Security Council meeting 4051

Date15 October 1999
S-PV-4051 1999-10-15 12:15 15 October 1999 [[15 October]] [[1999]] /

The situation in Afghanistan

The meeting was called to order at 12.15 p.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in Afghanistan

The President

I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Farhâdi (Afghanistan) took a seat at the Council table; Mr. Ahmadi (Islamic Republic of Iran) took the seat reserved for him at the side of the Council Chamber.
The President

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.

Members of the Council have before them document S/1999/1054, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by Canada, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

The first speaker on my list is the representative of Afghanistan, on whom I now call.

Mr. Farhâdi (Afghanistan)

The Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan supports the draft resolution of the Security Council to be adopted today. We are of the view that the set of measures contained in the draft resolution is an adequate signal to the Taliban and to their Pakistani mentors: it indicates that the international community is extremely concerned about the adventurist policy of Pakistan and the Taliban, which is a major threat to international peace and security.

Despite the mild and limited nature of the draft resolution to be adopted today, the political message which it contains is strong. Foreign supporters of the Taliban should take the necessary measures to dissociate themselves from the “Talibanization” of the region. The draft resolution directly affects the financial resources of the Taliban, which come mainly from the proceeds of drug trafficking: it does not have any effect on the Afghan nation itself.

The clause on humanitarian exceptions assures the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, because subparagraph (f) of paragraph 6 permits consideration of requests for exemptions. We expect the Security Council to use every mechanism at its disposal for a meticulous and strict application of the sanctions by all Member States and international agencies. This may bring peace in Afghanistan.

The Islamic State of Afghanistan considers adoption of today’s draft resolution to be a means to persuade the Taliban and their Pakistani mentors to abandon their erroneous policies, which are harmful to the national interests of Afghanistan and to peace and security in this region of the world. And, when I say “this region of the world”, I include Pakistan as a part of that region.

The Taliban must be convinced that the current crisis does not have a military solution. Afghan soil should not be used as a safe haven for terrorists.

The President

It is my understanding that the Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution (S/1999/1054) before it. Unless I hear any objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

I shall first give the floor to those members of the Council who wish to make statements before the voting.

Ms. Soderberg (United States)

On 7 August 1998, operatives of Usama bin Laden bombed United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 citizens of America, Kenya and Tanzania and wounding thousands more. Usama bin Laden continues to threaten the safety not only of Americans all over the world, but also of other citizens in countless countries who may become victims of his terrorist policies. With the adoption of the draft resolution today, the United Nations — indeed, the world community — will be taking a courageous step in combating international terrorism. It will send a direct message to Usama bin Laden, and terrorists everywhere: “You can run, you can hide, but you will be brought to justice.” I commend the Security Council for this milestone against international terrorism.

The United States attaches the highest priority to disrupting Usama bin Laden’s terrorist organization and bringing him to justice for his involvement in terrorist activities. Today’s action brings new pressure on the Taliban to turn over Usama bin Laden to authorities in a country where he will be brought to justice. The Taliban in Afghanistan continue to provide bin Laden with safe haven and security, allowing him the necessary freedom to operate, despite repeated efforts by the United States to persuade the Taliban to turn over or expel him and his principal associates to responsible authorities in a country where he can be brought to justice. Our information confirms that his organization, working with other terrorist groups, continues to actively plan attacks on Americans and others. We have reliable evidence that his network seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

The United States has consistently expressed its concern with the policies of the Taliban. As this draft resolution makes clear, the Council shares our deep concern over the continuing violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights, particularly discrimination against women and girls. We are also disturbed by the significant rise in illicit opium production under areas of Taliban control and the deplorable treatment of Iranian diplomatic personnel and journalists. The Taliban’s actions pose threats to their neighbours and to the international community at large.

On 5 July President Clinton issued an executive order imposing economic sanctions on the Taliban because of the threat to our national security posed by their actions and policies. Today the Security Council is sending another strong message to the Taliban: “Your continued harbouring of Usama bin Laden poses a threat to international peace and security. The international community demands that he be brought to justice.”

The draft resolution gives the Taliban a clear choice. It has 30 days to turn over bin Laden. If the Taliban do not turn him over within that period, the sanctions will take effect. Those sanctions will restrict foreign landing rights on aircraft operated by the Taliban, freeze Taliban accounts around the world and prohibit investment in any undertaking owned or controlled by the Taliban. The draft resolution also establishes a Committee to monitor the implementation of sanctions. It is important to remember that these sanctions are limited and that they are targeted very specifically to limit the resources of the Taliban authorities. These sanctions in no way harm the people of Afghanistan, and we will work with the sanctions review Committee to implement them in a way that does not hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

It is the earnest hope of the United States that the Taliban will cooperate with the international community in bringing bin Laden to justice within this period and that we will not need to implement these sanctions. The choice between cooperation and confrontation with the international community rests with the Taliban.

Mr. Hasmy (Malaysia)

Malaysia condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and makes no excuses for its perpetrators whatever their motivations, when innocent civilians are deliberately targeted and considered fair game. Terrorism does not limit itself to the domestic scene only. It poses a serious and complex security challenge to the international community because of its ability to create fear and intimidation, striking with impunity wherever and whenever it chooses. We believe in the need for internationally coordinated efforts, including strong enforcement measures to combat the menace.

Nonetheless, my delegation has certain reservations on the draft resolution before us. We are concerned about the effects and impact of the draft resolution on the ordinary, innocent people of Afghanistan. It is our conviction that sanctions against a country and a people should be resorted to only when all other peaceful measures have been utilized and have failed. As an instrument of coercion they should be used with great caution because of their unintended grave consequences to the innocent population. Their effectiveness and likely humanitarian impact should be assessed at all stages — both prior to their adoption and periodically during the implementation phase.

My delegation has reservations on the use of sanctions to effect the desired changes on a targeted regime. Experience has shown that they rarely work on the intended target or targets. Instead, they have brought unmitigated suffering to ordinary people. The imposition of sanctions on the Taliban is tantamount to imposing sanctions on the people of Afghanistan as a whole, as much of that country is under the effective control of the Taliban, which, in effect, is the de facto Government of Afghanistan despite its non-recognition by the United Nations and most Members of the Organization.

Therefore, sanctions directed at the Taliban will have a direct and indirect effect on the general population in virtually every aspect of their lives, be it air travel, trade and commerce or other economic activities covered by the sanctions. In the end it is the ordinary people that bear the price, not the intended target or targets.

There should have been a more careful and exhaustive analysis of the likely impact of the proposed sanctions. Among the pertinent questions that should have been considered in some depth are the extent and location of the assets of the targeted elites and the kinds of sanctions that are likely to have the greatest impact on the intended targets, as well as positive elements that can be built into the sanctions regime to motivate compliance by the targeted individuals or entity.

My delegation would have preferred a phased approach in handling the situation. The Council should have adopted, as a first step, a strong resolution signalling the serious intention of the Council to institute measures to impose sanctions on the Taliban if certain stipulated actions in respect of its support for terrorism were not taken by the Taliban. This serious warning on the part of a solidly united Council might have done more to achieve the desired result of effecting a change of attitude and policy on the part of the Taliban than proceeding to impose the sanctions in one fell swoop with promises of more to come. If that warning were ignored, then at least the Council would have satisfied itself and the international community that ample warning had been given and that there was no other alternative but to proceed with a draft resolution effecting sanctions.

Allow me to reiterate my delegation’s serious concern about the effects and impact of the sanctions on the people of Afghanistan. They are among the poorest of the poor on earth, the tragic victims of over two decades of bitter conflict and their fair share of natural disasters. The sanctions intended for the Taliban will most certainly affect them in a punitive way since they are in effective control of most parts of the country and administer virtually every aspect of life in the parts of Afghanistan under their control.

For these reasons, my delegation feels compelled to make this statement before the voting. We will vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Council with a heavy heart and with a request to the Taliban to comply with the requirements of the draft resolution so as to spare the hapless people of Afghanistan from further sufferings and misery, as well as with an appeal to the Council to ensure that in the implementation of this draft resolution the welfare and well-being of the people of Afghanistan will be taken to heart.

Mr. Al-Dosari (Bahrain)

The draft resolution before us does not deal with the Afghan question or with political settlement in Afghanistan, but rather with the question of the terrorism that stems from the Afghan crisis. My delegation awaits with interest the earliest possible discussion of this important question in all its aspects because of its adverse effects on international peace and security and, above all, due to the fact that there is more than one State harbouring individual terrorists or terrorist groups.

The presence of a few terrorists on Afghan territory and the use of Afghanistan as a training centre for terrorist acts is the responsibility of all Afghan factions, albeit to differing degrees. If those factions were to be convinced of the fact that there can be no military solution to the war raging Afghanistan, then the war would come to an end and peace and stability would be restored. The rule of law would prevail and Afghanistan would again be an active State member of the international community.

In addition to the Afghan factions, States that influence the internal situation in Afghanistan bear a great responsibility for the continuation of the war and its repercussions. Those States that provide assistance and arms to the various Afghan factions have largely contributed to the fuelling of this war and to its escalation. They should have halted the flow of weaponry to Afghanistan in order to avoid giving the false impression that the Security Council has a double standard in dealing with Afghanistan, particularly with regard to the application of sanctions. Those States should also have convinced the Afghan factions to disarm and to turn to dialogue as the only way to resolve their problems.

One of the repercussions of the continuing war in Afghanistan is the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, which has been worsened by recent natural disasters in that country. This is why we have to examine the draft resolution before us very carefully due to certain apprehensions regarding its possible negative effects on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, at a time when we certainly need to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

We have therefore worked together with other delegations to ensure that this would not be the case in the future. In this regard, we would like to thank the sponsors of the draft resolution for having taking into account the amendments submitted by Bahrain. Furthermore, we would like to make sure that sanctions do not work to the detriment of religious duties and rituals such as the Hajj and the umra.

It is for these reasons that Bahrain will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us.

The President

I shall now put to the vote the draft resolution contained in document S/1999/1054.

favour against
abstain absent

favour=15 against=0 abstain=0 absent=0

Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Gabon, Gambia, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, United States

The President

There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 1267 (1999).

I shall now give the floor to those members of the Council who wish to make statements following the voting.

Mr. Shen Guofang (China)

Perennial warfare has done great damage to the Afghan people, their national economy and their security. In principle, China does not approve of the frequent use of sanctions. We entirely endorse the views expressed by the representative of Malaysia. We believe that sanctions will only exacerbate the suffering and hardships of the Afghan people, who have been the victims of perennial warfare. In our view, sanctions can be used only as a means of last resort and must be well targeted.

China is against all forms of terrorism. It was on the basis of this principled position that we participated in the consultations on the resolution that has just been adopted, during which we requested that the text be limited to the question of combating international terrorism. At the same time, we have taken note of the fact that the text of the resolution reiterates the commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, as well as respect for its cultural and historical traditions.

In addition, the parties agreed that the sanctions would take effect 30 days after the adoption of the resolution and indicated in no uncertain terms that the sanctions would be terminated immediately once the resolution was implemented.

In view of the fact that the Chinese amendment was accepted, we voted in favour of the resolution.

Mr. Vamos-Goldman (Canada)

Canada fully supports this resolution. It is appropriate and necessary that the Security Council take action to support the fight against terrorism. The adoption of this resolution demonstrates the international community’s resolve in this regard, and we hope that it will assist in the process of bringing to justice those responsible for the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998.

Canada’s concern over the situation in Afghanistan goes beyond terrorism. In our view, the Taliban’s flouting of human rights and humanitarian law and principles warrants further international action. The Secretary-General’s report of 21 September 1999 paints a stark picture of deteriorating conditions for civilians in Afghanistan, particularly for women and children. Taliban actions and policies play an important part in making Afghanistan one of the deadliest places on earth.

We therefore look forward to a further resolution by the Security Council to address the appalling humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan, which has given rise to so much instability in the region.

The President

There are no further speakers inscribed on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.

The meeting rose at 12.40 p.m.
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