Thursday, July 19, 2018

Afghanistan Elected Chair of UN General Assembly Third Committee

PRESS RELEASE
5 June 2018

Afghanistan Elected Chair of UN General Assembly Third Committee

Afghanistan was unanimously elected on Tuesday as Chair of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly for its upcoming 73rd Session, and will be represented by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN.

The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly covers agenda items relating to a range of important human rights, social and humanitarian issues that affect people all over the world. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

Afghanistan’s election, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, as Chair of one of the key committees of the main body of the UN General Assembly signifies the international community’s recognition of Afghanistan’s significant gains in the field of human rights

In addition to its chairmanship of UNGA Third Committee for the 73rd session, Afghanistan is currently one of the Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly and is a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

UN Security Council Open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Statement by Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the UN Security Council Open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

May 22, 2018

(Check against delivery)

 Mr. President,

Let me first thank the Mission of Poland for convening this Ministerial Open Debate on the urgent issue of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts. I would like to extend my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and other distinguished speakers for their statements.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting is of crucial importance for Afghanistan – a country that has seen decades of imposed conflict, including terrorism and violent extremism, leading to a disproportionate number of civilian deaths and injuries.  Recently, we have seen a significant increase in barbaric attacks on our civilians, where our schools, mosques, hospitals, and as of late, electoral registration sites and other safe spaces – purely of civilian nature – have come under attack. By systematically targeting our children, medical personnel, journalists, commuters, and ordinary men and women, the Taliban and other terrorist groups who have come from outside our borders, have sought to compensate losses on the battlefield with attacks on soft targets and sowing fear and discord in our society.

Based on our recent estimates, in last year alone, 2,903 civilian deaths and over 6,000 civilian injuries occurred as a result of enemy attacks nationwide, mainly on civilian targets.

The UNAMA 2017 Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict clearly depicts how the Taliban and other terrorist groups  have used suicide attacks, including targeted and deliberate killings, bombs and other explosive devices,  abductions, and other arbitrary and extrajudicial punishments against our civilian population.  As we assemble here to discuss the crucial issue of protecting civilians in conflict, only a few hours ago there was another terrorist attack in Kandahar that reportedly killed 16 and wounded over 30 civilians.  The utter disregard for human life, as demonstrated in these attacks, constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law.    

In this background, the Security Council’s landmark resolution 2286 (2016), reaffirms its determination to bring the behavior of parties to conflict and Member States alike, in line with international humanitarian law. It also highlights the obligation of parties to a conflict to protect and care for the wounded and sick, to respect and protect those providing impartial medical care, and to facilitate their mission.  In the same light, prevention and mitigation of harm to civilian population, remains a key priority to the Government of Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

While being at the forefront of fighting international terrorism, our brave defense and security forces have valiantly defended our territorial integrity and safety and security of civilian population. Further, we have also developed and improved a number of strategic, operational, and tactical measures to protect civilians during conflict.

  • In October 2017, we endorsed the National Policy on Civilian Casualty Prevention and Mitigation and its implementation plan. This plan consists of specific guidelines for our security forces to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties and harm to properties.
  • Further, the plan strictly prohibits any use of civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals, and clinics for military purposes.
  • Additionally, our government agencies have continued to promptly and thoroughly investigate any possible violations of the provisions of the policy by any Government official or agency, and take appropriate corrective measures, as recommended in the 2017 UNAMA Annual report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
  • We have also ratified the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including all amendments and protocols in August 2017, which will result in improved protections of civilians.
  • Additionally, the Tawhid Center in the National Security Council has been established to maintain a database for tracking conflict related civilian casualties, among other responsibilities.
  • We are strongly committed to ensuring that our security forces operate within national and international laws and regulations to protect civilians during military operations. Our Ministry of Defense has established an internal board for investigating allegations of human rights abuses, including civilian casualties and recruitment of children into armed forces.
  • In 2010, we established an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict. The following year, the Committee developed a National Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in our defense and security forces.
  • Among other reforms, we established 21 Child Protection Units with the Afghan National and Local Police recruitment centers that have prevented over one hundred underage voluntary enlistment.
  • Moreover, NATO training sessions for senior ANDSF personnel in the area of civilian casualty tracking and mitigation is offered at strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
  • Further, the Civilian Casualties Avoidance and Mitigation Board (CAMB), intended to identify areas to improve civilian casualty meets every three months, and have developed practical efforts undertaken by domestic and international military forces to mitigate casualties.

These measures are clear reflection of our firm commitment to the protection of civilian population. Our protection measures have had an impact on reducing the number of casualties that have been attributed to pro-government forces during combat operations against terrorists. We are pleased that this fact has been acknowledged in the UNAMA POC Report. Moving forward, we will remain fully committed to continue to streamline, improve, and increase our measures to bring rates of civilian harm due to ANDSF operations to as low as possible.

 Needless to say, the absolute majority of civilian casualties are the result of barbaric attacks conducted by the Taliban and other terrorist groups who have no regard for human life and dignity . Regardless of what we do, as long as their deliberate tactics of attacking civilian spaces and targeted killings do not cease, our civilians will continue to suffer. The continuing attacks on hospitals, medical professionals, and humanitarian workers, among other civilians, as well as the recent despicable attack in Kabul, where an ambulance packed with explosives was used, show their complete disregard for international law, Geneva Convention, and UNSCR 2286. In fact, these attacks constitute and meet the definitions of war crimes on civilian population, and stringent action must be taken against the perpetrators, financiers, and planners of such ghastly action.

Mr. President,

Terror, violence, and insecurity in our country are rooted in factors that lie outside Afghanistan, with regional and global dimensions. Hence the goal should be to address this particular issue and overcome the structural drivers of conflict and violence. This Council has a fundamental role to play in that regard, as the main UN body entrusted to maintain international peace and security. We expect the Council to respond appropriately to ensure the protection and well-being of Afghan civilians, who are being senselessly killed and maimed on a daily basis.

 

Thank you Mr. President.

 

Statement by H.E. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the High-level Meeting on “Peace-building and Sustaining Peace”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Excellency, Secretary General of the United Nations,

Excellency, President of the General Assembly, 

Excellencies – Distinguished Heads of States and Governments,

Esteemed Colleagues, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is an honor to address this Assembly at this High-level gathering for a comprehensive UN approach to achieve a more peaceful world-order, based on the Sustaining Peace agenda.

This vision has taken shape, in response to the evolving nature of challenges that face international peace and security. 

Addressing these challenges demands a more cohesive approach, better suited to advance peace-building from a more holistic perspective. The new approach correctly focuses on preventing the outbreak, exacerbation, continuation and recurrence of conflict; as well as addressing their fundamental drivers and root causes. 

It also highlights the imperative of a more effective development agenda to advance prosperous societies, grounded in the rule of law. In our view, the success of the “sustaining peace agenda” depends on several factors. As a foundational element, States have the responsibility to respect and adhere to the core-tenets of UN Charter for a rules-based international order.   

At times the causes of conflict are distinct, but instability and violence are most common in situations where international norms are violated.  Non-compliance of international law undermines sustainable peace, while compliance and its enforcement help to maintain and bolster peace. 

For the UN to be more efficient, adequate adjustments within the system are essential for optimal output across the peace, security and development pillars. We fully support the Secretary General’s reform agenda, and welcome ongoing progress in that endeavor.  

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has been a key focus in the agenda of the United Nations. 

Our strong partnership with this organization has helped shore up global support, to help us overcome security, social and economic challenges to “sustain peace.” 

Since 2001, we have witnessed the emergence of a democratic Afghanistan, with viable institutions, and a vibrant civil society led by our talented and committed youth.

Despite security challenges, the National Unity Government is consolidating these gains, with a goal of achieving Self-Reliance.

We can say from experience, that international engagement in conflict or post-conflict settings should endure, until the fundamental factors of instability are resolved, and the situation is fully stabilized. 

This will consolidate peace gains and leave minimal space for a relapse to violence and conflict. 

Mr. President, 

The proliferation of new conflicts and deterioration of old ones has led to a more fragile international landscape. It shows that measures are needed to correct shortcomings in the area of prevention and root causes of conflict.  

While the nature of conflicts sometimes varies, terrorism and violent extremism remain a common security threat in many such situations.

Afghanistan is engaged in the simultaneous task of fostering peace, while also combating a vicious network of terrorist groups, supported in the region, which operate to keep Afghanistan off-balance and disrupt our stability. 

Decisive action is needed to combat all forms and shades of terrorism, without any distinction. 

The establishment of the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism is an important development, in the context of UN reform.

We hope it triggers new levels and modes of cooperation with member-states, especially those most affected by terrorism. 

The overall focus should be ensuring timely and proper action in honoring counter-terrorism obligations – under the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. 

In the area of prevention, more needs to be done to detect and resolve triggers before they lead to an outbreak of conflict. 

Moreover, the UN’s response should adjust to diverse conflict situations – be they internal, regional or international in character.  

Mr. President,

Proper attention must also be given to the imperative of eradicating poverty; generating economic opportunities and embedding a culture of respect for the rule of law. 

The reform proposals for the UN Development System can avoid duplication of efforts and establish clear parameters for division of labor.  

We believe the design and delivery of development assistance must adjust to evolving situations and new ground realities, as countries consolidate institutions and designate development goals.  

We know that adherence to the principle of “national ownership” directly impacts optimal effect of development aid.  

Afghanistan has also been a strong advocate of the ONE-UN approach, which has gained new focus in the context of the UN’s activities in our country.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is well aware of the complexities associated with the task of peace-building. This challenging but noble endeavor is never void of obstacles and setbacks along the way. 

We can attest that with strong political will, national consensus and international support for peace efforts, success is possible.  

Under the Kabul Process for Peace and Security, we have spearheaded new momentum in our Afghan-led peace efforts for a political settlement to the current conflict. The peace offer made by President Ghani in February offers new incentives.

It also incorporates the principles of national ownership and inclusivity, especially the proactive role of women in all stages of the process, including decision-making.  

We are also benefiting from contributions of civil society and religious figures in the process. This embodies the “whole of society approach,” highlighted in the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

We urge all stakeholders, including regional countries to contribute to our Afghan-led peace process to help generate an enabling environment for direct and result-oriented talks.  

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the commitments we make in this Conference will provide the foundation for a more effective international framework for sustaining peace. We must strive to uphold uniform principles and norms governing international law; and strengthen and  expand new partnerships in support of a more effective and coherent UN approach. 

Indeed, doing so will certainly help ensure a just and lasting peace that holds and endures for all of humanity. 

Thank You Mr. President.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan