Sunday, August 20, 2017

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan at the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan

At the

Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan:

Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia

2 November 2011

Excellencies

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear brother Foreign Minister Davutoglu, please accept my sincerest condolences for last week’s tragic earthquake in the Province of Van that took so many lives and inflicted huge losses. We pray for a quick recovery for all those affected.

It’s a great pleasure to join you here today in welcoming our colleagues and friends from countries with whom we share our region. I wish to express heartfelt appreciations to the Government of Turkey for hosting today’s Conference for Afghanistan which focuses on “Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia”. Your personal efforts, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, have been crucial in shaping this important regional gathering for which I am immensely and genuinely grateful.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As mentioned in remarks by both His Excellency President Gul and His Excellency President Karzai, today’s gathering presents an important opportunity; an opportunity to broaden the horizons of regional cooperation for our mutual benefit.  We owe it to our peoples and their future to cooperate with each other so we can realize our true potentials and our children can enjoy a safer, more prosperous life.

Recognising how crucial regional cooperation is, it is a responsibility – a collective responsibility – we all have to do what we can in order to bring about an environment that is free from the perils of terrorism, extremism, narcotics, organized crime – these are the examples of the kind of common and real challenges we face as a region today.

Dear Colleagues,

You heard His Excellency President Karzai this morning describing the challenges that our country is facing today.  Indeed, over the past ten years, we have come a long way in making lives better for the Afghan people.  However, significant threats and challenges remain.  The region that surrounds Afghanistan has been a great supporter in our efforts, and remains a huge factor in our ability to overcome the challenges that remain.

Therefore, over the past decade, the Government of Afghanistan has put the task of building regional confidence and cooperation at the centre of our vision for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  The Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighbourly Relations of 22 December 2002 laid the foundations of Afghanistan’s new relationship in the region – a relationship that is based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, peaceful co-existence, refraining from interference and respect for international law.

Over the past ten years, we have actively engaged in all regional organisations which have a role to play in strengthening regional cooperation in various fields – from our active participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – which we are hoping to join as an observer country in the near future – to other regional organisations that deal with furthering cooperation in economic and other field, such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

There have been specific regional initiatives to help Afghanistan, such as the   Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which we value and are committed to maintain.  We are committed to exploring new and effective ideas that could be translated into workable strategies in the interest of regional economic integration.  In this respect, we welcome the New Silk Road initiative and look forward to a fruitful dialogue with our neighbours and regional partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our gathering in Istanbul is a recognition that, building on our progress of the past ten years in terms of strengthening regional cooperation, we must take bolder and stronger steps in order to make regional cooperation more effective. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we view the Istanbul Conference as one of the most important opportunities for Afghanistan and our regional partners to reaffirm our mutual commitments to cooperation, and chart a way forward for building greater confidence and understanding across the region.

Together with our friends and supporters from outside this region, our gathering today is taking place in a unique format – the Heart of Asia – which brings together all the major countries of the wider region surrounding Afghanistan, from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.   Given the increasing interdependence and commonality of interests and concerns across the wider region, it is important to broaden the geographical, as well as substantive, focus of our cooperation at the regional level.

Excellencies,

The Afghan Government aims for the Istanbul Conference to be a successful turning point with a tangible outcome that helps build a common regional vision for peace and stability.  The Conference will be a significant milestone to recognize Afghanistan’s long quest and desire for stability, as well as the region’s growing need for confidence building and cooperation against the common challenges we face, notably terrorism, extremism, the drug trade, and obstacles to legitimate interaction and movement, to name but a few.

I am satisfied with the huge amount of intensive preparatory work that has gone into making this Conference a success.  Indeed, it has been a truly participatory process where the views and concerns of all the neighbours and fellow regional countries have been taken into account.  From the various preparatory meetings, including Dubai, Oslo and Kabul, to the visits by Afghan and Turkish officials to major capitals of the region, this has been a very meaningful dialogue.

I thank the Republic of Turkey again for the leadership role they have in strengthening regional cooperation and, in particular, in making this important conference the turning point it should be.  We Afghans are honoured and blessed to have a friend like Turkey.

I also express deep gratitude and appreciation to Afghanistan’s other neighbours and near neighbours for supporting the vision of regional cooperation, and for taking an active part in this process.  Your presence here today is not only a testimony to your friendship and solidarity with Afghanistan, but also your commitment to strengthening and deepening cooperation at the regional level.

May I also thank all the supporter countries who are so strongly represented here today.  Indeed, without support and solidarity from friends and partners from outside the region, our region will not be able to make the vision of regional cooperation and integration a reality.  In particular, I wish to say a sincere thank you to the Kingdom of Norway for being a great friend and supporter of regional cooperation in the Heart of Asia.  In particular, the role that Norway played in facilitating dialogue in the run up to this conference is highly appreciated.

The role of the United Nations has been extremely useful.  We are all members of the UN and, as such, the role of this global entity is one major common bond that ties us across the region.  In particular, the contributions from the Secretary General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, Ambassador Staffan de Mistura, have been substantial and commendable.

Dear Colleagues,

For regional cooperation to be meaningful, it must deliver results.  For all the goodwill and desire that exist across our region for strengthening regional cooperation, the progress we are making in tackling our common challenges is relatively modest.  Therefore, today’s conference must be the beginning of a process that involves tangible steps and credible results.  I appeal to Afghanistan’s neighbours and fellow regional countries to rally behind the Istanbul Undertaking we are hoping to adopt today.

In conclusion, I thank all of Afghanistan’s partners in the international community, its neighbours and partners in this Heart of Asia region for your continued support and solidarity with Afghanistan.  In particular, I thank you all for attending this historical conference and contributing to its success.

Thank you for your attention and I invite you far an active participation in today’s meeting.

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan
Delivered by
G. Seddiq Rasuli Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Third Committee
Agenda Item 62:
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his reports under agenda item 62 and his in-depth statement this afternoon.

I further wish to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s gratitude to the High Commissioner and dedicated staff of UNHCR for their commitment towards protection and assistance of the world’s most vulnerable population, the refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in particular, their special attention to the plight of Afghan refugees, returnees, and IDPs. We are grateful for that, Mr. High Commissioner.

Mr. Chairman,

Since 2002, more than 5.6 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan, the vast majority of which have returned from neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan. This is an encouraging sign that the situation in Afghanistan is improving and Afghan refugees can once again return to their homeland and join their families. However, in spite of the progress made over the past ten years, much remains to be accomplished. The pace of repatriation has slowed substantially relative to previous years. This can be attributed to the dual threats of terrorism and insecurity, widespread poverty, and a challenging humanitarian situation. These have also increased the number of IDPs in the provinces that continue to see the highest levels of insecurity.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to providing for the voluntary, dignified and gradual repatriation and re-integration of our Afghan brothers and sisters who fled our boarders due to years of conflict and violence. Already 4.6 million refugees received aid and since 2005 the Afghan Government has constructed 60 townships in 20 provinces for refugees, and a further 39,000 have been provided with portions of land.

As the security situation improves and people gradually return to Afghanistan, the Government faces a significant challenge to provide adequate shelter, work and healthcare, this is becoming an increasing problem as more Afghans return, with the potential for increased refugee flows in the coming years as Afghanistan becomes more stable and secure. The Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to do all we can to provide facilities for voluntary, dignified, and gradual repatriation.

Mr. Chairman,

We must not forget that security challenges and threats still remain a reality in Afghanistan and this poses a serious challenge to the sustainable repatriation of refugees. Between June 2009 and September 2010 alone 12,000 people were displaced as a result of insecurity, bringing the total number to over 319,000 Afghan citizens. We must continue our efforts with our international partners to secure Afghanistan for its citizens both inside and outside its borders.

As a result of this continued insecurity we face a reality in which 40% of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan have not been settled yet, where people are trying to return to their homeland seeking a prosperous future only to be faced with despair with the situation and return to their respective countries of refuge. We must work with the international community and UNHCR to seek out new ways and mechanisms to review our returnee’s policy to find a way to provide shelter and easy access to primary services including health care education drinking water and importantly, work opportunities to ensure the sustainable repatriation of Afghans.

Mr. Chairman,

I would also like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Afghanistan to our neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran for being the primary hosts of Afghan refugees for more than 30 years now; we are grateful for that. We have held constructive trilateral meetings with Iran and Pakistan along with UNHCR in May this year recognizing the need to find a comprehensive solution for sustainable voluntary, gradual, dignified repatriation of refugees.

In this regard, Afghanistan, with UNHCR, Pakistan and Iran, is presently developing a multi-year (2012-2014) solutions strategy for Afghan refugees. This strategy will be presented for endorsement by the international community at a stakeholders conference in early 2012.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Women, Peace and Security

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan
Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri,

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

28 October 2011

New York

Madam President,

I thank you for convening today’s debate, which offers us all an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to protecting and ensuring women’s rights and their momentous role in peace and security. I also take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his report and strong words of support for the active role and contribution of women in global peace and security.

Madam President,

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

The history of war and violence has left an upsetting impact in my country. Violence still takes its toll on every Afghan life, including women. I hope the anguish which every Afghan family faces, will one day come to an end. Women continue to bear the bulk of the burden of conflict in Afghanistan, while their right to secure, healthy and affluent lives still remains in peril.

Madam President,

We gather today to recognise the imperative role that women have in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the tangible fruits of which have already been seen in Afghanistan through the decisive presence of women at the Consultative Peace Jirga in 2010 and the continuing efforts to ensure participation of women in leadership positions within and outside of the government.

This debate is particularly appropriate as Afghanistan is entering into the second phase of transition to Afghan leadership and ownership and increased responsibility for security and economic development.

Madam President,

In regards to development we have begun implementation of the 10 yearNational Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) based upon the priorities of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. As part of this action plan (NAPWA)we have established Gender Units in 14 of 25 government ministries, however, even with a 10 year time line, accelerated efforts need to be made to ensure the full implementation of such a comprehensive action plan with vital goals that include 30 percent of governmental positions held by women by the end of 2013 and a target of 35 percent participation of female students in universities by the end of 2012.

We have also made strides in the rule of law, the most recent being the establishment of a national Commission on Elimination of Violence against Women following enactment of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in December 2010. This is vital in enhancing Afghan women’s access to legal redress, sending the strong message that the Afghan government is committed to the rights of women and ensuring that there is no impunity for those who violate them.

Madam President,

Ensuring the rights of women is only half the battle; we also need to see the full participation of women, as 1325 reminds us they have a vital role to play in the peace and security of our country. The representation of women in governance and political participation has been steadily increasing. We have succeeded in holding two Presidential and two parliamentary elections, in which women actively participated as candidates, election staff, poll watchers and electorates. Women comprise 27 percent of the parliament making Afghanistan the 30th in the world with the highest representation of women in Parliament. The Afghanistan National Parliament has also established a resource centre for women parliamentarians to enhance their capacity to include women’s voices and perspectives effectively in the national development and reconstruction plans.

Madam President,

When reviewing these facts and figures, let us not lose sight of the great personal risk that these women undertake in order to participate in the governance of their country and in their future. I wish to take this opportunity to honour the women who continue take risks to assume an active role in the future, direction and peace of our country.

Madam President,

Our international partners have been assisting the Afghan Government in our endeavors. UN-Women has administered a multi-donor trust fund for the elimination of violence against women, which provided grants for national organizations to combat violence against women. I am very pleased to report that in collaboration with UN-Women, Afghanistan has submitted its first country report to CEDAW. The continued collaboration of our Government, international partners, and both Afghan and international civil society groups will be vital to ensure the full realisation women’s rights in a strong and stable Afghanistan.

Madam President,

Building a sustained and secure environment that enables women to live free of intimidation, and violence, which supports their participation and leadership in promoting and maintaining peace and security, is one of the core objectives of the Afghan Government.

We also   focus on women political actors at national, sub national and local levels, capacity building and advocacy strategies to enable them to attain a critical role in high-level decision, policy, and law-making positions in key government institutions; and to accomplish their significant political and social responsibility.

Madam President

With the support of our partners and the international community we will continue to work toward the full implementation of 1325, in recognition that our goal of sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan will only be achieved with the full participation of the entire Afghan nation.    I thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan