The situation in Afghanistan was discussed today at an informal Arria Formula meeting of the UN Security Council at which the peace process was at the top of the Agenda. For over four decades, everyday life in Afghanistan has been dominated by war and violence. Nevertheless, functioning structures have been established in many parts of the country since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Access on the part of the population to education, healthcare, electricity and water has improved considerably while per-capita income has more than quadrupled. A vibrant civil society and media landscape have also come into being. Women and children in particular are benefitting from the newly created freedoms, even though there is still too wide a gap between statutory rights and everyday reality. Meanwhile, inhumane attacks continue to shake the country time and again.
Intra-Afghan peace negotiations
Afghanistan needs lasting peace. The delegations of the Islamic Republic and the Taliban have held negotiations on this issue in Doha since 12 September. Twenty-one envoys from each side are taking part in the negotiations, and the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team includes four women. One of them, Fatima Gailani, described her impressions of the negotiations and her view of the situation in Afghanistan to the members of the Security Council at today’s meeting. The delegates of the two negotiating teams face a difficult task. They must reach a lasting agreement that puts an end to the violence, sketches out the future political and social order, and also takes into account questions of national reconciliation. The Afghan negotiating parties themselves determine the negotiation process according to the principle “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned”.
Maintaining the progress made in recent years
The Federal Government supports the intra-Afghan peace process, just as it has, for years, supported the development of stable rule of law and democratic structures in the country. The progress made in recent years – especially in the area of women’s and human rights – must be maintained. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised the following at the opening of the peace negotiations:
The Afghan people want an end to violence and a lasting ceasefire. They want to live in dignity and peace. And they want the rule of law and human rights to be respected – not in theory, but in reality. Continued international support depends on respect for these fundamental rights and the constitutional order of Afghanistan.
The Federal Government is supporting this process not only in Doha and Afghanistan, but also in numerous bilateral talks and international formats. On 20 November, the members of the UN Security Council discussed the current status of the negotiations and scope for support from the international community in an expanded, informal setting – the Arria Formula – together with representatives from Afghanistan and other countries. The key objective of the Security Council and UN Secretary-General Guterres, which Germany supports, is a reduction of violence or an immediate ceasefire. The participants also looked ahead to the international donor conference for Afghanistan, at which negotiations on future civilian support will be held on 23 and 24 November. The economic, social and humanitarian situation in the country remains tense, and Afghanistan is still dependent on international assistance.
As the second-largest bilateral donor of civilian support for stabilisation and development cooperation (to the tune of up to 430 million euros annually), Germany is also the focus of a great deal of attention. Germany is committed to ensuring that the international community remains a reliable partner for Afghanistan in the future so that the achievements of the past 19 years can be preserved and built upon.