Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 10 September 2019

Mr President,

Please allow me to begin by thanking the Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Executive Director of the UNODC, Mr Yuri Fedotov and Ambassador Djani, as Chair of the 1988 Committee for their insightful briefings.

In this regard, I would also like to commend UNAMA’s personnel and Mr Yamamoto for their vital contribution in supporting Afghanistan’s efforts towards restoring peace and stability in that country, especially given the challenging circumstances in which they operate.

Mr President,

We would like to highlight the following three points in our statement this morning: 1) the peace process; 2) the role of women; and 3) the security situation in Afghanistan.

Regarding the peace process, South Africa believes that the only way for Afghanistan to achieve durable peace and stability is through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process, leading to a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

My delegation is of the opinion that any engagements towards long-lasting peace and security for the people of Afghanistan should be considered. However, it is also important that all sectors of the Afghan Government and society are included in these discussions, to ensure that a comprehensive and inclusive peace is established and sustained.

Mr President, our second point, South Africa strongly believes than an integral aspect of these engagements is the inclusion and participation of women. This would safe-guard the significant progress and gains achieved regarding women’s and girl’s rights and provide the necessary views and voices of all segments of Afghan society. We welcome the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to advance the promotion and protection of women’s rights, and urge that this commitment continues during future discussions. 

In this regard we welcome President Ghani’s appointment of you, Ambassador Raz, as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations. We have no doubt that you will continue to fly your country’s flag high and that you are a shining example of what the women of Afghanistan can achieve.

Peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved by the Afghan people themselves. My delegation urges all stakeholders to work towards this noble and achievable goal.

Mr President, on our final point on the security situation, South Africa is deeply concerned at the levels of violence and security incidents in Afghanistan, especially attacks targeting innocent civilians through the use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks. The ongoing violence only erodes the positive progress made in recent years. As stated by the Secretary-General, these deplorable acts cannot be justified and must come to an end.

The effect of this violence is particularly felt by the most vulnerable in society; particularly women, children and those living with disabilities. We call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law.

My delegation continues to condemn the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups, and calls for their immediate release and reintegration into Afghan society.

Mr President,

The Afghan people are expected to go to the polls on 28 September 2019 and exercise their hard-won right to choose their own President. In this regard, I call on all participants in the election process to work together, to ensure that the elections go ahead, as planned and mandated by the Afghan Constitution. We hope that with the necessary cooperation and support amongst the parties, the Presidential elections will be credible, free, fair, safe and transparent.

In conclusion, Mr President, South Africa looks forward to welcoming the duly-elected President of Afghanistan at the next Security Council Debate on Afghanistan.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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