Sunday, March 26, 2017

Statement by H.E. Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani At the High-Level Meeting on Migration and Refugees

 

19 September 2016.

At the outset, I wish to convey our gratitude to the President of the General Assembly for convening today’s High-Level Meeting on Addressing the Large Movement of Refugees and Migrants. We have gathered here today against the backdrop of the unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees, across the world.  The time has, therefore, come to put into motion, a concerted international response to address this growing phenomenon holistically, and in all its aspects.

 

Mr. President,

Based on our own experience, Afghanistan is well aware of the complex challenge associated with the issue of global refugees.  The legacy of more than two-decades of armed conflict and violence brought about a situation, whereby millions of Afghan women and children were forced to leave their homes and seek refugee abroad. More than 95% of our refugees live in neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, and we are grateful for their generosity in hosting our people.

 

Since beginning a new chapter in Afghanistan in 2001, millions of Afghans returned to their homeland, marking the largest repatriation movement in modern history.  For several years now, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and other humanitarian organizations have had the central role in international efforts to support and assist Afghan refugees during some of the most difficult moments of our nation’s life. We are grateful for their support and commitment to address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.

 

Needless to say, millions of our citizens remain refugees, and continue to face difficult social, economic and humanitarian conditions.  In this regard, I would like to underscore the importance of ensuring that all refugees, whether Afghan or of any other nationality – are granted respect and equal treatment by host countries, in accordance with international humanitarian law, and human rights law.

 

As for the case of Afghan refugees they are known to be high achievers in whichever society they have become part of.  They have integrated with host communities and strived to achieve success, thereby rendering an important contribution in various spheres of society.  We call on all host countries to accommodate their protection and well being.

 

Mr. President,

Since its formation two years ago, the National Unity Government has pursued a national and regional effort together with our relevant international partners for a viable and long-term solution to the plight of Afghan refugees, with special emphasis on voluntary return, and sustainable reintegration.
To that end, the Quadripartite Commission, comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, adopted in Geneva in 2012, remain the overarching framework, within which the National Unity Government is striving to achieve the voluntary, gradual and dignified return of our refugees, and their sustainable reintegration.

 

As a matter of equal importance, we are also adamantly focused on addressing the problems faced by our internally displaced persons (IDP’s), which over the past two years, has increased in number, mainly resulting from insecurity in some parts of the country, caused by violence and terror, committed by the Taliban and affiliate groups.  Here, I would like to reiterate our appeal to the international community to render a long-term supporting role to effectively address the plight of our refugees and IDP’s.
We in the National Unity Government are cognizant that Afghanistan’s social and economic development provides the ultimate guarantee for resolving the challenges facing refugees and IDP’s, in a holistic manner. We are working to improve conditions for our peoples in town, villages and districts across Afghanistan.  To this end, we look to the up-coming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in two weeks time, where we hope the international community will make new pledges of assistance to help us implement our National Peace and Development Framework, which aims at enabling us to achieve self-reliance during the Transformation Decade.

 

Mr. President,

We are pleased that today’s high-level meeting offers due focus and attention to addressing the root causes of migration, at the global level.  In most cases, those who resettle do so not as a matter of choice but of circumstances. Poverty, conflict and a lack of economic opportunities are some of the main factors, leading to resettlement.  In this regard, the central role of the UN will remain of strategic importance in providing support across a wide-spectrum, including development assistance; conflict-prevention; systems development, as well as in peace-building and national reconciliation.

 

The adoption of the SDG’s, last September here in New York was a milestone, charting a new development framework over the next fifteen years. The implementation of the SDG’s will go a long way in helping to ensure peace, security and a stable economic environment in countries of origin, offering an incentive to people and families to avoid resettlement.
Mr. President,

After settling in their country of destination, migrants and refugees are presented with both opportunities and challenges.  Many are able to broaden their horizon, and benefit from a new experience and environment where they could live free from violence, conflict and often times, persecution and improve their plight, and that of their families.  Having said that, far too often, their new experience is not void of difficulties.

 

In this context, Afghanistan conveys its concern over the continuing trend where migrants and refugees are subject to acts of xenophobia, discrimination and other stereotypes, based on religious and cultural differences in some parts of the world.  A renewed effort is necessary to push back against this dangerous narrative, which constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, including human rights law. We welcome the Secretary General’s proposal to launch a “global campaign to counter various forms of discrimination against migrants and refugees. “

 

We must bear in mind, that among those who resettle, there are those who bring with them unique skills and creative ideas that serve as positive factors, for the development of stable and healthy societies.  We must perceive diversity as a source of strength and optimism, rather than seeing it from a negative perspective.  After all, humanity is one; irrespective of our cultural, religious and geographical differences.  We all aspire towards the same goals:  the chance to live in peace, to prosper, and above all, to ensure a better and brighter life for our children and future generations.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s Summit is a fitting opportunity for all of us to reaffirm our shared commitment to protect, and promote the rights of all Refugees and Migrants, and to do so in adherence to the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Afghanistan welcomes the adoption of the Conference Declaration and its two annexes: the “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and “Towards a Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration.” Let us leverage the full range of resources at our disposal, and expand our collaboration to address all aspects related to the increased flow of migrants and refugees, across the globe.

 

Before concluding, I want to convey our gratitude to their Excellencies David Donoghue, and Ms. Dina Kawar, Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Ireland and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for so ably leading the inter-governmental negotiations on our Conference Declaration!

 

 

Thank You!

 

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENT BY  H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

(check against delivery)

14 September 2016

NEW YORK

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Thank you Mr. President. At the outset, let me congratulate New Zealand for its successful leadership of the Council this month. We express our gratitude to the Secretary-General for his recent report on the situation in my country. We welcome Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto as the new Special Representative of the Secretary General and thank him for his first briefing to the Council. We look forward to working closely with him, and wish him every success in the important task.

Mr. President,

Since the Council’s last deliberations on Afghanistan on June 21, the country has seen increased armed clashes and suicide attacks, with high civilian casualties, testing our resilience and bringing the peace process to an impasse. During the same time, thanks to continuing support of the international community, we have maintained steady progress to enhance the capacity, capability, professionalism, and sustainability of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

In the midst of vibrant democratic debates as a key feature of recent political developments, the reform agenda of the National Unity Government (NUG), in line with Agenda 2030, is bearing fruit. Afghanistan has achieved progress in regional trade and infrastructure connectivity, anti-corruption, governance, rule of law and human rights, legal reform, restoring fiscal sustainability and integrity of public finance, commercial banking, development planning, social inclusion, and private sector development.

Mr. President,

During this summer, the world witnessed terror spread wildly across the globe, with major attacks in nearly twenty countries in three continents. From Libya to Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Mali, Germany, India, Angola, Congo, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Philippines, terrorist attacks took many innocent lives and inflicted huge damage.

It is clear that as terrorist groups face international pressure in the core, they attempt to strengthen their symbiotic networks and resort to more desperate attacks far and wide.

Afghanistan has also seen an increase in large scale terrorist attacks. In June, Daesh affiliates terrorized villagers in Nangarhar. A few days later, the Taliban targeted new police recruits outside Kabul. In July, Daesh affiliates struck again, this time against a peaceful civilian demonstration in Kabul. In August, Taliban targeted tourist buses in Heart, followed by an attack on university students in Kabul. In September, they targeted civilians, security officials, and an aid group in Kabul. All together, around 180 people, predominantly civilians lost their lives and 435 were wounded in these attacks, with extensive damage to infrastructure. Among the victims were scores of our educated and talented youth who were committed to the rehabilitation and development of their country.

President Ashraf Ghani on August 25 called Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff and asked for serious and practical measures against the organizers of the attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.

The savage attacks in populated urban centers showcased the cowardly behavior of the terrorist groups and their supporters to compensate for their so-called spring offensive losses. We have evidence that most of these attacks were orchestrated outside Afghanistan. Last week, we seized two trailer trucks entering Afghanistan from Pakistan with 35,700 kg of ammonium nitrate – an amount nearly twenty times larger than what was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Let us take a second to imagine the magnitude of devastation, had the attack(s) been carried out against us or our allies.

Judging from previous experience, as we approach the UN General Assembly Session, the second anniversary of the NUG of Afghanistan and the forthcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the Taliban and other terrorist groups may escalate their attacks to gain international visibility.

Mr. President,

Growing violent extremism and terror worldwide is proof that the current pace of counter-terrorism efforts is at best, lax, compared to the magnitude of the threat. Current efforts remain scattered, slow, and at times static, and have proven incapable to match the sophistication and ever changing tactics of global terror for its eventual defeat, as far as Afghanistan’s experience is concerned. As a strategic imperative, we must move beyond rhetoric and address the enablers of terrorism, including the role of state elements in orchestrating and facilitating the growth of terror. We need to review the state of UN counter-terrorism efforts to identify and address gaps in the implementation, and assess what needs to be done by relevant UN agencies to achieve results and effectively fulfill their mandates.

The Taliban’s brutal attacks have continued in different parts of the country, with particular focus on Helmand, Kunduz and Paktia provinces. Their aim is to create a durable political geography inside Afghanistan for the Quetta Shura and Haqqani leadership.

The response from the ANDSF has been remarkable. Successive Taliban and Daesh attacks were repulsed in different parts of the country, which proves that these extremist factions do not have the capacity to hold territory anywhere in Afghanistan. However, we are putting in place measures to preempt rather than react to their attacks. I am pleased to report that in line with my government’s five-year National Campaign Plan, focusing on reconciliation, security and stability, the mobility and effectiveness of our security forces have further improved Afghanistan’s resilience to the ongoing security challenges.

Moving forward, the continued support of our international partners remains critically important. We welcome the outcome of the NATO Warsaw Summit last July, which extended the Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016, reaffirmed continuing national contributions to the financial sustainment of the ANDSF until the end of 2020 and enhanced our enduring partnership with NATO. We have committed to further strengthen our security institutions and ensure service delivery within the rule of law. We will continue to increase our financial contribution to ANDSF. The empowerment of women will continue in all aspects of Afghan society, including service in ANDSF and political processes, as well as full implementation of Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. We have already taken necessary measures to protect children from the effects of armed conflict and have witnessed good, measurable results.

Mr. President,

Despite our constant outreach and efforts at the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), Pakistan is yet to utilize the opportunity to play genuine peacemaker. It deserves attention that based on the QCG roadmap they must take necessary measures against irreconcilable Taliban elements to win international community’s due recognition as a serious and genuine partner in the fight against terrorism.

We thank the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for its renewed focus on promoting peace in Afghanistan. We welcome the upcoming Ulema Conference in Mecca and Medina which will bring together global Islamic scholars to denounce violence in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

On 21 September we will celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the Agreement of National Unity Government of Afghanistan. We are committed to the full implementation of the Agreement. Discussions are ongoing among the leadership of the NUG to address the overdue commitments stipulated in the Agreement.

Let me assure this Council that our entire political elite, irrespective of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and political standing, is committed to preserving the national interest of Afghanistan, with full support behind our national security forces. Developments, perceived by some as “tensions” in the National Unity Government, and “rising pressures” by political opposition groups, are part of a routine exercise of democratic debate, and a hallmark of our vibrant society, where citizens express their views in accordance with their democratic rights. The 2016 World Press Freedom Index ranks Afghanistan higher than all its neighbors and 4th among 13 countries of South and Central Asia, in terms of ensuring a culture of free speech. We will work to improve political stability through healthy dialogue over outstanding issues.

Mr. President,

I am pleased to present the highlights of our achievements from the past three months. Afghanistan’s development needs are being driven by our extensive reform measures to curb corruption, improve service delivery, and promote transparency. Our collaboration with regional partners has resulted in projects that would transform the economic landscape of our part of the world. We have already seen the inauguration of TAPI, CASA-1000, and Chabahar Port Agreement, all of which present opportunities for regional cooperation at an unprecedented scale.

In August, we completed a major housing project of 2015 residential units in Kabul.  Additional projects are underway to provide over 11000 residential units, with support from China and Qatar.

Last week, for the first time in the history of Sino-Afghan relations, a special cargo train between the two countries was officially welcomed in Hairatan of Afghanistan. Also as part of Khaf-Herat railway project, an Iranian train entered Afghan soil, offering new opportunities for increased economic activity. Such developments reflect a spirit of constructive cooperation for mutual benefit in our region. We urge other neighbors to adopt a similar approach, and to avoid measures which undermine relations, such as the closing of entry ports, trade blockades, shelling and illegal construction activities along our south eastern territory.

We urge the Government of Pakistan to choose the path of cooperation to reinforce constructive relations and trust-building, a fundamental pre-condition for peace and stability for both our countries. To this effect, we note with satisfaction the announcement on the completion of Pakistan-funded health projects in Afghanistan by year’s end.

As a principle component of our foreign policy, we are convinced that regional cooperation and multilateralism are catalysts for peace and prosperity. In this respect, we look forward to the upcoming Afghanistan-India-US trilateral meeting, to be held on the margins of the 71st UNGA. Let me just inform the Council that President Ghani is now in New Delhi and India just announced $1 billion dollars of aid towards development in Afghanistan. We thank India for that.

Mr. President,

The Anti-Corruption Justice Center and High Council on Governance, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption are already operational, addressing Government corruption cases. Our judicial sector is being revitalized by a set of bold measures. More than 600 judges have been replaced, with 60 judicial officials being prosecuted for corruption and mal-practice. We have also announced new appointments and conducted performance reviews to instill a culture of transparency in our state-institutions.

In tandem with our economic achievements, our social sector is reaching new heights, with women increasingly assuming leadership positions at different levels of government. There are more women in senior government positions now than at any other time in Afghan history. Among them there are four ministers, nine deputy ministers, one governor, one deputy head of the High Peace Council and a number of senior diplomats at leadership level. The Ministry of Interior has opened six new child protection units in police recruitment centers, bringing the total to 13 in the country. We are committed to the protection of children and have prohibited security forces from using schools for military purposes. We are working on the national policy on civilian casualty mitigation which will be adopted across all Government institutions to better protect our citizens.

However, mainly due to continuous attacks by the Taliban and other terrorist groups, the number of internally displaced people has risen, especially in rural areas. Food insecurity and lack of adequate healthcare remains a challenge within this group, and the Government is focusing its resources to mitigate this crisis. Under the voluntary repatriation program, the number of returnees has increased significantly. The number of Afghan migrants to Europe has also fallen compared to 2015. We are grateful to the UN and our international partners for the continued humanitarian assistance.

On counter-narcotics, despite some increase in production and cultivation of opium, we are focused on continuing eradication efforts despite the security challenges. We are pleased with the outcome of the 9th session of the Regional Working Group of Precursors meeting, which, among other issues, identified next steps forward in precursor trafficking.

Mr. President,

The forthcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan will be an opportunity to showcase our long fought and hard won achievements to the global community. The focus will be on the joint international and Afghan efforts to increase the effectiveness of sustained international support, multiple Afghan reform measures, including public finance management and anti-corruption, as well as regional efforts to achieve peace and economic prosperity. The preparations for this conference are ongoing and we have presented the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework to our partners for their final inputs.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the global security scenario is undergoing significant changes and Afghanistan’s role in the fight against terrorism remains pivotal. We have long suffered at the hands of extremists and paid a very steep price through the blood and sacrifices of our people in standing up against it. For innumerable Afghans, the promise of a peaceful future has been robbed due to years of instability. However, in the past fifteen years, the Government of Afghanistan, along with many of our international friends, including the United Nations have worked hard to revive faith in the values we cherish—freedom, democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights for all. We look forward to seeing you at the Brussels conference to reiterate pledges of support to Afghanistan, and refocus on the long road ahead in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. A win for Afghanistan in this realm would be a win for the world, and we would be safer and prosperous together.

Thank You Mr. President.

 

 

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

21 June 2016

NEW YORK

Check against delivery

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Merci Monsieur le Président. Veuillez accepter mes félicitations pour bien diriger la Conseil de Sécurité ce mois. I express gratitude to the Secretary-General for his recent report on the situation in my country. I would like to thank my friend Mr. Nicholas Haysom for his last briefing as Special Representative of the Secretary General. I pay tribute to his contribution to the life of our country during the crucial years of transition. I would also like to welcome another good friend Ambassador Tadamichi Yamamoto as incoming Special Representative of the Secretary General, whom I have had the pleasure of working with in Kabul.

I also convey my deepest condolences on the tragic Orlando atrocity last week and yesterday’s attacks in Kabul and Badakhshan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We welcome the Security Council’s condemnation statement issued on these attacks.

Mr. President,

I am pleased to report that since the March deliberation of the Council on Afghanistan, the country has shown better resilience to counter the ongoing challenges. As I speak here today, we have just left behind us the spring season with high casualties and setbacks for the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Afghanistan’s region, along with international partners, are coming together to give a more collective response to violent extremism and terrorism, emanating from the region. A number of multinational development projects have either come to fruition or have taken off, creating new hope for regional peaceful coexistence, connectivity, and prosperity. Afghanistan and its regional and international partners appear more determined than ever to prevent the continuation of violence to take development hostage. The reemergence of Afghanistan as a symbol of international cooperation and partnership is gaining momentum. Nevertheless, increased civilian casualties, internal displacement and the ramifications of the cowardly behavior of the Taliban and their supporters to compensate for their losses, have been alarming.

Mr. President,

Last winter, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) comprising of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States finalized a roadmap for the peace process. New opportunities were presented to those willing to engage in talks. The QCG members agreed to take all necessary measures against those who refuse to engage in political resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The expectation was that the Taliban would use this opportunity and join the process. Sadly on 12 April they responded with their so-called spring offensive simultaneously across 42 different locations in our country, causing heavy civilian suffering, and proving once again that they are irreconcilable to peaceful political initiatives. Given the brilliant performance of our National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) the Taliban have suffered heavy losses during the first stage of their onslaught. To avenge their losses, the Taliban plotted and claimed responsibility for the deadly Kabul terrorist attack on 19 April, killing and wounding 411, mostly civilians.

On 25 April, President Ashraf Ghani addressed a joint sitting of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. He called on Pakistan to respect the QCG agreements and take action against terrorists who — according to credible intelligence from our own agencies as well as our international partners, also publicly recorded confessions by Pakistani authorities themselves — have their bases and leaders in the neighboring country. He said “if Pakistan refuses to carry out military operations in its soil against the terrorists, then it should surrender them to our courts to face justice”. We believe that there is a need for political will and honest police action — rather than nuclear deals or F-16s — to fulfill the task.

President Ghani added that despite our desire and efforts to advance regional cooperation, we will have no choice but to refer the case to the UN Security Council and take serious diplomatic measures unless there is a change in policy of using terrorist proxies against Afghanistan.

In contrast to the unforthcoming attitude of a certain neighbouring country, other QCG members have remained committed or even given effect to their words. On 22 May Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was tracked and killed in the Balochistan province of Pakistan by a United States airstrike. The incident also exposed his Pakistani passport with a fake name, using which he had flown numerous times from Pakistani airports. Despite this, the charade of plausible deniability, duplicity, and blame of Afghan weaknesses continues, which must come to an end if we are to succeed in counter-terrorism.

Mr. President,

In the past fifteen years, numerous leading figures of terrorism, including the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders Mullah Omar and Mullah Akhtar Mansour have lived and died in Pakistan. The fact that notorious terrorist leaders were found and killed in their safe havens there is a clear proof that the country has violated the sovereignty of other nations. This constitutes a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and Resolution 2255 on the Sanction Regime against the Taliban. We believe that there is an urgent need for proper implementation of the existing counter terrorism resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Mr. President,

Following the failure of their so-called spring offensive, the Taliban have resorted to increasing highway banditry, killing, or kidnapping civilians. In late May, they kidnapped 130 civilian bus passengers in Kunduz, the fate of some of whom is still unknown. Earlier today, the Taliban again took multiple travelers hostage in the province of Helmand.

Meanwhile, provocative actions along the de-facto separation line including illegal construction of military installations, abuse of our nationals and restrictions on trade and transit have escalated by our neighbour. In the past three months, the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity continued with over 820 foreign artillery shelling of our eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Khost, Paktika, Kunar and Nouristan, causing civilian casualties and material loss.

Most recently, and in contravention of bilaterally agreed consultation mechanisms, our neighbour attempted to build new infrastructure at Torkham Pass, thereby provoking a needless military clash with casualties on both sides. The situation, a threat to international peace and security, remains tense with devastating impact on trade and transit.

As a responsible member of the UN, and under Article 33 of the UN Charter, Afghanistan has submitted 19 protest notes to Pakistan and summoned its head of mission in Kabul three times in the past three months. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Government and parliament have called for diplomatic solution to the illegal construction at Torkham Pass. An Afghan delegation was sent to Islamabad, exploring a diplomatic breakthrough. We hope the voice of reason will prevail but our message is very clear: make no mistake, I repeat, make no mistake, the proud Government and people of Afghanistan have not, do not and will not surrender to intimidation, violence, and aggression. Our history is a testimony to this!

Mr. President,

Apart from the Taliban, the constantly morphing global and regional terrorist groups seek to turn Afghanistan into a launching pad against Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and the Far East. It is imperative that we remain vigilant and proactive against them. Despite the recent ANDSF heavy blows to ISIL and AL-Qaeda, they continue to position themselves to reemerge in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda has gone dark and deep. Other regional terrorist networks, with links to Central Asian republics, Chechnya and China are highly active in our region. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, in coordination with other terror groups, remains a long-term threat to the security and stability of our region. What is more important, most of these terrorist groups and networks enjoy the facilitation and orchestration services of elements within the state structure of Pakistan who believe in the use of violence in pursuit of political objectives. Any country contemplating the use of good and bad terrorists against each other and against others is playing with fire which will catch itself. It is imperative that the international community undertake an initiative to establish objective criteria to identify and confront state sponsorship of terrorism in our neighborhood.

Despite the challenges, Afghanistan remains committed to the peace process with reconcilable Afghan elements in parallel to strengthening its defense and security capabilities. However, it is important that we remain vigilant against the instrumentalisation and misuse of the peace process to buy time and refuel the war machine of the Taliban by their supporters. One can only talk about peace with those who value genuine and results-oriented negotiations, but the world is yet to see sincerity on the part of the Taliban and their supporters.

Here, I must pay particular tribute to the brave men and women of ANDSF. I am pleased to report that ANDSF, despite suffering high casualty rates, continues to move from strength to strength, proving an invaluable asset and partner in the global struggle against terrorism. We are grateful for the continuing partnership of the international community. We welcome last week’s US announcement on further ground and air support to the ANDSF. We are looking forward to the Warsaw Summit of NATO in two weeks time, which will review international support for the Afghan security forces, and reiterate the pledges of our international partners.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has moved to complete or attain progress on a number of major national and regional projects on energy and trade. Recently, we signed agreement with a Turkish company to explore expanding Kajaki dam in Helmand. Afghanistan and India inaugurated the Salma irrigation and power Dam in Herat. Another historic occasion was the signing of a transit trade agreement for the Chabahar Port between Afghanistan, India, and Iran. We have already started to export agricultural products through this new trade route. Leaders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan launched the construction of the CASA1000 project. Afghanistan is determined to continue its outreach to all regional partners for mutual growth and prosperity, but at the same time remains steadfast in not allowing obstructive policies in the neighbourhood to dictate its direction. We are currently working on the development strategy framework, in line with Agenda 2030, to be presented at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in October. We look forward to generous investments from the international community towards the implementation of this strategy.

We are committed to the full implementation of the September 2014 Agreement on the formation of the National Unity Government. We are working with all stakeholders to identify and remove the obstacles and expedite the electoral reform and convocation of the constitutional amendment Loya Jirga.

As we approach the Brussels Conference, I am pleased to report that over 90 per cent of Afghanistan’s 2015-2016 commitments in the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) are either complete or nearing completion. Afghanistan created the High Council on Governance, Justice and Anti-Corruption which supervises the National Anti-corruption Strategy, and implemented anti-corruption measures in the justice sector, which are bound to improve governance. The Parliament has given vote of confidence to new Ministers of Interior and Defense, Attorney-General and Head of National Directorate of Security.

Mr. President,

Despite rising civilian casualties due to attacks by extremist factions, the determination of ANDSF to protect civilian lives remains steadfast. The Government has reiterated its commitment to promoting human rights and continues to work on revising the penal code, professionalize the Afghan National Police, and submitted its first periodic report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Children’s protection units are operational in different regions of the country to prevent recruitment of children in the armed forces. Multiple women’s protection and family guidance centers for survivors of domestic violence are open and functional, which shows the Government’s continued support in rehabilitating victims of violence.

The humanitarian situation remains fragile, with an increase in conflict related displacements in extreme weather conditions. Earlier this year, I was very pleased to sign the Climate Agreement on behalf of my Government, which I believe puts us on the right track to make progress towards environmental and social integrity. Afghanistan is ranked among the most vulnerable countries facing adverse impacts of climate change, and this affects our economic situation as well.

The flight of Afghans still leaving the country remains a cause of concern, along with significant numbers of internally displaced, as against a decrease in voluntary repatriations. Terrorist attacks on various aid organizations have hampered humanitarian assistance in several cases, and rendered refugee resettlement programs more precarious. However, our Government is fully committed to sustainable solutions for the repatriation of Afghan refugees with the support of the international community. I welcome the deliberations at the World Humanitarian Summit, and assure that Afghanistan will work with our international partners to address this serious humanitarian situation.

Mr. President,

According to UNODC’s socioeconomic analysis of its Afghanistan Opium Survey 2015, the estimated gross value of opiates in Afghanistan decreased, which represented seven per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, compared to 13 per cent in 2014. This demonstrates our commitment to curb the menace of narcotics and we will continue to work with the international community to garner support on the Afghan National Drug Action Plan to counter the threat of illicit drugs.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by saying that 2015, the first post-transition year, was the year of survival for Afghanistan, but 2016 has inaugurated the era of consolidation of the gains that we have collectively made in the past fifteen years. Together, we will pave the way for long term sustainability of progress in our country. Let me thank every one of you around this table and almost all other member states of the UN who have been part of our journey either in sweat and toil or spirit so far.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan