Explanation of Vote on a UN General Assembly Resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 10, 2020


Mr. President, the United States would like to note that today’s resolution comes at a critical time in the ongoing negotiations, and that this resolution must be based on a shared commitment to supporting Afghanistan peace negotiations and the pursuit of an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led resolution to decades of conflict.

When the Taliban signed the February 29, 2020 agreement to enter into negotiations with the Islamic Republic, it publicly and explicitly agreed to prevent al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies. The Taliban recognized the legitimate concerns about international terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and agreed to prevent international terrorist groups from recruiting, training, or fundraising, and that they will not host them. Although the Taliban still has more to do, these commitments, and the moves taken since, are a significant step forward.

The United States regrets that this progress is not fully reflected in this resolution, which fails to recognize the distinction between the activities of the Taliban and those of international terrorist groups, including ISIS and al-Qa’ida. The Taliban have fought ISIS-K and taken other steps on their counterterrorism commitments. The United States has raised these concerns with the penholder Germany.

Violence in Afghanistan, by all sides, is too high, and we must seize the current moment to accelerate the peace process and alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people. This means that our assessment of the situation on the ground cannot be on autopilot.

The recent agreement between the Islamic Republic and Taliban on rules and procedures for talks, and the start of the discussion of agenda items, demonstrates that both sides are engaged seriously and capable of coming to agreement on tough issues. As Afghanistan peace negotiations proceed into this next, critical phase, it is important that the international community acknowledge the significant progress made to date while pressing both sides to work together with the urgency required to achieve a political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. The time has come for Afghans to unify and embrace compromise, not to polarize each other. The international community should also unify in support of the peace process.

Finally, with respect to the climate change language, we note that the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement took effect on November 4, 2020. Therefore, references to climate change are without prejudice to U.S. positions.

Thank you, Mr. President.