The special representatives from the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Norway, and the United Kingdom met in Rome on 22 July to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the developments in the Afghan peace negotiations after the latest round of high-level talks in Doha last week, reiterating on an immediate end to violence in the country.
The envoys in a statement said they are committed to a strong partnership with Afghanistan and will be closely monitoring ongoing developments in this new phase of transition with the withdrawal of international forces.
They said that the people of Afghanistan have suffered for too long from conflict and that they are deeply concerned about the high levels of violence, the Taliban’s military offensive, and the number of reported serious human rights abuses and violations alleged in communities most affected by the ongoing armed conflict across the country.
“We call on all parties to reduce violence and protect civilians, respecting their obligations under international humanitarian law. We call on the Taliban to end their military offensive, and on both the Islamic Republic and the Taliban to engage meaningfully in the peace process. We reiterate the urgency of reaching a ceasefire to ensure the success of negotiations, and we acknowledge the sacrifices of the Afghan security forces,” the envoys said in the statement.
The envoys said there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that they stand by UNSC resolution 2513 (2020), and they do not support any government in Afghanistan imposed through military force.
“We express our full support to an inclusive Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process with full and meaningful participation of women that leads to a just and durable political settlement,” the envoys said.
“We also highlight five elements of a final settlement that are most critical: (1) inclusive governance; (2) the right to elect political leaders; (3) protections for human rights, including rights of women, youth and minorities; (4) commitments on counter-terrorism, including to ensure that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists; and (5) adherence to international law, including international humanitarian law. We emphasize that international support to any future government will depend, at least in part, on adherence to these five elements,” they said in the statement.
The special representatives said they intend to maintain their support for Afghan institutions, including defense and security forces, to address the country’s urgent needs.
“We also reiterate that future assistance to Afghanistan is dependent on good governance and a commitment to the rule of law and human rights, including preservation of the gains made by women and girls over the past two decades, as well as the government taking meaningful steps to tackle corruption and to meeting commitments made at the November 2020 Geneva Conference,” the envoys said.
The envoys welcomed the talks held in Doha on July 17 and 18 between senior leaders of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban.
“We further welcome the declared commitment of the two sides to accelerate negotiations toward an inclusive political settlement and to meet again in the near future. We believe future meetings should focus on core issues that will be fundamental to reaching an inclusive political settlement,” they said.
The envoys said they acknowledged that reaching a final political settlement, including on the Constitution, will likely take time. “We urge the two sides to agree on a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and on foundational principles for the future Afghan State and details of transitional governing arrangements until a final political settlement is reached. We emphasize that any transitional governing arrangements must be inclusive, respect the rights of all Afghans in line with Afghanistan’s international commitments and also uphold counter-terrorism commitments,” they added.
The envoys said they welcome in particular the commitments made by the Taliban yesterday to inclusive governance, respecting human rights including the rights of women and minorities, to abide by international law, including international humanitarian law, and upholding counter-terrorism commitments. They said that they also welcome the Taliban’s openness to negotiate a mechanism for representative government with the Islamic Republic negotiation team.
“We call on the two parties to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a just and durable political settlement. To promote progress in the negotiations, we support any third-party facilitation or mediation welcomed by the two sides,” the special representatives said.
The envoys asked the Taliban and the Islamic Republic to deliver on their commitments (1) to prevent the use of Afghan soil by al Qaeda, Da’esh or other terrorist groups from launching attacks against, or threatening the security of, any other country; and (2) not to host members of these groups nor to allow them to recruit, train, fundraise or transit through Afghanistan.
“We urge the Taliban to reduce violence, uphold their commitments to protect Afghanistan’s infrastructure, protect civilians and cooperate on humanitarian assistance, particularly as the Afghan people suffer acutely from the effects of COVID-19 and drought, in addition to violence. We call on the Taliban to allow and facilitate, without preconditions and consistent with international humanitarian law, access for delivery of humanitarian aid, to areas under their control,” they said.
The envoys said that they believe that Afghanistan can contribute to regional and international stability and connectivity. They asked Afghanistan’s neighbors to intensify their support to the Afghan people and to contribute to a lasting peace settlement and economic development in the interests of all.
“We also call upon all parties to ensure the safety of foreign embassies and other diplomatic missions, multilateral agencies, media representatives, airports and non-governmental organizations and their Afghan and international staff. We particularly appreciate Turkey’s readiness and commitment to assist with airport security as needed,” the envoys said.