Saturday, October 1, 2016

Statement by His Excellency Sarwar Danesh, Second Vice President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly 

(check against delivery)

21 September 2016

NEW YORK

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and Peace be upon our Master and Prophet Mohammad and all of his Family and Companions

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

 It is my distinct pleasure to attend the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. I would like to sincerely congratulate Ambassador Peter Thompson from the Republic of Fiji on assuming the Presidency of this year’s General Assembly Session, and want to thank His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, for a decade of his persistent efforts and wise leadership in support of fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, and justice for all. We wish him every success in his future endeavors.

 Mr. President, 

 The 21st century has brought with it an ever-complex international arena, where some old conflicts have lingered and exacerbated, while new threats and challenges in the forms of violent extremism and terrorism, displacement and migration, climate change, and other challenges have emerged, threatening all humanity. We have realized that dialogue and cooperation provides the most viable avenue to promote peace and security, and to ensure a world without hatred and conflict.

We believe that the UN still remains the single most important international body for the promotion of global peace, security and prosperity, and that achieving a stronger organization remains a priority for all of us in the way forward. The United Nations’ vital role in helping Afghanistan transition into a democratic and pluralistic society is a clear example of its profound impact in helping to create real change for the betterment of societies and communities around the world.

Allow me to update the Assembly on the current state of affairs in my country. While the Government of National Unity in Afghanistan has passed two years since its establishment, I would like to briefly present an overview of the achievements of the Government of National Unity under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the elected President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Mr. President, 

We in Afghanistan aim to strengthen the spirit of national participation and cooperation for reflection and implementation of wishes and will of Afghan citizens. Based on national consensus, all groups, political figures and Afghan elites inside and outside the Government are jointly sharing ideas for strengthening the political system and the Government of National Unity, and for the implementation of reforms within the framework of national interests.

The Afghan nation has inherited a legacy of conflict, oppression, discrimination and inequality. We believe democracy is the best solution to these problems, as it provides the only foundation to ensure justice and equality and enable social and political groups to be adequately represented. To this end, we have a modern Constitution that provides for this goal, and only its full implementation can ensure political stability in our society.

Our Government has made considerable achievements in different areas over the past two years, including reducing maternal and child mortality, increasing access to education, improving basic freedoms, strengthening the telecommunication and information sectors, improving the rule of law and preserving justice and human rights. Internationally, our Government has gained a proper status, proving to be a trustworthy partner to the many countries that are engaged in Afghanistan and have invested for security and stability of the country.

We are sparing no effort to implement our commitments towards reforms. Our well-planned and systematic efforts are ongoing to eliminate corruption, strengthen good governance, conduct judicial reforms, promote women’s empowerment, ensure effective service delivery for our citizens, ensure accountability standards at all levels of the Government, institutionalize merit-based appointments of senior officials, as well as to secure transparency in Government contracts, with the establishment of the National Procurement Commission.

In order to strengthen transparency of our future parliamentary, presidential and district councils elections, the process of consultations and technical and legal studies on reforming the electoral bodies and the electoral laws has concluded and initial steps towards electoral reforms will begin very soon. Combating the threat of narcotics is another priority of the National Unity Government. In this regard, we are cooperating closely with UNODC and other international partners, and will continue our joint efforts within the National Action Plan framework.

At the Warsaw NATO Summit last July, NATO members and our other allies pledged to provide one billion US dollars in support, on an annual basis, for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces until the end of 2020. The Resolute Support Mission, which offers support in areas of training, advisory and assistance to the Afghan security forces was also extended beyond 2016. We extend a particular debt of gratitude to the United States of America for providing the largest share of support.

In less than two weeks time, Afghanistan and our international partners will come together at the Brussels Conference to review and reach important decisions on the full scope of the joint partnership in the way forward. The National Unity Government will be presenting a comprehensive update on the positive trajectory of our reform efforts, conducted on the basis of the Self-Reliance Through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF). We look forward to our international partners to make new pledges of assistance on the basis of Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF).

Mr. President,

Despite these achievements, continuation of the undeclared war against Afghanistan and the need for security still remains a serious challenge for the Government of National Unity, as our people are still subject to merciless attacks of terrorist groups. Currently, more than ten terrorist groups who are sent from outside Afghanistan with the goal of creating obstacles for our state-building efforts and preventing the establishment of peace and stability are fighting against us in Afghanistan.

One of their main objectives is to suppress democracy, freedom of speech, and our free and independent media.  That is why our journalists are subject to serious threats while reporting from the battlefields, and also during terrorist attacks.  Afghanistan requests the United Nations to appoint a Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists, focused on the protecting all journalists, including those serving in Afghanistan.

Over the past several months, terrorists including Taliban and Daesh (ISIS), who continue to enjoy foreign support, attacked a peaceful and civil demonstration of the Enlightenment Movement  in Dehmazang Square in Kabul, and killed tens of our educated youth and elite.  They also attacked the American University of Afghanistan and other civilian facilities, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.  Based on existing evidence, these attacks were planned and organized from the other side of the Durand Line, inside Pakistani territory.

This year, the Taliban tried to take control of more areas in the country, especially in Kunduz and Helmand provinces, but were confronted by our national defense and security forces.  As a result, hundreds of extremist militants of the Taliban and Daesh, many of whom were foreign fighters were killed or captured.

We call on the international community to pay particular attention to the elimination of terrorist safe havens, located outside of the country. We urge States to honestly implement their international pledges in the fight against terrorism and to avoid a dual policy of making a distinction between good and bad terrorists, which undermines the international order.  We ask all of you:  Where were the previous leaders of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda residing, and where were they killed? At this very moment, where are the leaders of the Taliban and Haqqani network located? From where and how are terrorists being trained, equipped and financed during a full-scale war?

We have repeatedly asked our neighboring country Pakistan to destroy the known terrorist safe havens, but we unfortunately are yet to witness any change in the situation. Afghanistan has always desired peaceful relations with all countries in the region. However, the Government of National Unity reserves the right to do whatever is necessary for the defense and protection of our people.

We have also kept open the doors of peace and negotiations for those Taliban elements and other armed opposition groups who are willing to give up violence, return to peaceful life and adhere to our Constitution.  In this connection, a peace agreement is about to be signed between our government and Hizb-e-Islami Party. This will be an important step for progress in our peace process.

We believe that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) composed of Afghanistan, People’s Republic of China, Pakistan, and the United States can remain a useful platform to further peace efforts, so long as the Government of Pakistan acts in good faith to meet and fulfill its commitments within the parameters of the QCG’s “Road Map.”

Mr. President, 

Despite our security challenges, Afghanistan has always maintained a positive approach in regards to our relations with all regional countries and the Islamic world. We consider Islamic countries to be our best partners, and seek to strengthen our cultural, social, and economic ties and to use our experience to promote peace and coexistence and present a moderate interpretation of Islam. In this regard, we welcome the expressed readiness of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and any Islamic country to help promote the peace agenda in Afghanistan.

I want to add that Islam, as a religion has a clear thought, culture, civilization and history that on the one hand respects human dignity, rights and freedoms and drives national sovereignty from the will of people, and on the other hand, is against any kind of injustice, exclusivism, hatred, radicalism and violence. Those individual and groups that resort to violence, terror, and killing under any name are not acquainted with the spirit of this humane religion, and in fact are using Islam only as a tool to achieve their evil goals.

How can Islam possibly give permission for terrorism and suicide attacks to take the lives of thousands of innocent people, when it clearly considers human as the representative of God on earth, assigns him dignity and gives him heavenly deposits in the holy verses of Quran and also considers killing of one innocent human equal that of killing all of humanity?  We expect of the prominent Islamic Scholars who will soon take part in an important Conference in the Holy city of Mecca to further enlighten the true image of Islam, and declare their condemnation of terrorists and extremists, on behalf of our great religion.

Mr. President, 

In order to achieve regional cooperation, we need to have a stable region.  Afghanistan’s foreign policy is founded on the creation of an “economy based secure society.” Afghanistan is an active member of the regional organizations of SAARC and ECO, and an observer member of the Shanghai Organization and aims to actively take part in the revitalization of the regional cooperation agenda within the Heart of Asia Istanbul and RECCA processes.

 Afghanistan and all of the regional countries have common threats and interests. We should come together and cooperate to fight against our common threats including terrorism, radicalism, drugs, organized crimes, illegal immigration, and smuggling. Also, the establishment of the regional railroad, energy transit, mine extraction, trade and transit can provide an important joint economic cooperation for us. Afghanistan, as the important crossroad of trade, transit, and economic activities can connect South Asia to Central Asia and Middle East to East and South Asia. Afghanistan has already made significant progress through projects such as TAPI, CASA-1000, Lapis Highway, the railway corridor between China, Iran and Afghanistan, and expansion of cooperation in Chabahar port of Iran. With implementation of these projects, Afghanistan can reach international markets, and the regional countries can also get better connected.

With respect to the principles of non-interference in the affairs of other countries, avoiding use of force in resolution of conflicts, respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty, exchange of knowledge, science and technology, and most important of all, through promotion of peace and lasting security and stability, we can prepare for economic growth of all countries of our region. Therefore, we request all our neighboring countries to cooperate with us in provision of security and stability in the region, which is a pre-condition for achieving economic interests and welfare. The countries of the region should recognize that without the provision of security and stability in Afghanistan, none of us will achieve lasting stability and economic welfare.

Mr. President,

In November 1946, Afghanistan was the first country to become a UN member state after the 51 founding countries of the UN, and since then seriously adhered to its international commitments. Over the last sixteen years, we have served as a point of convergence whereby the international community has come together. In this connection and on behalf of the Afghan nation, I wish to also highlight and thank the centrality of the UN’s role in facilitating an effective international support role for Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity.

During recent years, we have signed documents of long-term strategic cooperation with 20 of our allies, including the US, EU and NATO, and in important conferences of Bonn, Tokyo, London, Chicago, and Warsaw they have announced their valuable support for the Afghan Government’s policies and decisions. Afghanistan, like other members of the international community, is serious and decisive in fighting radicalism and violence, and will continue its strong fight against this ominous phenomenon. It has been years that our nation is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and has made tremendous sacrifices in order to defend common values of humanity. We have lost many of our great national figures such as: Martyr Ahmad Shah Massoud, Martyr Ustad Burhanudding Rabbani, Martyr Ustad Abdulali Mazari, Martyr Abdulhaq, Martyr Haji Qadir, and hundreds of Ulemas, MPs, Officers, and members of our political elite.

However, we believe that terrorism and radicalism have become global threats against world peace. This is true when we witness signs of radicalism in different forms in Europe and America, and incidents of terrorist attacks in many countries of the world. In this regard, and considering the extent of these threats, measures of the international community in the fight against terrorism and radicalism will never be enough and successful unless effective holistic measures encompassing political, cultural, economic and even military aspects are considered as a universal strategic needs. The UN should hold an international conference on the fight against radicalism with the aim of introducing a new legal set up to combat terrorism. We believe that serious efforts in the fight against terrorism and radicalism are in need of exact and thorough planning for at least 20 years, and in this plan, Afghanistan should receive special attention from the international community as we are at the forefront of this fight.

One of the ominous outcomes of violence and radicalism is the new wave of immigration in the last year that has made it an important international challenge. We express gratitude to the countries that offer support to Afghan immigrants, especially Germany and other European countries that welcome Afghan refugees with open arms and with human-loving spirit. We also request the UN and its member states to have a new approach towards this international challenge and help the countries where immigrants are coming from to deal with the roots, causes and reasons of immigration, especially the ominous phenomena of war, poverty, and illiteracy.

Mr. President,

A glimpse to the world conditions shows that injustices, threats of violence, and conflicts are still endangering millions of human lives throughout the world. We are witnessing the extent of devastation and terror in Syria. We announce our full support to a comprehensive solution to the Syrian conflict that will reflect the will of all Syrians.  We also wish for a comprehensive and peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen.

We support the new international efforts to resolve the issue of Palestine and to provide the legitimate rights of brave and noble Palestinians including the right to have an independent government and invite all sides to start direct talks in order to achieve a sustainable solution based on the principle of peace and peaceful coexistence.

Afghanistan supports the historic agreement between 5+1 countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the Iranian nuclear program within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and deems implementation of this agreement as constructive for the provision of peace, stability, and sustainable development of the region and the world.

In regards to nuclear programs, I should add that we believe, North Korea’s tests of nuclear weapons are dangerous for the region and can endanger world peace and security.

Mr. President,

Since 2001, when we commenced a new chapter of our modern history, Afghanistan has regained its historical place among the responsible members of the family of nations represented in this Assembly.  Through words and deeds, we have shown our full and abiding commitment to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, and to render our role in promoting global peace, justice, human rights, and the rule of law. It is in this context that we have presented our candidacy to the Human Rights Council for the period 2018-2020. We call respectfully and friendly on all of our friends and all the member states to support our candidacy in the upcoming elections.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate, on behalf of the Afghan people and Government, our deepest gratitude to all of our international partners that have stood beside us in our quest for peace, security, and prosperity over the past sixteen years, and I specially thank the sacrifices of NATO/ISAF troops in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Together, we have come a long way in our journey, but our task is undoubtedly unfinished. We look to your continued support over the coming years, and stand confident in realizing the goals we have jointly set to achieve.

Here I wish to highlight once again, Afghanistan’s firm commitment to the realization of a world in which peace, harmony, justice, and tranquility prevails.

I Thank You.

Statement by H.E. Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani At the High-Level Meeting on Migration and Refugees

 

19 September 2016.

At the outset, I wish to convey our gratitude to the President of the General Assembly for convening today’s High-Level Meeting on Addressing the Large Movement of Refugees and Migrants. We have gathered here today against the backdrop of the unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees, across the world.  The time has, therefore, come to put into motion, a concerted international response to address this growing phenomenon holistically, and in all its aspects.

 

Mr. President,

Based on our own experience, Afghanistan is well aware of the complex challenge associated with the issue of global refugees.  The legacy of more than two-decades of armed conflict and violence brought about a situation, whereby millions of Afghan women and children were forced to leave their homes and seek refugee abroad. More than 95% of our refugees live in neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, and we are grateful for their generosity in hosting our people.

 

Since beginning a new chapter in Afghanistan in 2001, millions of Afghans returned to their homeland, marking the largest repatriation movement in modern history.  For several years now, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and other humanitarian organizations have had the central role in international efforts to support and assist Afghan refugees during some of the most difficult moments of our nation’s life. We are grateful for their support and commitment to address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.

 

Needless to say, millions of our citizens remain refugees, and continue to face difficult social, economic and humanitarian conditions.  In this regard, I would like to underscore the importance of ensuring that all refugees, whether Afghan or of any other nationality – are granted respect and equal treatment by host countries, in accordance with international humanitarian law, and human rights law.

 

As for the case of Afghan refugees they are known to be high achievers in whichever society they have become part of.  They have integrated with host communities and strived to achieve success, thereby rendering an important contribution in various spheres of society.  We call on all host countries to accommodate their protection and well being.

 

Mr. President,

Since its formation two years ago, the National Unity Government has pursued a national and regional effort together with our relevant international partners for a viable and long-term solution to the plight of Afghan refugees, with special emphasis on voluntary return, and sustainable reintegration.
To that end, the Quadripartite Commission, comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, adopted in Geneva in 2012, remain the overarching framework, within which the National Unity Government is striving to achieve the voluntary, gradual and dignified return of our refugees, and their sustainable reintegration.

 

As a matter of equal importance, we are also adamantly focused on addressing the problems faced by our internally displaced persons (IDP’s), which over the past two years, has increased in number, mainly resulting from insecurity in some parts of the country, caused by violence and terror, committed by the Taliban and affiliate groups.  Here, I would like to reiterate our appeal to the international community to render a long-term supporting role to effectively address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.
We in the National Unity Government are cognizant that Afghanistan’s social and economic development provides the ultimate guarantee for resolving the challenges facing refugees and IDP’s, in a holistic manner. We are working to improve conditions for our peoples in town, villages and districts across Afghanistan.  To this end, we look to the up-coming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in two weeks time, where we hope the international community will make new pledges of assistance to help us implement our National Peace and Development Framework, which aims at enabling us to achieve self-reliance during the Transformation Decade.

 

Mr. President,

We are pleased that today’s high-level meeting offers due focus and attention to addressing the root causes of migration, at the global level.  In most cases, those who resettle do so not as a matter of choice but of circumstances. Poverty, conflict and a lack of economic opportunities are some of the main factors, leading to resettlement.  In this regard, the central role of the UN will remain of strategic importance in providing support across a wide-spectrum, including development assistance; conflict-prevention; systems development, as well as in peace-building and national reconciliation.

 

The adoption of the SDG’s, last September here in New York was a milestone, charting a new development framework over the next fifteen years. The implementation of the SDG’s will go a long way in helping to ensure peace, security and a stable economic environment in countries of origin, offering an incentive to people and families to avoid resettlement.
Mr. President,

After settling in their country of destination, migrants and refugees are presented with both opportunities and challenges.  Many are able to broaden their horizon, and benefit from a new experience and environment where they could live free from violence, conflict and often times, persecution and improve their plight, and that of their families.  Having said that, far too often, their new experience is not void of difficulties.

 

In this context, Afghanistan conveys its concern over the continuing trend where migrants and refugees are subject to acts of xenophobia, discrimination and other stereotypes, based on religious and cultural differences in some parts of the world.  A renewed effort is necessary to push back against this dangerous narrative, which constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, including human rights law. We welcome the Secretary General’s proposal to launch a “global campaign to counter various forms of discrimination against migrants and refugees. “

 

We must bear in mind, that among those who resettle, there are those who bring with them unique skills and creative ideas that serve as positive factors, for the development of stable and healthy societies.  We must perceive diversity as a source of strength and optimism, rather than seeing it from a negative perspective.  After all, humanity is one; irrespective of our cultural, religious and geographical differences.  We all aspire towards the same goals:  the chance to live in peace, to prosper, and above all, to ensure a better and brighter life for our children and future generations.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s Summit is a fitting opportunity for all of us to reaffirm our shared commitment to protect, and promote the rights of all Refugees and Migrants, and to do so in adherence to the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Afghanistan welcomes the adoption of the Conference Declaration and its two annexes: the “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and “Towards a Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration.” Let us leverage the full range of resources at our disposal, and expand our collaboration to address all aspects related to the increased flow of migrants and refugees, across the globe.

 

Before concluding, I want to convey our gratitude to their Excellencies David Donoghue, and Ms. Dina Kawar, Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Ireland and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for so ably leading the inter-governmental negotiations on our Conference Declaration!

 

 

Thank You!

 

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON AFGHANISTAN

 

14 Sep, 2016, NEW YORK – At the 7771st meeting of the Security Council, held on 14 September 2016, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “The situation in Afghanistan”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council reaffirms its support to the Government of Afghanistan and, in advance of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan to be held on 5 October 2016 co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan, calls on the international community to continue their civilian and development efforts to assist the Government and the people of Afghanistan in a manner consistent with the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and with the Afghan leadership and ownership.

“The Security Council underscores the importance of the progress attained by Afghanistan and calls on all political entities to work together to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan.

“The Security Council reiterates its concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, its condemnation of the terrorist activities by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, as well as Al-Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates and other illegal armed groups, and its support to the Government of Afghanistan and, in particular, to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, in their task of securing their country and in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

“The Security Council also reaffirms its support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process with a view to achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and calls on all national, regional and international actors to cooperate in this regard.

“The Security Council reiterates its full support to the work of UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate as per Resolution 2274 (2016), and to the Special Representative of the Secretary General.

“The Security Council reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, and reaffirms that Afghanistan’s future lies in the building of a stable, secure, economically sustainable state, free of terrorism and narcotics, based on the rule of law, strengthened democratic institutions and the guarantee and enforcement of citizen’s rights and obligations.”