I commend Germany for its leadership on the resolution before us today.
However, this resolution has the concerning backdrop of continuing high levels of violence in Afghanistan.
Norway condemns in the strongest terms the attack in Kabul this week that killed one UN colleague and injured two others.
We also remain concerned by the overall high levels of civilian casualties, and urge all parties to exercise scrupulous due care, and fully respect international humanitarian law.
Making progress towards a political settlement is now urgent.
In this respect, we welcome the progress made in talks between the US and the Taliban. And urge the parties to finalise an agreement in order to catalyse peace negotiations, among Afghans, and owned by Afghans.
As a consistent partner to Afghanistan, Norway supports an inclusive peace process. The voices of women and civil society are critical to reaching a sustainable peace. They must be included in all efforts, both to achieve a negotiated settlement, and to implement it.
Dialogues and conferences can be useful in preparing the ground for formal intra-Afghan talks. The event co-facilitated by Qatar and Germany on 7 – 8 July was a milestone. As it brought together a wide range of actors from Kabul- including several cabinet-level officials- and members of the Taliban.
We similarly welcome the past and current efforts of Russia, China, and other regional actors, to promote dialogue. There is, and should be, room for a range of complimentary initiatives.
At the Brussels Conference nearly three years ago, the National Unity Government committed to ensure effective, democratic, and inclusive governance. Which includes credible, inclusive and transparent elections in accordance with the Constitution.
The parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 and 2019 have shown that only limited progress has been achieved towards this critical objective. It is incumbent on all actors, including all candidates, to conduct the next steps in the electoral process in a responsible and transparent manner. So that the brave Afghan women and men who voted on 28 September can have confidence in the outcome.
While challenges remain, there have been important achievements in the field of education, including girls’ education. Looking forward, our focus should be on preserving these achievements. And securing a sovereign, independent Afghanistan, with human rights for all, as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.
Afghanistan must also be able to take care of its own security and defend itself with its own defence forces, without the need for a continued foreign military presence.
The pledges made at the Brussels conference in 2016 expire next year. And we look forward to a new donors’ conference. Afghanistan will need considerable support in the foreseeable future, and Norway will continue to be a consistent development partner. However, before the donors’ conference we should have an open-minded discussion on the approach, and composition, of our development assistance. Reflecting on what has worked, and on where we collectively can do better.
Peace will bring challenges and opportunities, and Afghanistan’s positive record of adherence to previous commitments should be taken into account.