We thank Special Representative Haysom and Executive Director Fedotov for their briefings.  We thank and extend our heartfelt congratulations to Ambassador Tanin for the work you have done for Afghanistan and for the wider membership during your time in New York.  We wish you well in your new assignment.

New Zealand continues to support Afghanistan – its Government and its people - and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA.  

Afghanistan has had to confront and to deal with very considerable challenges over the last 15 years. We commend all of those who have helped steer the country down the path from the essentially lawless state that gave sanctuary to those that brought down the Twin Towers to the much more stable state we see today. 

When we remember that larger context, we can only pay tribute to the resilience of the Afghan people and their determination to hold together their country, notwithstanding their internal differences.  We commend too Afghanistan’s leaders for continuing to work through the challenges of the power sharing arrangements that they took on for the wider good of their people. And we salute the bravery and dedication of the Afghan National Security Forces who have taken on the challenge of securing the safety of the nation and its people. 

That said, we recognise that in the current security environment, the pace of progress is increasingly difficult to sustain, as Special Representative Haysom has made clear to us. Yet, for the good of all Afghan people, particularly Afghan women who have an essential role to play in the future of Afghanistan, that effort must be sustained. 

We recognise that leadership changes have complicated dynamics within the Taliban and have made it much harder for the Government to pursue the peace process on which they have courageously embarked, despite the attempts made from within the country and from outside its borders to derail the process of national reconciliation that is essential to the achievement of a peaceful and secure future. 

New Zealand fully supports the Government of Afghanistan’s pursuit of reconciliation and we encourage it to stay the course. 
 
Sadly, there is now playing out a new twist in the struggle for power as the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIL and other associated groups increasingly seek regional and national ascendancy.  That too is taking a heavy toll on the Afghan National Security Forces and the civilian population.

Meanwhile, as Mr Fedotov has outlined in stark detail, the cultivation and trade in narcotics, and related criminality such as money laundering, corruption and financing, impose further stresses on local, regional and national governance structures. These undermine stability, security, economic and social development and the health and wellbeing of society in a country less able than most to cope with such pressures.

Against that background, it is important to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the Taleban and al Qaeda sanctions regimes.  As a Council, we need to think carefully about how we can use the 1988 sanctions regime to better support peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.  We encourage greater use of the travel ban exemption procedures, where the purpose of the travel is to enable listed individuals to participate in peace negotiations.  As Chair of the 1988 Committee, I recognise the need to ensure that the Committee’s processes support such participation. 

At the same time we need to be frank about those associated with the Taliban who display no genuine interest in peace but rather profit from the ongoing instability.  These individuals have vested financial interests in the narcotics trade and illegal mining and I encourage Member States to submit listing requests to the Committee in respect of individuals and entities.

Afghanistan needs the visible and united support of this Council and the international community. UNAMA is a tangible manifestation of that support.  The work of UNAMA and the delivery of well-coordinated international assistance to Afghanistan can assist the Afghan Government in laying down the political and security foundations necessary for Afghanistan to advance and prosper in a sustainable manner.  

At the same time, we recognise that the work of the United Nations in Afghanistan – that of UNAMA and of the wider UN system - must be fit for purpose, coordinated and work in tandem with the work of the Government of Afghanistan and the donor community.   

In this regard, we welcome the Secretary-General’s report on the Tripartite Review Commission called for in Paragraph 48 of Resolution 2210 (2015) and which we have just received.  It will usefully inform future discussions on the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.