Tuesday, October 24, 2017

UN General Assembly Debate on Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

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

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Thank You.


Improving Aid Effectiveness and Building Partnerships with National Stakeholders to Eradicate Poverty and Promote Prosperity

Press release on the occasion of Afghanistan’s Side Event “Improving Aid Effectiveness and Building Partnerships with National Stakeholders to Eradicate Poverty and Promote Prosperity”


New York, 17 July 2017 – Today, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN organized a side event on aid effectiveness and building partnerships with national stakeholders to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity on the margins of the 2017 High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.

The event was organized in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A long-time actor in the country, UNDP and the Government of Afghanistan are seeking ways to improve the delivery of services to the Afghan people and improve coherence and effectiveness of the UN country team’s work.

The interactive panel at the side event included H.E. Abdul Sattar Murad, Minister of Economy of Afghanistan, Mr. Achim Steiner, Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Administrator of UNDP, H.E. Roberto Sarmento De Oliveira Soares, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and Ms. Paloma Duran, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund.

The four panelists provided insights on the topic, given their long-standing experience in the field from different perspectives, and engaged in an interactive Q&A session afterwards.

Minister Murad made opening remarks focusing on the work the Ministry of Economy to start the nationalization process of the SDGs. As the leading Ministry in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Ministry of Economy started a process of multi-stakeholders consultations, including civil society and the private sector, to make the Sustainable Development Goals truly a project for the people and by the people. The series of national consultations provided the foundation for identifying most critical areas of work to focus on, and assign the relevant line Ministries with the implementation and monitoring of SDGs targets and indicators.

Following that, UNDP Administrator Mr. Achim Steiner spoke about the importance of partnerships with national and international stakeholders and the critical role UNDP can play in this context. He praised the Government of Afghanistan for organizing this side event, which exemplifies the commitment made by the Government to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the political will for Afghan people not to be left behind. The UNDP Administrator highlighted that “continued development cooperation efforts from traditional donors and the evolving role of both domestic and private financing must be coupled with an increased role of non-government counterparts to create a sustainable and inclusive approach to financing the SDGs.” He also mentioned that the Agency will continue to support the NGOs registered in the country as they help to transform society and ensure accountability.

H.E. Roberto Sarmento De Oliveira Soares provided valuable insights on Timor-Leste’s experience with improving aid effectiveness for better delivery of services to the people. In this context, Mr. Soares stressed the crucial role of the g7+, a group of countries that are or have been affected by conflict and are now in transition to the next stage of development, of which Afghanistan is a member. The Vice Minister explained how, from the establishment of the Group

and the adoption of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (http://www.g7plus.org/sites/default/files/basic-page-downloads/A%20New%20Deal%20for%20engagement%20in%20Fragile%20States.pdf), the Government of Timor-Leste has been putting additional emphasis on transparency and accountability to their people and the donors, identifying aid effectiveness as a pivotal element of sustainable development.

After Mr. Soares’ remarks, Ms. Paloma Duran, SDGs Fund’s Director, provided insights on the role of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund in fostering public-private partnerships through integrated and multidimensional joint programs, illustrating examples of the Fund’s work in different countries’ contexts. Ms. Duran stressed the importance for UN Agencies to work together when implementing projects at the country level, building synergies through collaboration, and supporting a better delivery of services to the population.

A Q&A session followed, moderated by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan. Ms. Farid, Member of Parliament of Afghanistan and Ms. Naderi, Senior Adviser on UN Affairs to H.E. President Ghani, commented on the panelists’ presentations, highlighting the importance of the SDGs as catalyst of collective action towards sustainable development. They also emphasized that the 2030 Agenda provides a unique chance for UN Agencies operating in the country to strengthen the coherence of their work and redouble their efforts in working with and for the people of Afghanistan to achieve a future of prosperity.

The Q&A session featured comments and questions from other delegations (Iran) and several members of civil society organizations (Cordaid, Netherlands).


Secretary-General dicusses a range of issues with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani

KABUL, 14 June 2017 - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits Afghanistan's capital to show solidarity with the Afghan people Ð backing an Afghan-led peace process and supporting the communities most affected by the conflict. In this photo, the Secretary-General dicusses a range of issues with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo UNAMA / Fardin Waezi.

KABUL, 14 June 2017 – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits Afghanistan’s capital to show solidarity with the Afghan people by backing an Afghan-led peace process and supporting the communities most affected by the conflict. In this photo, the Secretary-General dicusses a range of issues with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo UNAMA / Fardin Waezi.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan