Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
17 September 2015
Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on your leadership of the Council for this month. I thank the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan and my good friend Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA, Mr. Nicholas Haysom for his comprehensive briefing. I also thank Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Director General of UNODC for his briefing and his presence today. I am very grateful for the role Spain is playing as the penholder on Afghanistan and for its capable work in the Security Council. This is my last statement at the Security Council on the situation on Afghanistan as I am leaving at the end of this month to assume my new responsibilities. As I stand in the midst of friends and colleagues in this noble council, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation, especially to those I had the pleasure of working closely with in the past few years. Thank you for your friendship and cooperation.
In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed a challenging security situation in terms of increasing violence and heinous attacks by the Taliban and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. While the enemies of Afghanistan failed to achieve the aim of gaining control of territories and breaking the will of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), they have continued their brutal campaign of violence and coercion trying to destabilize the country and terrorize Afghan people. We saw these heinous attempts in a number of highly sophisticated recent terrorist attacks, like the one on August 7 that led to hundreds of causalities, including women and children. In the face of increasing violence and instability, ANDSF, who assumed full responsibility of security after the departure of thousands of international forces, through their sacrifices, patriotism, resilience, and commitment, have demonstrated time and again that they are ready to face the challenges posed by the Taliban, and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. The ANDSF is at the forefront of defense of the country and security of the Afghan people; they present a bulwark against letting Afghanistan slip into the chaos and destruction of the viscous civil war as happened in 1990s.
The National Unity Government is committed to make every effort to move Afghanistan on a path of stability, peace, and security. The Government has reached out with the message of peace and reconciliation not only to the Afghan Taliban, those who are willing to stop fighting and join the peace process, but also to neighboring countries. One of the first steps taken by President Ghani was to embark on a process of ending the undeclared state of war between Afghanistan and Pakistan and start a new era of peace and cooperation. This process has been largely supported by the Afghan people and the first rounds of peace talks with the Taliban led to a surge of optimism about the prospects of peace and end of violence. The Government of Afghanistan believes that despite some of the apparent setbacks in the process of peace talks, following the declaration of the death of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and the benighted leadership changes in its ranks, we are hopeful that the prospect of political settlement will not be withered but it requires responsible attitude by all sides, mutual determination, and real commitment.
The regional cooperation agenda is not just limited to peace and security but to economy, development, and prosperity as well, since the future of the region can only be fostered and strengthened through connectivity and greater cooperation. We all know that the stability of Afghanistan at the heart of Asia is essential for the stability of the wider region. Integrating Afghanistan as the center of economic hub focused on transit, transportation, and trade for the next two decades remain imperative to achieve economic self-sufficiency and shared economic prosperity. Afghanistan’s vision for advancing regional economic goals, whether through its role as the Asian roundabout between the energy suppliers in Central Asia and the energy consumers in South Asia, or through the growing number of cross-border agreements to share services in health, rural development, and training is bound up with its economic agenda for the transformation decade. The 6th RECCA conference earlier this month in Kabul also elaborated further on ways to develop and consolidate partnerships towards promoting regional economic cooperation in Afghanistan and across the region. We are looking forward to the next Ministerial level meeting of Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in Islamabad as another important step of strengthening confidence building and partnership in the region.
As we approach the first anniversary of the establishment of the national Unity government, there is a greater attention to ensure effective implementation of vital reforms to strengthen the economic growth, improve governance, eradicate corruption, bring electoral reforms, and protect human rights, particularly rights of women. The promotion of good governance is a cornerstone for the Government’s reform agenda. One of the central pillars for the reform agenda is to effectively tackle the scourge of corruption. The institutions created by the Government, like the National Procurement Commission, comprehensive reorganization and review of the Supreme Court and other measures dealing with institutions and individuals involved in corruption are essential for transformation of the anti-corruption efforts into practical, measurable outputs.
The efforts of the National Unity Government against corruption also includes a series of important measures in dealing with the illicit drug trade with its overall implications on economy, polity, society, and rule of law in all parts of the country. The Government is focused not only on curbing this illicit trade but tackling all financial channels that is providing the basis for criminal networks to be linked at all levels in the region and globally. In order to achieve this goal, the Government has formed an inter-ministerial commission to clamp down on narcotics trade and the moral as well as financial corruption that goes with it.
To further the reform process, the national unity government has taken important steps to revise the election law and presented its reform proposal to the Government. Recommendations from the Commission include the allotting of one-third of Parliament’s 250 seats to political parties; the restructuring of the current election commission; the creation of a clear voter identification system ahead of future polling; and moving to an electoral system that divides provinces into smaller voting districts that can be easily quarantined in case of fraud. Proper implementation of this reform process would bring about necessary changes in ensuring free and fair elections in the future. In order to reflect on these reforms, the election law has been revised earlier this week by a Presidential decree and the calendar of the parliamentary and district council election will also be announced in the near future.
Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community has been paramount for the achievements of Afghanistan in last 14 years and is essential for the realization of the lasting goal of peace, stability, and prosperity for years to come. The engagement of the international community and the UN, be it in the form of aid, expertise, manpower, or sacrifices of soldiers and civilian workers, the progress seen in Afghanistan would not be possible today. Afghan people and the Government are grateful and recognize the contributions of the international community as a whole and particularly all Afghan partners.
Role of the UN has been pivotal in Afghanistan in last 14 years not only to coordinate international civilian activities for bringing peace and security but to support Government in all areas of political stability, good governance, institution building, human rights, and coordination of humanitarian needs. The Tripartite review commission and the Government of Afghanistan have embarked on full reexamination of the role, structure, and activities of all UN entities in Afghanistan and I am happy to state that Nicholas Haysom, SRSG for UNAMA, along with his colleagues played an important role in moving this process forward. The commission examined the UN engagement in the country focusing the areas where the UN brings most value and ensuring the UN serves to maximize the support of the international community for Afghanistan and its people. The discussion focused on 3 themes: UN principle of engagement, Government commitment and obligations, and future UN presence in Afghanistan. The Government is certain that the outcome of these efforts will provide the country, the security council, and the UN a framework for effective engagement of all UN activities in Afghanistan, including role of UNAMA and all UN agencies, funds, and programs in Afghanistan.The framework for review will allow the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and the UN in the coming years.
The success of transformation decade is strongly based on the constant engagement and support from our international partners, not only today but in the future. To further this goal, the agreement reached during the Senior Official Meeting earlier this month on a refreshed mutual accountability framework is a significant milestone in Afghanistan’s relationships with the international community. Afghanistan looks forward to the future conferences on Afghanistan in Brussels and Warsaw.
Though much has been gained in Afghanistan, much remain to be addressed. As President Ghani has noted, 2015 will test Afghanistan’s will and capacity as a nation to address reform across all sectors- social, economic, security and electoral process. I would like to reiterate that the challenges faced by Afghanistan are many; but the country and the people have proven, time and again, that we want peace over conflict, progress over repression, unity over factionalism, prosperity over hostility, and inclusive growth over isolation. Today Afghanistan’s vibrant civil society, free media, improved social indicators, successful democratic transition of power—all signal that there is significant potential to put the last three decades of devastation behind and move forward. In order to do so, Afghanistan must protect the gains made in the last 14 years, and present a united front against all agents who are working to destabilize the country. The role of our neighbours in the region, as well as the international community, is pivotal in supporting Afghanistan during its transformation decade to achieve lasting peace and stability.
Thank you very much.