Saturday, December 16, 2017

Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN Regarding Afghan-Indian Cooperation and the Positive Results of South-South Cooperation

 Thank you for having me at this important event on the sidelines of the High Level Committee on South-South Cooperation to share with you Afghanistan’s extensive experience with South-South Cooperation and the benefits it offers. I am happy to illustrate the fruitful results of Afghanistan’s South-South relationships particularly as we are joined today by India’s Secretary of External Affairs, Ambassador Vasisht. Ambassador Mitra Vasisht has seen the productive relationship between our two countries from India’s perspective, and I am sure her thoughts and expertise will add great value to this discussion.  I wish to thank my fellow panelist, Ambassador Kamau, and Moderator Mr. Warren Hoge.

 

Thank you very much to Christopher Coleman and everyone at UN CivCap for hosting this important conversation and for their commitment to increasing civilian capacity in post-conflict regions. I wish to thank in particular Ms. Sarah Cliffe for her presentation on the Civcap initiative, the CAPMATCH on-line platform. I would also like to thank the International Peace Institute for their continued support of peace building and hosting us here today.

 

From Afghanistan’s perspective, South-South Cooperation has been integral to development efforts. It helps us develop our civilian capacity as we rebuild in the aftermath of thirty years of conflict in Afghanistan. Conflict has not only led to loss of human capital, but the destruction of infrastructure in the country including schools, clinics, roads, and industrial and agricultural facilities. Throughout decades of war and conflict, the state grew weaker.

 

In a sense, Afghanistan’s development was frozen in time. While the rest of the region delved into the world of new technologies, Afghanistan’s capacity for modernity remained limited. A great number of educated people left the country as a result of waves of war and bloody foreign intervention.

 

The reconstruction of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, began as a major North-South project.  The international community who mainly committed to rebuilding the country were primarily the US, the European Union, Japan and important regional partners including India, China, Iran and others.  India became one of the biggest partners for development in Afghanistan.

 

In an increasingly globalized world, there is still logic behind the use of resources within regional neighborhood, which can be more efficient economically and environmentally. South-South Cooperation is an example of that efficiency. It is not only a matter of cost efficiency but also cultural convenience.

 

More recently our focus has turned to forging regional relationships, and Afghanistan’s role in the middle of regional cooperation in the heart of Asia. We are still working to define and redefine these relations. The Istanbul Process for regional cooperation has been central to those efforts, as well as work in the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

 

Cooperation is not only economic in character, it includes efforts to build social and cultural cooperation between the many countries in the region. South-South cooperation involves the sharing of knowledge, experiences, policies, along with lessons learnt and best practices.

 

As outlined by Ms. Cliffe “CivCap”, the new UN-wide initiative that seeks to strengthen international support to countries transitioning out of conflict, has identified five deficiencies of capacity that Afghanistan and other South countries have in common:

1) An Inclusive Political Process

2) Basic Safety and Security

3) Justice

4) Economic Revitalization

5) Core Government Functionality

 

Our deepening partnerships within our region and with India have been, and will always be, central to developing the five aforementioned civilian capacities in Afghanistan.

 

The relationship between Afghanistan and India can serve as a positive example from which others can learn. India’s unwavering support in Afghanistan has been important to our national development. India has been a strong strategic partner in the region since the early days of its independence. India has helped us move forward as a strong country that provides its people with security, justice, and economic opportunity.

 

Over the past 10 years India has spent nearly $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan, making India by far the most substantial regional donor supporting our transition efforts. Most of this funding has been spent on reconstruction, road building, health clinics and an array of small development projects:

 

  • India provides 2,000 scholarships to Afghans annually for schooling and training in India, including for 500 Afghan civil servants. India has also set up an Agricultural University to tap the potential in Agriculture in Afghanistan.

 

  • More than 100 Indian-supported but Afghan-owned small development projects are being implemented.

 

  • Five Indian Medical Missions (IMMs) have been working in Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif, attending and disbursing medicines to 30,000 patients per month. India also undertook the rehabilitation of the Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health (IGICH) in Kabul, the largest pediatric hospital in Afghanistan. Capacity building of Afghan doctors has been a vital component of assistance and many IGICH specialists train at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

 

  • In November, 2011, India eliminated base line customs duties on virtually on imports from Afghanistan, and in December, a consortium of 7 Indian public and private sector companies were awarded the bid for 3 blocks of the Hajigak iron ore reserves

 

  • One notable project made possible by Indian aid was a $17 million grant for the modernization of a hydropower plant in Tajikistan further boosting co-operation in the region.

 

 

The October 2011 the strategic partnership agreement signed by H.E. President Karzai and H.E. Prime Minister Singh is indicative of the significant cooperation that benefits Afghans and Indians alike. This agreement formalized a framework for cooperation in the areas of: political and security; trade and economic; capacity development and education; and social, cultural, civil society and people-to-people relations.

 

India’s support has made a fundamental, positive change in our development. Perhaps even more importantly, India’s sharing of expertise, experience in successful post-conflict transition, and best practices has been invaluable to our progress.

 

Despite Afghanistan’s improvements through South-South Cooperation, it is important to also view our development in light of the challenges we face. Afghanistan as a landlocked least developing country faces unique challenges to accessing the world markets. These challenges impact our transport infrastructure, border crossing and high transport and trade costs.

 

We see South-South cooperation, not as a substitute for but rather as a complement to North-South cooperation, and wish to see continued support from the international community for the efforts of the developing countries to expand South-South cooperation. But as the example of the relationship between Afghanistan and India shows, South-South Cooperation is important in itself. The concept is young, but it is reinforced by our experience.

 

We are grateful for the support of India and our other development partners, with whom we have established strong bonds of cooperation. Increasing South-South Cooperation can help Afghanistan become a beacon of social, political, and economic success that will enrich both the region and the global community.

 

Thank you.

Nowruz International Day at the UN

Remarks By H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I wish to welcome you all. The moments captured in the film, from near and far, depict the magical beauty of high mountains and the allure of the wild nature, the faces of people, and reality of everyday life in my country, a land that has endured a long suffering.  But as the film says, despite all tragedies it does not change the fact that a flower still blossoms every Spring from the garden. It appears to echo what the poet and great son of Balkh, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi said: “Did you hear that winter is over?…the trees reach out their congratulations.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we, a collective of twelve countries from the heart of Asia, have come together to celebrate Nowruz for the third time, in this august hall at the United Nations. I would like to thank all the Ambassadors and colleagues who made this event possible, particularly Ambassador Khazaee, and the Permanent Mission of Iran for taking on the lion’s share of the burden.

We belong to different countries, speak various languages, are dispersed across geographical boundaries, yet, what unites us is our past, our history and our tradition. Nowruz symbolizes a “Cultural Continent,” the lines of which are drawn from the dawn of history. The frontier of our “Cultural Continent” extends from the Indian Ocean, to the mountains of the Caucasus, from the valleys of the Hindu Kush, to the desserts of Arab lands and to the perimeter of Europe. The tradition of Nowruz, and the historical beliefs and cultural rituals which are built around it, have not only united us in the past but also take us forward into the future.

Our “Cultural Continent”’s spring, unlike the mega-intifadas of the Arab lands, is about bringing us together in the heart of Asia in a spirit of cooperation, togetherness and solidarity for a better tomorrow. It is not only political or economic collaboration; it is more, it is cultural and “civilizational,” a process which is inspired by our shared values.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

New York’s mild winter was a stark contrast this year to my country’s harsh one, during which the Afghan people struggled to overcome inclement winter conditions. Tragically, hundreds this year did not survive, and many more also suffered not only at the hands of a cruel winter, but also from brutal violence. With the arrival of spring there will be no new victims of Winter, and the Afghan people wait for a greater Spring, filled with new hopes and aspirations.

 

We know that we are not alone in our aspiration for peace in the New Year and that this hope is shared by many, including all of you here tonight. We are pleased to be joined by the representatives of many countries, to take part in our wonderful tradition. For we do not only see this as a new beginning for us, but believe that this new Spring will also reinvigorate the lifelines between the countries of the world, because Spring’s revitalization is, in fact, universal.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,

 

Let us all welcome Spring together, and allow ourselves a moment to be in awe of its grandeur, like the great poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi when he said “[a]gain the season of Spring has come. And Spring/source rises under everything. A moon sliding from the shadows.”

 

The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

 Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan  to the United Nations

 At the United Nations Security Council debate on

The Situation in Afghanistan

Check Against Delivery

 Mr. President,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council. I would like to express a warm welcome to our good friend, Special Representative Jan Kubiš, who spoke for the first time in the Security Council today. In a short period of time, the SRSG has gained much confidence and admiration of the Afghan people, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation. I also take the opportunity to thank H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for his comprehensive report on Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

We meet today at a critical juncture in Afghanistan’s history. It is a time in which the culmination of the efforts of my country and the nations involved in the stabilization process in the last ten years has reached a moment of truth. Today’s debate falls within a line-up of important events that will shape the contours of the international community’s work during the transition and beyond: from the Bonn conference in December, to the Tokyo Ministerial Conference this July. After a decade, we are also looking today into a new framework of the UN’s mandate and work in a situation characterized by transition, followed by the transformation decade.

Mr. President,

The transition process, which started with the transfer of responsibilities to Afghan security forces a year ago, is continuing apace. With the second tranche completed, we are nearing the launch of the third phase of transition, at the conclusion of which, the majority of Afghan territory will come under full Afghan security control. By end of transition by 2014, Afghanistan will assume full responsibility of security as well as the ownership and leadership of governance and development. A shift of paradigm is underway, the aim is sovereignty – empowering Afghanistan to take charge of its own destiny and turning the direct military and civilian function of the international community into a support and enabling role.

A successful transition, Mr. President, requires renewed parameters of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with the guaranteed commitment of the continuation of military, political and financial support during the transition and the decade of transformation from 2015 – 2024. This is what we, Afghanistan and the international community, set out to do last December in Bonn. This commitment will be supported concretely in July in Tokyo.

Mr. President,

At this stage, we hope the assistance of the international community as manifested in the commitments of the Kabul conference in 2010 and Bonn in 2011, will help to meet the requisite needs of our security forces. This is crucial for the building-up, training and equipping of our national security forces, who have proven themselves in recent weeks to be increasingly capable in protecting their fellow Afghans. Furthermore, the transition dividend, channeled into Afghanistan’s political stability, economic growth and social advancement, will have a direct effect on fostering sustainable peace in the country, and bring about real change in the lives of people.

In the long term, what matters is the establishment and strengthening of enduring strategic partnerships that will provide us with a solid base of mutual cooperation. Thus far, we have already signed and are negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with our international partners, including those in the region. In this connection, Afghanistan and the United States are working to finalize all parts of the strategic partnership agreement, which will ensure our combined commitment to the future of a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. On 9 March we signed a memorandum of understanding with the US on the handover of control of the Parwan detention facility to the Afghan Government and we are working to finalize another memorandum relating to special operations in the very near future.

Mr. President,

An effective transition is also contingent upon the successful outcome of an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, outreach and reintegration process. The dynamics of the peace talks shifted with the announcement of the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar, which we believe will provide fresh impetus to our peace efforts. We welcome recent measures taken by the 1988 Committee of the Security Council, which have enhanced confidence building, and will help expedite our reconciliation efforts.

On a national level, outreach and reintegration efforts remain essential to bringing back members of the armed opposition to mainstream society. Nearly 3,500 anti-government elements are enrolled in the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), and in the coming months, we expect to see many more, joining the program and returning to normal life.

At the same time, we will continue to work with all relevant regional and international partners to move the peace process forward, including the UN, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. We are pleased that the peace process has garnered the support it needs from all countries in the region. Our desire for multi-faceted cooperation is embodied through the Istanbul Process that began in November 2011. It is a visionary step forward to achieving a benevolent regional order, characterized by cooperation, collaboration and shared goals. We look forward to furthering our progress at the follow-up to the Istanbul Process this June in Kabul.

Mr. President,

For the success of transition we must redouble our efforts toward a more effective, accountable, transparent Government that is ready to deliver services and safeguard national interests as set out in the Kabul Process. Afghanistan continues its fight to strengthen good governance, end corruption, promote human rights including gender equality, combat illegal narcotics and foster greater economic opportunities.

For Afghans, Mr. President, a successful transition is the key for peace and stability. We are well aware of the challenges, but the bitter memories of war and conflict only further our determination to work together to secure a peaceful future. However, our confidence needs to be deepened by real cooperation, trust, and mutual respect between Afghanistan and the international community. The recent incidents such as the brutal killing of 16 innocent civilians, mostly children and women, in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, the burning of the Holy Quran north of Kabul, and similar atrocities could undermine our trust and cooperation, by inciting deep sorrow, anger and frustration among Afghan people. It is imperative that these incidents are ended immediately and the perpetrators be held accountable.

Mr. President,

The UN over the last ten years has been in the forefront of helping the Afghan people. The UN has supported the efforts of the Afghan Government for building a more peaceful future for the country. While Afghanistan continues transition, it will still largely benefit from the support of the UN. We are thankful to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive review of UNAMA’s mandated activities and the UN’s support in Afghanistan and for the work of the review team. The Afghan Government fully agrees with the report of the Secretary-General’s findings that UNAMA should use its good offices to continue to support Afghan-led political processes and capacity building for Afghan institutions. We appreciate the report’s emphasis on the UN’s work for human rights of all Afghans; and we share the report’s assertion that aid coherence in support of Afghanistan’s development agenda is crucial.

We are satisfied with the work of the comprehensive review. And, of course, plenty of work for us all lies on the road ahead. The size and configuration of UN presence is to be considered in the coming months as well as the application of a One-UN approach for streamlining UN activities, based on the evolving realities on the ground and needs of transition. The Government of Afghanistan is looking forward to close cooperation in this regard.

A long-term, strategic view into the renewed posture of the UN in Afghanistan will be needed to answer some of the bigger questions about the organization’s political role, the necessary steps towards reinforcing integration and delivery as one, and questions about bringing more transparency and accountability in managing resources and coordination of aid during the transition and transformation decade. I am confident that with our strong, ongoing partnership, Afghanistan and the UN are well-equipped to address all future challenges.

Mr. President,

In the last ten years, Afghanistan and the international community were together in fighting terrorism and working to bring stability and peace to the country. This fight is not yet finished.  We still have a long way to go, and we continue to struggle to normalize the situation in the country. This is the aim of transition. But the transition we agreed upon must be a responsible, unhurried, and coordinated process. Afghanistan and its people count on both the conscience and commitment of the international community to remain steadfast to the countless and long reiterated assurances for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.

 

 

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan