SC: Afghanistan

Statement on Afghanistan by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim, 16 August 2021.

Thank you for calling this emergency meeting on the situation in Afghanistan. Allow me also to thank the Secretary-General for his participation and his briefing, as well as Ambassador Isaczai for his remarks.

The situation in Afghanistan is extremely serious.

Over the last few weeks, amidst an ongoing, violent conflict the national security and defense forces of the country collapsed almost in their entirety. Over the last 24 – 48 hours, the leadership of the central government has disintegrated.

The country and its population are now facing a multi-layered crisis of very significant proportion: suffering and hardship because of violent conflict, drought and food uncertainty, and as well as the covid-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases like polio and measles.

We – the Security Council and the entire international community – need to show our continued commitment to them in both words and actions.

In this unprecedented situation, Norway calls for an immediate end to the violence in Afghanistan, the restoration of security and civil order, and urgent talks to resolve the current crisis of constitutional authority and to arrive at a peaceful settlement.

The reality the international community now must contend with is that the Taliban movement exercises de facto control over much of Afghan territory, including the capital Kabul.

We have taken careful note of statements by Taliban representatives during the last few days. These include assurances that the security and safety of all Afghans, diplomats and humanitarian workers will be guaranteed. It has been communicated that government workers, whether military or civilian, will not face retribution of any kind. Furthermore, Taliban representatives have stated that women and girls will have access to work and education.

These are encouraging words. But the Taliban will be judged not by their words, but by their actions in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

How the Taliban conduct themselves in actual deed will matter a great deal in terms of whether, and how, the international community will be willing and able to relate to, co-operate with, and support a future, new Afghan government in which the Taliban participates.

Restoring law and order in Kabul must have the utmost priority. There have been disturbing reports of looting and chaos. The current situation at and around Kabul international airport is also unclear and deeply worrying. We call on all parties to ensure that all Afghan and foreign nationals who wish to leave the country can do so in a safe and orderly way.

The ongoing violence across Afghanistan, including in urban areas, has caused grave harm to civilians, especially children, as well the abruption of services and damage to civilian infrastructure including those providing water and sanitation, food and education and health services. Safe access to these services must be immediately restored.

We are deeply concerned about the number of reported serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses in communities affected by the ongoing armed conflict across the country and stress the urgent and imperative need to bring the perpetrators to justice. All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to the protection of civilians.

A sustainable end to the conflict in Afghanistan can only be achieved through an inclusive, just, durable and realistic political settlement that upholds human rights, especially for women, children and minorities. We express our support for the ongoing political and diplomatic efforts centered on both Doha and Kabul to ensure a transition that is orderly and prevents further bloodshed. We commend the ongoing diplomatic efforts by several key stakeholders, including the United States, Qatar, and Pakistan.

The future, new government must be united, inclusive, representative, and participatory. It must have the full, equal and meaningful participation of women. It must adhere to Afghanistan’s international obligations, including with regards to respecting universal human rights.

Finally, for peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, especially the brave women who for years have stood up for their rights and demanded equal participation and say in their future—the situation feels desperate. Consistent marginalization at negotiations, as well as reprisals and targeted violence against them and their family members – draws deep concern about their safety and the goal of an inclusive political settlement.

In the current situation, we – the Council and the wider international community – all have a responsibility to ensure their protection and must use all our means of support and diplomatic and political channels to amplify their voices and protect them from harm.