Monday, February 19, 2018

Statement by Nazifullah Salarzai Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative of Afghanistan at the UNSC

Statement at the UNSC Open Debate on

“Threats Caused by Terrorist Acts – Protection of Critical Infrastructure”

February 13, 2017

Mr. President,

Afghanistan thanks Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine and his delegation for convening today’s debate on the “protection of critical infrastructure attacks by terrorist groups.” We are pleased at the high number countries inscribed in today’s discussion, which reflects the importance of the topic under consideration.

Infrastructure provides a key component for the normal and effective functioning of society, enabling citizens access to fundamental services, such as food, water, shelter, adequate health care, transportation facilities and economic opportunity – each of which are critically important for stability in any environment. Any attack on and damage to a nation’s infrastructure, in essence, manifests in irreparable harm on the very social fabric of society. The protection of physical and social infrastructure should, therefore, comprise a key component of any strategy for ensuring peaceful and stable societies. 

salarzai_UNSCTerrorism and violent extremism constitute a dominant factor of instability in the current international landscape, bringing untold suffering and devastation on peoples and communities.  As evident in the case of my country, Afghanistan, and many other countries where terrorist operate, extremist forces have gone to all lengths to advance their viscous agenda:  creating havoc, undermining the rule of law and terrorizing populations.  In that effort, and with blatant intent, they also target various infrastructures to amplify the effects of their barbarity, and to attract global media attention.

Afghanistan has been a prime victim of global terrorism for over two decades, and even long before the start of the international community’s engagement in our country in 2001. Today, our people remain defiant against a multitude of terrorist groups, such as the Taliban, Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba,Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other foreign terrorist fighters, all of whom share symbiotic linkages, have come from abroad, and are sustained with various forms of support, including political, ideological, moral and material aid. Aside from targeting our security forces, and that of international partners countries present in Afghanistan, extremists are attacking our political and legal institutions; mosques and schools; health and medical facilities, and other soft targets, such as non-governmental organizations, which are working to improve life for ordinary Afghans.

Just last week, in the continuation of their carnage, a suicide bomber conducted an attack on our Supreme Court, the highest judicial institution in our country, killing 21 people and wounding close to 50 people. The victims included several female judges, prosecutors and Court employees who were simply returning home to their families after a hard day’s work.

On the 11th of January last month, the Taliban carried out on our Parliament, resulting in more than 120 people dead, with many more left severely maimed and injured. This act of barbarity was widely viewed as an attack on the infrastructure of our democracy, which is among Afghanistan’s most significant achievements since 2001. In August of last year, extremists attacked the American University in Kabul, which is seen as a beacon of hope for a better future, among our educated and talented youth – 16 people were tragically killed in that attack.

Moreover, there are many cases of local hospitals, clinics and international humanitarian relief agencies coming under attack or otherwise being negatively affected by the activities of extremist groups. A few days ago, Daesh militants in northern Jowzjan province killed 6 personnel of the International Committee of the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan. The ICRC convoy was attacked while traveling to distribute aid to a storm stricken area. The overall security environment has only complicated humanitarian conditions for our people, to the point where 9.3 million people, mainly women and children, are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This figure marks a notable increase from last year. We reiterate our call on the international community to support OCHA’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan.

Terrorists also pose threat to economic and development infrastructure projects in which we have invested heavily. We are currently working to implement 18 cooperation and investment projects in the areas of energy, transport, trade as well as in the commercial and labor sectors. Once completed, these projects will benefit the prosperity of Afghanistan and our wider region.

Mr. President,

The ongoing cycle of violence in Afghanistan is not, by any means, a homegrown phenomenon. Its roots lie elsewhere, outside Afghanistan, emanating from a strategic design crafted from within our region to advance an ill-fated political agenda, which serves no one, defies international law and constitutes a blatant violation of the very spirit and tenets of the UN Charter, including relevant counterterrorism resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. We believe the fight against international terrorism stands at a crossroads. At this critical juncture, a refined global effort is needed to combat this menace with greater precision and accuracy.  In this context, we welcome the efforts of the new Secretary General to strengthen the UN counter-terrorism architecture, including his decision to create the Office of Counter Terrorism (OCT), and appoint of an Under-Secretary General to head that office.

Mr. President,  

Despite Afghanistan’s difficult security environment, we are a nation that is making steady progress towards lasting stability and Self-Reliance. The National Unity Government is working, in greater cohesion and coordination, on tackling a difficult set of challenges facing our people. In that effort, our security forces are serving valiantly to enhance security, while defending and protecting our sovereignty, infrastructure and people against terrorism and violent extremism.

In conclusion, we believe today’s meeting marks an important step forward in devising a more effective UN approach for the protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks. As the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, we hope the Security Council will continue to render due focus and attention on this important matter.

I thank you!



Security Council Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

STATEMENT  BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

Statement at the Security Council Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

(Check against delivery)

10 January 2017


بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

Mr. President,

Afghanistan wishes to thank Her Excellency Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom of the Kingdom of Sweden and her delegation for convening today’s important debate. We hope it will mark the start of a new phase in the UN’s efforts to embed conflict prevention at the core of its “Peace and Security Architecture.”  We are also particularly grateful to Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his visionary and inspiring statement.

Today, we witnessed yet another bloody day in my country. The Taliban waged multiple terrorist attacks in Kabul, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan. Based on the most recent reports, around 135 people, mostly civilians including women and children have been killed and wounded in this carnage. Among the wounded are our Governor of Kandahar, Ambassador of UAE to Afghanistan, and a number of other diplomatic colleagues. We pray for those who lost their lives and wish a quick recovery of those injured. 

These attacks in my country, and today’s debate illustrates in clear terms that sustaining peace is a complex undertaking, requiring consistency across multiple lines of effort.  It also highlights that the UN is simultaneously preoccupied with an unprecedented number of security and humanitarian crises, and more focus is needed to overcome current conflicts and prevent those of tomorrow.

Mr. President,

A glimpse at the current international landscape reveals that violent extremism and terrorism feature dominantly in several conflicts around the world. These two threats violate human rights, undermine stability and development, and take the lives of scores of innocent people worldwide. We believe terrorism can only be defeated with a multi-dimensional approach that focuses on both of their internal and external drivers.

The UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) constitutes a key preventive tool, to address some internal drivers of violent extremism at the societal level, beyond security and military measures. Addressing social grievances, ensuring inclusive and egalitarian communities; empowering the youth with economic opportunities; and countering the terrorist narrative at the national and local levels are all essential to address some of the drivers of violent extremist activity. We in Afghanistan have incorporated the goals of the PVE action plan into our national counter terrorism activities.

That said, the UN must also afford greater attention to some of the external drivers of these phenomenon. The cycle of violence and insecurity in Afghanistan and our part of the world is inextricably linked to the presence of sanctuaries and safe havens in the region, from which extremist groups are sustained and enjoy an incessant flow of political, financial, material, and logistical support for the continuation of their malicious activities. In this light, the UN, and this Council in particular, can devise a viable approach to identify situations where elements in some “State institutions” facilitate violence and extremist activities by non-state proxies as a means to advance their foreign policy agenda. 

Mr. President,

We concur that the Sustaining Peace Agenda goes hand in hand with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing a key tool in helping to prevent conditions that may give rise to conflict and instability, such as poverty, lack of development and dire humanitarian conditions. Consistent with Goal 17, the continued partnership of the international community, particularly for developing, land-locked developing and fragile countries, remains crucial for helping States to implement their national development goals.

National dialogue, mediation and reconciliation, aimed at fostering understanding to prevent conflicts, as well as resolve them through peaceful means are other important components of the “conflict prevention and sustaining peace” agenda.  In our own case, the Government of National Unity is making every effort to ensure lasting peace for our peoples. In that effort, we are reaching out to reconcilable elements of Afghan armed groups willing to give up violence and embrace a new future as peaceful and law-abiding citizens.

We are pleased that our peace efforts enjoy broad support from regional and international partners, which is imperative for the success of our endeavor. That said, whether in our case, or any other peace process, it is imperative that the “principle of national leadership and ownership” are fully upheld, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, including the principle of respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. In this context, we have expressed strong reservations in regards to open declarations by some in our region of their counter-productive contacts with armed opposition groups active in Afghanistan, without the consent of the Afghan Government. Let me reassert, any kind of talks on the situation in my country has neither any value nor legitimacy without the participation and approval of our Government which is the most democratically elected administration in the history of our nation.

Mr. President,

What additional steps are required by the Security Council and the UN system to bolster existing efforts, and how can current preventive tools be better utilized to prevent conflict and sustain peace? 

The UN is well positioned to help address trust deficit associated with negative state rivalries which often leads to conflict, and wherein some actors go at all lengths, including the use of violent proxy forces in pursuit of political, security and economic objectives. This phenomenon is predominant in our region. The UN, and the Security Council in particular, can play an important role in addressing “root causes and structural drivers of conflict,” and in furthering efforts to foster mutual trust and confidence for common gain, at the national, regional and international levels. 

Unity and consensus in the Council and ensuring justice are imperative for conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Far too often, lack of consensus in the Council has prevented necessary and effective action to avoid the exacerbation of a particular conflict, as well as the creation of fertile ground for healthy dialogue on the peace and negotiations front. Moreover, strengthening the UN’s early warning system requires greater coordination between relevant UN offices to monitor fluid and conflict prone settings to identify viable approaches to avert potential crises. We believe the role of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and its regional UN offices are of particular importance. In this respect new focus should be given to identifying aggressors who in fact are mainly responsible for fueling conflicts. 

Afghanistan welcomes the focus with which the Security Council and the overall UN system are seeking to advance the role of women peace and security agenda. Experience has shown that peaceful settlement of conflicts is most probable when women have a clear and decisive role in peace processes.  In that light, we have made sure to include women in all stages of our peace efforts, including in the decision making phase.   

In conclusion, we hope 2017 will mark the start of a new era of the UN’s advantageous efforts to place prevention and the sustainability of peace at the forefront in its efforts to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous international landscape for humanity as a whole. We fully support the vision of the Secretary General presented today on conflict prevention and sustaining peace and look forward to work with him on its implementation.

Thank You!


Security Council Debate on the Trafficking of Persons in Conflict

STATEMENT  BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal 

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

Security Council Debate on the Trafficking of Persons in Conflict

(check against delivery)

20 December 2016

I would like to thank the Spanish Presidency for convening today’s debate on a topic of crucial importance, which demands the urgent attention of the international community. We thank Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other presenters for their comprehensive briefings. We are also moved by the statements of civilian activists Ms. Ameena Saeed Hasan and Goodwill Ambassador Ms. Nadia Morad Basee Taha.

Human trafficking constitutes a grave violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. It violates the fundamental values and principles we hold dear, like justice, equality, and human rights for all.

Over the past several years, the world has seen human trafficking continue unabated in different parts of the world, especially in countries stricken by conflict and facing violent extremism. This has many causes: to generate illegal profits in the criminal economy; to enlist people in illegal armed groups; to impose forced labor and slavery upon the innocent; and to have them carry out terrorist attacks in different parts of the world.

Human trafficking is particularly prevalent in countries stricken by conflict and strife, especially those who continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists and extremists. We have witnessed a continuing trend where many terrorist and extremist groups, such as the Taliban, ISIL or Daesh and Al-Qaeda, among others, increasingly resort to human trafficking to advance their evil agenda. In Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, extremist groups have abducted men, women, and children as a means to finance and conduct their criminal activities. In many cases, women and girls in particular, have been put for sale to mobilize financial resources and fund military operations. Such despicable activities represent the most evil of human actions.

The inextricable link between human trafficking and terrorism remains a serious source of concern, demanding urgent attention of the international community. We believe that addressing some of the underlying factors driving violent extremism should not be separate from ending the problem of human trafficking. In various conflict situations, especially in our region, a multitude of terrorist and extremist groups, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network still enjoy sanctuary, safe havens, alongside material and financial support that have reinforced their operational capability to continue their reign of terror against innocent people.

One of the best ways to address human trafficking is to prevent conflict from arising in the first place and resolving those wherever they occur. In doing so, we will avoid the enabling environment that fuels the problem of human trafficking.

As the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, this Council should take necessary measures to identify and address the lingering problem of continued support for extremists as a means to advance political objectives. More focus should be given to ensure that States comply with their counter-terrorism commitments and obligations, on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

As a front-line State in the fight against global terrorism and extremism, we assure this Council, and the international community at large, that our struggle against these twin menaces will continue unabated, and with firm resolve. As we speak, our national security forces are engaging a multitude of international extremist groups that pose a serious threat to the civilized world. 

Mr. President,

The UN Global Action Plan to Prevent Trafficking of Persons and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children remains the overall international framework for decisive action to combat human trafficking in all its aspects.  Afghanistan is a party to the said convention and we have put in place several legislations to criminalize various forms of human trafficking. Additionally, we are grateful to USAID for the Combating Human Trafficking in Afghanistan Project, co-funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that works with our Government to effectively prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and improve regional coordination to combat cross-border trafficking.

The problem of human trafficking is wide-ranging with various components.  The unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees, mainly from countries facing conflict, has left millions of people vulnerable to human trafficking throughout the world. In this context, we are pleased that the joint declaration adopted at the conclusion of the Summit Meeting on Migration here in New York in September offered due focus on preventing human trafficking.

Today’s meeting of the Security Council signifies that the trafficking of persons constitutes a crime against humanity and that any individual or groups involved in this heinous practice must be brought to justice. We hope this meeting will also serve as a reminder for all that additional progress is required to implement their commitments and obligations not only as matter of legal responsibility, but also as a moral imperative.  

Finally, we concur with previous speakers that the problem of human trafficking in conflict situations should not be seen in isolation from the global fight against terrorism. Hence, it is imperative that States spare no effort, whatsoever, to implement the relevant counter-terrorism resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly. In that context, relevant States must prevent the cross-border movement of terrorists, to cut off the flow of financial resources and other enablers that have thus far sustained extremist activity.

Mr. President,

We hope the outcome of today’s meeting will revitalize the global fight against a menace that constitutes a crime against humanity and a challenging confronting us all.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan