Doctor in Political Science, Deputy Director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Kazakh Presidency in the UN Security Council: Focus on Central Asia and Afghanistan
Like many other non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, during its presidency of this most authoritative world platform Kazakhstan added a regional context to the agenda that is important for us and our neighbors, which was expressed in holding the ministerial debate on Jan. 19 “On Building Regional Partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia to Link Security and Development."
Our region has never been in the special focus of the UN Security Council, as the situation in Central Asia has been and remains relatively stable. That is why Central Asia, at the suggestion of Kazakhstan, is a model for considering the problem of a slightly different order. Addressing security issues in the context of regional development and building a sustainable system of interrelations for achieving economic prosperity – all this should help to reduce existing risks and threats.
The military presence of international forces in Afghanistan in recent years and internal instability and loss of control in the provinces have compounded the situation with unresolved problems, destabilized the current security situation of the country and increased the risks for the whole region. In this regard, Kazakhstan's initiative to transform Afghanistan and Central Asia into a model zone of peace, cooperation and security should be one of the priorities of the world community in the framework of strengthening global partnership for building a safe, just and prosperous world.
Within the framework of the debate, Kazakhstan paid special attention to the Afghan issue. This decision is timely, verified and calls on the international community to provide comprehensive support to Afghanistan through increased regional cooperation in the long term. Representatives of Central Asian countries who spoke at the Security Council reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation and implementing concrete measures to expand interaction and implement regional projects in the infrastructure, trade, economic, investment and transit transport fields. Such approach vividly reflects Kazakhstan's position in the vision for Afghanistan as an important partner in the region with serious potential.
Ministerial Debate at the UNSC. New York, 19 January 2018.
Astana has suggested three aspects aimed at achieving success in Afghanistan, which should be taken into consideration as an institutional framework for promoting the concept of interdependence of security and development:
1.There is no development without security, just as no security without development.
2.The focus is more on regional specificity than on a single country.
3.Encouraging the creation of an integrated regional strategy of all existing UN bodies.
The international community and, in particular, UN Secretary General António Guterres highly appreciate the initiatives of Kazakhstan and those who actively participated in the dialogue between the countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan. Representatives of the regional countries reaffirmed their commitment to deepening the long-term dialogue with Afghanistan, in particular through the implementation of regional projects in the trade, economic, investment, infrastructure, energy and transit transport fields.
The debate participants reaffirmed their commitment to the Istanbul Process, a platform aimed at expanding the political dialogue on security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region as a whole, noting it is needed to improve the impact of the Istanbul Process.
The Istanbul Process has operated since 2011 and serves as an important platform for regional cooperation. There are 14 member states – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
The presidency of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UN Security Council should be considered as a unique opportunity for launching initiatives of the countries of the Central Asian region. In particular, Astana supports initiatives related to the comprehensive deepening of economic cooperation between Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries through the implementation of infrastructure, trade, investment and transit transport projects. Thus, within the framework of the Kazakh-Afghan Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation, a number of issues are raised regarding the participation of Kazakh companies in the implementation of donor and investment projects and the development of mineral deposits in Afghanistan. The humanitarian component includes a state educational programme between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, which provides education to more than 1,000 Afghan students in universities of Kazakhstan.
Uzbekistan's proactive position during the ministerial debate on the UN platform is considered an important contribution. Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov announced an agreement with the Afghan side to hold an international ministerial conference on Afghanistan in late March in Tashkent, following which there are plans to work out basic principles of peacebuilding in Afghanistan and the contribution of regional countries and other donors to it.
During the debate, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldaev emphasised the importance of reaching a consensus between permanent members of the UN Security Council on the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, indicating the absence of visible progress in the achievement of peace talks. The conflicting parties adhere to the tactics of the preconditions for starting negotiations, which makes their conduct unlikely. In this regard, the Kyrgyz diplomat expressed support for the initiative of Uzbekistan and the tasks that the upcoming conference in Tashkent is setting for itself.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Aslov expressed his country's concern about the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border and the need to improve security and reliability of border management in order to prevent the penetration of terrorist groups and drug trafficking.
Turkmenistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Aksoltan Ataýewa noted that Ashgabat attaches particular importance to the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia in addressing regional issues and supports all initiatives aimed at resolving the situation in Afghanistan exclusively through political and diplomatic means.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Karzai stressed the relevance of the debate and the possibility of achieving success in addressing the situation in his country only with the joint efforts of the countries of the region and the international community.
Other debate participants in the person of the leadership of the foreign ministries of China, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, the USA, and other countries were united in recognising the need for national reconciliation in Afghanistan and joint efforts in resolving the situation in the country.
Thus, political efforts to resolve the Afghan issue intensified. The efforts of the Central Asian countries are aimed at helping Afghanistan to become an important partner in terms of regional security and stability. In this context, a positive factor is the desire of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to interact more closely on this track. These efforts are primarily conditioned by the need to ensure stability and security in the region, creating a favourable economic and political environment.
In fact, building regional cooperation, intensifying economic ties in the region and implementing joint transport and infrastructure projects are also an important condition for sustainable development at the transregional level. If this process was mainly carried out earlier in the format of bilateral interaction, then at the present time, strengthening of multilateral approaches is evident.
The Central Asian countries continue to search for a more stable form of interaction and this is confirmed by meetings at the level of heads of foreign ministries on the UN platforms. During the first year of non-permanent membership of the Republic of Kazakhstan, two such meetings were held at the UN Security Council. Of course, the high-level Consultative Meeting of heads of the Central Asian states in Astana will be of great importance for the effectiveness of regional cooperation.
Thus, the result of an open dialogue among the debate participants in the UN Security Council was the adoption, with the approval of Security Council members, of the Statement by the President. This document calls on the world community to assist Afghanistan by strengthening regional ties and effective preventive diplomacy and applying a comprehensive approach in politics, security, development and human rights in order to form a model zone of peace, cooperation and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Statement by the President of the Security Council
At the 8162nd meeting of the Security Council, held on 19 January 2018, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled “Maintenance of international peace and security", the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:
“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the Central Asian States.
“The Security Council expresses its continued support to the Secretary General's call-to-action to avert threats in Afghanistan and Central Asia, encourages making conflict prevention and resolution central to the work of the UN system in the region while stressing the importance of preventive diplomacy, inter alia, through engaging constructively with Member States to ensure long-term stability, security and development.
“The Security Council recalls its Resolution 2344 (2017) and recognizes that there can be no purely military solution to Afghanistan, underlines the importance of an inclusive Afghan-led and -owned peace process for the long-term prosperity and stability of Afghanistan, and expresses its full support to the Government of Afghanistan to achieve peace and reconciliation, including through peace and security cooperation with the wider region, including the Central Asian states.
“The Security Council recognizes ongoing international efforts to advance peace and stability in Afghanistan and calls on all countries in the region and international community to renew their sincere efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation.
“The Security Council underscores the importance of continued progress on electoral reform and towards the holding of credible and inclusive parliamentary elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019. It commends efforts by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UNDP in support of this area and encourages them to intensify their support to the Afghan electoral management bodies.
“The Security Council reiterates its concern over the continuing threats to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, including the Haqqani network, as well as by Al-Qaida, ISIL (Da'esh) affiliates and other terrorist groups, violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals, and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs; notes in this regard the potential threats to the region, including to the Central Asian states; and calls upon all states in this regard to effectively implement all relevant Security Council resolutions, including those relating to counterterrorism, and to strengthen their international and regional security cooperation to enhance information-sharing, border control, law enforcement and criminal justice to better counter the threats posed, including from returning foreign terrorist fighters.
“The Security Council takes note of the efforts of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (established pursuant UNSCR 1373) and its Executive Directorate to assess and monitor implementation of resolutions 1373, 1624, 2178, 2396 and other relevant resolutions on terrorism by Afghanistan and countries of the region, and acknowledges recommendations provided by the Committee, including in the area of providing of technical assistance.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of advancing regional, interregional and international cooperation to achieve long-term peace, stability and sustainable development in Afghanistan and Central Asia and supports the joint efforts of countries of the region towards the enhancement of a zone of peace, cooperation and prosperity including through the different platforms for cooperation.
“The Security Council welcomes the contribution of the Central Asian countries to ensuring the stability and development of Afghanistan and the intensification of long-term cooperation, discussions and coordination among them, using various joint platforms and fora, including through regular meetings at high level.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of increasing the full and effective participation and leadership of women in decision-making, including in national, regional, and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as efforts to prevent and combat terrorism, and the importance of integrating gender perspectives across all discussions pertinent to sustaining peace in Afghanistan and the Central Asia region and supports commitments to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security in the region. The Security Council stresses the need to strengthen policies and mechanisms in Afghanistan to empower women politically and economically, to increase the number of women in the security forces in an environment conducive to women's safety and development, and to mitigate violence against women by supporting the provision of services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
“The Security Council underlines the importance of paying due attention to child protection concerns within peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and calls on all parties to take the necessary measures to do so.
“The Security Council commends the role of the UNAMA and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), and their respective UN Secretary General Special Representatives, in the implementation of their mandates as per Resolution 2344 (2017) and Security Council documents S/2007/279 and S/2007/280, respectively and for collaborating closely to facilitate the bilateral and multilateral engagement of Central Asian States with Afghanistan.
“The Security Council welcomes the involvement of Afghanistan in the Central Asian regional mechanisms for cooperation on counter-terrorism, including in implementing the Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and expresses its support for the roles of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and UNRCCA in providing support to the practical realization of the JPoA and the Ashgabat Declaration of 13 June 2017.
“The Security Council underscores the importance of close coordination between Afghanistan and the Central Asian States in combating the significant increase in the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, as reflected in the Afghanistan Opium Survey published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 15 November 2017, which continue to pose a threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond, and emphasizes the need for enhanced regional and international support of Afghanistan's National Drug Action Plan (NDAP).
“The Security Council in this regard appreciates the work of UNODC, calls upon States to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter the threat to the international community posed by the cultivation, production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit drugs originating in Afghanistan which significantly contribute to the financial resources of the Taliban and its associates, and to act in accordance with the principle of common and shared responsibility in addressing the drug problem of Afghanistan, including through cooperation against the trafficking in illicit drugs and precursor chemicals, and welcomes cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asian states and relevant regional and international organizations and initiatives.
“The Security Council commends the efforts of UNAMA and UNRCCA, in collaboration with the UNODC, and relevant regional organizations and fora, to help the Central Asian States and Afghanistan address the narcotics problem. “The Security Council welcomes commitments to continued cooperation on border management and border security by Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, commends efforts by UN agencies to increase their capacities in this area, and encourages donor countries and regional and international organizations to intensify capacity building efforts.
“The Security Council welcomes the contribution of Central Asian States to non-proliferation, including to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ), and encourages their further cooperation in preventing, detecting and responding to illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials.
“The Security Council welcomes efforts taken in the region to enhance dialogue and collaboration and to advance shared goals of economic development and prosperity across the region and expresses its appreciation for national, sub-regional and regional initiatives and efforts to advance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity in Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.
“The Security Council emphasizes that, in order to support Afghanistan emerging sustainably from conflict, there is a need for a comprehensive and integrated approach that incorporates and strengthens coherence between all sectors, including political, security, development, and human rights, and encourages ongoing efforts in this regard, including to strengthen the rule of law, and stresses the importance, where appropriate, of advancing a regional approach as a means to minimize conflict and enhance effectiveness and efficiency of interventions.
“The Security Council encourages relevant entities of the UN system to work towards preventing conflict and notes in this regard the importance of addressing the conflict in Afghanistan in a comprehensive manner that seeks to use preventive diplomacy tools in support of durable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the wider region.
“The Security Council notes in this regard the importance of maximizing the efficiency and efficacy of the work of the UN in Afghanistan and Central Asia, including through enhanced coordination across the UN system.
“The Security Council commends the efforts of the relevant UN agencies in promoting SDGs regionally and supports the activities of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), which Afghanistan has joined, and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), as platforms for cross-border economic dialogue, and encourages intensified ownership and contribution by Central Asian States."
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