I would like to begin by thanking Special Representative Lyons and Ambassador Dian (Triansyah Djani), as well as the Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations. Ms Shkula Zadran for their comprehensive and insightful briefings.
We commend the actions of UNAMA, particularly in promoting the role of women in the peace and security agenda, supporting transitional justice, the inclusion of civil society, and their activities in protecting human rights under challenging conditions in Afghanistan. Estonia strongly supports these efforts and we are always open to explore ways how the UN and the Security Council, can further assist UNAMA in its endeavors.
Speaking of challenging conditions, the security situation in Afghanistan remains deeply concerning. Armed clashes have increased by 38 percent this year and the conflict continues to take a heavy toll on the civilian population. There is absolutely no excuse for the deliberate attacks on healthcare personnel, journalists and educational facilities. It is essential that such crimes are investigated and perpetrators are held accountable.
The attacks against children we deplore in the strongest terms. UNAMA should have the necessary capacity to monitor and report on violations and abuses against children, and aid in efforts that strengthen the protection of children. We share the Secretary-General’s view that it is critically important for all parties to the conflict to recognize and address the harm caused, incorporating a victim-centered justice in the peace process.
Another challenge is the humanitarian situation with the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance having doubled to a record 18.4 million. These circumstances are unprecedented. It is vital to support UNAMA’s efforts to improve the accessibility of humanitarian aid to people in dire need. At the Donors’ Conference of 23-24 November, the International community including Estonia renewed their commitment to accompany Afghanistan in its path toward peace, security, stability, democracy, prosperity and self-reliance.
Global ceasefire has been repeatedly called on by the entire international community, the Secretary-General and this Council. Today we reiterate once again our call for an immediate, permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, to save the Afghan people from more meaningless suffering and to create a conducive environment for sustainable peace in the country, as well as stability in the region. All parties, particularly the Taliban must fulfill their commitments and work towards ending violence to save civilian lives.
This year is momentous for Afghanistan. There is a historic opportunity for peace and stability that all Afghans long after decades of immense human suffering. We welcome the agreement between the parties on the Code of Conduct that unlocked the discussion for the agenda items of the peace negotiations. It is essential that the parties will resume peace talks without delay after their mutually agreed three week break, on the 5th of January. Human rights, particularly those of women and children are inalienable and should be highest priority on the agenda of the negotiations. The gains achieved in the past 19 years and guaranteed by the Afghan Constitution should be preserved and further strengthened during course of these talks.
I would like to recall the sanctions regime on Taliban and the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Committee. Estonia is convinced that the review of the measures and the Sanctions List should remain conditions-based and should be strict in its consideration whether substantial progress has been made by the Taliban to reduce violence.
We are glad that the President of Afghanistan issued recently a decree establishing a High Council for Women, intended to support women’s empowerment and implementation of the Government’s commitments regarding women’s rights. We strongly support the participation of various political and social constituencies in the peace negotiations, especially the meaningful participation of women, youth and persons belonging to minorities. Protecting and promoting their rights throughout the peace process is imperative.
To conclude, a sustainable political settlement is the only viable solution and we call on all sides to act swiftly, advance the peace process and fulfill their commitments to end violence and establish peace. We remain positive that the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban can build on the current momentum.
Finally, we would like thank thank Germany and Indonesia for their diligent and professional work as penholders of Afghanistan file. Together with Norway, we hope to be their worthy successors. Thank you.