KABUL - Peace is crucial for the future of Afghanistan. I welcome the efforts made by the people of Afghanistan and other key actors to make progress and realize direct intra-Afghan talks. While recognizing the many challenges to be addressed in any peace efforts, the United Nations remains committed to supporting an inclusive Afghan-led process that upholds the human rights of all citizens and leads to sustainable peace.
The war in Afghanistan continues to take an appalling toll on civilians. I recognize with extreme sadness that civilian casualties recently surpassed 100,000 in the past 10 years alone, from the time the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began systematic documentation of civilian casualties in 2009 to the present.
As I told the Security Council last week, whatever the outcome of the presidential election may be, peace will be the issue of paramount importance to the new administration. I reiterate the call by the United Nations for everyone to raise their voices for peace, and for all stakeholders to make genuine and concrete steps toward ending the war, as there can be no military solution to the conflict in this country.
The United Nations maintains that intra-Afghan talks which include women and youth are essential for an Afghan-owned peace process and are fundamental to all ongoing peace efforts. Through local peace initiatives in Afghanistan, we have been working with communities across the country to support the peaceful resolution of long-standing disputes over land, water and other key resources, and we will continue to do so.
However, only by ending the war can there be real hope for an Afghanistan with a prosperous future. The hopes and aspirations of millions of ordinary Afghans – young and old, women and men, girls and boys – rest on the shoulders of those who are striving to bring the war to an end with a lasting political settlement.
The United Nations urges those participating in all peace efforts to consider the millions of ordinary Afghans, especially the victims of the conflict, who want a chance to live in peace so they can rebuild their lives in a country that is stable, just and economically prosperous, and where their human rights are protected.
The United Nations urges all stakeholders to seek ways to reduce levels of violence, especially the violence which harms civilians, on the way to a lasting political settlement and a permanent ceasefire. Implementing a reduction of violence is also important in creating an environment which enables constructive intra-Afghan talks on peace to take place.
Tadamichi Yamamoto is the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).