiations, as well as the trend toward greater regional cooperation, open up a window of opportunity which must be seized. All stakeholders should do their part in order to achieve this goal, with the United Nations playing a leading role, in order to ensure that all positive initiatives and contributions feed into a unitary and coherent design.

Persistent security threats continue to entail very high costs, draining precious resources and energies away from other urgent needs, such as institutional consolidation and economic and social development. Italy expresses its deep gratitude to the National Unity Government and its Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for the sacrifices made in the daily fight against terrorism and violent extremism. We stand by your side and remain determined in our support to strengthening of ANDSF’s capabilities, first and foremost through our contribution to the Resolute Support Mission.

Mr. President,

The prospects for peace in Afghanistan have never been more tangible than they are today. Italy assesses its full support to those diplomatic initiatives that can concretely facilitate the launching of a reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the lion’s share of the work that must be done in order to seize this opportunity lies in the domestic sphere. Only a process that encompasses extensive and inclusive participation, and where there is true Afghan ownership and leadership, can ensure such an outcome.

Women, in particular, must be empowered to have an active role in the process, in order to protect their rights as enshrined in the Constitution and to safeguard the broader civil and social gains achieved in the course of the past seventeen years. I welcome the Afghan-UK initiative for a new Group of Friends on women’s rights and Italy is ready to join the group and to contribute to it.

We wish to reiterate our deep appreciation for President Ghani’s commitment toward peace and reconciliation, beginning with his generous offer made in February last year to negotiate with the Taliban without pre-conditions, which was renewed in in Geneva last December. The determination to achieve peace also found its expression in the consultative Lloya Jirga which was convened at the end of April.

Mr. President,

The presidential elections scheduled for next September will be a litmus test for Afghanistan. The organizational and procedural difficulties of last October’s parliamentary elections must serve of “lessons learned” in order to ensure that the upcoming presidential elections are credible and transparent. It is vital that they be held without delays or shortcomings. The credibility of Afghan institutions depends on this. We invite all presidential candidates, from the current President to members of the opposition, to commit to a responsible approach that will ensure that these institutions are protected.

The importance of the upcoming vote should not distract our attention from seeking peace. Electoral considerations should not prevail over the urgency of promoting dialogue among all components of Afghan society and making the necessary compromises in order to reach a peace agreement. Italy fully joins in these appeals to distinguish between the electoral track and the peace track, pursuing each one independently of the other.

In conclusion, I would like to express my country’s unwavering support towards all sincere efforts to restore peace and stability to Afghanistan.

I thank you.