H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the Security Council Debate on
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, let me extend my congratulations to you, Minister Okuda, for assuming the Presidency of the Council for this month, and thank you for convening this meeting and inviting me to participate. I would also like to thank His Excellency the Secretary General for his presence here today. The rebuilding of societies emerging from conflict is one of the biggest challenges to the maintenance of international peace and security, and thus among the most important functions of this Council and this Organization. It is also of central importance to Afghanistan, which still struggles on a daily basis to establish peace and security.
In Afghanistan, reconstruction and stabilization efforts began immediately after the fall of the Taliban at the end of 2001. When we first gathered in December 2001 in Bonn, we began a process that, in five years, would put Afghanistan back on a path towards an
enduring stability. Though we were astonishingly successful in achieving the benchmarks set by the Bonn process, we soon acknowledged that further efforts would be necessary to address the magnitude of the challenges we faced. In Tokyo in 2002, London in 2006 and Paris in 2008, we adapted our plans to emerging realities and extended our efforts towards establishing a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
After three decades of war, Afghanistanâ€™s economy was decimated, the state was disintegrated, and the society was bereft of infrastructure or even the most basic necessities of life. Millions died; millions more were forced to flee for their safety; among them, a large number of technocrats and educated Afghans.
Continuous conflict during this period crippled the social fabric of the country. Further, the ongoing political and social instability bred networks of terrorists, extremists, criminals, drug-dealers and opportunistic regional elements that depend on insecurity in Afghanistan and the region. A nexus of drugs, extremism and crime fed on chaos and anarchy and now seriously threatens our efforts to build peace.
Despite the challenges, we have achieved remarkable success in nine years, establishing a convincing basis of optimism for the future of the country.
Afghans have forcefully renounced the totalitarian rule of the Taliban, establishing a government through three successful elections, including the last Presidential election, run entirely by Afghans. The Afghan government is becoming more efficient and effective every day, and is increasing its capacity to provide governance and services to the people. More than three quarters of Afghans now have access to basic health care. Millions of children now have the opportunity to attend school, many for the first time.
We have addressed the legacy of violence through a comprehensive disarmament and reintegration program that successfully reintegrated thousands of former fighters into society. In particular, I would like to recognize and offer thanks for the efforts of Japan in this area, including through financing of DDR, DIAG and reintegration programs, and for hosting a comprehensive conference on peace and reconciliation in Tokyo last November. In addition, we have built and continue to improve the Afghan National Army and Police through recruiting, training and equipping, and they are beginning to take primary responsibility for providing security for the people and the country.
In rebuilding Afghanistanâ€™s shattered infrastructure, we have built thousands of miles of roads, hundreds of schools and clinics, local wells and improved irrigation systems. We have seen immense economic growth and this year, for the first time, the Afghan Government has taken in more than a billion dollars in revenues. The average Afghan income has jumped six-fold in the past four years alone.
Change has come in ways that are not so visible as well. The Afghan people are more vocal, more engaged and more involved in the future of their country than ever before. We have a vibrant media, an active civil society, and well-informed citizens. Social structures are beginning to re-knit and a feeling of national unity is slowly emerging.
We are proud of our accomplishments to date, but we still face daunting challenges. Security remains Afghanistan number one challenge. Terrorists are still intent jeopardizing our progress and taking Afghanistan back to the days of tyranny and oppression. In stabilizing Afghanistan, we know that military means is essential. Nonetheless, itâ€™s not the only answer. Thatâ€™s why we have embarked on a comprehensive strategy, including military, political and economic efforts.
As an important strand in our security strategy, the role of international forces and the manner in which they operate is crucial. More needs to be done to ensure the protection of civilian populations. We emphasize utmost care and precision during combat operations to avoid civilian casualties. Itâ€™s also essential that international forces conduct their duties with strict adherence to cultural sensitivities, and in close coordination with Afghan security forces. By the same token, we appreciate the new approach of NATO Commander Gen. Stanley Mchrystal places added emphasis on the protection of civilian populations.
To achieve success in defeating terrorism and improving security, more focus is required for addressing the main sources of insecurity. The problem of insecurity will not be solved until terrorist sanctuaries and safe-havens in the region continue and provide terrorists with ideological, financial and logistical support.
Regional cooperation is another essential element in achieving stability in Afghanistan. We continue our collaboration with regional countries, bilaterally, trilaterally and through other forums for overcoming the challenges in Afghanistan and the region.
In the way forward, we must work to ensure sustainability of our progress, economically, politically and socially. Much remains to be done. We must build the capacity of the Afghan government and the strength of its institutions so that it can stand on its own feet. We still must focus more on improving good governance and fighting corruption. We must guarantee the long-term security of the Afghan people and more fully win their confidence. And we must foster the social well-being that is necessary for stability and peace.
A few months ago, at the beginning of his new term, President Karzai proposed a strategy which was subsequently endorsed by the international community in London at the end of January. This strategy is focused on building lasting, sustainable peace and stability in the coming three to five years through Afghanization and national ownership and leadership, by empowering and engaging Afghans themselves, by promoting long-term socioeconomic development, and by undertaking new regional cooperation.
First, for peace to be sustainable, Afghans should be involved in their own security. The Afghan National Security Forces will play a central role. In the coming three to five years, intensified training and recruiting will enable the ANSF to begin to take primary responsibility for security and defense of the country and its citizens, allowing the international communityâ€™s role to evolve from a primary to a supporting one.
Second, the Government of Afghanistan will engage more fully with all Afghan people and address their concerns in order to strengthen national unity and social stability. Improved capacity will allow the Government of Afghanistan to address corruption, strengthen good governance, end the culture of impunity and better serve Afghan people.
Third, we will offer former combatants and those willing to join the peace process the chance for a peaceful life and a decent future through a reconciliation and reintegration process. This is an alternative to end the continuing insecurity in parts of the conflict, and an important way to isolate extremists and terrorists and ensure that Afghans will continue to choose peace over violence.
Fourth, though these elements will promote peace and stabilization, the only way to guarantee the sustainability of progress is to anchor the society on a foundation of long-term socioeconomic development. The Government of Afghanistan must be able to fund its programs, support its people and decrease its dependence on international aid. Job creation and agricultural development in particular are central elements that will cement short-term gains, improve social cohesiveness and promote political normalization. In addition, there must be focus on education to help build capacity, promote social stability and confront extremism.
A crucial piece of the London strategy is the central role of the Government of Afghanistan in coordinating and leading these efforts as Afghans take greater responsibility for their destiny. With regard to development assistance, a much better job is required to improve its efficiency. To date, only 20% of such aid has gone through Afghanistanâ€™s national budget. 80% of assistance has been channeled on a bilateral basis. In short, we must Afghanize development priorities.
Through improved coordination, we should work to address parallel or competing governance structures which do more harm than good.
President Karzaiâ€™s new Afghanization strategy is built on a workable, reliable partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community. My government and the Afghan people are very grateful for the continuing commitment and generosity of our international partners and friends, and we recognize that a partnership based on respect and realism is vital to our success. Understandably, we have different expectations, different timelines and different priorities. We can only avoid fragmentation and confusion through mutual understanding, open communication and an awareness of our shared goals. Our efforts will take time to bear fruit, and this process cannot be hurried. In addition to short-term measures, long-term development supported by a committed partnership with the international community is the key to a healthy and sustainable Afghan society safe from the risk of recurring conflict.
I thank you, Mr. President.
H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the Security Council Debate on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Vice Chairman of the Committe on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Before the Security Council
The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question
In my capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, allow me to congratulate you on the exemplary manner in which you have been steering the work of the Council during this month. I would also like to express my appreciation to H.E. Ambassador Emanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon for his efficient presiding over the Council during the month of March.
On behalf of the Committee, I would like to express my appreciation to the United Nations Secretariat for the monthly briefings on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Briefings such as this serve a useful practical purpose as they reflect the latest developments on the ground, as well as the efforts by various stakeholders in the international community to move the peace process forward.
Sadly, Mr. President, as we meet here today, there appears to be little hope for a serious turnaround in the all too familiar patterns of events on the ground. Violence continues to affect the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Our Committee has condemned the use by Israel of its military might against the occupied Palestinian people, be it the bombing of areas in Gaza, incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza, or dispersing non-violent protestors in front of the separation wall built illegally on Palestinian land. Our Committee has also been unequivocal in condemning the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian groups from Gaza into Israel. Violence from either side has to stop.
Our Committee also considers it alarming and totally unacceptable that the Government of Israel continues to flagrantly dismiss numerous calls by members of the international community, including the Quartet, for halting the illegal settlement activity in the Occupied West Bank and especially in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahuâ€™s latest statements in that regard send a clear message to the international community that the Israeli strategy is to continue to build in Jerusalem in violation of international law. At the same time, the occupying Power has continued to displace Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem through illegal house demolitions, evictions and residency right revocations.
Our Committee is also seriously concerned about the new Israeli military order that went into effect yesterday threatening thousands of residents in the West Bank with deportation. This order is part of the Israeli policy of consolidating and perpetuating its occupation of Palestinian land through forced displacement of the population. Implementing this order would constitute a breach of the Forth Geneva Convention, in particular its Article 49, which prohibits forcible transfers as well as deportations of protected persons, individual or mass, from the occupied territory.
It is absolutely clear that, by creating such facts on the ground, the occupying Power is undermining efforts at restarting the political process and is pre-determining the outcome of the sensitive permanent status negotiations on the status of Jerusalem. This approach renders any such negotiations devoid of purpose. In the same vein, Israelâ€™s actions and policy on the issue of settlements are a serious threat to the concept of achieving a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-State solution. It is obvious, Mr. President, that these illegal and provocative actions of the Israeli leadership are also directly undermining current efforts at resuming the political process between the parties.
Our Committee fully supports the demand by the Middle East Quartet that Israel freeze all settlement activity, dismantle outposts and refrain from illegal house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem. I would like to emphasize here that these are NOT pre-conditions for resuming the negotiating process. These are Israeli obligations under the Road Map, as endorsed by this Council. It is hoped that the ten-month freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely.
I would like to inform the Members of the Council that, at the end of March, our Committee convened its annual United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. Its goal was to draw the attention of the international community to the Programme of the Palestinian Authority entitled â€œPalestine: Ending the occupation, establishing the Stateâ€ â€“ the programme that has become known as the Fayyad Plan. This programme might be understood as the Palestinian answer to Israeli settlement-building by creating unilaterally positive facts on the ground. Unlike Israelâ€™s settlement activity, the Palestinian Authorityâ€™s programme is consistent with international law, welcomed and supported by the international community, and promotes rather than impedes prospects for a peace agreement. The plan reflects the Palestinian determination to empower themselves by taking their destiny into their own hands and shouldering their share of responsibility through building state institutions under the Israeli occupation with a view to ending it.
This forward-looking programme of the Palestinian Authority deserves the full attention of and tangible support by the international community. The Palestinian Authority has proven its ability to transform international support into concrete government-administered programmes, as demonstrated by the reform of the law and order sector and improved transparency at all levels and in all sectors of its activity. The Fayyad Plan is a logical continuation of these efforts.
It has to be borne in mind that this programme is not being implemented in a political vacuum. It is now, and will be in the foreseeable future, critically affected by developments in the political process. In fact, its success is determined by the measure of progress in the political area. On the international level, support needs to be built for the broad recognition of an independent Palestinian State. At the end of the projected two years of the plan, this recognition could be enshrined in a Security Council resolution, clearly determining the borders of the Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 lines.
Our Committee has come out strongly in support of the Palestinian Authorityâ€™s State-building programme. We would like to encourage the Members of the Security Council to support the realization of this plan, which has already been endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General, the Quartet and the League of Arab States. By putting the weight of its authority behind this plan, the Council will create the necessary political framework for ending the occupation and implementing the two-State solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question