Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN. (Photo/Foreign Ministry official website)
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Thursday stressed the importance of an inclusive peace process in Afghanistan and argued that all perpetrators of war crimes committed in the country be held accountable, a stance echoed by some of the speakers at the meeting.
"In our view, Afghanistan's future arrangements should be broadly representative and inclusive, so that all parties, ethnic groups and religious sects in Afghanistan can participate on equal footing and share state power," said Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, at a Security Council meeting on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
"The international community should fully respect the will of the Afghan people and ensure the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiation process. No external forces should be allowed to impose their will or seek gains," he added.
The ambassador said China welcomes the first intra-Afghan negotiations launched in Doha on Sept 12 and congratulates both sides on reaching an agreement on the rules and procedures for negotiations a few days ago.
"The next stage of negotiation will feature substantive discussions with a higher level of difficulty. Both sides need to show more political wisdom and resolve. The international community needs to increase its attention and input," Geng said.
He noted that "the use of force will only plunge the country deeper into war".
The ambassador also urged the international community to strengthen its support for Afghanistan security forces to combat terrorism.
"China calls on all parties in Afghanistan to respond positively to the Security General's call for a global ceasefire and stop the violence and hostilities without delay," Geng said.
"Under the current security situation, the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan should be orderly and responsible in order to avoid leaving a security vacuum to the detriment of the national interests of Afghanistan and regional countries," he added.
Shkula Zadran, Afghanistan's youth representative to the UN and a briefer at the meeting, stressed the importance for transparent peace talks that included and respected the needs of youth, women and Afghan minorities.
"We do not want any political settlement that will serve the interests of others. We have already paid a huge price for the proxy wars, and if this peace process goes wrong, Afghans will be the victims again," Zadran said.
Since the day the peace agreement was signed between the Taliban and US, instead of a reduction in violence, there has been an increase in tension and conflict, Zadran said.
"If the Taliban really want a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, why are they destroying schools, bridges, roads and public infrastructure?" she asked.
Taliban forces are not the only ones responsible for a variety of war crimes, Zadran argued.
"The international forces, who have come to Afghanistan with a mandate and aim of maintaining law and order and protecting human rights and democracy, have also committed miserable war crimes," she said.
"Instead of targeting the safe havens and training centers of terrorists in Pakistan, they have bombarded our villages and homes and have killed innocent civilians," she added.
Geng said Zadran's remarks, which denounced the various types of criminal acts committed by foreign troops in Afghanistan, reflected the will of the Afghan people and opinions of the Afghan public.
"All the criminal acts need to be thoroughly investigated. All perpetrators need to be brought to justice. The international community should do justice to the Afghan people," he said.
Nathalie Broadhurst, deputy permanent representative of France to the UN, also voiced support for a peace negotiation process that include the voices of all parties, such as women and minorities.
"In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to recall that, in line with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, the full and complete participation of women is absolutely essential if we want a lasting peace. The preservation of democratic gains is, of course, a sine qua non for peace," she said.
She reiterated that "peace must not be achieved at any price".
"The fight against impunity is absolutely essential for those who commit crimes. The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel must be an absolute priority, and all parties must respect their obligations, in accordance with international humanitarian law," Broadhurst added.
Christoph Heusgen, Germany's permanent representative to the UN, told Zadran that "whoever commits a war crime must be prosecuted. … If impunity perseveres, there will not be a reconciliation and a peaceful future for the country," he said.