STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the General Assembly Debate on Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
28 July 2017
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Thank you for convening today’s debate on the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We thank the Secretary General for his dedicated efforts in fulfilling his commitment to create the Office of Counter-Terrorism, which in our view, entails a key pillar of his reform agenda. We also congratulate Ambassador Vladimir Ivanovic Voronkov on his appointment as Under-Secretary General to lead this important office. We look forward to working closely with him and his team to advance the UN’s counter-terrorism agenda.
The threats of terrorism and violent extremism constitute one of the most serious threats to a stable and peaceful international order. Over recent years, the scale and scope of terrorism has expanded and morphed to new levels and proportions across borders, regions, and continents. The enemies of humanity are still terrorizing communities; undermining the rule of law; violating fundamental human rights; and disrupting the lives of ordinary people. No country is more familiar with the horrors of terrorism than Afghanistan. Our people have been in the forefront of the global fight against terrorism for over two decades. In this struggle, thousands of our citizens, our national security forces, tribal, religious and political leaders, and other members of society have sacrificed their lives to secure peace in our country and advance global security.
For us, the fight against terrorism was the foundation on which we partnered with the global community to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Over the years, we have achieved considerable progress in the security, economic, political, and social spheres – all of which have led to the emergence of a new Afghanistan. This very moment, our national security forces are valiantly fighting a nexus of regional and international terrorist groups that have come to Afghanistan for the destabilization of our country. To name a few, we are confronting the Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jangvi and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Despite logistical constraints, our security forces have inflicted heavy losses on these groups and kept them from asserting control over any territories. Consequently, they have resorted to gruesome attacks against civilians in densely populated areas, which amount to a blatant violation of international law, including international humanitarian law, and crimes against humanity. To this end, let me refer to some of the Taliban’s latest atrocities. Early this week, the Taliban attacked a hospital in western Ghor province, killing close to 40 people, mainly civilians. One day later, they attacked a bus carrying our educated young professionals in Kabul, killing and severely wounding more than 70 people. And on the 31st of May, the truck-bombing in the heart of the capital killed 150 people and left more than 500 severely wounded. Mr. President, terror and bloodshed is a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan, propagated by terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries in our region from which extremist groups are produced, supported, and dispatched to my country for their evil agenda.
However, our people and our security forces will never allow the enemies of peace in our country to disrupt our journey towards peace, stability and development. We will continue our longstanding struggle against this menace with fortitude and commitment. In this context, we look to our international partners, including the UN to continue to stand beside us in our shared endeavor.
Beyond the battle field, we are working diligently to promote and advance regional cooperation to defeat terrorism and promote a more stable and prosperous region. On the 6h of June, amidst the carnage of the heinous attack just days before, we convened the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation, where 26 countries and organizations assembled to coordinate efforts for ending the destructive cycle of terrorism, extremism, and militancy in our region. Moreover, we are also collaborating with our near and distant neighbors on counter-terrorism issues, within the framework of the Heart of Asia Process, of which the next Ministerial meeting will be held in Baku later this year.
We have recently taken new measures to implement and strengthen national legislation to meet provisions of various treaties, conventions, and SC resolutions concerning terrorism, which include but are not limited to resolutions 1373 and 2178. As of late, we amended our criminal code to unify all of Afghanistan’s criminal legislation, and to ensure greater alignment with various SC resolutions. In the area of law enforcement and border control, the National Security Council is leading inter-agency efforts on our National Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Action Plan. And on countering the financing of terrorism, we have institutionalized new mechanisms to prevent the flow of un-regulated currency. As a result, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has recognized Afghanistan’s compliance with its standards to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The current scale of the terrorist threat worldwide reveals an obvious fact: that the international community’s collective fight against terrorism has been slow, incomprehensive, and inadequate in comparison to the challenge at hand. This, in our view, is the result of various factors: weak implementation of counter-terrorism resolutions and sanctions regime; inefficient levels of coordination on CT issues within the UN agency and with States; insufficient levels of operational and technical capacity from States; and in some cases, lack of a genuine effort by some to combat terrorism tangibly and in good faith, be it on the battle field or in the area enacting and implementing domestic laws on counter-terrorism. These impediments must be reversed if we are to turn the tide against terrorist groups in different parts of the world, particularly in our region.
Addressing the problem of terrorist sanctuaries is a fundamental imperative for any degree of success in combating global terrorism. This phenomenon remains a key driver of terrorism and violent extremism. This issue is recognized in Pillar 2 of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as well as various resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, including SC resolutions 1373, 2178, 2322 and 2253. In this connection, we believe the time is now for the SC and international community to do more to ensure States abide by, and implement stated commitments, in accordance with international law and adherence to the UN Charter.
The creation of the Office of Counter Terrorism (OCT) presents a unique opportunity to change the calculus and help facilitate real and tangible change in the global fight against terrorism. It will be critically important that the OCT operate with a clear and strong mandate, and enjoy the full trust of member states. Moreover, any effort aimed at weakening the office should be avoided. Even-though the OCT will function within the scope of the General Assembly, it should also cooperate and coordinate activities with the Security Council, as the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. Such cooperation should not be limited to provision of technical assistance alone, but also cover other issues essential to a successful counter-terrorism approach.
Last, but certainly not least, Afghanistan calls for the early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism, which is of crucial importance to strengthen the international community’s counter-terrorism architecture.
To conclude, let me re-assert our firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. For over two decades, we have resisted and combated terrorism with a deep sense of national pride. This struggle has and remains embedded in the social fabric of our society, and we stand as committed as ever before to defeat this global menace for the benefit of humanity, effectively, and resolutely.