Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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.

The Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENT BY H.E. Abdullah Abdullah

 Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on

“The Situation in Afghanistan”

 (check against delivery)

 20 November 2017

NEW YORK

  

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Excellencies and distinguished members of the UN General Assembly,

We thank you for convening today’s debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. It is my pleasure to be here with my accompanying delegation, as the General Assembly adopts its annual resolution on Afghanistan. This occasion is reflective of the international community’s strong consensus on the imperative of ensuring stability and prosperity in my country, and we look forward to the emergence of a peaceful regional environment.

This year again, the delegation of Germany demonstrated its excellent leadership of intergovernmental negotiations on the draft resolution that will be adopted later today. We thank the Mission of Germany for its efforts in this regard, and more broadly, my appreciation to all delegations for contributing to the negotiations process.

Mr. President,

Seventy-one years ago, yesterday, Afghanistan became the 52nd member of this great family – the United Nations. Since the late 1970s, my country has undergone severe trauma after suffering tremendous loses caused by imposed conflicts and the war against terrorism and violent extremism – which is still hurting us. Despite the hardship, today Afghanistan has regained its status as a responsible member of the international community. The unanimous adoption of this year’s resolution signals the overwhelming support of the world behind us, as we continue our quest to achieve lasting peace and prosperity for Afghanistan.

My presence here today is a testimony to the importance that the people and Government of Afghanistan attach to this resolution, and more specifically, to its more focused implementation. We, therefore, expect and request that member-states view this resolution from a similar perspective.

In spite of the challenges that confront us, Afghanistan stands resilient and confident of our stance at home and abroad.  We are a nation firmly committed to the ideals of the UN Charter and the vision of a global landscape pillared on peace, sovereignty, mutual-respect, and cooperation for common benefit.

We equally value our bond of partnership with the UN, which has always stood in strong support and solidarity with my nation, especially in the most difficult of times. Today UNAMA and all UN agencies on the ground continue to play an important role in helping us with various aspects of recovery, rebuilding, humanitarian assistances and seeking a peaceful resolution to our political and security needs. We welcome the Secretary General’s UN reform initiative and hope that it will expedite our visualization of a One-UN approach in Afghanistan.

Today, we are reciprocating the international community’s generosity by our active engagement and positive contributions. Afghanistan’s recent election to the Human Rights Council for the first time, our membership to ECOSOC, Vice-Presidency of the General Assembly, active involvement in other forums, and the successful adoption of two Afghan-initiated resolutions “Countering the Threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices” and “International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” attest our national will, our diplomatic efforts, and our eagerness to be an effective global contributor.

Mr. President,

Let me now provide an update on the situation in Afghanistan. In security, over recent months, our national security forces have effectively thwarted attempts by the Taliban, alongside the affiliated Haqqani network, as well as elements of Al-Qaida, Daesh and other recognized terror groups from making any notable gains, or capturing a major urban center.

We are not dealing with one, but several terror outfits that either mirror each other under different labels or indirectly support overlapping agendas.

We are grateful to all our international partners for their contributions for equipping and training our security forces, who have courageously and at high cost led the fight against the same international terrorist and violent extremist groups that threaten us, the region and many others beyond our borders.

The resolution also reaffirms the importance of the international community’s continued support for Afghan national security forces.  To this end, we have adopted new measures, to complement and better coordinate with newly announced strategies by the United States, NATO, the European Union and others, which came at our long-standing request, in the context of sustained international support for security and stability in Afghanistan, whether military or civilian in nature.

We firmly believe that a conditions-based approach and clear focus on resolving the problem of regional terrorist sanctuaries and support systems are core issues that will get us closer to peace and stability. They also form the cornerstone of our new National Security Strategy to defeat terrorism, work with nations that share our threat perception, and protect our people against politicized violence.

We have long asserted that we seek friendly relations with all nations. We have used every opportunity to make it clear through words and deeds that we will never allow our relations with any single country or group of countries to overshadow or adversely affect relations with other countries in the region or beyond. Afghanistan is to be seen as a strategic asset and a platform of cordiality for all. We consider negative state rivalries and the use of violent proxy forces as counter-productive. There is no good or bad terrorist or violent extremist. We need to agree to fight all forms and shades of terror. We can and should no longer harbor or support one group while fight another and claim to be fighting terrorism in all its dimensions.

Mr. President,

This year’s resolution also recognizes the centrality of Afghanistan’s role in leading peace efforts, within the framework of the Kabul Process to supplement initiatives for action-oriented cooperation.

These efforts will also be guided by the Afghanistan High Peace Council’s New Strategic Plan, centered on a “whole of society approach” in promoting peace.

At the regional level, fostering stable and constructive relations with all our neighbors, especially Pakistan, remains a key component of our peace strategy. President Ashraf Ghani and I hope that this time around, action against all forms of terrorism will speak louder than words.

It should be noted that changing the status quo can only be possible when terror subsides, infringements on our territory comes to a halt and safe havens are shut down. Failure to do so will have negative consequences and result in further tension or worse.

Mr. President,

Through the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, we have taken concrete and systemic measures to implement a reform agenda, offer better governance and aim for more self-reliance. Our economy, hurt by the 2014 end-of-combat mission of international forces, which relied on a large-scale military expenditure, has turned the corner and is giving signs of recovery, especially in private sector investment and development.

Since the formation of the Government of National Unity, domestic revenue has seen important gains, which, in turn, have helped us shoulder more responsibility for our security and development needs.  Moreover, we are making steady progress in the development of our national infrastructure – including roads, industry, energy, telecommunication and transport networks. Once completed, these projects will improve connectivity and generate economic growth in Afghanistan and our region.

Mr. President,

Once an ambitious vision, the regional economic cooperation agenda is transforming into reality. Afghanistan is becoming a hub for regional and inter-regional trade, transit and transport. Energy transfer is a major component now and into the future.

I am pleased to highlight the successful outcome of the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan last week, where Afghanistan, regional countries, and other international stakeholders recommitted to the full implementation of at-least eighteen major regional projects.  These include the CASA 1000 and TAPI energy and natural gas initiatives, as well as the Chabahar transport and transit project. 

The recent historic signing of the Lapis Lazuli route agreement between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey marks another important development in the advancement of economic and cultural links in the region.

Additionally, the air corridor with India has increased trade volume between our countries, while major railway projects with China, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan are also moving forward.  All in all, these mega projects hold the promise of propelling a new era of economic prosperity for the wider region.

Mr. President,

We, in the Government of National Unity, recognize that strengthening good-governance and the rule of law is an imperative for our stability and prosperity.  We are making all efforts to fulfill the commitments we made at the London, Warsaw, and Brussels Conferences in 2014 and 2016. 

The National Strategy for Combating Corruption – a living document – which was adopted in September lays out clear strategies and solutions for systemic reforms across government institutions and agencies. One such example is the public civil administration. The Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, and the Anti-Corruption Justice Center, have so far tried over a thousand cases of corruption, bribery and abuse of authority, including senior ranking officials.

We have made clear to our people and our international partners that the principle of accountability will not be compromised at any cost.  In the area of fiscal sustainability, we have improved our financial systems to the point where it is now declared in conformity with international standards. Our efforts in the areas of the rule of law and governance will continue as a matter of priority.

Prevailing insecurity has also led to an increase in drug production in some parts of the country. The dangerous nexus between terrorism and narcotic drugs, therefore, demands a more focused and collective effort from within the region and beyond.

Mr. President,

Full participation of women in the sociopolitical processes and economy remains a core priority, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Today, Afghan women proudly represent our country in all spheres. I would especially like to thank more than 8,500 women who are serving in our security forces. Their contribution and sacrifice is helping us deal with cases of criminality, violence and abuse.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the most important aspect of political stability: learning from the past and assuring free, fair and transparent elections. We are in preparation mode alongside the Independent Election Commission to bring necessary reforms to the electoral process to make sure that public trust and participation is restored to this critical pledge. We are committed to holding parliamentary elections in 2018, followed by presidential elections in 2019. We thank the UN and all other partners for their help in this regard.

Mr. President,

To conclude, I can say with utmost confidence that the contributions, investments and joint sacrifices made in these past seventeen years have made a huge difference. From a domestic standpoint, the notable gains made across various sectors have had a profound impact in improving the lives of ordinary Afghans across our country.

Our civil society is vibrant, our free media is functioning as a check-and-balance system, and our growing youth population is less inclined to leave the country, looking at opportunities and prospects at home. Just two days ago, our under-19 national cricket team won the Asian championship in Malaysia.

All in all, we are committed to continuing this journey based on the wishes of the Afghan people, and enjoying the support of the international community.

Once again, security being a vital priority for us, and those who are affected by insecurity across our region and beyond, at this important juncture, let us reinvigorate the spirit of international partnership and effective engagement on which the global fight against terrorism began seventeen years ago. Doing so provides the best guarantee for the security and prosperity of all our nations.

Thank you.

 

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan