Ladies and gentlemen, AMIP Steering Committee and Secretariat, honored Members of Parliament and Government, personalities involved in the Peace negotiations, Civil Society representatives and participants from the Provinces and the diaspora, dear colleagues, dear friends,
I am very grateful for the opportunity to join you today on the launch of the Afghan Mechanism for Inclusive Peace. A heartfelt thanks to the AMIP and its Steering Committee, and the EU Afghanistan Peace Support Mechanism, as well as the Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy for their great work.
I have myself only just arrived in Kabul, this is my first opportunity to meet with important civil society actors - with women, youth and others in Afghanistan voicing the importance of seizing this moment for peace in their country.
I can think of no more important and inspiring start.
Only some few days ago, in Doha, the Intra Afghan Negotiations formally opened. As many have pointed out, this gives reason for cautious hope, hope to end Afghanistan’s four decades of conflict. It is a milestone and a historic opportunity. But the journey ahead is still long and challenging.
No one knows this better than the women of Afghanistan, and the youth of Afghanistan. Most people and all families have suffered, all have lived in conflict, now the opportunity to live the peace is within reach – with sufficient will and dedication, challenges may be overcome.
These last word is a quote from my Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, herself a woman, who was invited to speak at the opening ceremony of the Intra Afghan Negotiations and address the Negotiating Parties.
In her words to the Parties, Minister Eriksen underlined some important points that I would like to share in this distinguished forum: She said that the inclusion of women, victims, minorities and other stakeholders is necessary to ensure ownership and the success of a future peace. Processes of peace and reconciliation elsewhere provide overwhelming evidence that lasting and sustainable peace may be reached when all groups, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation, are included.
A key point is peace is more likely to be sustainable if it is inclusive, and that to reach a sustainable peace, the process towards that peace ought to be truly and adequately inclusive. This in turn implies that the inclusion and participation of women should have a wider scope than women’s rights alone.
An adequately inclusive process, means that women, and youth, and victims, and other groups must be included in the discussion of all topic, everything that is discussed. It cannot be the responsibility of women alone to ensure the rights of women, it has to be everyone’s responsibility!
Norway is not value neutral, we are on the side of the women of Afghanistan and their rights and the volume of rights as these are enshrined in the Constitution of Afghanistan. They reflect important values. At the same time we are impartial, of course, the negotiations must be led and owned by the Afghan people, the Afghans must shape their own future. Norway stands ready to contribute if the Afghan parties think this is helpful to their peace cause, and to social and economic development.
As I see it, AMIP is guided by the same principles, that is; the principles of non-partisanship and inclusivity. Acceptance and support from the Parties are crucial. We would therefore encourage you to continue the work to promote AMIP as an impartial mechanism that, from an independent platform, may connect with the negotiating teams of the Parties.
The importance of reaching out and connecting with the women of Afghanistan in all the provinces and engaging a network of civil society organizations, can not be overrated. The same goes for other groups and interests to be included.
Finally, I would be amiss if I did not mention the importance of the UN.
The UN General Assembly formally opened yesterday, the General Debate will be held on 21 September. At this point, State leaders and Foreign Ministers will voice support to the Afghan peace process. And they will listen to others doing so. Your own Afghan leaders will speak. The world will listen to what your leaders have to say.
Also the UN Human Rights Council has opened its 45th session. Afghanistan is one of the member countries of the Council for this session. And even more so, Among the Council’s four Vice Presidents is Mr Nasir Ahmad Andisha from Afghanistan. Use this opportunity well!
And then, the UN Security Council has, anonymously and before the deadline tomorrow, renewed the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year. The resolution underlines that sustainable peace in Afghanistan can be achieved only through an inclusive political process aiming at a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire as well as inclusive political settlement – with the participation of women, youth and ethnic, religious and other minorities.
As of next year, Norway will take a seat at the United Nations Security Council. We will use that position to support the work of the United Nations, the Special Representative of the Secretary General, and UNAMA. If the Security Council can be used in order to further and advance the Afghanistan peace process, we will do our utmost to make that happen.
On behalf of my Government, I extend my best wishes to all the delegates present today, and to the AMIP in particular. I wish you all success in your difficult, but extremely important, task.
Thank you for your kind attention.