Monday, December 11, 2017

Ambassador Tanin Addresses UN Security Council on “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, today addressed the UN Security Council on the topic of “protection of civilians in armed conflict.”

The meeting, which was opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, heard briefings from Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes; and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay.

In his opening remarks Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted that events around the world showed that the protection of civilians in armed conflict remained a common challenge world-wide. He said the Security Council made important progress in protection of civilians, but more needed to be done. In that regard, he underscored maximizing the effectiveness of “peace-keeping operations through increased Council support, and enhanced training of troop and police contributors.

In his statement, Ambassador Tanin alluded to the situation in Afghanistan, and said the increased awareness of the need to re-engage the Afghan people in the reconstruction and stabilization of their country, has helped enable the government of Afghanistan and its international partners to “focus on finding ways to meet the needs and expectations of the Afghan people.”

He however asserted that civilians continued to “pay a staggering price in the ongoing conflict” in the country. He said over six thousand Afghans, including women; children and the elderly were killed and injured in just last year. In that regard, he said the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies continue to show complete disregard for human life, embracing assassinations and executions in an effort to control the population through terror.

He said the cost of the conflict was not limited to just Afghanistan, but also international partners countries. He highlighted increased terrorist attacks on UN staff and members of humanitarian organizations who work in various fields, including health and education. In that regard, Ambassador Tanin expressed gratitude to UN staff and other partners “who continue to work under difficult circumstances for the sake of the Afghan people, and in pursuit of international peace and security.”

Moreover, he welcomed the increased measures by former ISAF former commander, General McCrystal, aimed at better protecting the lives of civilians. He expressed confidence that civilian protection would continue to receive due consideration from ISAF’s new commander, General Patraeus.

He nevertheless noted that civilian casualties remained a concern to Afghanistan, and undermined the people’s confidence in the good-will of the international community. He emphasized increased efforts at the national level “for building an efficient, effective and responsible army and police force dedicated to the protection of Afghans and maintenance of security and the rule of law.”

Ambassador Tanin also said the safety of the Afghan people should remain a priority, and it was necessary to enhance collaboration for strengthening the trust and confidence of Afghans in future efforts.

New York, July 7, 2010

Ambassador Tanin Received by the Libyan Leader

H.E. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States, arrived in Libya late Saturday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of the Government of Libya.

On Monday, Ambassador Tanin was received by H.E. Mr. Moammar Ghadafi, Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution, at his Residence in Tripoli. They spoke for two hours. Also present were the Libyan Director of International Organizations, Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chief of Protocol of the Office of the Leader.

Their discussion ranged from Afghanistan, and the role of the international community there, to the Security Council reform process that Ambassador Tanin is currently chairing for his second year under the Libyan Presidency of H.E. Ali Treki. Leader Ghadafi expressed his opinion that the UN General Assembly needed to be empowered, and that the Security Council should be more democratic and representative, rather than being the preserve of a select few. He emphasized the importance of the national sovereign equality that underpins the United Nations, and stated his belief that reform of the Charter is necessary to reflect current realities, to give permanent representation for all including Africa through representation of regional and other organizations. He expressed his support for Ambassador Tanin’s efforts and wished him success.

Ambassador Tanin, for his part, briefed the Leader on recent developments in the negotiations process, including the recent introduction of a draft negotiation text. He thanked the Leader for his interest and emphasized that there was a need for engagement from international leaders to produce the necessary political will for reform. Ambassador Tanin reiterated that he remained impartial to positions but partial to progress, and said that he would do everything he could to keep the momentum alive, but that in the end the Member States were the owners and drivers of the process.

Ambassador Tanin and Leader Ghadafi also discussed the current situation in Afghanistan. The Leader expressed his solidarity with the Afghan people and his support for their search for a political solution to the ongoing conflict. He expressed his wishes for the success of the Afghan leadership in finding a solution and ending the long suffering of the Afghan people.

Ambassador Tanin also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Mussa Kussa.

During his visit to Libya, Ambassador Tanin also had the opportunity to visit several sights of cultural and historical interest, including ancient Roman ruins outside of Tripoli.

Statement of UN special envoy, Staffan de Mistura to the UN Security Council

Mr President, Members of the Security Council, Thank you very much, Mr President, it is a great pleasure to see you here again after your mission.

I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate on the UN’s activities in Afghanistan and the priorities in the current Afghan environment. I will be briefer than usual because we had the privilege of having the visit of the members of the Security Council to Afghanistan and therefore you have seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears what the current situation is on the ground. I want, in this connection, to thank you for your visit. It came just over three months since I took up my own new assignment, and was very timely.

This is indeed a crucial year in Afghanistan, and I think that anyone of you who was there must have had the same feeling. It is a year in which we are all trying, together with the Afghan authorities and the Afghan people, to reach a form of stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan. Everybody acknowledges the fact that there is no military solution alone for what is the current situation in the country. There must be a lot more, and that is what we are working together on. For security gains to be sustained, Afghanistan requires a political vision that is articulated, driven and owned by the Afghans themselves. Efforts must combine to create a sufficiently conducive political environment to counterbalance rising insecurity in a manner that signals that Afghanistan assumes greater responsibility for its desirable end state.

This year has an intense calendar of events and in that sense we are moving in the right direction. We had the London Conference which was very useful. It did indicate a support by the international community to the Afghan authorities during this crucial year. We had the consultative Peace Jirga, which was equally extremely helpful because it gave the opportunity to everyone, Afghans and its international partners, to actually come to a realization that there is a common understanding on how to address the dialogue in order to have more Afghans inside the white tent where we all were during the period of the Peace Jirga.

And the next step is the Kabul Conference, where many Foreign Ministers will be coming and I understand that the United Nations Secretary-General has also confirmed his own attendance. It will be a stepping stone. Let me summarize in which direction the organizers of the Kabul Conference are going. I am referring to the Afghans of course; we will be co-chairing, but they are in the lead. The concept is a public contract, I repeat contract, between the Afghan Government and the Afghan people, offering concrete social and economic improvements. The international community will not be expected to bring new funds but to actually realign, if they feel comfortable with these priorities, the resources that have already be allocated to Afghanistan, bilaterally or elsewhere. This will have several advantages, one will be to further help the “Afghanization” concept, which should not just be a word but should become more and more a concrete fact. And the Afghans feel very strongly about that. They are proud people, historically proven to be so, and even more so these days. They need to feel that the future is in fact in their hands, and this is a good opportunity. If they are proposing concrete programmes, they should also feel they can lead them and, at the same time, be accountable for the results. The event will not be putting more pressure on donor countries, because it will be at best a request for a realignment of the current bilateral funding.

The UN, as you know, Mr Chairman, is now focussing on 3+1 priorities. We cannot cover everything, and if we did, we would not be able to make a difference. The 3+1 areas are elections, the internal dialogue, regional dialogue and constructive engagement, and aid coherence — which is assisting the Afghan authorities and the international community to avoid overlapping and better coordination of the huge amount of aid which is reaching Afghanistan.

Elections: it is the mother of all issues in Afghanistan, and frankly for all of us. The previous elections did not go well. It would be an understatement to say they went well. They did not go well, and this time we are all trying to work together. They will not be perfect and they will not be elections that you would see in other countries which do not have the same challenges, but they will be better, and they should be insha’allah better. Why? Because lessons were learned by everyone and secondly because there is much more monitoring taking place, internally, by the Afghans themselves.

UNAMA was able to contribute to one major part of the process. As you probably will remember, because so many things have happened since, in April there was a moment of difficulty. There was an institutional stalemate between the Presidency and the Wolesi Jirga, which could have blocked the electoral process. And the formula that the UN, with the cooperation of the whole international community present in Kabul, was able to propose and get approval by everyone for the implementation guidelines on elections. This resulted in: first, a new Chairman for the Independent Electoral Commission and a new electoral team; second, the presence of two international commissioners in the Electoral Complaints Commission with a concurring vote; third, the role of women — the fact that 68 seats were guaranteed for women and if, for whatever reason, a seat would have to be given up, they would be replaced by a woman and not by a man. All that produced a breakdown of the stalemate, and the elections are now moving in the right direction. The new commissioners have been doing their homework. We now have 2,677 declared candidates, of which 400 are women, and they are working on 6,835 polling centres and 19,942 polling stations. 30,000 new voters have been registered; we are getting close to 12.5 million expected voters.

It will not be easy. The main challenge: security. And the second main challenge: security. Because if the elections are tarnished by excessive security problems that may induce closing of voting stations and therefore the disenfranchising of people who could have voted. As we get close to 18 September, we will have to watch this closely in order to assist the Afghan authorities, in the lead of the elections.

The UN and the international community are proactively and actively offering their support, but the Afghans are in the lead. One example has been the vetting process, and some of you who were in Kabul were part of the intense moments related to the vetting. The vetting Commission, lead by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense and the National Department for Security was for a moment unable to come up with any candidates to be excluded from the elections. The latest news is that a list of almost 40 people has been presented, representing different provinces. A decision is imminent. This is a substantial improvement from the impression we had that the vetting process had been inconclusive. We will be facing difficult moments regarding the elections, but I can certainly tell you that at the moment, the decisions made by the Electoral Commission are reassuring, including to those Afghans who felt the elections could be going in the wrong direction. We will cross that bridge when we get there and I may require your assistance when we get into difficulties, but at the moment, so far, so good.

Dialogue: the second area of priority for our own focus. As you know, this is again Afghan-led and should be Afghan-led, but the UN has the capacity in assisting those types of discussions that may take place, or are taking place. One example was the Hizb-i-Islami visit to Kabul, where the UN in coordination with the Presidency, received the Hizb-i-Islami team. The UN stands ready to facilitate dialogue. We are looking forward to playing a role in confidence-building measures, including on the 1267 sanctions list.

Regional: there is an agreement by everyone that no substantive sustainable development in Afghanistan can take place if we do not have a constant and constructive engagement with all regional players, stakeholders, and beyond. That is why, I myself, with the permission of the Secretary-General have been travelling to several of the regional countries such as Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere, in order to make sure that we would be able to hear their concerns and facilitate these concerns into a right direction. There are very useful initiatives that are being led by countries like Turkey, alongside other efforts such as the meetings of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, the Shanghai initiative, and the Dubai process, which is being supported by Canada. And the UN has been leading the Silk Road Initiative, a very charming name, but in fact it goes beyond charm. It is meant to engage countries that are not necessarily geographically linked to Afghanistan, but which might have a political and historical relationship to the country. We are working on economic issues, also on issues such as drugs, or transport and energy. These topics are all opportunities for regional dialogue, which may then also help the political engagement that is needed.

Aid coherence: it is a part of our mandate and a major necessity. The good news is that our studies have shown that there are no major contradictions, no excessive overlap between multilateral and bilateral support. What is needed is more support for the Afghan authorities to take on themselves the aid coherence approach. There is a mechanism which is the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, and it will be meeting insha’allah on 8 July. I myself on behalf of the Secretary General will co-chair. The JCMB needs to be revitalised. The next opportunity for aid coherence is the Kabul Conference. If the international community can go into the Kabul Conference with a donor “realignment contract”, I am confident they can achieve aid coherence.

Regarding transition: this means moving from military to civilian control — particularly referring to the PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Teams] — from military to civilian, and from civilian to Afghan and with Afghan means. This with the support of the UN, which with its 21 provincial and regional offices — staffed by more than 700 international staff and 6,000 national staff — will work toward squaring the circle to boost Afghan capacity to take over the lead also with regard to security. That is why we are also keen in securing your support for the financial package that will let staff in Afghanistan, but also Iraq, feel they are on par with colleagues working in more secure parts of the world. In that regard, I am grateful and thankful to the Dutch Government in offering their help to establish secure accommodation.

Partnership: You will be rightly asking how are we doing with ISAF, EU, and the ISAF Senior Civilian Representative? The short answer is, excellent. There is a feeling of mutual support, and, although we have different mandates and priorities, the goal is the same; coordination to have a “common messaging” to avoid contradictions. I would like to reassure you that this is moving in the right direction, while each of us are keeping are our independence, neutrality, impartiality but also respect for each others mandates. Our common goal is to help achieve a stable Afghanistan, while respecting Afghan culture, traditions, sovereignty and religion.

In conclusion, 2010 will be a year in which we all need to be resilient, creative, and respectful of Afghan priorities. At the end of the day it will be that Afghans that have to find their own solutions. The Security Council visit was timely and has given a strong boost to UNAMA staff and has also built a strong feeling among Afghan partners that the international community is, indeed, committed to its cause.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan