|Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNAMA|
I thank Special Representative Roza Otunbayeva for her briefing, and I thank Ms. Zubaida Akbar for her statement.
Today is International Women's Day. On this special day, as we consider the situation of Afghanistan, we cannot help but turn our attention to Afghan women. They are a vulnerable group in Afghan society, and the biggest victims of the many years of war and turmoil. They are in urgent need of global attention and assistance. Afghan women yearn for a peaceful and tranquil homeland and a future full of hope. They should be well integrated into the Afghan economy and society, and become important drivers and primary beneficiaries in the national peace and reconstruction process, and their rights and interests should be effectively protected in this process.
Security and stability are essential to the protection of the rights and interests of Afghan women and girls. Since the start of 2023, there have been several vicious terrorist attacks within Afghanistan, resulting in significant casualties. Terrorist forces such as the Islamic State – Khorasan and ETIM, also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, have been colluding with each other, plotting and staging terrorist acts in Afghanistan. Their activities show a trend of resurgence. The international community should follow these developments closely, combat all forms of terrorism with a zero-tolerance approach, and urge the Afghan Taliban to take resolute and vigorous measures to prevent the buildup of terrorist forces in Afghanistan and effectively ensure the safety and security of the Afghan people as well as foreign citizens in Afghanistan.
Economic and social development is essential to safeguarding the rights and interests of Afghan women and girls. Over the past year, the Afghan economy has shown positive signs, and its fiscal revenues have increased considerably, which is encouraging. Afghanistan should further develop its domestic market, restore economic growth, expand connectivity, deepen regional cooperation, promote alternative agricultural cultivation, and continue to increase people’s income, so that they can live happy lives and that the root causes of turmoil and instability can be eliminated. Only in this way can Afghan refugees and displaced persons return to their homeland as soon as possible, and can Afghan women and girls truly enjoy peace and dignity.
Protecting the rights and interests of Afghan women and girls goes hand in hand with the assistance of the international community. The Secretary-General’s report points to a worsening Afghan humanitarian situation, where countless women and children do not have access to food and warm clothing and their very survival are a problem. This year, 28.3 million Afghans require humanitarian assistance, accounting for two-thirds of the country’s population. According to recent news reports, developed donor countries are considering cutting back on international aid to Afghanistan, which is a worrying development. Under the current situation, humanitarian aid to Afghanistan should neither be reduced nor stopped. Developed donor countries should maintain their humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and explore more direct and effective ways to ensure that resources are actually invested in the Afghan people, especially Afghan women and girls.
The protection of the rights and interests of Afghan women and girls cannot be achieved without lifting external constraints. Unilateral sanctions have seriously undermined the economic foundation of the country and exacerbated the humanitarian situation on the ground, becoming a heavy yoke for the survival and development of local women and children. And they must be lifted without delay. Afghanistan’s 7 billion dollar overseas assets belong to the Afghan people and should be used for the Afghan people. Last month, the US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the US is not entitled to divert Afghan overseas assets for other users. This shows once again that the freezing of Afghan assets is unjustified and illegal. The US and other relevant countries should immediately return the assets of the Afghan central bank to the Afghan people, so that Afghan women and children can benefit from these assets, instead of delaying the asset turnover with various excuses.
China is concerned about the recently enacted education and work bans targeting Afghan women, and is worried about the possible impact of these measures on the basic rights and interests of Afghan women and the Afghan humanitarian situation. We hope that the Afghan interim government will take practical actions to guarantee women’s education and employment. For the international community, mutual respect and effective engagement are the prerequisites for exerting influence and finding solutions to problems. Mere condemnation and pressurizing are not only useless, but may also be counterproductive. A peaceful, stable, growing, and prosperous Afghanistan is what all Afghan people aspire for, and is also in line with the shared interest of regional countries and the international community. As a neighbor of Afghanistan, China has always been committed to supporting Afghanistan in achieving peace, stability, and development. Together with the international community, China will support the Afghan people in finding their way out of the current difficulties as soon as possible to create a better future.
In conclusion, I commend SRSG Otunbayeva and UNAMA for their work. We support UNAMA in actively implementing its mandate to play an important role in alleviating the humanitarian situation, promoting economic development, and improving governance capacity in Afghanistan. We will stay engaged with other Council members to make proper arrangements for the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate.
Thank you, Mr. President.