In the period following the latest Security Council debate on Afghanistan, the security situation in the Country has deteriorated, as highlighted also in the Secretary-General’s report. In recent months, we have seen a further recrudescence of violence by insurgent groups, confirmed also by UNAMA data on civilian victims, indicating a 26% increase in August-October 2015, compared to the same period of 2014.
We also strongly condemn the most recent terrorist attacks in Kandahar and Kabul.
The National Unity Government continues its steadfast commitment to combat those aiming to destabilize the Country and to foil the progress made in democratic and social spheres; and the achievements reached in civil rights and in the situation of women in these fourteen years through the efforts of Afghan institutions and the support of the international community.
Italy will continue to support the Afghan Government and institutions, in its commitment to sustaining the Country’s security and stability and to fulfilling the aspirations of its people for a future of peace and prosperity.
Evidence of this is our decision to maintain also in 2016, together with our partners, our contribution to the train, advise and assist mission – Resolute Support – led by NATO, to continue efforts in strengthening the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces units that are fighting insurgent hostile groups. Italy will also continue to play its role as Framework Nation in the western region of Afghanistan.
We are all well aware, however, as underscored in the GA resolution on Afghanistan adopted in recent weeks, that to obtain long-lasting peace and stability, internal reconciliation is paramount.
Promising signs have emerged from the Islamabad Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, with the high-level participation of the region’s main Countries, and of President Ghani, in particular. These are positive indications for strengthened cooperation among the region’s main actors, particularly, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the support of the international community, in the fight against terrorist groups and in creating conditions that are conducive to resuming the negotiation process between the Government and the Taliban.
Italy supports all efforts and initiatives in this direction, based on a closer cooperation among actors that can lead to an internal and inclusive peace process that entails the rejection of violence; breaking all links with terrorism; respect for human rights and in particular those of women, whom we hope to see actively participating in future peace negotiations, and of girls.
This year has witnessed a worrying increase in the flux of Afghan citizens fleeing their Country because of the worsening security situation.
Self-sustaining development will be untenable without the necessary internal reforms. We reiterate our appreciation for the efforts of the National Unity Government and the plans arranged under its “Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework”, launched last September. An articulated program based on indicators and clearly defined timelines is certainly the best premise for any action of reform, but this must be accompanied by effective implementation with measurable results in the fields of: political governance (election reform); rule of law, advancing the fight against corruption; economic governance to create a more favorable business environment; and human rights.
Against this background, priority must be given to the protection and promotion of women’s rights; to strengthening women’s empowerment in all sectors of society; to their physical protection because episodes of violence against them have increased in recent times – as shown by some extremely serious cases which we strongly condemn.
This, despite the commendable efforts of the Afghan Government, shows how much work must still be done in these sectors.
The hard work of the Afghan Authorities and institutions, with the support of the international community, is crucial for the reform process to achieve its goals of further democratic consolidation and self-reliance. The Brussels Ministerial Conference of 4 and 5 October 2016, co-hosted by the EU, will be an opportunity to confirm this partnership, which, considering the extraordinary level of mutual commitment between the international community and Afghanistan, must lead to concrete progress in reform.