The Security Council today decided to extend the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year, welcoming newly launched intra-Afghan negotiations and encouraging the parties to work towards a permanent, comprehensive ceasefire and an inclusive political settlement.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2543 (2020), the 15-member Council decided to extend the Mission’s mandate until 17 September 2021. Welcoming the start of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha on 12 September, it strongly encouraged the parties to continue pursuing confidence-building measures — including additional reductions in violence — and encouraged them to engage in good faith.
Members decided that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, within their mandate and in a manner consistent with Afghan sovereignty, leadership and ownership, will continue to lead and coordinate international civilian efforts in Afghanistan in full cooperation with the Government. They laid out a range of priorities, including: the provision of good offices; support for the organization of future elections; strengthening capacity in the protection and promotion of human rights; support for gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment; the coordination and facilitation of humanitarian assistance; and support for Afghanistan’s development and governance priorities.
The Council called upon all Afghan and international parties to coordinate with UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate and in efforts to promote the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel throughout the country, stressing the importance of measures to ensure the safety, security and health support of the Mission. It also welcomed UNAMA’s ongoing efforts to implement its mandated tasks and priorities in light of COVID-19, calling for the implementation of the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic as echoed in Council resolution 2532 (2020).
Speaking following the adoption, the representative of Germany welcomed the start of intra-Afghan peace negotiations as a major development which “we have all been waiting for, for many years”. It is now in Afghan hands to move towards peace, “as it should be”. The international community should continue to send a strong signal of support for that process, he said, noting that Germany remains committed to achieving peace and advancing development gains in Afghanistan. Now that peace talks have begun, a sustainable ceasefire is urgently needed. “The resolution gives UNAMA a strong mandate for another crucial year,” he said, thanking Council members for their constructive engagement in its drafting.
The representative of Indonesia agreed that the resolution’s unanimous adoption sends a strong signal of solidarity and support to the Afghan people. He echoed expressions of hope and wished the negotiators and interlocutors luck “as Afghanistan embarks on this new journey”. UNAMA’s role will be more important than ever, he added, underlining the need to support the Government in its pursuit of critical reforms. He expressed his hope that Council members will continue to provide the Mission with their strong support.
The representative of the United States also voiced his country’s strong support for the people of Afghanistan, adding that it supports the promotion of accountability and efforts to address the legacy of large-scale human rights violations. However, his support for today’s resolution must not be interpreted as support for the International Criminal Court’s illegitimate investigation of United States personnel, which his country has consistently rejected. The prerogatives of States that are not party to the Rome Statute, including the United States, must be fully respected.
France’s representative welcomed the adoption while renewing calls on the Taliban to honour their commitments by breaking all links with Al-Qaida and other international terrorist groups. Sustainable development in Afghanistan will only be possible if drug trafficking and acts of terror are addressed, he said.
The representative of Estonia echoed expressions of support for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks, describing them as a “ground-breaking moment”. A peaceful Afghanistan is in the interest of all people, and both parties must fulfil all their commitments. Among other things, he underlined the need for a sustainable ceasefire and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the meaningful participation of women and minorities in all levels of decision-making.
The representative of China voiced support for UNAMA and for the intra-Afghan talks, expressing his hope that the parties will reach a broad and inclusive agreement. Turning to future arrangements, he said a smooth transition will be needed to avoid a security vacuum and efforts to combat terrorism must continue. Regional integration and connectivity will be needed to build up Afghanistan’s economy, he said, pledging to help the country forge closer trade and economic ties with its neighbours.
The representative of Belgium said today’s resolution sends a strong message that the Council stands committed in supporting the Afghan people. Joining others in welcoming the start of intra-Afghan talks and calling for an urgent ceasefire, she welcomed language in the text focused on the protection of children and emphasized that women’s rights must be fully respected.
The Dominican Republic’s delegate welcomed the adoption of a strong and balanced text, noting that the quest for lasting peace in Afghanistan is finally “showing glimmers of hope”. The success of the peace process will require not only political will but representation of all segments of Afghan society, including young people. She hoped that, at an early date, the provisions of resolution 2535 (2020) on youth, peace and security will be fully reflected in UNAMA’s mandate.
The representative of Afghanistan thanked the Council for their unanimous adoption of an important resolution “at one of the most critical times in our history”. Expressing hope that the talks now ongoing between her Government and the Taliban will lead to a new period of peace and prosperity, she underlined the importance of national ownership and welcomed the resolution’s references to women, youth and human rights. She also welcomed the text’s acknowledgement of the difficult compromises made towards peace, citing her Government’s difficult decision to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners to enable peace talks to move forward.
Also speaking was the representative of Tunisia.
The meeting began at 12:23 p.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.