The situation in Afghanistan.
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Wang Yingfan
|Mr. Ben Youssef
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Afghanistan
I should like to inform the members of the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 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.
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/2000/1202, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by India, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and the United States of America.
I give the floor to the representative of Afghanistan.
First of all, allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of December 2000. May I also congratulate your predecessor on the skill with which he presided over the Council last month.
In resolution 1267 (1999) of 15 October 1999, the Security Council made it clear that the suppression of international terrorism is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security. In the same resolution, the Council forcefully condemned the fact that terrorists continue to be made welcome and trained in the areas controlled by the Taliban, and that acts of terrorism take place there.
The Pakistan/Taliban/bin Laden alliance has categorically refused to cooperate with the international community or to put an end to the training and haven it provides to international terrorists. In addition, that alliance has given new dimensions to terrorist activities and to extremists from all corners of the Earth. This fact was mentioned by the Secretary-General in his report of 20 November 2000:
“There have also been persistent reports of the involvement of a substantial number of Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Uighurs and other outsiders fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan”. (S/2000/1106, para. 37)
In response to that intransigence, the Security Council is considering the imposition of new measures. The Council is studying a new draft resolution in keeping with its responsibilities under the Charter. Here, we are grateful to Council members for having included clear and explicit provisions for the implementation of sanctions in such a way that they will not hamper the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan population. Cautious use will thus be made of sanctions, in order to spare innocent people.
By the terms of the draft resolution, we look forward to the Security Council employing all possible monitoring mechanisms to put a halt to transfers of weapons and ammunition and to the continued dispatch from Pakistan of the armed Pakistanis and military personnel who are helping the terrorists in Afghanistan, and so that all Pakistani military personnel and so-called volunteers will immediately leave Afghan soil.
The draft resolution on which the Council will take action today does not deal with a peaceful settlement of the present conflict in Afghanistan, and it is silent on Pakistan’s well-known aggression in Afghanistan. The draft resolution addresses one specific issue: the terrorism originating from that part of Afghan territory that is under military occupation by the diabolical Pakistan-Taliban-bin-Laden alliance.
The Islamic State of Afghanistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We affirm that the suppression of international terrorism is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security. We consider that terrorism is but one of the many effects of the military aggression against Afghanistan. The Security Council should therefore address the problem of Afghanistan in its entirety. It is our fear that the Pakistan-Taliban-bin-Laden axis could interpret the draft resolution before the Council to mean that they can continue their atrocities and their violence against the Afghan people, so long as they simply put an end to their activities outside Afghan territory.
We note with regret that the Security Council is not considering the active role of the Pakistani military junta and Pakistan’s well-known military intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the close links between that organization and international terrorist networks. In fact, the ISI constantly recruits, among “Islamic” extremist groups, people whom it trains, arms and sends to Afghanistan accompanied by Pakistani military personnel.
We convey our gratitude to the Secretary-General, who in paragraphs 23 and 81 of his 20 November 2000 report on the situation in Afghanistan indicated that a there are a significant number of non-Afghan combatants, essentially from Pakistan, fighting alongside the Taliban; most are from Pakistani madrassahs. In his report, the Secretary-General adds that there is outside involvement in the planning and logistical support of Taliban military operations.
On the basis of what the Secretary-General has reported, we are in a position to affirm that there are very close ideological, organizational, political and military links between the international terrorist network and Pakistan’s ISI. Pakistani religious schools, or madrassahs, are centres for indoctrination and regimentation, used by the Pakistani army to train armed personnel. Thus, in July 1999, following the withdrawal of soldiers and extremist fighters from the Kargil region of Kashmir, some of those fighters were taken, in Pakistani military trucks, north of Kabul to the Afghan provinces of Parwân and Kâpisâ to reinforce the Taliban armed forces in their acts of repression based on ethnic segregation. Pakistani prisoners held by our side have made unambiguous confessions to that effect.
The Islamic State of Afghanistan continues to be gravely concerned at the recent deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries, which is a direct consequence of the policy of military occupation and the training of terrorists endorsed by the Pakistani army; we therefore wish to make the following comments.
First, the population of Afghanistan has undergone genuine persecution by the terrorists and by elements affiliated with a whole range of international terrorist organizations from South-East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, whom the Pakistani army continues to recruit through its military intelligence service, the ISI. Pakistan remains the sole provider of weapons and materiel to the terrorists who, in ever greater numbers, come to Pakistan from all over the world.
Secondly, the Islamic State of Afghanistan affirms that it is inadmissible for Afghan soil to continue to be used to wage war and commit hostile acts that jeopardize the security and stability of third States in the region and beyond. Pakistan will bear sole responsibility for possible retaliation against Afghanistan, which could involve loss of life and the destruction of property.
We stress that the Islamic State of Afghanistan is convinced that the acts just described constitute flagrant violations of the Charter of the United Nations. The Security Council should immediately be seized of the question of armed aggression against Afghanistan, which falls under Chapter VII, Articles 39 to 42, of the Charter. Pakistan’s aggression and the terrorism and other activities sponsored by Pakistan pose a threat to regional security and hamper development and cooperation in the region; they should be denounced, condemned and combated through appropriate measures.
The Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, must be recognized as a criminal organization responsible for the war of aggression, for crimes against humanity and for war crimes. The Pakistani army must no longer think it is safe from being identified as responsible. We demand that the Council appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the issue of military aggression in Afghanistan and to present its conclusions to the Council. In addition to noting Pakistan’s aggression in Afghanistan, the Council could decide to compensate Afghanistan, through those bearing responsibility, for the material damage, the loss of human life and the plundering of Afghan cultural property caused by Pakistan’s war of aggression, which Pakistan has been waging since April 1992.
For justice to prevail, the real instigator of and key figure in the instability, the centre of indoctrination and regimentation of terrorists and the cause of tension in the region — Pakistan — must be the object of future sanctions by the Security Council. That would constitute the real effective solution to the Afghan problem.
This draft resolution clearly shows that foreign elements, coming basically from Pakistan and in alliance with terrorists from different countries, are those really responsible for the terrorist activities. The Afghan people themselves have never made use of terrorism. The Taliban have given an inaccurate picture of Afghanistan — an inaccurate image of the Afghan people to the world at large.
I thank the representative of Afghanistan for the kind words addressed he addressed to me.
It is my understanding that the Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution 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 call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements before the voting.
Malaysia condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and has joined in international efforts to combat this menace. Malaysia, also, does not reject the use of sanctions provided for in the Charter as a necessary coercive measure as long as the sanctions are taken as a measure of last resort short of the use of force, are targeted, have minimal humanitarian impact on the population at large and have a specific time-frame.
It was for these reasons that my delegation supported resolution 1267 of 15 October 1999, which imposed sanctions on the Taliban, in spite of a number of reservations we had on the resolution. However, we have difficulty in supporting the additional measures being contemplated against the Taliban contained in the draft resolution before the Council, on both procedural as well as substantive grounds.
Paragraph 6 (c) of resolution 1267 had tasked the Afghan sanctions committee to undertake periodic impact assessments of the sanctions. We believe that only through such assessments will the Council be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the sanctions and their effects on the population of Afghanistan, which is not the target of the sanctions and should therefore not be adversely affected by them. Regrettably, no such periodic assessments were carried out. Instead, in a belated attempt to “comply” with resolution 1267, a joint impact assessment was made by the two most interested members of the Council. This joint impact assessment does not satisfy, procedurally or substantively, the specific requirement of resolution 1267 for the simple reason that it was submitted to the sanctions committee just before the submission of this draft resolution and therefore cannot, in all seriousness, be described as a periodic report to the Committee. Neither was it an “objective” or “impartial” assessment, given the fact that it was jointly submitted by the two most interested members of the Council, who are most directly involved in the entire exercise and have the most vested interest in the subject. The joint report does not reflect a serious effort to improve the design of the sanctions regime and is at variance with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) own authoritative and comprehensive study drawn from extensive observations of the situation on the ground.
The design of any sanctions regime should be a careful and well-thought-out process, with emphasis on its effectiveness and, more importantly, on minimization of its humanitarian impact. OCHA asserts that the direct impact of current measures on the humanitarian situation is indeed limited but not without some indirect impact that is both tangible and intangible. The high levels of vulnerability of the people of Afghanistan are likely to exacerbate the impact of what would otherwise be fairly insignificant effects of the sanctions regime. The imposition of additional measures will exacerbate the sense of isolation and despair of the people of Afghanistan, living as they are in an impoverished, landlocked country, and suffering from the debilitating effects of a long and protracted war and the worst drought in a generation. These additional measures might also lead to the deterioration of the humanitarian operational environment in the Taliban-controlled areas in Afghanistan, especially if the Taliban were to withhold its cooperation with the ongoing activities of the international humanitarian agencies operating in its areas of control. Given the high dependence of the Afghan population on international humanitarian assistance for their survival, these additional measures against the Taliban may pose serious risks to current and future humanitarian programmes on the ground. These are risks we should not gamble on. We should be mindful of the warning given by the Afghan Support Group — the group of international donors — about the inherent risks of doing anything that may cause yet more misery for the long-suffering civilian population of Afghanistan.
My delegation is also concerned at the negative impact of such measures on the peace process — a process which the Council had strongly supported. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, Mr. Francesc Vendrell, in a recent briefing of the Council, expressed the hope that the beginning of a new negotiating process among the conflicting parties might lead to substantive talks and, in a direct reference to the additional measures being contemplated, he in fact cautioned about their timing. We should heed his cautionary words of advice. We believe that every effort should be made to support the fledgling peace process and that Mr. Vandrell, who, after all, has only recently undertaken his mission, should be given the opportunity to exhaust his efforts, which are at the initial stage. In the quagmire of Afghanistan, any glimmer of hope, any chink of light, should be pursued. The Council should be supportive, not dismissive of any peace effort, however unpromising its prospects in the short term. Rolling back the threat of international terrorism — important though it is — is only one aspect of the business of the Council. Furthering the peace process is an equally important mission, which should not be relegated to the back-burner simply because of impatience or frustration at the slow or insignificant progress made thus far.
My delegation also has reservations on the imposition of measures against the Taliban that, in effect, interfere with the country’s civil war. The one-sided arms embargo on the Taliban is a measure that, in our view, compromises the essential neutrality of the Council. Without that necessary neutrality the Council will undermine its own role and credibility. Also, while we support the ban on acetic anhydride, the wording of the operative paragraph sends out the wrong signal and might compromise the work of the United Nations anti-drug programme in the region. It would imply that the sale, supply or transfer of the chemical to non-Taliban-controlled areas is tolerated. We would, of course, have supported a universal arms embargo and a complete ban on the chemical in Afghanistan.
The Council should empathize and sympathize with the plight of the despairing people of Afghanistan, rather than impose measures that further isolate them and some of which will have a direct or indirect impact on their well-being, given the fact that the Taliban controls over 90 per cent of Afghanistan’s territory.
My delegation had wished that we could have joined other members of the Council in supporting the draft resolution. We had wished that most of our reservations would have been taken on board and that, above all, precedence would have been given to following the correct procedure rather than to political expediency, which seems to be the case judging by the manner in which the draft resolution has been steam-rolled through. As a legal measure, every care should have been taken to ensure that the sanctions regime against the Taliban is not politicized. Under the circumstances, my delegation will abstain on the draft resolution.
The Netherlands supports the political objectives of the draft resolution before us. There can be no doubt whatsoever that we utterly reject and condemn international terrorism. The same goes for the illegal international trafficking of drugs, which, in the case of Afghanistan, provides the financial basis for the Taliban’s support of international terrorism. Given these considerations, the Netherlands thinks it is important that the Security Council should send a political signal and send it with one voice. Therefore, we will vote in favour of the draft resolution.
We appreciate that the authors of the draft resolution have made a serious effort to target the new sanctions in order to limit as much as possible their impact on the civilian population of Afghanistan. However, we wish to put on record that the Netherlands continues to be seriously worried about the humanitarian impact of additional sanctions. The way in which the authors of the draft resolution before us have tended to dismiss the serious concerns voiced in the briefing of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has done nothing to allay our worries about this aspect of the draft resolution.
Against this background, we call on the Security Council to continue to weigh the possible humanitarian and political impact of its sanctions against the Council’s wider political objectives. The Netherlands recognizes that the extent of the humanitarian impact of the current draft resolution will depend on the attitude of the Taliban. It is not acceptable that the Taliban should use the adoption of the current draft resolution as a pretext for blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid or for otherwise hampering the activities of international humanitarian organizations. The Council will not allow international or local humanitarian workers to become the victims of attacks instigated by Taliban anger over this draft resolution.
For more than a year now the Taliban have continued to ignore the demand of the Security Council in resolution 1267 (1999) to hand over Usama bin Laden. They have also continued their support for international terrorism and their provision of safe haven and training facilities for terrorists in the territory under their control. This cannot be tolerated by the international community. It is therefore appropriate that the Council should respond by imposing further measures against the Taliban.
The draft resolution which the Council is about to adopt is carefully targeted to ensure that it will exert pressure exclusively on the Taliban and on Usama bin Laden and his associates. The Council has taken great care in designing the draft resolution to ensure that the measures imposed will not have an adverse impact on ordinary Afghans, who have suffered for far too long already. We call on the Taliban to allow aid agencies and international organizations to carry on their vital work in safety and without hindrance. The action taken by the Council today should have no bearing on the activities of those providing aid to the Afghan people.
I would like to conclude by calling on the Taliban to comply urgently with the demands of the Council in the draft resolution we are about to adopt and in resolution 1267 (1999) so that the measures decided on today may not have to be applied. This would be in their own interests, and it would also be very much in the interests of neighbouring countries, the wider international community and the Afghan people as a whole.
The French delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Security Council today. We associate ourselves with the appeal this draft resolution makes to the Taliban to abide by Security Council 1267 (1999). We hope that it puts an end to all support for terrorist activity. With regard to drugs, we call on the Taliban to halt all trafficking and to implement their decree of 28 July 2000 totally prohibiting the cultivation of opium poppy.
France is particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the continuation of operations of assistance to the Afghan people, to which this draft resolution should not be an obstacle. To that end, the draft resolution provides an exception for flights organized by humanitarian organizations that are duly registered. We demand that the Taliban ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and humanitarian organization personnel in Afghanistan and to ensure them free and unimpeded access to the population so that they can continue their activities to assist all vulnerable individuals.
The draft resolution we will be adopting takes into account two other concerns of the French delegation. First, the sanctions are established for a limited time period, although they are renewable if the Council so decides. This will be the third time this year that the Council has issued a time-bound sanctions regime. Thus, we see in practice the formation of a new Council doctrine that is conducive to avoiding the perpetuation of sanctions for indefinite time periods.
Secondly, we are satisfied with the provisions of the draft resolution regarding the one-month period provided for drawing up the list of humanitarian agencies and organizations authorized to organize flights. The importance and urgency of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan means that the Committee will have to work as quickly as possible to draw up that list, which, in my delegation’s view, must be as broad as possible.
The Government of Ukraine fully supports the draft resolution before us as an appropriate and timely measure. Ukraine regrets that the Taliban continue to ignore the clear demands of Security Council resolution 1267 (1999). Afghan territory under Taliban control is used for sheltering and training terrorists. This is unacceptable.
The most alarming thing is that Afghanistan, which has been devastated by 20 years of war, has become one of the world’s major producers of opium. The international community has continually expressed its grave concern over that unacceptable practice and condemned it. It has also repeatedly warned the Taliban leadership about the possibility of additional measures to be imposed. Unfortunately, the Taliban have ignored all these appeals and continue to disregard the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The Secretary-General’s report on the region and the reports of humanitarian agencies have provided us on a regular basis with an alarming picture of the Taliban’s ongoing policy of violating humanitarian law, flagrant violations of human rights, maltreatment of the civil population, violence and continuing discrimination against girls and women.
My delegation is particularly concerned about the continuing threat to the safety and security of United Nations and humanitarian personnel. We strongly condemn the acts of violence and intimidation against these personnel. The humanitarian situation in the country is drastic. Its population continues to live under the most deplorable conditions. This deplorable humanitarian situation has required a very careful approach in drafting these draft resolutions in order to avoid possible negative impacts of additional measures. The sponsors of the draft resolution, and the Council in general, attach particular importance to this issue. We are satisfied that these concerns have been taken into account and properly reflected in the text of the draft resolution.
We are also pleased to note that the draft establishes time limits for the imposition of the sanctions regime. We are satisfied that the problem of humanitarian flights has been resolved, thereby allowing humanitarian agencies to deliver expeditiously goods to those who are desperately in need. Accordingly, we expect that the Taliban will provide unimpeded access by United Nations and humanitarian relief personnel to the most vulnerable part of the Afghan population and guarantee the safety and security of those personnel.
The draft resolution, in our view, is well balanced and structured. It is targeted and has clear and well-defined goals. By the adoption of these additional measures, the Council also sends a clear message to the Taliban regarding the termination of the sanctions regime. It is full compliance with the provisions of this draft resolution that will eventually lead to the lifting of the sanctions.
Today the Security Council takes a strong stand against terrorism and for the maintenance of international peace and security. As we speak, the Taliban leadership harbours the world’s most wanted terrorist, Usama bin Laden.
Over a year ago, this body enacted sanctions with a single, simple demand to the Taliban leadership: turn over Usama bin Laden, without further delay, to appropriate authorities in a country where he will be arrested and effectively brought to justice. Yet to date the terrorists remain in Afghanistan, and let no one misunderstand: they remain a continuing threat to us all.
The Taliban cannot continue to flout the will of the international community and support and shelter terrorists without repercussions. As long as the Taliban leadership continues to harbour terrorists, in particular Usama bin Laden, and to promote terrorism, it remains a threat to international peace and security. We must be mindful that terrorists are criminals, whatever their ethnic, religious or other affiliations. We oppose their crimes, not any religious or moral cause they purport to represent. It is in the common interest of all nations to fight terrorism. Any country that provides refuge or other support to terrorists operates outside the values of the international community.
These sanctions are tough, but they are targeted. They do not cut off trade with Afghanistan. We have taken care to ensure that trade in food and medicine is not affected. These sanctions are targeted at the leadership of the Taliban, and not at the Afghan people. We all share a deep concern over the deplorable plight of the Afghan people, but it is important to remember that the cause of that misery is war, drought and the draconian policies of the leadership, not a ban on Taliban aircraft and assets.
The Taliban policies have aggravated the already abysmal economic and social conditions of the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban violates international humanitarian law and human rights, particularly by discriminating against women and girls. The United States is doing its part to address this crisis. We are the biggest donor to Afghanistan, with our aid this year to the people totalling $113 million. We also continue to help meet the Afghan people’s humanitarian needs, while targeting their leadership.
The United States takes the Taliban threat to humanitarian aid workers very seriously and is taking a range of measures to hold the Taliban leadership responsible for their proper treatment. The Council must not allow the Taliban leaders to blackmail it by threatening international personnel, the Afghan people’s benefactors.
Let me be perfectly clear: the Taliban has an obligation to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers and all United Nations personnel at all times. These dedicated individuals are in Afghanistan working for the welfare of the Afghan people, under extremely difficult circumstances. The Taliban must ensure that these individuals are able to carry on their work in safety and security, providing vital assistance to the Afghan people. That is the responsibility of the Taliban. The Afghan people deserve peace and a chance to rebuild their lives under a broad-based, representative government that respects their culture and traditions.
We applaud the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative, Francesc Vendrell, to promote a peaceful settlement. The people have suffered for too long. But until that day, the international community must stand firm against terrorism. With this important action today, the Security Council sends an unequivocal message to the Taliban: end your support for terrorism. Let us hope that they will at last heed our call.
It is my understanding that the Security Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution (S/1999/1202) before it. If I hear no objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote now.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
favour=13 against=0 abstain=2 absent=0
Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, Netherlands, Russia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States
The result of the voting is as follows: 13 in favour, none against and 2 abstentions. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 1333 (2000).
I shall now call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements following the voting.
In principle, China is not in favour of easily resorting to sanctions or of their repeated use. We have always maintained that sanctions should be adopted with great caution and prudence. Sanctions, as a tool available to the Security Council, are a double-edged sword, especially in cases where they are being strengthened. Even though their effects may be limited, they can also easily harm innocent people. Therefore, sanctions should be adopted or strengthened only when circumstances make it absolutely necessary.
As a friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, China has closely followed developments in the situation in that country. As a result of protracted war and the most severe drought in nearly 40 years, coupled with United Nations sanctions and many other factors, Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation has become extremely serious.
According to the report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the direct impact of the current sanctions on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is obvious, and substantial indirect effects are evident as well. A new round of sanctions would undoubtedly make the situation even worse. The innocent Afghan people are increasingly feeling abandoned by the international community, isolated and in an extremely vulnerable state. They cannot cope with the effects of any measures that could lead to the further deterioration of the situation. We deeply sympathize with them and feel strong concern at their situation.
China supports the Afghan peace process. A fundamental improvement in the humanitarian situation there will be possible only when a ceasefire is achieved and negotiations resumed. As a result of the good offices of the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, the belligerent parties in Afghanistan are now prepared to resume peace talks. A new round of sanctions at this time will naturally have a negative impact on the Afghan peace process. Furthermore, a unilateral arms embargo simply cannot achieve the objective of enhancing the peace process in Afghanistan. We are deeply concerned about this.
China is firmly opposed to all forms of terrorism and illegal drug trafficking. Bearing in mind this principled position, we participated in consultations on the resolution before the Council in a constructive spirit. Regrettably, however, our main amendments have not been accepted. Therefore we were compelled to abstain in the vote on the draft resolution.
As we have stated in this Chamber on several occasions, and most recently on 6 December when the Council considered the follow-up to resolution 1269 (1999), Canada attaches priority to the international fight against terrorism. We believe that the Security Council has an important role to play in eliminating terrorism, and we welcome its continued determination to do so.
The Taliban’s defiance of resolution 1267 (1999) and its continued support for international terrorism are simply unacceptable. We voted in favour of the resolution before the Council today because of the strong anti-terrorism message that it sends. The resolution is also a clear signal that the Council is serious about its demands and that the Taliban must comply with its international obligations. It is in everyone’s interests, not least the United Nations corporate interest, that sanctions the United Nations imposes be respected.
With the inclusion of a number of important provisions in this resolution, the Council is also responding to the growing international consensus on the need to ensure that measures imposed by the Council are both carefully targeted and sensitive to humanitarian considerations. We believe the resolution could have been stronger on this score, but we welcome the establishment of a committee of experts to monitor and report on the implementation of the sanctions and to provide an early assessment of humanitarian impacts.
As Canada leaves the Security Council, we remind those that will remain, and those that will join them, that they have a heavy responsibility to vigorously and objectively monitor the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and to respond as necessary to ensure that the civilian population does not suffer needlessly as a result of these new sanctions. Failure to do so could call into question the Council’s commitment to a smart, targeted sanctions policy and could have grave human costs. The long-running conflict in Afghanistan has taken a devastating toll on civilians.
In April of this year, former Canadian Foreign Minister Axworthy chaired a meeting of this body devoted to Afghanistan and called for more determined action by the Council to address the conflict itself. As we have seen over the past months, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by both parties to the conflict continue unabated. The violation of the human rights of women and girls is particularly deplorable.
Canada has suggested a number of steps that the Council could take, including increased attention to the issues of humanitarian access and respect for human rights, and enhanced efforts by the United Nations in the search for peace and reconciliation. We have also called for Council measures to pressure the warring factions to come to the negotiating table, and we encourage the Council to give serious consideration to widening the arms embargo to include all parties to the conflict.
We encourage the Council to address the conflict itself and to consider ways to hasten the end of the interminable war and the desperate conditions endured by the people of Afghanistan.
I will now make a statement in my capacity as representative of the Russian Federation.
Russia agrees with all the arguments that have already been presented here in favour of the need to tighten sanctions against the Taliban in connection with their complete ignoring of all the demands of the Security Council, first and foremost the demand for a cessation of support for international terrorism. I will not here reiterate all those arguments that were voiced by the majority of my colleagues who spoke.
I want to say a few words regarding those arguments that were expressed in connection with the doubts of some members of the Security Council concerning the necessity of adopting this resolution.
First, reference was made to the fact that the arms embargo that is being imposed in accordance with the resolution just adopted is, in fact, one-sided. However, I would like to emphasize that the one-sided nature of this embargo is fully justified. It is precisely the Taliban who have always banked on using military means to resolve the Afghan problem and who are continuing to bank on such means. Also, it is precisely the Taliban who have offered their territory for the use and protection of terrorists and who openly support Chechen, Uzbek, Tajik, Uigur and other extremists. Therefore, the weapons that end up in the hands of the Taliban are used not only for the civil war in Afghanistan, but also, we are convinced, in order to support international terrorism. Given this, there was nothing for the Security Council to do but impose a one-sided arms embargo.
Secondly, arguments are being put forward to the effect that the resolution just adopted may have a negative impact on the peace process. In particular, reference was made to the fact that on 2 November the Taliban and the Northern Alliance agreed in writing to resume negotiations. In this connection I would like to say that already on many occasions the Taliban have promised, both orally and in other forms, to begin the negotiating process, and each time they went back on their word. As far as we know, they have also gone back on the obligation that they entered into on 2 November and signed. The Taliban is continuing to refuse to respond to the numerous appeals made to them by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Francesc Vendrell, regarding the proposed agenda for a political dialogue. Thus they are continuing to boycott the political process and continuing to bank on war.
Therefore, I would venture to say that the negative impact on the peace process will not be exerted by the Security Council resolution, but by the consistent policy of the Taliban. Naturally, no one — the Russian Federation least of all — is going to close the door on the possibility that the Taliban might finally participate honestly and with good will in negotiations on a political settlement in Afghanistan. This door continues to remain open, and the resolution that has just been adopted does not close it.
The third argument that was put forward by colleagues who have expressed doubts about the resolution concerned its humanitarian implications. Previous speakers have already discussed how the major cause of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, aside from the drought, is the war. Tens of thousands of Afghans are fleeing this war and the Taliban’s most flagrant violations of human rights, which are also causing suffering in the Afghan population. This is the precise cause of the humanitarian disaster, and, unfortunately, the assessments of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in Islamabad failed to take into account objective factors that are not linked to the positions of the Security Council but are the direct result of Taliban policies.
In addition I would like to recall here that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in Islamabad decided to inform all those who wished to know about their assessments via an unusual procedure: by placing these assessments on the Internet, instead of bringing them to the Security Council. Standard procedure was thus flagrantly violated, and naturally this could not fail to distress those delegations who had more objective information than what had been distributed by the Islamabad division of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Despite all of this, as has already been stated by many of my colleagues, the resolution just adopted contains all of the necessary humanitarian exemptions. The sanctions are, in fact, targeted. They are targeted exclusively at the leaders of the Taliban and not at the Afghan people. They contain humanitarian exemptions; humanitarian assistance can be provided without constraint and automatically. And the sanctions have time limits, at the end of which they will have to be renewed.
The last argument that is being raised in connection with the humanitarian consequences involves concerns that after the adoption of this resolution, the Taliban may expel the humanitarian personnel of the United Nations and of non-governmental organizations.
If the Security Council takes such threats into account, we will become the direct victims of blackmail. We will be seen not as the organ responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, but as one that acquiesces to blackmail. That would be analogous to our deciding to rescind the sanctions against UNITA because it is shooting down United Nations aircraft carrying humanitarian assistance. That would be quite the same thing and I am very gratified that the Security Council did not yield to such blackmail.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.
There are no further speakers 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.