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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNAMA

2023-12-20 16:40

Mr. President,

I thank Special Representative Roza Otunbayeva and other briefers for their briefings.

As the year draws to a close, a year-end stock-taking of the Afghan issue will help sum up experience and lessons learned and get next year off to a good start. Over the past year, the Afghan interim government has governed actively, the economy has seen some recovery, and the domestic situation has been generally stable. Yet Afghanistan is still faced with severe humanitarian and livelihood crises. Problems such as the protection of the rights and interests of women and girls and the threat of terrorist forces, among others, remain pronounced. The UN regional organizations and Afghanistan's neighbors have maintained their attention on situation in the country. The Council has considered the Afghanistan issue regularly and the Secretary-General has appointed a special coordinator for an independent assessment of the situation in the country. However, the efforts of the international community have yet to produce notable results.

To address the multiple challenges facing Afghanistan and effectively help the Afghan people get out of their plight, we need to step up reflection and input, and take a more flexible and practical approach towards integrated and systematic solutions. I wish to make four points.

First, helping Afghanistan respond to the humanitarian crisis. At present, over three million Afghanistan children are malnourished and over 10 million people there do not know where their next meal is. Winter is here and the Afghan humanitarian disaster will get even worse. We once again call upon the international community to act immediately by stepping up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, bring warmth and hope to the Afghan people, and not let ordinary Afghans become victims of political considerations. We also hope that all parties will take a long-term view, increase development aid to Afghanistan, and help the country restore the functioning of its banking system, establish basic economic order, and better integrate into regional economic and trade cooperation and connectivity. Meanwhile, the frozen overseas assets of Afghanistan and their interest should be returned to the Afghan people as soon as possible.

Second, helping Afghanistan strengthen the protection of rights and interests of women. Afghan women and girls have rights to education and employment. The Afghanistan Taliban authorities should take concrete actions to implement the requests of the Security Council resolutions and respond to the concerns of the international community. Meanwhile, we need to see that the rights and interests of women and girls will not be realized in a vacuum. The international community should support Afghanistan with its peaceful reconstruction and economic recovery, so as to create more enabling conditions for guaranteeing the rights and interests of women and girls. We should refuse to oversimplify the issue into absolutes and still less instrumentalize or weaponize it.

Third, enhancing engagement with the Afghan authorities. As is pointed out in the independent assessment on Afghanistan, the international community should get a clearer picture of the political reality in the country, prioritize the interests of the Afghan people, and maintain engagement with the country. Undoubtedly, it is the current political reality in Afghanistan that the Afghan Taliban is governing the country. When engaging with the Afghan authorities, the international community needs to demonstrate good faith, set no preconditions, communicate with the Afghan Taliban in ways easily acceptable to it, and strive for its understanding and cooperation. And as for the follow-up to the independent assessment, the Security Council should consider the needs of the Afghan people and expectations of the international community in an integrated manner and make its decision on the basis of full consultation. The Council should adjust the sanctions measures in a timely manner and, in particular, reinstate the travel ban exemption on some Taliban officials to facilitate engagement with Afghanistan.

Fourth, bolstering support for the Afghan authorities in their counter-terrorism efforts. Currently, terrorist forces in Afghanistan remain active and pose threats to the security of Afghanistan and countries in the region. The international community should urge and help Afghanistan to effectively combat terrorism and resolutely prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a hub for terrorist organizations. The Afghan authorities should, as requested by the Security Council resolutions, take robust measures to prevent terrorists from using its territory to engage in terrorist activities that threaten other countries. According to UNODC reports, the area of poppy cultivation in the country dropped by 95% following the drug ban. This deserves full recognition. The international community should provide Afghanistan with targeted support such as alternative cultivation and drug rehabilitation, among others.

Mr. President,

As Afghanistan's neighbor, China has always actively supported its peaceful development and taken concrete actions to help the Afghanistan people ease their suffering. We stand ready to continue our active participation in coordination and cooperation with Afghanistan under framework such as the coordination and cooperation mechanism among neighbors of Afghanistan, the SCO, and the China-Central Asia Cooperation mechanism. We will continue our support for the work of UNAMA and the positive role of the UN, and work with regional countries and the international community at large to help Afghanistan get out of the plight and achieve lasting peace and stability at an early date.

Thank you, President.

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