We are appalled by today’s assassination of the director of Afghanistan's media and information centre, and express our condolences to his loved ones. There should be no impunity for this horrendous crime.
It is indeed timely that we meet today, and we thank you for convening this meeting. I also thank Ambassador Isaczai, Chairperson Akbar and SRSG Lyons for their comprehensive and deeply worrying briefings.
Let me express our appreciation for all UNAMA’s staff as they continue their difficult, and dangerous work. The Council condemns the deplorable attack on UNAMA’s offices in Herat on 30 July.
We remain extremely concerned by the significant and increased loss of life, injury, and displacement across Afghanistan in these last weeks.
Let me be clear: This worrying deterioration of the situation has come about largely as a result of Taliban’s military offensive. Both against district capitals, and more recently three provincial capitals in the west and south. These attacks are completely unacceptable.
The Taliban must immediately end their ongoing military offensive. And recently reported abuses by the Taliban – including the execution of civilians in so-called “revenge killings”, and the execution of prisoners of war – must stop. Some of these abuses may constitute war crimes. We condemn these acts unequivocally.
We are also seriously concerned by reported violations by members of the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces.
The importance of ending all violence and protecting civilians - in particular children - cannot be over-emphasized. Moreover, the targeting of human rights defenders and media workers is unacceptable and must stop.
All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. Safe and unhindered humanitarian access remains crucial to protect and assist people in need. And all allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law must be investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice.
There is no acceptable alternative to “an inclusive, just, and realistic political settlement”, as this Council underscored in our 3 August press statement.
We all share a responsibility to put effective political and diplomatic pressure on the Taliban to engage in negotiations. We must make clear that the pursuit of victory and establishment of a new government by military force will not be accepted. And that there is no one in the international community who would support such a government. Any political solution acceptable to the international community must uphold human rights for all, in particular women and girls.
While there is positive complementarity between the different formats supporting the peace process, including the “US-Europe meetings” as well as the “extended Troika” – it could also make a significant positive difference if the key international and regional stakeholders all joined together in one format to coordinate efforts, and align messages. We encourage greater flexibility from relevant capitals to make this possible.
In closing, let me say that Norway continues to support a strong role for the UN. We see the appointment by the Secretary-General of a Personal Envoy for Afghanistan and Regional Issues as a positive step. And as we near the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate, we look forward to consulting with all on how we, together, can enable the UN to play an even stronger role in supporting the Afghan people’s pursuit of a political settlement.