Opening Remark  

The implications of conflict on achieving the SDGs: A perspective from the 2021 VNR of Afghanistan

H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Eminent Person of g7+

H.E. Dr. Karima Hamid Faryabi, Minister of Economy of Afghanistan

H.E. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

H.E. Alie Kabba, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations

Ms Sarah Cliffe, the Moderator

 

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening from Dili, Timor-Leste; the host of g7+ Headquarters.

I thank The Permanent mission of Afghanistan and the g7+ secretariat for co-organizing this useful event and for inviting me to speak.

At the outset, I would like to express our solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan and other g7+ member countries as it goes through a critical transition. I am saddened by the news of insurgency that results in the loss of precious lives. We had attached and still attach a lot of hope to the ongoing peace process. We expected and still hope that the peace process will result in ceasefire, lasting peace and ending of the suffering of Afghans.

I visited Afghanistan in 2016, during the g7+ Ministerial meeting. I was impressed by the resilience of Afghan people and the potential for peace and growth Afghanistan has gotten; the attributes that we rarely hear from News.

I congratulate the Government of Afghanistan for presenting Voluntary National Review (VNR).  The finding of this report should convince the world that conflict and war are the biggest obstacle in realizing SDGs. The outcome of the report should be enough to prove that Afghanistan and other g7+ countries are committed to achieving the ambition of agenda 2030. The findings of the VNR in Afghanistan are enough to prove that there can be no development without peace and that peace cannot last without development”

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We the g7+ were among the strongest advocates for the goal on peace, justice and effective institutions. Our advocacy for a standalone goal on peace, justice and effective institutions was backed by the experiences that we have lived. We have witnessed that peace is a precondition for sustainable development.  My own country, Timor-Leste which is endowed with natural resources, has the potential of self-reliance and hence development. We could not exploit that potential unless there was peace. We would never achieve stability without taking the charge of our own destiny. And we would never consolidate our state institutions without peace. It is in this context that goal 16 of the Agenda 2030 is of importance to us, the g7+ members.

Timor-Leste survived 24 years of occupation that cost us the lives of 1/3rd of our population. The legacies of these suffering could last for decades if we had not chosen the path of reconciliation within Timorese society and also with our neighbor, Indonesia. We had to overcome our bitter past for the vision of a brighter and more peaceful future. Reconciling was not easy but the strong will of leaders and our people enable us to overcome the violent past. We chose peaceful co-existence over antagonism; we chose forgiveness because we did not want the bitter past to haunt us for decades.

Today, my country enjoys peace, stability and has friendly relation with Indonesia. I invited the former foreign Vice Minister of Indonesia, Mr. Dino Pati Djalal to attend the Ministerial meeting in Afghanistan in 2016. We both shared our lessons with the Afghan leaders and people. We aimed at inspiring our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.  I visited some of the g7+ member countries with the same objective.

Against this background, I would like to leave you with 3 points in the interest of today’s session.

First: Pursuing reconciliation, which has to be at the core of SDG 16 in conflict affected countries such as those in g7+ group, has largely been ignored. Realizing the goal on peace, justice and effective institution requires political will and action. Ceasefire is the stepping stone to realize peace in countries like Afghanistan. Therefore, we call upon the UN, the entire international community and regional actors to step up efforts and pursue a truce in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I have said it once and again that Afghanistan is at crossroad of regional development and stability. A stable Afghanistan is a guarantee of stability in the region. As the European Union (EU) decision to withdraw all the troops from Afghanistan by the end of August and the United States (US) remaining troops by September this year, it represents a turning point for the country and its neighbors. We hope this will be a moment of both opportunity and challenges for Afghans, and for the region to reiterate their commitment to peace. We equally call upon all the warring factions everywhere to lay down arms so that we can concentrate on addressing covid-19 which is a common challenge.

Second: The ability of state to provide security, justice, social and economic wellbeing is a determinant of sustaining peace. Strengthening state institutions require continued assistance that needs to be channeled with the aim of stability. Therefore, international community and development partners need to maintain their level of support to the state institutions in countries in fragile situation. As Afghanistan is going through the current transition, international community should not abandon it. Their constructive and effective engagement is critical for preserving the gains made over the last 2 decades. 

Third and final point: I would like to use this opportunity to offer our assistance in sharing our experience with Afghanistan. The g7+ family reiterates our commitment to help achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan. Recognizing that there is unique context in every country, we believe that our respective lesson can inspire change for peace. Brotherhood and empathy guide our engagement among the g7+ members.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to conclude by reminding ourselves that our collective success in realizing the ambition of agenda 2030 depends on peace in the world’s conflict affected countries and regions.

I thank you for your attention!