Friday, August 17, 2018

Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council on forthcoming Elections in Afghanistan

The Security Council notes the conclusion of the voter registration process in Afghanistan on July 18, which according to preliminary data of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan saw more than 8.9 million Afghans register, including more than 3 million women, in order to exercise their democratic right to vote at the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections on 20 October 2018 and in the 2019 presidential elections.

The Security Council recalls that the Afghan Government, political leaders, and the Independent Electoral Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission carry the primary responsibility to create the necessary conditions for credible elections to take place.

The Security Council emphasizes the need to address remaining challenges and to accelerate progress in electoral preparations, which requires without further delay the completion of outstanding issues, including the approval of candidates to fill critical vacancies within the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, the establishment of a central database of all registered voters that identifies irregularities, as well as the publication of a final list of candidates.

The Security Council underscores the importance of developing sustainable democratic institutions in Afghanistan based on inclusive, transparent and credible elections, and stresses the need to promote the full and safe participation of women as well as members of minority groups, including ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, both as voters and candidates.

The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan and in this regard underscores its support to the Afghan electoral process as a fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

The Security Council calls on all parties concerned to adhere to the fundamental requirements laid out by the electoral law and all other relevant regulations and to uphold the highest standards of integrity throughout this important and historic process, so that the final outcome reflects the will of the people of Afghanistan.

The Security Council emphasizes the central role of UNAMA, in cooperation with the wider UN system, and in close consultation and coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, in supporting the organization of elections and the strengthening of electoral reform efforts by providing technical assistance and capacity-building and by coordinating international assistance efforts.

The Security Council stresses the importance of addressing sexual- and gender-based violence against female voters and candidates.

                The Security Council stresses the importance of a secure environment for conducting elections, condemns in the strongest terms those who resort to violence to obstruct the electoral process, including the Taliban and ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates, and commends the resiliency, progress, and exceptional courage displayed by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in their leading role in securing their country.

The Security Council welcomes the commitment by civil society to conduct observation at every polling station to monitor voting, counting, tabulating, and transmission of results.

The Security Council emphasizes the need for appropriate electoral observation missions to be in place, and welcomes the intention of international partners to provide support at the request of the Afghan Government, and calls on all parties to facilitate and respect the observers’ work.

The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the ability of all Afghan citizens throughout Afghanistan to exercise their civil and political rights, and reiterates its continued support for the Afghan Government and people of Afghanistan in their pursuit of democratic development, prosperity and durable peace.

The Security Council expresses the intention to continue to closely follow the electoral process, including progress on the electoral preparations, and in this regard looks forward to the thorough verification of registered voters following the completion of the registration process, and requests UNAMA to provide an update to council members on key developments and progress regarding electoral preparations within one month of the adoption of this statement.

 

Protecting Children Today Prevents Conflicts Tomorrow

STATEMENT BY Mahmoud Saikal Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

“ Protecting Children Today Prevents Conflicts Tomorrow”

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9 July 2018

NEW YORK

Madam President

At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary-General and his Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Virginia Gamba for their report. I would also like to thank Swedish Presidency for convening such a timely debate and initiating the resolution on the protection of children in conflict zones, which was adopted today. We are honoured to be a cosponsor for this resolution.

The ever-changing nature of armed conflicts in today’s increasingly complex world pose a serious challenge for the international community to protect civilians’ most defenseless victims, children. As the future of every society, children need to be protected, nourished, educated, and ensured of their fundamental rights. However, today nearly 250 million children are affected by armed conflicts globally. The impact of terrorism and violent extremism on children is devastating – it robs them of their childhood, basic rights such as good health and education and inflicts lasting trauma that hinders their psychosocial development. Above all, it undermines their ability to live peaceful and dignified lives and the chance to prosper and realize their aspirations.

Madam President,

Afghanistan has faced externally imposed conflict for four decades, and our people, including our innocent children, have suffered tremendously from the resulting violence over this period of time. Tragically, in the context of our security challenge, children are among the scores of innocent victims whose precious lives are taken away by terrorist and extremist groups, imposed on us from abroad to prevent our stabilty. As a result of this, last year alone, 3,179 children were reportedly killed and maimed. Moreover, in what amounts to one of the gravest forms of abuse and violation, children have been recruited and brainwashed in religious schools in our region to carry out suicide attacks in their teenage on adult lives. This must be addressed on an urgent basis.

The Afghan Government stands firm in its strong commitment to safeguarding and advancing the rights of all children. To this effect, we have taken tangible measures, including enactment of national legislation, by which we are implementing commitments under various international instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and its Optional Protocol.  The Government is also implementing various measures and programs, in line with our national and international commitments aimed at protecting our children from the horrific effects of armed conflict.  Furthermore, we are dedicated to strengthening our concerted efforts with the international community to further the implementation of the Joint Action Plan, a comprehensive framework aimed at ensuring the physical and psychological well-being of Afghan children.

In the last year alone, through the joint action plan, we have taken great strides towards preventing the recruitment of child soldiers and speedily reintegrating delinquent juveniles into Afghan society through vocational training programs. To preserve these gains, we will continue to enforce the new penal code that criminalizes the sexual abuse of children, regulate the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centers, expand the presence of the Child Protection Units in the Afghan National Police recruitment centers and continue our campaign of promoting children rights within the Afghan National Police.  We have had high level meetings with the office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, and other partners, which have led to increased coordination of our joint efforts to ensure safe, dignified and prosperous lives for Afghan children.

Madam President,

For Afghanistan, the protection of children and the advancement of their rights remains a central focus in the work of the National Unity Government. We are working to build on and consolidate recent progress, knowing that children provide for a stable and prosperous future for our country.

We believe the rights of children can best be protected and promoted in an atmosphere of peace.  To meet this end, we have taken new measure aimed at achieving a lasting settlement to the current conflict imposed on our country. The three-day cease-fire with the Taliban, enforced last month, offered a glimmer of hope that peace can be possible. We are working with regional and international partners for a successful outcome to our peace efforts and hope that the coming months will witness more tangible progress on this front. It is our sincere hope that this time around, we can achieve a sustaining peace for our future generations and create a society where our children can live in peace and free of fear and violence.

In conclusion, Afghanistan reiterates its firm commitment to ensuring the full protection and well-being of all children, world-wide. It is only through our shared values and objectives that we could alleviate the suffering of children and build sustainable, peaceful societies. Let us strive to collectively achieve more tangible progress on this moral imperative.  

I thank you.

UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

STATEMENT BY H.E. Wais Ahmad Barmak

Minister of Interior of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

29 June 2018

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery) 

Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank UN Secretary-General H.E. Antonio Guterres for convening this Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies. This provides a good opportunity for the global community to hold frank and open discussions about terrorism, an issue that is threatening all of us without exception.

It is obvious that an effective global response to terrorism is dependent on various factors, particularly, decisive action by member-States in meeting counter-terrorism obligations and sufficient cooperation at regional and international levels. For both imperatives, enhancing operational capacity in States, where needed, are essential for the goal at hand.

For Afghanistan, the building-up of strong security institutions, including our National Police, is an experience well known to us.  Since 2001, the global community has stood beside us in our decades-long fight against international terrorism. In that endeavor, international partners have provided us with crucial support in resources and training, which has helped enable our security forces to confront elements of many terrorist groups that have come from beyond, seeking to destroy everything we value – from democracy and civil liberties to promotion of human rights and above all – achieving a stable Afghanistan that is a catalyst for international peace and stability. 

Our forces have also inflicted heavy losses on, and degraded and eliminated a significant part of Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups. The security effort against all enemy combatants, including FTFs will continue with priority. In doing so, we will continue to not only defend and protect our people, but the world at-large.

While our forces are confronting all FTFs, we have opened the doors for peace to the reconcilable Afghan Taliban. President Ghani’s unconditional cease-fire to the Taliban reaffirmed our commitment to lasting peace. We await the Taliban’s long-term commitment to this historic offer, which can pave the way for peace and reconciliation.

Co-Chairs,

We hope this Conference leads to enhanced international cooperation against terrorism by improving the UN’s response to terrorism through better inter-agency coordination; enabling States to fulfill CT obligations with capacity-building assistance; and identifying challenges and gaps on the part of States in meeting their counter-terrorism obligations under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. 

Afghanistan places high value in the UN’s role in promoting international peace and stability. We have always supported the idea of having a more central UN structure to better coordinate and respond to the evolving terrorist threat and assistance-needs of States.

The formation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT) last year, signaled an important step in that direction. We have confidence in the leadership and vision of USG Vladimir Voronkov and hope that the new office leads to more tangible progress by the UN and member-states in combating terrorism. Accordingly, we expect the office to deliver comprehensively in implementing the 4 Pillars of the Global Strategy with balance and sufficient focus.

In our perspective, the following points are essential in regards to the work of the OCT:

First, we believe the Office should maintain adequate and sustained collaboration with member-states, particularly those facing terrorism and standing in the first line of defense against this menace. Afghanistan places high value in the work of the OCT and our relationship with it.  As always, country visits by relevant UN bodies have special value in strengthening relationships, identifying gaps and necessary areas of collaboration on various CT aspects. 

Second, and on a related note, support and assistance by the OCT should be guided by specific contexts and needs, requested by respective States.

Third, we believe that the new office can only benefit from the expertise and know-how of countries that have experience in countering terrorism, in all its aspects. This can go a long way in benefiting the technical and operational outputs of the Office.

Fourth, it is most evident that adequate, comprehensive and efficient coordination of UN agencies are at the heart of a successful UN counter-terrorism response. As the primary UN body mandated to deal with this issue, we expect the OCT to improve advocacy, visibility, and resource mobilization for counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism within that framework.

These will be essential for the overall implementation and follow up on various international protocols, conventions, and tools on counter-terrorism.

Fifth, and certainly not least, we believe it should enhance focus in ensuring the rights of victims of terrorism, including their families, with adequate financial and psychological support. Afghanistan had the honor of facilitating the adoption of GA resolution entitled “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” and we hope it will be a basis for greater attention to this important issue.

Co-Chairs,

The Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) was established to monitor and facilitate the adequate implementation of one of the most important UN resolutions dealing with terrorism – UNSC resolution 1373. Yet, the evolving scope of terrorism has shown that 1373 and other UNSC and GA resolutions are not adequately implemented. Afghanistan has proven through words and deeds our overriding commitment to our counter-terrorism obligations.

All countries, including Afghanistan, would hugely benefit from sustained collaboration and additional technical expertise. CTED’s first-ever visit to Afghanistan in January last year helped identify new areas of cooperation in several key areas. The follow-up joint meeting, together with donor countries and UN agencies discussed provision of technical assistance, based on recommendations of the visit report.

While such assessments are most useful, it is equally important to ensure timely follow-up and coordination so that pledges of technical assistance are met in timely and efficient manner. 

Moreover, we believe the OCT and CTED are well positioned to foster greater cooperation and awareness among regional countries, by various initiatives on relevant UN counter-terrorism resolutions. We stand ready to host such initiatives in Kabul.

To conclude, I reiterate that Afghanistan remains a most credible partner with the UN and the international community in the global fight against terrorism. We hope this Conference will lead to stronger ties and cooperation among all in this strategic imperative.

We wish to, once again, express our gratitude to the UN Secretary General for elevating the counter-terrorism efforts in the agenda of this noble organization.

 Thank You!

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan