I thank you for convening this debate on Afghanistan following the first ceasefire in the last 17 years. We welcomed this development and expressed our hope that this would lead toward lasting peace. I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto for his informative briefing and tireless efforts at UNAMA, and also thank Mr. Yury Fedotov and Mr. Vladimir Voronkov for their briefings.
Japan welcomes the steady implementation of the Secretary General’s Strategic Review, which was issued in August last year and was endorsed by this Council in Resolution 2405. The Strategic Review’s insightful findings provide a path forward for UNAMA to help create a future for Afghanistan where sufficient stability exists to allow for a focus on institution-building and development activities. Japan looks forward to actively taking part in the forthcoming Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan to be co-hosted by the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations, where we will discuss the strategy towards sustainable peace and self-reliance in the country.
The government of Japan welcomed the recent announcement by President Dr. Ashraf Ghani regarding the ceasefire with the Taliban. Even if temporary, a cessation of hostilities is a positive step for peace. Longstanding instability and conflict have left Afghanistan unable to realize its potential to the full.
Japan, together with key stakeholders, took part in the Second Kabul Process Meeting and the Tashkent Conference, and expressed support for the Government of Afghanistan offering to the Taliban its plans for talks without preconditions. Despite the recent ceasefire announcements, regrettably, we have not observed any concrete step toward such talks. The international community must keep urging both sides to extend their ceasefires for the sake of the Afghan people and to engage with each other on starting a more formal process.
Parliamentary and district council elections to be held on 20 October will be a critical test for the Government of Afghanistan. While we are aware of the ongoing preparation process by the Independent Election Commission and of strong support by UNAMA, there remain administrative and security challenges. The international community awaits the outcome of credible and inclusive elections, and we are ready to extend assistance. However, the most important thing is that elections must be “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned.” I appreciate SRSG Mr. Yamamoto for today’s update, and ask him to keep us informed and to provide the international community with concrete suggestions as to how we can support the ultimate goal of inclusive elections.
Japan reiterates its commitment to assisting Afghanistan on its path toward a peaceful, stable, and self-reliant future. The ceasefire offered a brief vision of what that future would look like. Achieving that vision is our goal, and we should not miss any opportunity to get there.
I thank you.