Thank you very much, Mr. President, and many congratulations to Kazakhstan for your able leadership of the Council for the month of January.
It has been a busy and productive month for the Security Council.
Thanks to Kazakhstan’s sustained efforts, the Security Council travelled on its first mission to Afghanistan in seven years, where they met with Government of National Unity leaders, UNAMA officials, opposition parties, and civil society representatives. Council members thanked the Afghan people for their continued resolve in the fight against terrorism and noted international consensus on the need to strengthen security. They urged President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to hold free, fair, and transparent elections as scheduled and stressed the importance of maintaining unity for the sake of an inclusive and stable Afghanistan.
We welcome Kazakhstan’s emphasis on promoting peace in Afghanistan, and we welcome the emphasis on the potential benefits of security and development partnerships between Afghanistan and Central Asia. We thank Kazakhstan for convening a ministerial debate on partnership between Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Afghanistan, as you all know, is a top U.S. priority as well, which is why our National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, came to New York especially to brief the Council on Afghanistan and our South Asia strategy, which goes hand-in-hand with the UN’s efforts to end the conflict and help Afghans build a better future.
We were also very pleased to receive our biannual briefing on the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy, the first by the mission’s new SRSG, Natalia Gherman. Of particular note, the Council adopted a press statement supporting her work, the first time we have come to consensus on such a document in several years. We hope this will open the door for future documents in support of this mission’s important work.
But obviously, South and Central Asia were not the only focus of the Security Council’s work. This month, Ambassador Haley urged Council members to support a South Sudan arms embargo and said that we as a Council must act on the position we took in our December 14 Presidential Statement to impose costs and consequences on those who undermine the peace process in South Sudan.
We also held important discussions on the UNFICYP mission and its support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We renewed the mission’s mandate, and now we urge both Cypriot leaders to take steps to rebuild trust, improve the public atmosphere, and resume talks immediately.
Council members remain unified in support of the peace process in Colombia and the work of the UN Verification Mission, noting that the challenges of FARC reintegration and implementation of the historic peace agreement are significant and success is not certain. The Council is also committed to the resumption of talks with the ELN and emphasized the importance of a new ceasefire.
The Council also reaffirmed that the Libyan Political Agreement must remain the framework for the political process throughout the country’s transitional period and that there is no room for spoilers. Tt is long past time for all parties to put the interests of the Libyan people first and engage fully with the UN-sponsored political process. In the meantime, we must also deepen our work with Libyan authorities to ensure all those responsible for human rights abuses against migrants, including the shocking practice of slavery, are held accountable.
And as you mentioned, Mr. President, earlier this week, Ambassador Haley hosted the members of the Security Council in Washington to view evidence of Iran’s violations of its international obligations and its interference in conflicts around the region. She also hosted Security Council members at the U.S. Holocaust Museum for a discussion about atrocities in Syria. The trip underscored the need for this Council to take action on both fronts and pursue accountability.
Thank you again, Mr. President, for your able management of the Council this month. And we are very much looking forward to the Kuwaiti presidency of the Council in February. We are confident Kuwait will lead us effectively in continuing efforts.