Official speeches and statements - March 24, 2021
[translation from French]
I would like to begin my remarks by thanking Deborah Lyons and Sharharzad Akbar for their statements and I would also like to welcome the participation of the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan. Each of them in her own way, with her experience, her commitment, her total dedication to peace and security, reminds us, if it were still necessary, of the central role that women play in peace negotiations. In this regard, I would also like to salute Habiba Sarabi, the 2021 laureate of the Simone Veil Prize of the French Republic, and I salute her commitment to reconciliation and lasting peace.
The many diplomatic initiatives underway are helping to foster a welcome dynamic and prospect for peace. They are valuable for re-launching inter-Afghan and Afghan-led discussions as part of the Doha process with negotiating teams appointed by both parties.
In this regard, we welcome the appointment of Jean Arnault alongside Deborah Lyons. With his long experience, we expect him to help bring coherence to all these initiatives, in close collaboration with UNAMA and regional partners. The full, active and effective participation of women in all formats of the peace process is an indispensable condition for its long-term success.
Furthermore, the process must be inclusive. In this regard, we call for the participation of Afghanistan’s main supporters. The European Union, as the largest donor and whose member states are the quasi-majority contributors of troops on the ground, has a full role to play in these discussions.
While hope for peace is being reborn, this should not obscure the fact that trust has been greatly challenged and weakened by the level of violence.
This Council recently strongly condemned the targeted attacks in its press statement of March 12, 2021. The killing of those who participate in democratic life is unacceptable.
Such violence is an obstacle to peace, as recalled by the Troika statement issued following the Moscow conference on March 18, 2021.
We call for the implementation of a cease-fire in accordance with resolutions 2532 and 2565. The protection of civilians, in particular women, children and civilian infrastructure, must be an absolute priority. Respect for international humanitarian law, human rights and freedom of the press by all parties is non-negotiable. Those responsible for these heinous crimes must be held accountable; there can be no impunity in this matter.
Many speakers have underscored the dire humanitarian situation, which continues to worsen: one in two children under the age of 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to doubling the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in one year. Given the situation, the mobilization of donors is essential. In this regard, we welcome the European Union’s pledge of 1.2 billion euros over four years at the donors’ conference last November.
Access for medical and humanitarian personnel to all persons in need, as well as their protection, must be guaranteed. The number of incidents impeding humanitarian access more than doubled in 2020: this is unacceptable. We also need to enable equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVAX facility has a key role to play here.
Finally, peace will not be sustainable as long as drug trafficking continues to gain ground. The fight against drugs in all its dimensions, from prevention to the eradication of production and trafficking, must be a priority. Terrorist groups benefit from the resources generated by drug trafficking and use them to destabilize not only Afghanistan but also the entire region. We welcome the role of the UNODC in combating this scourge and call on all parties, in accordance with their commitments, to resolutely move toward the same goal.
The challenges are many, but I can assure you of France mobilization, alongside its partners, to support Afghanistan on the road to peace.