Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
I thank SRSG Otunbayeva and Ms. Basij-Rasikh for their really insightful and very moving remarks.
Throughout the past six months, this Council has unanimously adopted three resolutions on Afghanistan.
Maintaining this unity remains crucial going forward. The UAE, alongside Japan as co-penholders, will continue to strive for the consensus that we have seen on Afghanistan, because it is through our unity that we can make a difference on the ground.
Today, I will focus on the four areas where the UAE believes that we can solidify our efforts.
First, we must continue to insist on the inclusion of women and girls in Afghan society.
This starts with education. We must see progress on the provision of education, at all levels and up to international standards and benchmarks. This is non-negotiable as you have heard from our civil society briefer today.
On a practical level, there are real concerns that the latest decision by the Taliban, requiring the handover of educational programming, will result in subsequent donor funding withdrawal, and the eventual collapse of the educational system.
This would be a tragedy, not only for women and girls, but the entire country whose prosperity – or stability – relies on a well-educated workforce.
Online interim efforts as well as interim support measures by neighbouring countries should be encouraged and funded. We must safeguard women and girls’ access to the internet across the country, as it is the only space where they currently move freely, and today it is providing life-changing support to the education of girls in the country.
Second, the impending humanitarian crisis in the country must remain a joint concern for Council members.
By removing women as actors in the delivery of humanitarian aid, the Taliban are not only limiting equal access to lifesaving aid, but they are also weakening the ability to prevent, address and respond to sexual abuse and the exploitation of aid beneficiaries.
This is inexcusable.
Last week, the Council adopted landmark resolution 2686 which recognised that gender discrimination and acts of extremism can contribute to driving conflict. This resolution urges all of us to speak up against such extremist ideologies.
The work by and for women is crucial at a time when humanitarian needs are at their highest.
Meanwhile, the Taliban is making it increasingly difficult for humanitarian organisations to carry out their functions.
Our recommendation, as we have said before, is that the humanitarian aid space must remain fully depoliticized.
Humanitarians cannot become a political bargaining chip. We need to confirm our commitment that humanitarian actors are compartmentalized from the political dynamics of the situation in Afghanistan. This is why it is more important than ever that the core humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and humanity continue to drive these efforts.
Third, on security, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics, this is another issue where we share a collective interest.
We agree that there cannot be a security vacuum.
The latest report of the Monitoring Team provides a sobering assessment.
The assertion that Afghanistan’s soil will not serve as a safe harbour for threats against other nations has been one of the most fundamental demands by the Council and must remain so.
This message needs to be part of every dialogue that the UN has and part of the Security Council’s strategy for Afghanistan. It must also be part and parcel of the discussions between international actors with the de facto authorities.
Fourth, none of these actions can be realised unless the Afghan economy is revived.
The economy cannot be sustained on humanitarian aid alone.
Revitalizing the Afghan economy is the only sustainable pathway forward. This demands the creation of favourable conditions for foreign investment, trade, as well as an educated and skilled workforce.
There are some promising signals in the Secretary General’s latest report – on management of the economy, curbing corruption as well as on limiting narcotics production.
It is in our joint interest that revenues from narcotics trade are not channelled to fund organized crime and terrorism. As such, the progress that we see in this regard needs to be encouraged and seized upon to make further gains.
Climate change is intrinsically linked to each of these four challenges. By uniting on the push towards mitigating and adapting to its impacts in Afghanistan, we will reinforce our joint efforts to make progress in each of these areas.
These opportunities for unity among Council members demand an integrated and coordinated approach to address them.
We welcome the appointment of Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu as UN Special Coordinator for Afghanistan. The independent assessment that we collectively mandated in March provides the opportunity for all Afghan and international stakeholders to participate in the much-needed, inclusive conversation about Afghanistan’s future.
We strongly encourage all actors to engage with the Special Coordinator in good faith, in pursuit of a more coherent and integrated strategy on Afghanistan. I would also reiterate that the mandate calls for consultations with Afghan stakeholders, particularly women and civil society.
We look forward to the findings of the independent assessment in November.
The UAE firmly believes that practical engagement must remain the core focus of the international community and the work of the Security Council. We welcome the engagement of international actors who are using their contacts and leverage with the de facto authorities to influence their decision making, as well as the Secretary-General’s continued leadership initiated by the formation of a Special Envoy group, who held its first meeting in Doha in May. As we said before, disengaging now will only result in even more severe consequences for the Afghan people.
The UAE will continue our engagement in a clear-eyed manner and continue our work in the Council towards setting Afghanistan on a positive trajectory.