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Consiglio di Sicurezza – Briefing on Afghanistan

Discorso pronunciato dal Consigliere Andrea Biagini, Coordinatore Politico della Rappresentanza Permanente d’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite al briefing del Consiglio di Sicurezza sull’Afghanistan —

Mr. President,

At the outset I would like to thank all of today’s briefers for their comprehensive presentations.

Italy aligns itself with the statement [to be] made by the European Union. I would like to focus my intervention on two key areas for the future of Afghanistan: first, peace and reconciliation; second, the upcoming electoral deadlines , especially parliamentary elections scheduled for 2018.

Today more than ever before, reconciliation between the Government and the Taliban insurgency constitutes the solution for putting an end to the Afghan conflict and ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the country. It is therefore imperative to make every effort to create the conditions for peace, while remaining cognizant of the complexities involved in achieving this objective.

We are all painfully aware of the difficulties of the current Afghan context, with record-high levels of violence and mounting civilian casualties. It is also clear that, until now, insurgent groups have not shown any willingness to negotiate with the Government.

We also note, however, the positive trend over the last two years in terms of the growing level of ambition regarding peace and reconciliation.

Intensified diplomatic activity in this regard, first and foremost the launching of the Kabul Process but also the revitalization of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, demonstrate that there is an increased sensibility on this topic, as well as a common understanding that achieving peace and reconciliation is an achievable goal, even though many obstacles remain in its path.

A higher level of ambition can bring the necessary momentum to pave the way for peace in Afghanistan, especially when combined with a broadening of the spectrum of international stakeholders involved, especially regional countries.

In order to advance the prospects for peace and reconciliation, it is indispensable to bring two elements together. On the one hand, the intrinsically domestic nature of the process – which must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. On the other hand, genuine support for the peace process by partner countries is also needed, especially regional ones, in the interest of the stabilization of Afghanistan, of regional countries themselves, and of the region as a whole.

This also requires an effective and tangible collaboration in the fight against terrorist groups and their activities, which constitute one of the main obstacles to peace. In this context, the role played by regional countries is a key factor, and we hope this partnership can live up to its full potential.

The strategy outlined by the Afghan Government with the launching of the Kabul Process, which we fully support, must be complemented on the domestic front by a fully inclusive outreach towards all components of Afghan society, by ensuring the active participation of women, as well as harnessing the full potential of institutions such as the High Peace Council.

This will help in advancing a peace process which ensures the respect of Constitution and the rights of all Afghan citizens, without distinction, as well as in the protection of the economic and social progress made over the last sixteen years.

We therefore hope that the upcoming second meeting of the Kabul Process, to take place in February of next year, may bring tangible steps forward in the peace and reconciliation process, with the active support of all of Afghanistan’s partners.

Next year’s parliamentary elections are gradually drawing closer. They constitute a fundamental opportunity to strengthen the legitimacy of Afghan institutions. The Afghan people have very high expectations in this regard, and so does the donor community.

Ensuring transparent, inclusive and credible elections is therefore crucial. To this end, it is imperative that the competent Afghan institutions are able to urgently resolve all outstanding issues with regard to electoral reforms, avoiding any further delays and promoting the widest possible consensus within Afghan political parties and the wider society regarding the core values and the rules at the heart of the democratic process.

This also means ensuring tangible implementation of the National Unity Government’s wider reform agenda, of which electoral reforms are a key component. The greatest sense of urgency must be given to continuing the fight against corruption, as well as in the promotion of human rights, most importantly the rights of women. In this regard allow me also to express Italy’s concern regarding the recent carrying out of five executions.

Mr. President,

In closing, I wish to reiterate Italy’s full support to the Afghan Government and its people in the pursuit of peace, stability and development, first and foremost through our active participation in the NATO-led ‘Resolute Support’ mission, through our development cooperation assistance, as well as our support to all diplomatic initiatives which can bring a positive contribution to the resumption of the peace process.

Lastly, I would like to underline UNAMA’s key role in the framework of the partnership between Afghanistan and the International Community, and to recognize the tireless efforts on the part of its staff, who operate in very challenging conditions.

I thank you.