Thursday, June 21, 2018

Speech of H. E. Delbar Nazari, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Government of Afghanistan at the Sixty-Second Session of Commission on the Status of Women

 New York, 12 – 23 March 2018

In the name of God, the Merciful

 My country’s commitment towards gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the center of Afghanistan’s development plans, which are crucial to the realization of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We believe that women are powerful agents of change – and empowering rural women is the key to the empowerment of society.

Mr. Chairman/Madame Chair, Honorable Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning/afternoon!

As head of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GOIRA) delegation, it is an honor for me to express my government’s strong support to the priority theme, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls” of 62nd Session of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). I am confident that the discussions, decisions and agreements of this important session will have a positive impact on the status of women and girls in our country.

The GOIRA, in cooperation with the United Nations, International Community, and Civil Society Organizations, is committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality and these themes remain at the center of all of Afghanistan’s priority programs. However, the struggle for gender equality, the empowerment of rural women and the full realization of the rights of women and girls in my country has a long way to go. Many women in rural areas continue to face widespread human rights violations, lack of access to justice, lack of access to health services and treatment, quality education, access to clean water, exposed to sexual harassment and other challenges.

Exacerbating these challenges is the persistent insecurity, terrorist threats and violent extremism, among other factors, that threaten the lives of all citizens, including women and girls. According to United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, a total number of 1,007 casualties (298 deaths and 709 injuries) occurred in the first three quarters of 2017, which represents a 13% increase in the total losses of women due to the armed conflict in Afghanistan. [1]

Afghanistan is currently in the process of drafting the third CEDAW periodic report and I am happy to report, to a large extent, the provisions of CEDAW have been incorporated into domestic laws and policies. Likewise; we have systematically incorporated the principles and provisions of gender equality into national plans in the areas of health, education, employment, political participation and access to justice. The Government of Afghanistan, as a committed member of the United Nations, is currently in the processes of approving the National Action Plan for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, the Afghan government’s efforts to implement the Security Council Resolution 1325 National Action Plan together with the civil society and the international community is ongoing.

In addition to the continue efforts towards the effective implementation of Elimination of Violence Against Women Law, the Parliament and the government have recently adopted the anti-harassment law of women and children, in which all forms of gender-based harassment, in the workplace and in the community, is prohibited.

I am pleased to announce that over the last year, the Government of Afghanistan has approved and implemented two major national priority programs for the advancement of Afghan women and girls:

  1. Citizens’ Charter is the first 10-year intergovernmental program, in which one-third of the country’s population, are provided services and work infrastructure to promote poverty reduction and improve quality of life. 
  2. The National Priority Program of Women Economic Empowerment focuses on two areas: First, the program provides women with educational programs to increase their skill level to ensure their active and productive participation in the economy; and second, it equips women business owners with initial technical and financial resources.

Further, in support of women and girl’s empowerment, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has developed several initiatives to increase women and girls’ participation in formal education. As part of the Ministry of Education’s 5-year Strategic plan, it aims to increase the enrollment of girls in rural areas by 50% and increase their inclusion in technical and vocational training up to 26%. To date, more than 9.3 million students across Afghanistan are enrolled in formal education, of which 3.5 million or 36% are girls. The Ministry of Higher Education plans to establish a dedicated university for women, increasing women’s participation in higher education institutions to 25% by the end of the next five years. Moreover, more than 240 women are currently serving as judges in the country’s judicial system, and women represent 21% of the members of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, which is an advocate for women’s advancement in the justice sector.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!

Afghanistan has taken many positive measures to empower women and girls and promote gender equality. But we still have a long way to go and improving the situation of women and girls, especially women in rural areas, requires concentrated efforts by government, the private sector, civil society organizations and the international community. Therefore, we call on the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to:

  1. Support Afghanistan, as a United Nations’ member State, to obtain the membership of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW);
  2. Ensure the prevention and protection measures to end sexual and gender-based violence are established through the full implementation of the EVAW Law;
  3. Ensure the establishment and implementation of sound financial mechanisms for the implementation of the National Action Plan 1325; and; and
  4. Ensure the implementation of the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE-NPP) national priority program, which aims to remove the structural barriers to women’s access to economic activities and access to resources and skills development in the areas of trade, industry and agriculture.

Thank you for your attention, commitment and sustained support for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan and throughout the world!

[1]https://unama.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unama_protection_of_civilians_in_armed_conflict_quarterly_report_1_january_to_30_september_2017_-_dari.pdf

Operational Activities for Development Segment of the Economic and Social Council

STATEMENT BY Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai

Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

 to the United Nations

at the General Debate of the Operational Activities for Development Segment of the Economic and Social Council

(Check against delivery)

1 March 2018

NEW YORK

Mr. Vice President,

At the outset, I would like to commend your efforts in organizing this important segment of the Economic and Social Council. My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Bangladesh on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, and Paraguay on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. I would now like to deliver few remarks in my national capacity.

I would like to highlight 3 key points:

  1. We should focus our efforts on bringing the humanitarian, development, and peace dimensions of our work closer together through this reform of the UN development system. This is the only way we can achieve a whole-of-system approach, critically needed in countries implementing the 2030 Agenda while faced by humanitarian crises and/or conflict. In this regard, we support the proposal outlined in paragraph 111 of the Secretary General’s report, to use the Operational Activities Segment to enhance guidance on the development system’s coordination with humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts. We also support the proposals for Resident Coordinators being better prepared to work across the development-humanitarian-peacebuilding nexus, as well as the idea of incentivizing interagency mobility across UN pillars in order to strengthen the pipeline for Resident Coordinators of the future. Furthermore, we believe it is important to consolidate ECOSOC’s role as an intergovernmental space to reinforce the UN’s transition towards a culture of prevention and focus on results. On a similar note, we support the Secretary General’s decision to establish a Joint Steering Committee to advance Humanitarian and Development Collaboration.

 

  1. In creating a new generation of UN Country Teams and reinvigorating the Resident Coordinator system, we should keep in mind that our main goal is increasing quality, efficiency, and coordination of UN operations in host countries. Eliminating duplications of efforts and fragmentation of work, shaping UN country presence according to host Governments needs and priorities, reducing transaction costs at all levels and respecting national sovereignty and ownership of the development process are key elements in this regard. As a country hosting a significant volume of UN operations and a Special Political Mission, Afghanistan looks forward to a strengthened UN development system, able to step up its support for Government’s efforts through increased efficiency, transparency, and accountability. In this regard, we are hopeful that dual reporting lines, taken together with strengthened accountability, will result in greater impact on the ground and the achievement of collective results under the UNDAF.

 

  1. We believe that a revamped regional approach should be one of the main outcomes of the reform of the UN development system. Receiving tailored support in the field of regional connectivity and regional economic cooperation is vital for countries in special situations, in particular LDCs and LLDCs. It is important that the UN system steps up its capabilities in aligning its activities at the regional level with countries’ priorities and needs, as well as that Regional Economic Commissions achieve more coordination with other regional platforms, with a view to build synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and reduce duplications and overlaps.

 

Mr. Vice President,

In conclusion, let me reassure you of my delegation’s commitment and continued constructive engagement in moving forward with the consideration of the Secretary General’s proposals for the reform of the UN development system.

I thank you.

The Kabul Process for Peace & Security Cooperation in Afghanistan Declaration

February 28, 2018

We, the high-level representatives from the region, members of the international community, and international organizations—participating in the second Meeting of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation—express our support to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for organizing this Meeting. We thank H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and H.E. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah for presenting their vision for peace and security cooperation.

We stress the necessity to conduct international cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, including that of sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs. We reaffirm the central role of the United Nations in international cooperation to counter terrorist threats and the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the necessity to fully implement relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council with concern to terrorist threats to international peace and security

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrendous and unacceptable levels of terrorist violence inflicted upon the Afghan people—taking their innocent lives and deepening their pain each day—and reiterate our strong and unequivocal commitment and support to ending this suffering through an inclusive political process, as well as military actions, in their respective territories, against terrorists, terrorist sanctuaries, and terrorist support infrastructure wherever they are and without any distinction.

We reaffirm that the Kabul Process must lead to the renunciation of violence and breaking of all ties to international terrorism, as well as respect for the equal rights of all Afghans, including women, under the Afghan Constitution. Hence, we appreciate the Kabul Process as a main forum and vehicle under the leadership of the Afghan Government to lead peace efforts to end violence in Afghanistan. As Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, regional countries, members of the broader international community and international organizations—participating in this Meeting—we support the early and full realization of this Process’ vital objectives.

Peace & Reconciliation

We reiterate our continued support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process and collectively agree that direct talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban—without any preconditions and without the threats of violence—constitute the most viable way to end the ongoing agony of the Afghan people. After many years of continued war and violence in Afghanistan, which have killed and maimed countless of Afghan citizens, Afghans deserve to live in sustainable peace and prosperity. Therefore, we also reiterate the call we made on 6 June 2017 in the first Meeting of the Kabul Process on all armed groups to start peace talks with the Afghan Government and cease violence immediately. We strongly support the Afghan Government’s commitment to forging a practical plan for reconciliation, which includes negotiation of various issues and any contested aspect of the international community’s future role in Afghanistan.

In this Meeting, the Afghan Government has reiterated its will and determination for peace through dialogue. The countries in the region and the international participants call on the Taliban to pursue their goals through direct talks with the Afghan Government with the aim of an ultimate political settlement that leads to their dignified return to a peaceful life. A peace agreement will be a victory for all its parties and a defeat for none. We, the representatives of the international community, recognize that for the success of their dialogue, both the Afghan Government and the Taliban will need firm international support and assistance. Consequently, we assure both parties of our strong will and commitment to stand behind an intra-Afghan dialogue for sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan. We are equally united and determined to pursue those who continue down the path of violence, taking the lives of innocent people, and commit to disrupt their supporters and financiers.

As noted in the Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, women’s full and meaningful participation in reconciliation should be a cornerstone of any lasting peace. We welcome the Afghan Government’s continued commitment in this regard—as evidenced by the increased number of female members in the reformed High Peace Council—and pledge our continued support for the implementation of the National Action Plan.

We also acknowledge the significance of trust-building and strong bilateral relations between Afghanistan and its neighbors as an important element for ending violence and reaching durable peace in Afghanistan and ultimately improving the stability and prosperity of the whole region.

Security Cooperation & Counter-Terrorism

We acknowledge that while terrorism is a serious and growing common threat to all of us, there is urgent need for common understanding and cooperation through necessary mechanisms, including those of the SCO and others, in the region against this menace particularly by us—the participants of this Meeting—in support of Afghanistan as the front-line state against over twenty domestic, regional, and transnational terrorist groups.

While fully appreciating the scope and gravity of threats posed to Afghanistan, its neigbours, the region, and the entire international community by these domestic, regional and transnational terrorist groups, we commit to undertake coordinated measures against these terrorist groups regardless of their location and with no distinction.

We fully support resolution A/RES/60/288 (2006) that adopted the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Plan of Action for its implementation, through which member-states condemn terrorism as being unacceptable, criminal and unjustifiable in all its forms and manifestations, and without any distinction of any sort. Further, as stated in the Strategy, as a measure to prevent and combat terrorism, we emphasize that states must “refrain from organizing, instigating, facilitating, participating in financing, encouraging or tolerating terrorist activities and to take appropriate practical measures to ensure that our respective territories are not used for terrorist installations, or training camps, or for the preparation or organization of terrorist acts intended to be committed by other states or their citizens.”

We resolve to take practical steps towards an accelerated regional security and counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan, which is essential for ending terrorist violece, advancing regional stability, connectivity, and economic cooperation. We also resolve to jointly address the threats posed by Transnational Terrorist Networks (TTNs), as well as Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs), which continue to terrorize our people, destabilize our states, and spread fear and terror. These groups move freely across our borders, join with local insurgents, enjoy safe havens, and seek to target our citizens and our governments.

In addition to bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, there is an increasing need for a strong, consistent, collective and multilateral campaign against terrorism and the spread of its ideology, backed by a set of practical measures by each regional and international stakeholder. In this regard, we underscore the primary role of the states and their competent agencies—as well as the significance of state-to-state relations and cooperation amongst these agencies—in preventing and countering terrorism at the national, regional, and global levels. Therefore, we commit to actively engaging with the region and the international community through this and other multilateral counter-terrorism mechanisms to rid this region of this menace.

In conclusion, we once again reiterate our support to the Kabul Process for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, as well as reaffirming our commitment to the necessary fight against terrorism to bring lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity to Afghanistan. The next meeting of Kabul Process will assess the progress achieved on the above-mentioned areas. This Declaration is adopted on 28 February 2018 in Kabul, Afghanistan by Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden (Nordic Plus), Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, United States, EU, NATO and UN.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan