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US-China Political Tensions Affect UN Afghan Mission’s Mandate

17 Mar 2019 Tolo News

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) only for six months, not as regular 12 months.

UNAMA’s mandate was not approved for 12 months due to political tensions between the United States and China who are the permanent members of the UNSC. 

Based on the approved resolution, UNAMA’s mission will end on 17 September 2019. 

Afghanistan’s permanent representative at the UN Adela Raz said Afghanistan is currently in a critical juncture and that support of the UNSC would help the country move forward. 

“Afghanistan stands at a critical juncture,” she emphasized.

Raz went on to say that the Afghan government is committed to having a transparent electoral process and also it is working toward an Afghan-owned and Afghan-lead peace process. 

Raz said Afghanistan expects the UNSC to continue its support to Kabul and help government move forward.

“We expect the Security Council to remain firmly engaged in our stabilization efforts in the way forward,” she stressed.

The UNSC resolution says that China wanted the Belt and Road initiative to be pointed to in the UNSC resolution on UNAMA’s mission extension in Afghanistan, but it did not happen as the US sees ambiguities about the project and says that China is following political goals behind the initiative.

The problem, thus, caused the UN mission to be extended only for six months. 

Christoph Heusgen, representative of Germany at UNSC said issues that have nothing to do with UNAMA’s mandate emerged, making it impossible to pass the resolution that the penholders sought. 

Heusgen, however, said there is a strong consensus on most important issues in Afghanistan such as an Afghan-lead and Afghan-owned peace process. 

“This six-month extension does not mean the international community is not united in support,” he said.

Jonathan R. Cohen, deputy permanent representative of the US at the UNSC, meanwhile, said US strongly supports UNAMA’s engagement in Afghanistan’s peace process, electoral reforms and coordination for international assistance. 

Cohen said China held the resolution hostage and that members of the council were unable to extend the mandate for one year. Cohen went on and said he looks toward for a more complete resolution that would extend UNAMA’s mandate for a longer time in Afghanistan. 

Cohen insisted that China’s Belt and Road Initiative suffers corruption and lack transparency. He said China should focus on how best to advance peace and security, rather than inappropriately promoting self-serving issues. 

China’s representative at the UNSC Wu Haitao, however, said UNAMA’s mandate in Afghanistan remains unchanged. Wu said the Belt and Road Initiative is suitable for Afghanistan’s reconstruction adding that China and Afghanistan will promote economic and social development and regional integration through cooperating in the field of trade, transport, energy and health. 

Reacting to Cohen’s remarks, Wu said China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been widely welcomed in the six years since its’ launch with more than 123 countries having signed cooperation agreements. 

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