Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Afghanistan

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 10, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you Special Representative Yamamoto, Executive Director Fedotov, Ambassador Djani for your briefings and Ambassador Raz for your presentation today. The United States commends the continued hard work of UNAMA and your staff in supporting the people of Afghanistan.

Mr. President, we reiterate our deepest sympathies and condolences to the loved ones of those killed in the terrorist attack on a wedding hall in Kabul committed by ISIS-Khorasan on August 17. We also convey our sympathies to the victims of recent Taliban attacks in Kabul, Kunduz, and across Afghanistan, including attacks that claimed the lives of two U.S. service members, a Romanian service member, and a Romanian diplomat.

Their sacrifices remind us of the importance of achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan. Far too many Afghans, members of international security forces, foreign diplomats and others have lost their lives to indiscriminate violence.

On the peace process, the remarks by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo over the weekend and yesterday speak for themselves. I have nothing to add to them at this time.

Mr. President, the United States continues to support Afghan political and electoral institutions. We welcome the findings of the UNAMA report that 9.6 million people have been registered to vote. We have pledged $29 million of the $59 million in donor funding offered toward the presidential election and have supported the UNDP’s work building the capacities of the Independent Elections Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission. We continue to strongly support the role played by Afghan women in Afghanistan’s economic, political, and social advancement.

The United States remains concerned about the high level of illicit narcotics cultivation and production in Afghanistan, to include opiates and the growing ephedra problem. We appreciate the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, including the Research and Trends Analysis Branch, in continuing to draw the attention of Member States to this issue. We hope that the international community can expand efforts to address the drug problem.

Finally, Mr. President, as Council members are aware, we are in the midst of negotiation on a new UNAMA mandate. We must ensure the resolution provides UNAMA clear, specific guidance to do its critical work, particularly during this pivotal period in Afghanistan’s history.

We strongly believe this mandate is too important at this moment to have one Security Council member deny consensus for reasons having nothing to do with UNAMA. All of us must display discipline and the political will to focus the mandate on the core issues that will empower UNAMA to support the government and people of Afghanistan.

In closing, Mr. President, let me again express my appreciation to the UN and other international partners for their support in strengthening the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s electoral process, and for supporting Afghanistan’s peace process. I thank you.