Thursday, December 14, 2017

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.

 

Social Development

STATEMENT BY  G. Seddiq Rasuli  Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

 At the Third Committee of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly

Agenda Item 27: Social Development

New York, 2 October 2017

 

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to join the previous speakers to congratulate you and the members of this bureau on your election. We are convinced, Mr. Chairman, that under your leadership this session will be a success for all of us.

Taking this opportunity, let me also assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation in the deliberations ahead. I further wish to thank the Secretary-General for his reports and recommendations contained therein under this agenda item.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was an important achievement for the international community to respond comprehensively to the most pressing issues of our time. On our part, the Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the achievement of sustainable development with an overarching objective to reduce poverty and promote socioeconomic development. In this regard, I am happy to inform that our national policies, strategies, and development plans are aligned with the goals and targets of this agenda.  Afghanistan was one of the countries that presented its Voluntary National Review to the high-level political forum on sustainable development this year.

 

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), which serves as the roadmap for the welfare of our people, recognizes “Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion” as the main agenda in moving the country towards sustainable development, economic growth, and prosperity. This framework identifies three national priority programs to achieve its goals of poverty reduction and social inclusion, namely, Social Protection, Women’s Empowerment, and Citizen’s Charter.

Under the social protection program, we are working to reduce poverty, primarily by helping the poor to increase their skills and productivity, and by providing them with access to labor intensive paid employment through the Jobs for Peace Program. While investing in increasing opportunities for young people is the central focus of our poverty reduction strategy, there is still a substantial population of vulnerable, disabled, widowed, and elderly citizens who need carefully targeted and professionally managed assistance.

Women’s empowerment in social, economic and political spheres is the top blueprint of the Government of Afghanistan. Under the ANPDF, Economic Empowerment of Women is a National Priority Program (WEE-NPP). The program will provide start-up technical and financial support to women-owned businesses, along with job skills, and financial literacy. These investments will complement and be delivered through the existing mechanisms and institutions, focusing on scaling-up successful interventions.

Another National Priority Program is the “Citizens’ Charter” which is a foundation stone for realizing the government’s self-reliance vision, contributing to poverty reduction, sustainable development, and socioeconomic growth. It is a promise of partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and communities. In other words, the Charter is a commitment to provide every village of Afghanistan with basic services such as education, health, basic rural infrastructure, and agriculture, based on community’s own prioritization along with the improvement of mechanisms for service delivery.

Mr. Chairman,

Peace and security play a fundamental role in the prosperity of societies; development cannot be assured in the absence of these vital elements. Despite many achievements, unfortunately, security challenges still remain a serious concern for the government and people of Afghanistan as terrorist groups target our public infrastructures and threaten innocent civilians, including children and women on a daily basis. According to the recent report of the UN Secretary-General, UNAMA has documented 5,243 civilian casualties during the first half of 2017. We know that these evil forces and their supporters can create hindrance in our efforts towards a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, but they cannot prevail forever, as the people and government of Afghanistan are strongly determined to continue their noble fight to secure their country against the enemies of humanity and civilization.

 

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

 

 

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

(check against delivery)

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.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan