Saturday, December 16, 2017

UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

  (Check against delivery)

 27 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. President,

Let me thank the Mission of France for convening this meeting on Women, Peace and Security.  Let me also thank all the speakers making strong positive references to Afghanistan’s progress with women in general. However, there is no place for complacency; we remain steadfast in our resolve to improve the lives of half of our population. The role of women is inextricable for the promotion of peace and security worldwide.  Experience has also shown that the full involvement and participation of women is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary for advancement of society, as well for preventing and resolving conflicts. 

Today’s meeting is of particular importance for my country Afghanistan – a country that has seen decades of imposed conflict, including terrorism and violent extremism; all of which left our institutions and social fabric in shambles.  

Mr. President,

Afghan women have borne the disproportionate burden of violence and suffering for a long period of time. Their basic rights and fundamental freedoms were completely denied under the Taliban rule, as they had no access to education, healthcare, and employment.  Needless to say, the plight of Afghan women has seen profound improvements since the fall of the Taliban regime, which marked the start of a new era in our modern history.

Since 2001, we have seen tremendous progress across all spectrums of society. Today, the National Unity Government is consolidating gains of the past years. Women’s equality in all spheres remains an important national priority, as we are committed to furthering women’s participation and role in all stages of decision-making, particularly in relation to peace and security issues. Our commitment to women’s empowerment is embedded in a firm resolve to meet our pledges, within the framework of national and international obligations, including the principles of the UN Charter and the international treaties, which we are party to.

To this end, the Government of Afghanistan is sparing no effort to meet the goals of Security Council Resolution 1325.  The Afghanistan National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security remains the overarching framework to implement that hallmark resolution. A key component of our strategy relates to ensuring women’s participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as well as other matters related to peace and security.

Ending the cycle of terror, violence, and conflict in Afghanistan is the surest way to protect and promote the rights of all our citizens, particularly women.  In this respect, women are front and center in our national peace process as members of the High Peace Council; civil society; human rights advocates; members of parliament and Government. Accordingly, the participation of women in peace building efforts is recognized as a prerequisite for peace and reconstruction across the country. In the broader context, there is a common acknowledgement that durable peace and stability in Afghanistan requires the participation of women in all aspects of society: be it social, political or economic.

The National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, spanning the years 2008-2018, commits the Afghan Government to increase women’s representation in the civil service to 30 percent. The Ministries of Interior and National Defense have committed to increase women’s representation in these institutions by 20 percent over the next ten years.  Further, my delegation is pleased to report that at present, over 3,000 female armed service members and police officers are proudly serving in our national security forces for the protection of our citizens, combating international terrorism and preserving law and order.

In the economic domain, the launch of the National Program for Women’s Economic Empowerment marked another important step forward in the advancement of women. This development has supported 67,000 women in agriculture activities and empowered 35,000 women in the livestock sector. Moreover, the program is also recruiting 3,000 female teachers and 900 community midwives and nurses.

The physical protection of women from any form of violence constitutes an integral component of our national efforts to empower women. Numerous national structures have been established to enforce Constitutional and legislative provisions protecting women. These include: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs; Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Eliminating Violence Against Women Commissions in Kabul and provinces; creation of the post of Deputy Attorney General for the Elimination of Violence Against Women;  and the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Abuse of Women and Children. These national structures are integral to the Government’s promotion and protection of women’s rights and implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325.

Mr. President,

Amidst all our gains, we recognize the imperative of sustaining and enhancing progress on all fronts for women’s empowerment.  We can say with confidence that Afghanistan has entered a new phase in our journey to transform women’s role into a powerful force of change, contributing to the vision of a Self-Reliant nation, that stands in lasting peace, tranquilly and stability.  We are confident in our success, but the support of the international community remains of crucial importance to realize that vision.  Taking this opportunity, we extend a deep debt of gratitude to all friends and partners that have and continue to render an important contribution in our efforts.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration to elevate our progress in the protection and empowerment of Afghan women to new heights.   

Thank You!

 

General Debate of the First Committee

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the General Debate of the First Committee 72nd Session

(Please check against delivery)

10 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you as the Chairman and the bureau of the 72nd session of the 1st Committee. My delegation is fully committed to the successful fulfillment of the work of the Committee, and assures you of our full support and cooperation.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered by the delegation of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation reiterates its commitment to multilateral diplomacy as a crucial principle for advancing the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. Nuclear weapons proliferation is a pressing issue the world faces, and we must unite multilaterally to act against the threat of nuclearization to global peace and security. In this regard, Afghanistan maintains its position regarding the P5+1 and Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and believes that the commitment of all parties to the agreement and its implementation is crucial.

Afghanistan reaffirms its commitment for de-nuclearization, advancing disarmament and nonproliferation, and ultimately moving towards a nuclear-free world. My delegation strongly condemns the recent nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, and urges all states to sign, ratify and support multilateral treaties relating to non-proliferation and disarmament. Afghanistan fully supports the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Afghanistan is strongly in favor of the establishment of the Middle East as a zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan expresses concern for the current state of affairs, whereby the possibility of nuclear attack by aggressor states as well as by non-state actors appears very real. We also remain troubled about the use of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. In this regard, we welcome the recent elimination of chemical weapons arsenal by the Russian Federation. Afghanistan remains concerned on the humanitarian consequences of the use of weapons of mass destructions. Therefore, we supported the Pledge of Austria on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons.

Further, Afghanistan’s commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament was demonstrated more recently by adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in an agreement made at the United Nations in July 2017.

Mr. Chairman,

The 2030 Agenda, particularly Goal 16 acknowledges the link between arms regulation and development, as well as between illicit trafficking in arms and organized crime. The abundance of illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons across the Durand Line, gives terrorists, violent extremists, and other organized criminal groups in our region easy access to weapons. This mass illicit trafficking of arms, mainly small and light weapons, has caused Afghans tremendous suffering for decades, and must be put to an end. Hence the nexus of illicit weapons, drug trafficking, and money laundering funds the purchase of weapons by non-state actors. Therefore, we call on all relevant parties to further strengthen their rules and regulations to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

I would like to inform that Afghanistan has ratified and acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its protocol I, Protocol III, amended protocol II Protocol IV, and Protocol V on August 9, 2017.

Mr. Chairman,

The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosive Remnant of War (ERWs), and land mines pose a severe threat to humankind.  According to some surveys, in 2016 there were approximately 20,000 deaths and injuries from IEDs around the world, of which a vast majority were civilian casualties. Furthermore, in the last six years, the harm caused to civilians by IEDs has outweighed every other kind of weapon; in the first half of 2017, there were over 1,500 Afghan civilian casualties caused by IEDs. Afghanistan remains one of the worst affected countries due to IEDs. It is for these reasons that the resolution to counter the threat posed by IEDs is so critical to Afghanistan and many other countries of the world.

Let me thank all member states who supported the resolution titled “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” adopted by consensus in 2015 and 2016 by the first committee and the UN General Assembly respectively. In pursuant to resolution A/RES/71/72, my delegation held the first informal consultations in coordination with the UNODA on 29 March 2017 in New York where panelists from UNODA, UNMAS, World Customs Organization, Interpol, Mines Advisory Group and UN Institute for Disarmament Research-UNIDIR were present.

My delegation is tabling the follow up resolution to 71/72 and we will have informal consultations with member states today at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan. We seek your full support for the resolution.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Advancement of Women

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal 

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Statement at the 3rd Committee on Agenda Item 28: Advancement of Women

(Check against delivery)

 

6 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is witnessing an unprecedented involvement of women in all aspects of life. Today, the voice of Afghan women is much stronger than before as they continue to play an important  role, both in socioeconomic development and political realm. I am happy to inform this gathering that at present there are 69 elected women in parliament, four female ministers, 9 female deputy-ministers, and 5 female ambassadors. Moreover, at institutional level, many bodies have been established to reflect Afghanistan’s ratification of significant international human rights conventions. Such institutions include the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Commission on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Attorney General Office for Violence Against Women, and the independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan.

Additionally, in striving to eradicate discrimination and violence against women, an Anti-Harassment Law was passed recently, criminalizing harassment of women in both the workplace and in public. Additionally, the Family Law is being reformed which will increase the age of marriage to 18 years.

Furthermore, the continued commitment to involving women in peace building and leadership positions is exemplified by the Afghan Government’s adoption of the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. The Action Plan covers a comprehensive range of societal issues, including access to support for violence survivors, engaging boys and men in fighting violence against women, ending impunity for crimes against women, increasing female education and employment, and support for civil society, to name a few issues. 

We are happy to report to this committee that women’s access to education has significantly improved since 2001. Of the 9.5 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools, 40% are girls; this was almost zero before 2001.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), recognizes women’s empowerment as one of the main pillars in advancing the country towards sustainable development, economic growth, and prosperity.

Under the ANPDF, economic empowerment of women is a National Priority Program. The program will provide start-up technical and financial support, job skills and financial literacy to women-owned businesses. These will be delivered through the existing mechanisms and institutions, focusing on scaling-up successful interventions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the tremendous gains that have been made, Afghan women still disproportionately feel the burden of chronic conflict and resulting trauma, poverty, and poor infrastructure. The worsening security situation in some parts of the country, due to threats from terrorists and violent extremists, shows the difficulties Afghan women face today. We recognize that in Afghanistan, there is a long way to go; however we remain extremely motivated in the promotion and protection of women’s rights, recognizing women’s advancement as inextricably linked to the nation’s social advancement and sustainable economic development. This commitment to the advancement of women, and human rights more broadly, has motivated Afghanistan’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council 2018-2020. Our membership in the Council will allow Afghanistan as a country in the forefront of the international fight against terrorism and extremism to share its human rights gains and experiences with international community, particularly the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies and mechanisms.

I thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan