Thursday, December 14, 2017

Statement at the 16th Session of Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan  to the United Nations

Statement at the 16th Session of Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC

 (Check against delivery)

December 7, 2017

 

NEW YORK

Mr. Vice President,

At the outset, we wish to commend Honorable Sidiqi Kaba, former President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) for his dedicated efforts in leading the work of the Assembly over the past three years. We also congratulate the incoming President and judges on their recent election.  

The Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court is recognized to be an important pillar of the international architecture for upholding universal human rights, justice, rule of law – and above all, for ensuring current and future generations that crimes against humanity and their perpetrators should have no place in any society.

Our commitment to protection of humanity from egregious crimes is manifested by the fact that we were among the first countries to join the Rome Statute in 2003.  Fourteen years later, we remain steadfast in our support of the objective on which this institution was established.  This commitment is best illustrated by the courage and determination of our sons and daughters who are making the ultimate sacrifice in fighting international terrorism, which constitutes a grave violation of human rights and crimes against humanity.

Mr. Vice President,

The importance of the Court’s mandate in helping to prevent heinous crimes is evident to us all. Having said that, it remains clear that the success of the Court in discharging its duties requires the support and cooperation of the international community. To this effect, we also welcome the collaborative engagement between the Court and the UN, based on the Relationship Agreement, as well as respecting the decision of some member-states to re-consider their disassociation from the Rome Statute.

Mr. Vice President,

The situation in Afghanistan has been one of ten cases on which the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) has conducted a preliminary examination. The Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, Daesh and other terrorist and extremist groups commit atrocities against every segment of our society, which constitute a blatant violation of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and most often constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The truck bombing in Kabul on the 31st of May, which killed more than 150 people and wounded more than 500, and the coordinated massacre of villagers by the Taliban and Daesh in Mirza-Olang village of Sari-Pul province are only two recent examples of these atrocities.  A comprehensive report was provided to the Office of the Prosecutor on the second incident mentioned.

With respect to other aspects of the preliminary investigation, we maintain close contact and constructive collaboration with the OTP on all relevant issues of the inquiry, for which we continue to provide necessary information. Our interactions and cooperation, which also included visits by two high-ranking delegations to the ICC headquarters thus far, is ongoing in a steady and effective manner, within the framework of the Road Map of cooperation, between our Government and the OTP. In this process, we are also paying special attention to processing all requests made from the OTP in previous years.  

To this effect, an inter-ministerial and agency commission, comprised of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior; Special Representative of the President for the ICC; Attorney General’s Office, National Directorate for Security, as well as experts in international criminal law remains actively engaged on all related issues.  Various measures have been taken by our criminal justice system in the investigation and prosecution of crimes under the Rome Statute, including those for which the Office of the Prosecutor has requested information.

The National Unity Government deems the rule of law and ensuring justice to not only be a moral and legal responsibility, but an imperative for our long-term stability. We are steadily implementing our comprehensive reform agenda, of which an overhaul of our judicial bodies remains a key part.  In that effort, major steps include the appointment of a new Attorney General; replacement of hundreds of judges and prosecutors with competent officials and amendment of our penal code to unify all our criminal legislations and to incorporate all crimes under the Rome Statute into our domestic criminal legal system. The law is now in effect and has already empowered our justice sector to fulfill complementarity obligations under the Statute.

Our commitment to human rights protection and promotion is all encompassing, and also applies to conditions in our detention centers. To this end, we are now fully subscribed to the Convention against Torture and recently signed the Convention’s Optional Protocol. All cases of mistreatment are being investigated along with some where the command responsible was held accountable.

In the context of the ICC’s preliminary investigation of the situation in Afghanistan, we believe it is imperative to ensure ample time for a clear, thorough and accurate observation of judicial measures taken by our relevant institutions on related incidents. Moreover, consistent with the Statutes key principles of “national ownership and complementarity” we hope the ICC’s engagement will serve beneficial in enabling us to fulfill our role and obligations in enforcing the rule of law and ensuring accountability and justice.  Accordingly, we had preferred for the Office of the Prosecutor to have held off on its request for an authorization for a full investigation from the Pre-Trial Chamber.

The unique set of circumstances of our stabilization efforts requires a comprehensive approach that aims to ensure justice, while preserving the political stability which is fundamentally important in any post-conflict setting. We will continue to remain engaged with the OTP on relevant issues, including on the investigation of acts that are perpetrated by terrorist groups, whose leadership are sheltered in the region.

Mr. Vice President,

Moving forward, we will make every effort to promote the universal application of international law and to advance a more just and prosperous world, governed by the rule of law, and where the security, well-being and human rights of all peoples are protected.  We therefore stand fully committed to the noble goals on which the ICC was established.

Thank You.

High- Level Meeting of NAM on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

 Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan  to the United Nations

High- Level Meeting of NAM on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

(Check against delivery)

November 30, 2017

NEW YORK

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address the high level meeting of NAM on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity. Let me begin by appreciating the efforts of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in leading and coordinating the work of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Since the inception of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, states from various political affiliations and diverse societies have joined this movement. Today, it is clear that more than half a century since the founding of NAM, our world has changed immensely. Yet, what has not changed is the significance of NAM’s founding principles: solidarity, peaceful co-existence, multilateralism, and independence.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan, with its important strategic location in the heart of Asia, sits at the crossroads of diverse cultures. We fully embrace our democratic institutions and diverse citizenship by promoting and protecting the rights of all, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, religion, language, or social class. Our ancient heritage as a center of learning and trade, including our archeological wonders, like pre-Islamic Buddha relics as well as Islamic sites, speak of a glorious cosmopolitan past, which we treasure and aim to preserve for the future generations in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.

However, we have been plagued by imposed conflict for decades.  Terrorists and violent extremists continue to attack our soil, which threatens not only innocent lives and property but also hinders protection and promotion of human rights, cultural diversity, social harmony and peaceful coexistence. While we have taken every measure to engage in dialogue and promote a meaningful peace process, it can only prosper in a situation where terror subsides and peace prevails.

Despite the challenges, the international community’s generous display of solidarity and support, exemplified through a shared global effort in Afghanistan, has led to tremendous progress in our country and provides a clear example of the benefits of cooperation. With the support of our allies, we are working to strengthen Afghanistan’s ability to further promote regional ties and strengthen economic cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,

Recalling a shared legacy of the Silk Road, we remain dedicated in our efforts to promote human rights and cultural diversity, not just through words but through effective actions. At the international level, we are signatories to several human rights conventions and treaties. As members of UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, and other relevant UN bodies, we engage proactively with the international community to preserve our common lineage. Afghanistan is also a co-sponsor for the GA resolution on International Day of Nowruz, which celebrates the power of culture and heritage to build resilient and sustainable societies.

At the regional level, through Afghan led platforms like Heart of Asia Istanbul Process and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, we are promoting regional economic cooperation and fostering socio-cultural exchanges. Through multiple projects with regional countries, like the recently signed Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement among Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, Chabahar Agreement with Iran and India, Five Nations Railway Corridor connecting China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, and others, we are promoting broad opportunities for growth in South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Eurasia, and beyond, which in turn can provide incentives for peace and strengthen diversity. As we speak here today, President Ashraf Ghani is in Baku, attending the 7th Heart of Asia Conference, with a focus on regional peace and stability.

At the national level, promotion and protection of human rights is a constitutional obligation and a priority agenda of the Afghan government. Our first time seat on the Human Rights Council (2018-2020) is a testament to our efforts towards this noble objective. I would like to thank all members of NAM for supporting our candidacy to the Council.

Among our many achievements, we are especially proud of our media propagating a culture of free speech and respect for diverse opinions. The World Press Freedom Index has ranked Afghanistan as a leader in the region in ensuring a free media. Our reforms in the education sector aims to reinforce the values of tolerance, cooperation, rights of women and of minorities in the curriculum by 2021. We believe teaching the future generations about the principles of solidarity, honest dialogue, and tolerance is imperative to move towards a more peaceful world.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate Afghanistan’s firm commitment to advancing the goals of NAM and urge everyone present here to collaborate and eradicate the barriers that we encounter in our quest for peace and prosperity. Despite the challenges faced by us, Afghanistan, in partnership with the international community, will continue to work on fostering a global dialogue for the promotion of human rights for all and creating a culture of tolerance and peace, as espoused by the founding vision of NAM. 

Linking Security, Development and Peace in the Central Asian Region

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal 

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

to the United Nations

Arria-Formula Meeting

Partners for Afghanistan: Linking Security, Development and Peace in the Central Asian Region 

(Check against delivery)

27 November 2017

NEW YORK

Introduction

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the Permanent Missions of Kazakhstan and Germany for co-organizing this very timely Arria-Formula meeting together with us.

 

Let me welcome our good friends, the three guest speakers, Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Miroslav Jenča; Dr. Barnett Rubin of New York University; and Ms. Jasmin Jahanshahi of the Aga Khan Foundation, who have been following Afghanistan closely and will share their assessments with us today.

 

Nexus between peace, security, and development in Afghanistan and the region

Mr. Chairman,

Let’s start by stating the obvious. History has proven time and again that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan would ensure a peaceful and prosperous region as well. No one in this room can disagree with that. Hence there has to be a comprehensive and honest approach from all of us to tackle the main drivers of insecurity in Afghanistan as well as in the wider region.

As stated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and highlighted by its Goal 16, “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development”. A comprehensive approach is vital for achieving durable peace and prosperity, and this can happen only when we bring together security cooperation, peacebuilding, and development activities.

Strategic location

Despite facing the typical challenges associated with being a landlocked country, Afghanistan, due to its strategic geographical location, can play a crucial role in regional and inter-regional connectivity, and we have been working to make that vision possible. We are fully aware of the importance of adopting a regional approach to solve problems that lie outside the capacities of a single country. Today, we have proven to be a reliable partner in major regional and international processes.

Located at the “heart of Asia”, Afghanistan stands as a point of convergence, a land-bridge and a business hub between Central Asia, South Asia, the Far East, the Middle East, and Eurasia. Our country is fully committed to sharing the benefits of its centrality and excess wealth of resources in support of sustainable development, stability, and peace in the region.

Our potential has already gained momentum and we are very keen to see the region and beyond invest in Afghanistan, adding value and playing a vital role not only for us, but for a more prosperous, peaceful and violence-free region.

Development Platforms

Mr. Chairman,

Our collective efforts can count on the solid foundations we have already built. Since 2005, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, known as “RECCA” constitutes a prominent platform for regional economic cooperation. The political and security challenges associated with this platform are further complemented by another Afghan-led initiative – the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP). The “heart of Asia” concept constitutes the cornerstone of our work under both frameworks.

Supporting the transition of RECCA into a truly regionally led and owned platform is essential as it will result in strengthened synergies and complementarities between this framework and other regional bodies such as CAREC, ECO, OSCE, SAARC, SCO, UNSPECA, and UNESCAP. Further, it is necessary to highlight the importance of a coordinated approach by UN agencies and structures, improving the effectiveness of the support provided by the UN system.

Projects

Currently, we are engaging in energy, transportation networks, trade and transit facilitation, communication, business to business and labor support projects in the region and beyond, amounting to tens of billions of dollars.

  • Achievements:

Despite the security challenges, our transport and energy sector projects have achieved considerable progress and have the potential to positively contribute to stability and prosperity. This signals the failure of terrorism to undermine development cooperation among states.

For instance, the signing of the historic Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement among Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Turkmenistan at the recent RECCA VII in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, opens up unprecedented possibilities for trade. The Chabahar agreement among Afghanistan, Iran, and India will also facilitate trade by providing access to the markets of Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Eurasia, and beyond. The work for the realization of the Five Nations Railway Corridor – connecting China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran is moving forward.

Additionally, beneficial relation exists between RECCA and numerous transit corridors and initiatives in the region, including the Belt and Road Initiative.

With regards to energy, mega regional projects of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline and the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA 1000) electricity transmission line are progressing and once completed, will revitalize our energy sector and fulfill domestic and regional energy needs.

  • Challenges:

Along with much progress, we have seen some challenges, especially in the effective implementation of trade and transit agreements; this needs more focused political attention, improved security conditions, and better technical efforts. Our recent accession to WTO and the implementation of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) are examples of the same.

  • Opportunities:

There are new emerging opportunities in business to business initiatives and the rights and proper working conditions for employees.

Solutions:

We need shared diagnosis of successes and challenges and a renewal of regional commitments for combined collective actions, including new concepts for bankable investment projects, attracting investments from diverse private and public sources, including sovereign wealth funds, new regional funds and investment banks. This must be done in conformity with the priorities of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework and our Afghan SDGs. In addition, enormous opportunities exist in our sizable mineral deposits amounting up to 3 trillion dollars. The proposed regional economic corridors are paving the way for our mining industry, which would significantly boost the economy.

Conclusion

Finally, regional economic cooperation offers broad opportunities for growth, strengthens confidence building measures, provides incentives for peace, and, over time, decreases regional and political tensions. Hence, Afghanistan’s economic integration is of paramount importance for the prosperity of the region. The successes achieved so far have given us reason to strengthen our efforts towards advancing our vision. In doing so, we shouldn’t lose sight of the threats of terrorism and violent extremism and thereby develop more coordinated actions to tackle the main drivers of insecurity and imposed conflict, strengthening cooperation in the areas of security, development, and peace.  

 

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan