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Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Zhang Jun on the Security Council Draft Resolution on Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan

2021-12-22 12:35

Mr. President, 

The current situation in Afghanistan is at a critical stage, facing multiple arduous and complex challenges. The most important task is to help Afghanistan mitigate the humanitarian crisis the soonest and to stabilize and restore the economy. As a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, China has always been most concerned about its well-being and has been actively taking actions to help the Afghan people. We also commend the work done by the UN and the various humanitarian agencies. China has stressed time and again its support for the UN in playing a greater coordinating role, and calls on all international partners to increase aid to Afghanistan. 

We note recently that due to the existing international sanctions, some international humanitarian agencies are not sure whether they can continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan under the new circumstances. Such doubts are unnecessary because humanitarian aid should not be conditional, nor should it be politicized under any circumstances. The sanctions by the Security Council only target certain individuals and entities, not the Afghan people at large. Nevertheless, as long as the appropriate actions of the Security Council help to clarify doubts and facilitate the timely, smooth and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, China will certainly look at them favorably. 

However, it must be pointed out that the original draft resolution deviates from the right track. Not only does it not facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, it even adds to the obstacles. The original draft posits that only those aid activities carried out within a certain period will not violate the Security Council sanctions. It also sets up an onerous reporting mechanism for humanitarian aid agencies, and incorporates many other irrelevant propositions that may restrict economic cooperation with Afghanistan. We believe that any action of the Security Council should genuinely promote and facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, instead of setting artificial restrictions and conditions. In particular, the  provision that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will not violate the Security Council resolutions only if it falls within the time limits is legally, politically and logically problematic. 

It has been China's conviction that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan should stick to the right track and direction. To this end, China has been constructively engaged in the consultations and put forward specific amendments. We are glad to see that the final draft has reflected the views of China and clarified the key issues. The resolution expresses appreciation for the strengthened efforts by the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan since 15 August. It notes in explicit terms that the intention of this resolution is to provide clarity to ensure the continued provision of assistance in the future, that humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan are not a violation of the sanctions resolution of the Security Council, and that all related financial activities and the provision of goods and services are permitted. It is trusted that with the adoption of this resolution, the confusion on and the obstacles to continuing the humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan can be cleared away once and for all.

Mr. President,

To borrow an analogy, this resolution can only fix the faucet. To keep the water running, responsibility on the part of the international community is still needed. The UN’s appeal for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan for next year has reached a historical high of 4.5 billion USD and there is a great uncertainty about its materialization. We call on the international community, especially major donors, to step up assistance by actively providing financial support. The countries that caused the current crisis in Afghanistan are more obliged than others to take the lead and assume the primary responsibilities. 

What's more, compared with the humanitarian crisis, the economic crisis facing Afghanistan is a fundamental problem. At present, Afghanistan’s economy is seriously short of liquidity and on the verge of collapse. Under this circumstance, unilateral sanctions, especially the freezing of overseas assets, have become a bottleneck problem that cannot be ignored. The countries concerned cannot continue to freeze substantial Afghan overseas assets while claiming to be caring about humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. We once again call for the unfreezing of Afghanistan's overseas assets as soon as possible. These assets should be returned to their real owners, and cannot be used as a bargaining chip for threats or coercion. 

Mr. President,

Humanitarian aid is only to tackle the urgent need while helping Afghanistan to revitalize the economy and development is the fundamental solution. The international community should maintain contact and actively guide the Taliban, help the Afghan interim government to maintain normal operation of government agencies, maintain security and stability, and promote economic and social recovery and reconstruction. In the face of fundamental changes in Afghanistan's domestic situation, the Council should seriously review the existing sanctions regime on the Taliban, so as to prevent any negative impact on Afghanistan's economic and social development. 

As a friendly neighbor and sincere friend of Afghanistan, China has been providing support within its capacity for Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction and economic development. China's aid for food, people's livelihood, medical care, winter supplies and COVID vaccines have been continuously transported to Afghanistan. In addition, China has effectively helped the Afghan people by expanding bilateral trade. In the past two months, thousands of tons of Afghanistan’s pine nuts have been marketed to China through the “pine nuts air corridor”, generating more than 16 million USD for the Afghan people. Going forward, China will continue to promote the export of Afghanistan’s agricultural products to China, such as saffron, and play a greater role in helping Afghanistan's economic reconstruction with concrete actions. When it comes to advancing peace and development in Afghanistan and providing assistance to the Afghan people, what we need is leadership in action, rather than words.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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