Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENT BY H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

September 25, 2017

NEW YORK

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Let me begin by thanking Ethiopia for convening today’s debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. I am also delighted that Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto is here with us today.  Ambassador Yamamoto:  thank you for your presentation – but more specifically – for your dedicated efforts as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan. 

I am pleased to address the Security Council – my first time as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. This is a fitting opportunity to convey our appreciation for the Security Council’s support and attention to the situation in my country, since the start of our endeavor towards a new Afghanistan in 2001. The people of Afghanistan look to this Council with high expectation, as the guardian of international peace and security. Amidst all challenges, Afghans are hopeful that the international community, the UN, and this noble Council, in particular, will respond appropriately to help them achieve what has long eluded them:  their right to live normal and dignified lives, in peace and security.

Mr. President,

The time has come for the international community to take a fresh look at its engagement in Afghanistan. As President Ghani stated in his address to the UN General Assembly last week, and I quote “for too long the conflict in Afghanistan has been viewed through the prism of civil war. But this war is not within our soil, it is over our soil”. The scourge of terrorism and violent extremism affecting Afghanistan is the product of a long-standing policy by a neighboring State to keep Afghanistan unstable. It has menaced Afghanistan for several decades now, with its roots located in terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens outside of my country.  

A bigger picture of the security situation reveals that our security forces are engaged in a comprehensive fight against elements of more than 20 internationally recognized terrorist groups. Thanks to the dedicated support of our international partners, our security forces are leading this fight more efficiently and with great valor and courage. The Taliban suffer major setbacks in manpower and morale and fail to hold ground over any territory. This is why their “modus-operandi” draws mainly on suicide bombings and other unconventional criminal attacks on our people, infrastructure, public figures, mosques and international humanitarian personnel. Such barbarity constitutes crimes against humanity – the latest being the massacre committed jointly by the Taliban and Daesh in Mirza Ulang village in Sar-e-Pul province and the attacks on mosques in Kabul and Herat.

I wish to also highlight that the exaggerated claims of Taliban control over some percentage of territory is being used as part of psychological warfare. Our security forces have the upper hand against terrorist and extremist groups throughout the country. This trend will continue in a positive trajectory with sustained assistance from international partners to further strengthen the capabilities of our national security forces and improve service delivery for our people.

Mr. President,     

We, in Afghanistan, have long called for an international focus that would address the fundamental sources of insecurity in our country. We are pleased that, as of late, there is a growing recognition of this imperative in the international community. This new dynamic presents an unprecedented opportunity, which must be seized.

In this regard, I can say with confidence that the new Strategy of the United States for South Asia has generated new hope among our people across the country. Afghans from all walks of life are looking to the future with renewed optimism that finally the threats of terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan and the wider region will be tackled appropriately. In this connection, we welcome the fact that the new Strategy recognizes the critical need to address the lingering problem of terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region; and for more determined efforts to end political, logistical and financial support enjoyed by terrorist groups. Furthermore, the Strategy’s conditions-based approach has addressed some uncertainties by reinforcing the right message that the international community’s engagement will endure until Afghanistan becomes stable and secure.

We urge all partners in the region and beyond to recognize what is at stake. We now have a chance to fundamentally change the status-quo for our common benefit. The support of the region, in this regard, will be of paramount importance. Collectively, we should seize this opportunity to strengthen consensus and partnership, in a spirit of cooperation to buttress Afghanistan’s rightful status as an asset and platform of cordiality for all.

Mr. President,

Despite being on the receiving-end of provocative actions, including continuous violations across the Durand Line, Afghanistan has maintained a principled position in seeking to resolve differences through dialogue, diplomacy, and peaceful means. This is particularly true in the case of our relations with Pakistan, which – unfortunately – has so far failed to respond positively at its own cost, particularly in relation to its global reputation and standing.

Recently, we presented Pakistan with yet another opportunity to engage in comprehensive State-to-State discourse on peace, security and prosperity. We hope – this time around – we will see a constructive engagement instead of plausible deniability and attempts to change narrative. An opportunity, even if embraced late, is nevertheless better than one lost. There are various existing initiatives in which productive talks could take place.

By the same token, we will spare no effort – whatsoever – in the defense of our country, our people; territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

Mr. President,

Ending violence means ensuring the security and well-being of our citizens. The Government of Afghanistan has gone to great lengths to secure a sustained and durable peace for our people. The prospect of peace with the Taliban is dependent on genuine and constructive regional engagement in support of an Afghan-led process. In this regard, we believe a paradigm shift could profoundly impact peace efforts with the Taliban in a positive way. A successful outcome, modeled on the agreement being implemented with another armed opposition group can be possible.  We believe the international community should take necessary measures to achieve this aim.

Mr. President,

Democratic institutions, values, and principles provide the foundation for all progress made over the past 17 years in Afghanistan. We believe a democratic society where people are able to express their ideas, grievances and aspirations is not just a privilege, but also an imperative for social stability. The consolidation of democracy and institution-building will remain a priority in the Government of National Unity. Our people are already anticipating the up-coming parliamentary and district council elections next year. The transparency, inclusivity, and credibility of the polls will be crucial for our overall political stability.

In the area of reform, we are standing by our commitment to ensure more accountable and effective institutions. A number of senior-level officials have been prosecuted and held to account for violating the rule of law. These cases have reaffirmed our promise to root out corruption, in all its forms, and enhance public confidence in our reform commitments. This effort will continue with priority, and we look forward to highlighting recent achievements in this area at the up-coming Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul to review reform commitments made in Brussels.

Mr. President,

We consider the Strategic Review of UNAMA’s activities to be an essential initiative for ensuring an adjusted UN role that is more responsive to the current day needs of the Afghan people, and better aligned with our national priority programs. We are pleased that the imperative of a One-UN model, concerning the delivery of development assistance has been recognized. We hope to have, by the end of this year, an outcome that will enable the UN to deliver on its task more efficiently. 

Mr. President,

Our stabilization endeavor is based on a simultaneous effort for progress in the security, social and development spheres. Despite our challenges, we are making steady progress to protect and uphold the rights of all of our citizens, especially women, girls and children.

Our resolve in this important area is reflected in our candidacy to the Human Rights Council.

For us, a commitment to human rights means enabling people to live in peace and security and to achieve success and meet their aspirations. Above all, it means enabling people to live in honor and dignity.

These are ideals to which we are firmly committed. Our membership in the Human Rights Council will have many benefits: it will enable us to consolidate human rights gains at home. It will also enable us to be a voice for victims of terrorism and the dozens of countries that are in conflict and post-conflict situations. We kindly urge all UN member States to support our candidacy.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, let me convey the deep appreciation of Afghanistan to the Security Council and the international community for all that you have done, and continue to do in support of Afghanistan’s security and stability.

We stand at the crossroad of our shared endeavor. At this juncture, as we approach the New Year 2018, it is imperative that all of us seize the opportunity in front of us, brought about by the new spirit of the international community’s engagement in our country.

Thank You Mr. President.

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan  At the 72nd Session of United Nations General Assembly

19 September 2017

NEW YORK

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Bismillah Rahman-ur-Rahim

Mr. President, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I stand here before you today, I am reminded that the wise men and women of 1945 displayed a unique capacity to learn from and act on lessons of history. Shaped by the Great Depression, and tempered by the carnage of World War 2, they established global order through institutions that would provide security and stability for generations to come.  The UN, the IMF, the World Bank and other organizations were founded to coordinate responses to international challenges and to make crimes against humanity a thing of the past. 

There can be little doubt that today, the scale, scope and speed of their imagination and efforts have not yet been matched. But future historians will judge these institutions on how they respond to the challenges of today, and the challenges we must confront in the future.

As global leaders, we seek certainty and familiarity in the rules of the game which dominated the 20th century. But in today’s ever-changing world, the dominant contextual characteristic defining our times is extreme uncertainty. It is easy to illustrate this uncertainty by looking at threats we are facing to our economies, our security, and our values.

There is an emerging consensus that advanced economies have yet to arrive at “proper growth models” to overcome high unemployment, decreasing income and wealth inequality. The threat of economic crisis, therefore, still hangs over us.  

Sixteen years after the tragedy of September 11, the threat of violence by non-state actors has taken the form of a Fifth Wave of political violence. Driven by transnational terrorist networks, criminal organizations, cyber-crime and state sponsorship of terror, this Fifth Wave promises to be a decades-long threat to international security rather than a passing phenomenon.  In the 20th century, the world came together to push back the spread of fascism so that democratic freedoms could be secured. Today, these very freedoms are under attack from global terrorism. Terrorism is not only an attack on human life and basic freedoms, but an attack on the compact of citizenship–an attack on the nation state’s relationship with its people which makes democratic societies unique, fair and free. We must confront the threat of terrorism as a united force, and meet it with a long-term solution that matches the long-term agenda of the terrorists themselves.

And, lastly, despite the incorporation of tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the constitutions of most countries of the world, crimes against humanity still occur with painful regularity.  The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is especially shocking. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lengthy silence was tragic, as our hopes that an icon of human rights would choose principle over power. I do welcome the chance for Afghanistan to have a seat on the Human Rights Council in order to have a more central role in discussions on these important issues. As a people who are still experiencing crimes against humanity – the latest being killing of civilians in the Mirza Ulang village and attacks on mosques in Kabul and Herat – we are keen to add our voice in support of human rights. 

Mr. President,

Overcoming the destructive and disruptive patterns of change in the 21st century requires collective and coordinated action at the global, regional, national, local and individual levels.   An effective, efficient and respected United Nations is the need of the hour–we must put our 20th century institutions to the test.

Therefore, I congratulate His Excellency Miroslav Lajcak on assuming the Presidency of the 72nd Session of the UNGA. I want to recognize and appreciate the efforts of His Excellency Peter Thomson during the previous session, and I commend His Excellency Secretary General Guterres for launching his reform of the UN.  

If the UN did not exist today, we would have to invent it to address the demands of our time.  Delivering on the promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the context of uncertainty requires reexamination of core functions, re-engineering of business processes, reinvigoration of organizational culture and value, and reform of systems of accountability.  If the UN is to be more relevant to countries like mine, it must deliver as One UN. But this has not yet been fulfilled. The inherited model of the UN agencies as instruments of technical assistance and capacity building should be subjected to the market test, namely value for money and sustainability of results in comparison to government, private sector and non-governmental modes of delivery.  Mutual accountability is a proven mechanism of consolidation and expansion of partnerships, and trust-building.

Mr. President,

I am honored to stand before this distinguished assembly to represent and speak for the people of Afghanistan. We have borne adversity, deprivation and drought with dignity; met invasion with valor; defended our homeland with patriotic fervor.  Being the frontline state in the global struggle against terrorism and the front line of defense of democratic freedoms, our people and security forces are accomplishing heroic deeds on a daily basis.  

We, too–as a nation, a state, and a people–are reinventing ourselves to address the challenges and potential offered to us in the 21st century.

With President Trump’s recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan’s enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected. We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty.  The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years. We pay tribute to all the men and women of allied nations who have served with us, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The strategy consolidates all instruments of American power, conveying a message that the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily. Only through political settlement can we achieve enduring peace and I call upon all ranks of Taliban to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue.

We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbors on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism.  I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state to state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity. 

The Afghan government has proven that we are committed to peace through our own internal processes, as demonstrated by the peace agreement with Hizb-i-Islami.   Now, we call on all of our neighbors, near and far, to join us through the Kabul process in our comprehensive quest for peace and regional stability.

However, moving forward, we ask for a change of perspective from our international partners. For too long, the conflict in Afghanistan has been viewed through the prism of civil war. But this war is not within our soil, it is over our soil.

Today, there are over 20 international terrorist groups with an imposed presence on Afghan soil. The future of Afghanistan matters because we are on the frontlines of the global effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism. Our brave soldiers are fighting and dying for this cause, and the sovereignty of the Afghan nation, every day. Though we may be on the frontlines, the threat knows no boundaries. For terrorist groups who are harbored in the region, an attack in Kabul and an attack in Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, London or anywhere else are equal victories. President Trumps’ new strategy includes the disruption and denial of sanctuary to terrorists whose motives know no boundaries.

However, a strong and enduring commitment from our international partners alone will not ensure our collective success in Afghanistan—the roots of success are indeed within us, as Afghans.

Today, nearly three years into our decade of transformation, we are turning Afghanistan into a platform for stability. The foundation has been laid. We have articulated and are rigorously implementing roadmaps for reform. Namely, we are prosecuting the corrupt, ending corruption in the security sector, replacing systems of patronage with merit-based systems, and making financial processes transparent.

We are also reaching out to those who had previously been excluded from society—young people, the poor, and women. Yet these people are our nations’ source of resilience.

The generation who grew up in the 1990s, which make up the majority of our population, are now being entrusted with wholesale leadership of the country. A generational change is taking place as youth are empowered at every level. This generation will be the one that reforms the government into one that is citizen and service-oriented.

Through unimaginable hardship, women kept the fabric of our communities and societies together even as they fell to shreds. Yet women were relegated to the very bottom of society. This was unacceptable and our nation suffered for it. Today, there are more Afghan women in government, in the workforce, and active in civil society than ever before in Afghan history, yet we still have far to go. At the helm, we have 6 women Ambassadors, and 4 women cabinet members. Simply put, women’s empowerment is crucial to our future.

The poor, along with the women and the youth, are the numerical majorities in Afghanistan that crosses ethnic, linguistic, gender and religious lines.  About 40% of Afghans still live below the poverty line. Research shows that poverty perpetuates itself because it affects the scientific make-up of a child’s brain. We must empower the poor. For far too long, they have been the silent majority in our country.

We are recreating the bonds of society in order to change the culture of our state.

And not only are we strengthening our bonds internally, but regionally.

As we look to our neighbors in south and central Asia, we are simultaneously strengthening national, global and regional connectivity. Afghanistan will again become a multi-faceted hub in the 21st century–for transport, energy, water and mining–for the benefit of the entire region’s economic prosperity and security.

And we are already seeing the fruits of our labor. Transmission lines for the Central Asia-South Asia power project are under construction. The Turkmen railway has reached our border. The TAPI natural gas pipeline is under construction.

As a central part of our plan for economic advancement, we continue to work with our regional partners to seek avenues of collaboration.

We can see now, amidst the uncertainties and unique challenges and threats of the 21st century, how Afghanistan has become a conundrum for the 20th century approaches in which the global order tends to still operate within.

While the threat of international terrorism playing out on our soil has dominated the narrative of our country and driven the fate of our people for far too long, we also have enormous potential to be the regional brokers of peace, a hub for economic prosperity, and a beacon of democratic values. The birthplace of Rumi still resounds with messages of love, peace and hope.  Afghanistan will, yet again, be the Asian Roundabout for dialogue of civilizations and a model of harmony and culture of tolerance and engagement.  

I am confident that our plans and programs for self-reliance and reform, bolstered by the commitment of our international partners, will chart us on the path toward realizing our full potential.

                                   

I thank you.

 

 

General Debate, 72nd Session

New York,19 September 2017 – H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the I.R. of Afghanistan, H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the I.R. of Afghanistan, H.E. Haneef Atmar, National Security Advisor of the I.R. of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Senior Economic Advisor of the President, H.E. Adela Raz, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Cooperation, and H.E. Mahmoud Saikal – محمود صیقل, Permanent Representative of the I.R. of Afghanistan to the United Nations attend the opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

H.E. President Ghani will address the General Assembly on September 19, around 6 pm (US Eastern time). Stay connected for updates on the engagements of the Delegation of the I.R. of Afghanistan during this High-level week of the General Assembly.

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Permanent Mission of Afghanistan