NEW YORK, 14 APRIL 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3765th MEETING (Agenda on the situation in Afghanistan)
The President: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Portugal.
The Presidency of the European Union has already stated the common views of its member States on Afghanistan. Therefore, I will emphasize only certain elements of my country's position with regard the situation in that country.
As the fighting continues, we urge the parties to halt hostilities. A ceasefire should be the first step, to enable them to begin real negotiations aimed at a political settlement. Only in that way will the territorial integrity of Afghanistan be maintained and will the Afghan people be able to enjoy peace as an independent and sovereign country.
Yet this may not be at hand, as one of the parties seems to be convinced that it is in a position to take over the whole country militarily. But the past 18 years of war in Afghanistan lead us to believe that a military victory by one of the warring parties will not bring an end to the fighting. The United Nations must help to break this cycle and induce the parties to move forward towards a political settlement. The Security Council must send a precise, concise and clear message in support of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan. We must make sure that the parties and their external backers get this message.
This open meeting of the Council is instrumental in sending the international community's message that the United Nations is committed to a settlement in Afghanistan. With that purpose, the Council fully backs the efforts of the Organization's main instrument in Afghanistan, the United Nations Special Mission. The United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan plays a central role in that process and all United Nations Members must cooperate with it, by coordinating any initiatives regarding Afghanistan with the Head of the Mission, Mr. Norbert Holl.
For too long, Afghanistan has been subject to interference from outside, which has only served to prolong the conflict. Like others, we call for an end to such interference and an end to the supply of arms and ammunition to the factions, which continues despite the denials of those involved. I would like to recall that following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1076 (1996), the European Union decided to impose an arms embargo on Afghanistan. We urge others to follow the same pattern.
Two other extremely worrying features of the Afghan conflict continue: drug trafficking and the existence of terrorist training camps. These two factors not only help fuel the conflict but also constitute a serious threat to peace and security in the whole region. We urge the parties to put an end to these intolerable destabilizing practices.
Every new day of war in Afghanistan brings misery and suffering to the civilian population. And every day that Afghanistan remains without a broad-based interim Government and an effective civilian administration, the country is pushed further backwards on the scale of economic and human development. In the humanitarian field, the fighting has caused heavy casualties and has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes and many more to flee the country. We, too, call on all factions to cooperate with the delivery of humanitarian aid to all the people of Afghanistan, irrespective of their ethnic group, race or gender. Portugal expresses its deep concern about the widespread violations of fundamental human rights in Afghanistan, in particular the intolerable measures imposed by the Taliban affecting the rights of girls and women.
The Security Council must make it known to all the factions that they are responsible not only for complying with humanitarian law, but also for respecting and implementing international human rights standards with regard to each and every citizen in Afghanistan.
The United Nations stands ready to assist the parties in reaching peace and national reconciliation. But the parties bear the primary responsibility in this task.
Those countries which have been channelling humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan would certainly prefer to divert resources to the huge reconstruction needs of the country. But the Afghan parties should be made aware that this will not happen until peace is achieved.
I now resume my function as President of the Council.