Friday, August 17, 2018

Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council on forthcoming Elections in Afghanistan

The Security Council notes the conclusion of the voter registration process in Afghanistan on July 18, which according to preliminary data of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan saw more than 8.9 million Afghans register, including more than 3 million women, in order to exercise their democratic right to vote at the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections on 20 October 2018 and in the 2019 presidential elections.

The Security Council recalls that the Afghan Government, political leaders, and the Independent Electoral Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission carry the primary responsibility to create the necessary conditions for credible elections to take place.

The Security Council emphasizes the need to address remaining challenges and to accelerate progress in electoral preparations, which requires without further delay the completion of outstanding issues, including the approval of candidates to fill critical vacancies within the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission, the establishment of a central database of all registered voters that identifies irregularities, as well as the publication of a final list of candidates.

The Security Council underscores the importance of developing sustainable democratic institutions in Afghanistan based on inclusive, transparent and credible elections, and stresses the need to promote the full and safe participation of women as well as members of minority groups, including ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, both as voters and candidates.

The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan and in this regard underscores its support to the Afghan electoral process as a fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

The Security Council calls on all parties concerned to adhere to the fundamental requirements laid out by the electoral law and all other relevant regulations and to uphold the highest standards of integrity throughout this important and historic process, so that the final outcome reflects the will of the people of Afghanistan.

The Security Council emphasizes the central role of UNAMA, in cooperation with the wider UN system, and in close consultation and coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, in supporting the organization of elections and the strengthening of electoral reform efforts by providing technical assistance and capacity-building and by coordinating international assistance efforts.

The Security Council stresses the importance of addressing sexual- and gender-based violence against female voters and candidates.

                The Security Council stresses the importance of a secure environment for conducting elections, condemns in the strongest terms those who resort to violence to obstruct the electoral process, including the Taliban and ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates, and commends the resiliency, progress, and exceptional courage displayed by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in their leading role in securing their country.

The Security Council welcomes the commitment by civil society to conduct observation at every polling station to monitor voting, counting, tabulating, and transmission of results.

The Security Council emphasizes the need for appropriate electoral observation missions to be in place, and welcomes the intention of international partners to provide support at the request of the Afghan Government, and calls on all parties to facilitate and respect the observers’ work.

The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the ability of all Afghan citizens throughout Afghanistan to exercise their civil and political rights, and reiterates its continued support for the Afghan Government and people of Afghanistan in their pursuit of democratic development, prosperity and durable peace.

The Security Council expresses the intention to continue to closely follow the electoral process, including progress on the electoral preparations, and in this regard looks forward to the thorough verification of registered voters following the completion of the registration process, and requests UNAMA to provide an update to council members on key developments and progress regarding electoral preparations within one month of the adoption of this statement.

 

UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

STATEMENT BY H.E. Wais Ahmad Barmak

Minister of Interior of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

29 June 2018

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery) 

Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank UN Secretary-General H.E. Antonio Guterres for convening this Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies. This provides a good opportunity for the global community to hold frank and open discussions about terrorism, an issue that is threatening all of us without exception.

It is obvious that an effective global response to terrorism is dependent on various factors, particularly, decisive action by member-States in meeting counter-terrorism obligations and sufficient cooperation at regional and international levels. For both imperatives, enhancing operational capacity in States, where needed, are essential for the goal at hand.

For Afghanistan, the building-up of strong security institutions, including our National Police, is an experience well known to us.  Since 2001, the global community has stood beside us in our decades-long fight against international terrorism. In that endeavor, international partners have provided us with crucial support in resources and training, which has helped enable our security forces to confront elements of many terrorist groups that have come from beyond, seeking to destroy everything we value – from democracy and civil liberties to promotion of human rights and above all – achieving a stable Afghanistan that is a catalyst for international peace and stability. 

Our forces have also inflicted heavy losses on, and degraded and eliminated a significant part of Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups. The security effort against all enemy combatants, including FTFs will continue with priority. In doing so, we will continue to not only defend and protect our people, but the world at-large.

While our forces are confronting all FTFs, we have opened the doors for peace to the reconcilable Afghan Taliban. President Ghani’s unconditional cease-fire to the Taliban reaffirmed our commitment to lasting peace. We await the Taliban’s long-term commitment to this historic offer, which can pave the way for peace and reconciliation.

Co-Chairs,

We hope this Conference leads to enhanced international cooperation against terrorism by improving the UN’s response to terrorism through better inter-agency coordination; enabling States to fulfill CT obligations with capacity-building assistance; and identifying challenges and gaps on the part of States in meeting their counter-terrorism obligations under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. 

Afghanistan places high value in the UN’s role in promoting international peace and stability. We have always supported the idea of having a more central UN structure to better coordinate and respond to the evolving terrorist threat and assistance-needs of States.

The formation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT) last year, signaled an important step in that direction. We have confidence in the leadership and vision of USG Vladimir Voronkov and hope that the new office leads to more tangible progress by the UN and member-states in combating terrorism. Accordingly, we expect the office to deliver comprehensively in implementing the 4 Pillars of the Global Strategy with balance and sufficient focus.

In our perspective, the following points are essential in regards to the work of the OCT:

First, we believe the Office should maintain adequate and sustained collaboration with member-states, particularly those facing terrorism and standing in the first line of defense against this menace. Afghanistan places high value in the work of the OCT and our relationship with it.  As always, country visits by relevant UN bodies have special value in strengthening relationships, identifying gaps and necessary areas of collaboration on various CT aspects. 

Second, and on a related note, support and assistance by the OCT should be guided by specific contexts and needs, requested by respective States.

Third, we believe that the new office can only benefit from the expertise and know-how of countries that have experience in countering terrorism, in all its aspects. This can go a long way in benefiting the technical and operational outputs of the Office.

Fourth, it is most evident that adequate, comprehensive and efficient coordination of UN agencies are at the heart of a successful UN counter-terrorism response. As the primary UN body mandated to deal with this issue, we expect the OCT to improve advocacy, visibility, and resource mobilization for counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism within that framework.

These will be essential for the overall implementation and follow up on various international protocols, conventions, and tools on counter-terrorism.

Fifth, and certainly not least, we believe it should enhance focus in ensuring the rights of victims of terrorism, including their families, with adequate financial and psychological support. Afghanistan had the honor of facilitating the adoption of GA resolution entitled “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” and we hope it will be a basis for greater attention to this important issue.

Co-Chairs,

The Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) was established to monitor and facilitate the adequate implementation of one of the most important UN resolutions dealing with terrorism – UNSC resolution 1373. Yet, the evolving scope of terrorism has shown that 1373 and other UNSC and GA resolutions are not adequately implemented. Afghanistan has proven through words and deeds our overriding commitment to our counter-terrorism obligations.

All countries, including Afghanistan, would hugely benefit from sustained collaboration and additional technical expertise. CTED’s first-ever visit to Afghanistan in January last year helped identify new areas of cooperation in several key areas. The follow-up joint meeting, together with donor countries and UN agencies discussed provision of technical assistance, based on recommendations of the visit report.

While such assessments are most useful, it is equally important to ensure timely follow-up and coordination so that pledges of technical assistance are met in timely and efficient manner. 

Moreover, we believe the OCT and CTED are well positioned to foster greater cooperation and awareness among regional countries, by various initiatives on relevant UN counter-terrorism resolutions. We stand ready to host such initiatives in Kabul.

To conclude, I reiterate that Afghanistan remains a most credible partner with the UN and the international community in the global fight against terrorism. We hope this Conference will lead to stronger ties and cooperation among all in this strategic imperative.

We wish to, once again, express our gratitude to the UN Secretary General for elevating the counter-terrorism efforts in the agenda of this noble organization.

 Thank You!

Press conference for International Water Conference – Dushanbe June 2018

Dushanbe, Tajikistan – On 20 and 21 June 2018 the Government of Tajikistan, in cooperation with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN-Water and other partners, organized a High-level International Conference on the international decade for action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028. Main objective of the Conference was to discuss ways for Member States, relevant UN bodies, specialized agencies, regional commissions and other organizations of the UN system to contribute to the Decade as part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDG6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all).

Today, lack of access to a safe drinking water source, basic sanitation and sound hygiene alongside with water scarcity and water pollution constitute one of the major challenges for the international community, in particular for the developing countries. Increasing water-related disasters, climate change, urbanization, population growth, desertification, and drought with the lack of capacity to ensure integrated water resource management further exacerbate this situation.

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, led the Afghan Delegation to the Conference. On 20 June, H.E. Dr. Abdullah addressed the plenary meeting of the Conference. In his address, he stressed that lack of access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, coupled with water scarcity and water pollution, constitute major challenges for the international community, in particular for developing and least developed countries. He highlighted that the Water Action Decade is a great opportunity to enhance positive momentum by raising awareness, sharing best-practices and promoting cooperation, as well as supporting the pursue of initiatives and activities leading to positive and concrete impacts at the national and local levels.

H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in New York, also took part in the International Conference and chaired the Action Panel on “Capacity Building including Improving Knowledge & Education”, organized on 20 June in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme. The Action Panel saw the participation of, among others, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, academia and the civil society. The Action Panel recognized that capacity, knowledge and education are central to making progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and in the achievement of SDG6. Furthermore, members of the Panel stressed the importance of mobilizing international support for closing capacity gaps in developing countries, countries in transition and fragile states challenged with post-conflict reconstruction, as well as the central role that public-private partnerships and South-South cooperation can play in this context. H.E. Ambassador Saikal moderated interventions from different keynote speakers and panelists during the session.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan