NEW YORK, 8 DECEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3952nd MEETING (The situation in Afghanistan)
Since the Council last discussed the disturbing situation in Afghanistan on 28 August 1998, the political and humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated further.
In September and October, fighting again intensified and the conflict escalated, provoking alarming regional repercusions. We were and remain concerned with the increased threat of the Afghan civil war becoming a regional conflict and particularly with the rise of military tensions along the Afghanistan borders. We would like to commend the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for helping to ease those tensions.
The latest fighting have brought about a new phase in the Afghanistan conflict. One of the parties has taken control of most of the country and it seems convinced that it is in a position to take over militarily the entire Afghan territory.
That might be true at this stage. But, in reality the warring factions must recognize that the conflict cannot be settled on the battlefield. Any thought of a conclusive military victory by one party is an illusion. History, old and new, shows us that a military conquest by one of the warring parties will not bring an end to the Afghan conflict.
Portugal stands for a political settlement, negotiated between the factions and accomodating the rights and interests of all Afghans. We, therefore, strongly support the demand that the Afghan factions stop fighting and enter urgently into negotiations, under United Nations auspices, aimed at creating a fully representative and broad-based Government. In this regard, we welcome the efforts of the "6+2".
We remain deeply concerned by continuing reports of outside interference in the affairs of Afghanistan. Although the enmity between the Afghan factions is deep, we are convinced that the continuation of the conflict is, to a great extent, a consequence of intervention from outside.
All countries with an influence on the factions in Afghanistan would do more to promote peace and regional stability by using that influence to prevent the supply of arms and other military support and to encourage the parties to negotiate.
The reports of ethnic and religious based persecution represent a particularly worrying aspect of the current situation in Afghanistan. Like others, we strongly condemn the murder of iranian diplomats and the occupation of the Consulate-General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mazar-eSharif, which, among others, represented, a flagrant violation of international law and of the Viena Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.
The increasingly ethnic nature of the conflict poses a threat to the unity of the Afghan State and makes it more difficult to find a peaceful political solution. We urge all factions to ensure the safety of civilian communities and to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance.
We also deplore the widespread violations of human rights in Afghanistan, which continues to be a place where human rights and international humanitarian law do not seem to exist. The continuing and intolerable discrimination imposed by the Taliban against women are a particular source of concern.
The Afghan factions must not expect the international community to accept their general lack of commitment to recognise, protect and promote human rights. In this context, my country strongly supports the Secretary-General´s proposal to establish within UNSMA a civil affairs unit aimed at monitoring and promoting respect for international humanitarian standards and human rights, as well as at preventing grave violations of human rights in the future.
Another two sources of grave concern are drug trafficking and the continuing presence of terrorists and terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, both factors with far reaching repercusions inside and outside the country. No political movement, no matter how much territory it controls, will gain international respectability as long as it is perceived to be harboring terrorist activities. These completely intolerable and destabilizing practices represent global threats and they must cease immediately.
In conclusion Mr. President, Portugal will vote in favor of the draft resolution before us and urges all Afghan factions to comply fully with it and to put an end to the suffering of the Afghan people.
Thank you Mr. President.