Thursday, September 29, 2016

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Meeting

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 I begin by conveying the warm greetings of the people and Government of Afghanistan. We convey our thanks and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Nepal for leading our Group successfully.  We congratulate Mr.  Gyan Chandra Acharya for his recent appointment as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. We are confident that his able leadership will guide us toward achieving our common goals. We also extend our congratulations to the Republic of Benin on its election as the next Chair. Let me assure you of my government’s full support.

Mr. Chairman,

Today’s meeting comes at an important moment, a little over a year since the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA). The landmark event marked a milestone in our joint efforts: ridding from our societies the scourges of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and other ills effecting the well-being and prosperity of our citizens. No one has questioned the challenges associated with implementing the goals of the Istanbul Program of Action. Nevertheless, we are convinced that, with resolute commitment, and determined efforts our success is inevitable.

Mr. Chairman,

 

The Afghanistan of today is one, which has transformed for the better over the past decade. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, and the start of our partnership with our international friends in 2001, we began our state-building efforts, geared towards a vision that sees our citizens living in peace and security, and having what is necessary to lead dignified and prosperous lives.  To realize that vision, we have undertaken enormous measures, within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), leading to significant achievements in numerous areas, including, but not limited to, the health and education sectors, the growth of our economy, and the strengthening of our infrastructure.

 

For several decades, but particularly in recent years, my Government has sought to advance regional stability and prosperity by restoring Afghanistan’s central role as a land bridge between Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East- for the exchange of commerce, culture, and ideas.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan is making steady progress in the transition process for self-reliance in the security, governance and development fields. In the context of our state-building efforts, Afghanistan will continue to require sustained international support in the long-term.

Two months ago in Tokyo, Afghanistan and the international community came together to re-define the nature of our partnership. In adopting the “Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework” we have put in place a clear structure that will benefit a more result oriented partnership and cooperation. We are particularly pleased with the international community’s expressed readiness to align aid with our National Priority Programs (NPPs), and channel assistance through the Afghan budget.

 

Moving towards Transformation Decade, the new Afghanistan still face many development challenges. It is obvious the achieving peace, stability, and prosperity require a better security environment in our cities, villages, and borders. And, as we all know, achieving the goal of creating a better security environment in highly dependent on economic and human development as well as on good governance. Our strategic vision towards self-reliance Afghanistan for the transformation decade is the result of our commitments to tackle those challenges.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Since late last year, the series of conferences beginning with Istanbul in November, followed by Bonn in December, Dushanbe in March, Chicago in May, and last June’s Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting in Kabul, have demonstrated the region and international community’s unequivocal political and economic support for Afghanistan’s rebirth as a confident, stable, and reliable hub for regional trade and transit at a key interchange in Asia: the world’s most dynamic region.

 

Together, these building blocks have served Afghanistan and its citizens well in terms of facilitating the regional bonds for economic exchange, political cooperation, and cultural understanding.

 

In this regard, the November 2011 initiated “Istanbul Process”, and its 43 regional confidence-building measures, acknowledges the need for a substantive political dialogue to ensure that steps to integrate the national economies of the region are sustained and made durable. Given the long road ahead in the remainder of the “Transition Period” (until 2014) and “Transformation Decade” (2015-2024), the need for mutually reinforcing economic, political, and security-building efforts becomes even more urgent as Afghanistan charts an unequivocally regional future.

 

We perceive regional economic cooperation as a key element of our broader efforts to strengthen relations, mutual respect, and trust between Afghanistan and its many neighbors.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

With three years left for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite our efforts and progress, our group is faced with serious obstacles in meeting our stated goals.  Among the many factors hindering our progress, include multiple global crises of climate change, natural disasters, the global financial and economic crises, as well as food insecurity.  Given our special situation, LDCs require special and particular focus and attention from the international community.  Afghanistan, underscores, in this connection, the necessary increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) by our partners in the developed world to help us realize our national and millennium development goals.

 

In addition, we insist that donors take into consideration the principle of ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channeling more funds through core budgets and trust funds. Additional measures are required for ensuring the efficiency and transparency of such aid.  This could be achieved through greater coordination among the donor community.

 

A sound and effective agriculture sector is vital for our development and prosperity.  The overwhelming majority of LDCs rely on agricultural productivity, as a key component of a self-sufficient economy.  In this connection, due consideration on the part of our international partners should be accorded.

 

Without any doubt, the effects of climate change are among the dominant threats facing our common development and prosperity.  Too often, natural disasters, whether in the form of mudslides and flooding or drought have devastated our infrastructure, and agriculture. As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan further supports the LDC’s position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan welcomes the outcome document of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which was held from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference was a historic event in garnering a renewed commitment for effective strategies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty, advance social equity and protect our environment.

 

We also call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

 

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

 

Thank you.

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the High-Level meeting on the Rule of Law

Mr. President,

Afghanistan welcomes today’s high-level meeting which is a manifestation of our shared conviction that strengthening the rule of law, nationally and internationally, serves our mutual benefit. Over the course of the past six decades, the United Nations has made great progress in securing peace, safe-guarding fundamental freedoms, and assisting countries emerging from conflict.  The rule of law has been a fundamental basis for all these achievements.  In short, we can say that the rule of law is the very bedrock on which peaceful, stable, and harmonious societies flourish.

 

Mr. President,

For Afghanistan, upholding the rule of law is an essential component of our transition from a society ravaged by decades of conflict and war to one where we are working to take on the security, development and justice challenges that remain. Our efforts to rebuild began with state institutions that were either non-existent or severely weak.

Over the past years, we’ve made progress in making our justice sector operate with greater capacity to ensure improved rule of law. This principle is embedded in our National Development Strategy. We have taken wide-ranging measures in support of an independent, more transparent, impartial and credible justice sector, including: the adoption of a Constitution which safeguards the rights of all citizens; conducting an overhaul of our national legal framework; and the development of national action plans to restructure and build capacity in our Ministries.

Mr. President,

Ending impunity is an important step in building public confidence and trust in our justice and security sectors. To this end, the newly drafted Criminal Procedure Code was this year presented to the National Assembly and is expected to be placed on the legislative agenda soon. Several working groups have also been continuing their efforts to revise the Penal Code, to strengthen the protection of all citizens, with particular focus on the rights of women and children. We have made considerable progress in broadening participation in education, and in particular higher education, where the judges and lawyers of tomorrow will be trained. Through these gains and many others we are re-building the necessary tools and institutions to ensure the rule of law as a solid basis on which to build sustainable peace.

Mr. President,

The chance to live in peace and security is a fundamental right of all peoples. The people of Afghanistan desire nothing more than the chance to live in a violence-free environment. In that regard, Afghanistan’s security sector reform, initiated in 2001, has led to the formation of a national army and police whose ranks represent the diversity of the country. Consistent with the transition process, our security forces are taking increased responsibility – back by public confidence in them – to meet the security needs of our peoples, in our villages, towns and provinces.

For the past decade, we have been studiously engaged in combating corruption, an ill that has had a drastic effect on our governance, stability and prosperity – it harms Afghans first and foremost. Defeating the menace of corruption therefore remains a high priority for my Government. We have taken a number of measures to achieve a fully transparent administration, the most recent of which was the issuance of a Presidential Decree this past July – directing all Ministries, agencies and independent directorates to undertake comprehensive reforms and other measures to defeat corruption and strengthen transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is party to a multitude of relevant treaties and conventions which seek to uphold and promote the rule of law in a wide array of spheres. We recognise that signing and ratifying treaties is not enough, and that rights and obligations arising from international instruments must be implemented into national law. It is for this reason that President Karzai has instructed the Ministry of Justice to actively take forward the process of ensuring that our national legislation is in full conformity with our international commitments.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General has named strengthening compliance in the context of the United Nations a priority in the field of the rule of law at the international level. Achieving a reformed Security Council with a view to increasing its representation, transparency and furthering its effectiveness is of utmost importance. Afghanistan has taken a lead role in chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, and we stand ready to ensure that this vital reform of the Security Council strengthens and enhances the United Nations ability to promote and uphold the rule of law at the international level.

 

Mr. President,

We highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in promoting international criminal justice, and addressing the most serious of crimes, as a court of last resort.  As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, we welcome the continuing increase in the number of States joining the Statute. This illustrates that the Court’s work and influence is gaining momentum.

Mr. President,

While this High-Level dialogue is significant in engaging Member States on this important issue, we must ensure that we do not stop at dialogue; our agreed outcomes must be implemented both at the national and international levels. Afghanistan will continue to do its part to help strengthen, as part of the global effort, the rule of law at the national and international levels.

Thank you.

United Nations At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement  by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

 

Mr. President,

It is truly a pleasure to be among the Members of the Security Council today, at this critical juncture on Afghanistan’s path to peace and prosperity. I congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of September, and convey our appreciation for Germany’s continual support and assistance for Afghanistan during its tenure on the Council. Let me also convey a warm welcome to my good friend and colleague the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Jan Kubis. We thank him for his clear presentation of the Secretary General’s comprehensive report.

Mr. President,

We meet at an important time, when Afghanistan is transitioning confidently into a vibrant, self-reliant and sovereign nation; a nation that is increasingly taking full charge of its destiny. The Afghan people are inspired by the prospect of a future free from violence and war. And thanks to our joint efforts, important progress towards that endeavor continues.

As we speak, Afghanistan has surpassed the halfway point on our transition to full security responsibility. With the commencement of the third tranche of security transition in May, 75% of the country will be under Afghan security responsibility by the end of November.  Our progress is on track to complete security transition by the end of 2013. The Afghan army and police are showing more resilience and effectiveness, as they take on more responsibility in meeting the country’s security needs.

Needless to say, sustainability of the ANSF is inextricably linked to the international community’s long-term support.  The outcome of the recent Chicago NATO Summit was a clear manifestation of our international partners’ resolute commitment to a strong and effective Afghan national security force. We also welcome NATO’s decision to develop a new “training, advising and assistance” role, which will take effect in 2014, and look forward to working with our relevant partners on the scope and mandate of the new mission.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people are encouraged by the international community’s assurance to helping them secure peace and prosperity throughout transition, and the Transformation decade (2015-2024). In this regard, commitments made at the Bonn Conference last year, the NATO Summit this past May, and more recently, at the Tokyo Conference in July are crucial for our long-term success.

The Tokyo Conference marked the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and our international friends; one based on a result oriented cooperation, to be conducted within the “mutual accountability framework.” We expect the international community to meet its commitment in channeling assistance through our core-budget, and aligning its aid with the Afghan National Priority Programme. Combating corruption, strengthening governance, and consolidating the rule of law will remain key priorities for us. President Karzai’s decree of July of this year is a significant step forward in our counter-corruption efforts. And it will be implemented by clear and time-bound measures by all Government Ministries, agencies and departments towards full accountability and transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is regaining its legitimate place in the region and the world, through playing an active role within the neighborhood and international community. Our multilateral agreements and strategic partnerships involve long-term commitments between Afghanistan and our international partners. The partnerships we have formed, both within our neighborhood and beyond, are essential to preserving the historic achievements of Afghanistan’s young democracy and securing the future peace and stability of the country. Thus far, we have concluded strategic, long-term partnership agreements with United States of America, India, China, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Australia. We see these partnerships as the key for our collective fight against the twin menaces of terrorism and extremism and for our future peace and stability through supporting our evolving national ownership.

Mr. President,

As we continue our transition, with bold steps toward strengthening Afghan sovereignty and national ownership, the enemies of Afghanistan continue to make desperate attempts to undermine our progress towards a brighter future. Terrorist attacks have been increasingly inflicted on families and innocent Afghan men, women and children in many parts of the country, putting a brutal and tragic halt to their peaceful lives.

Undoubtedly, the unremitting violence plaguing Afghanistan is the result of the continued military, financial and ideological support enjoyed by terrorists, and the presence of sanctuaries and safe-havens outside our borders.

Mr. President,

While the fight against terrorism will continue, the next few years of the political and security transition are vital for a stable future for Afghanistan. We are working diligently to ensure a fruitful result of peace and reconciliation efforts underway. Our inclusive peace and reconciliation process seeks to build trust and confidence among all Afghans. We are determined to bring to the folds of society those elements of the armed opposition willing to renounce violence, cut ties with terrorist groups, and accept the Afghan constitution. The High Peace Council has revitalized its approach to reconciliation efforts. The international community and our region have an important part to play. The role of the UN Security Council will be imperative to this process. We thank the Council for its support of our reconciliation efforts by meeting delisting requests, which we have presented. By the same token, we hope the new mandate of the Taliban sanctions committee will entail required adjustments, in recognition of the importance of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process – so that the sanctions regime is more responsive and flexible and used in an even more effective, positive way to encourage those willing to join this process. Therefore, we look forward to working closely with the Council members to amend the resolution in a way that further benefits and accelerates the Afghan peace process.

Mr. President,

The violence in Afghanistan has had a drastic effect on the security and well-being of our citizens. We express our serious concern about the growing number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan – the majority of which are caused by the Taliban and other extremist groups.

Meanwhile, loss of innocent life and harm to populations has also occurred in the course of NATO operations. The loss of even one innocent life is one too many. We underscore, yet again, the need to exert all measures necessary to protect civilian populations.

Mr. President,

The greatest challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan, such as terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drugs, are shared regionally and internationally. Our common threats require cooperative solutions. We are working with regional countries, and other partners for a comprehensive response to these menaces. Launched in November of last year, the Istanbul Process is gaining momentum. The process was further crystallized at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June, with the prioritization of key confidence-building measures. We look forward to coming together with our Heart of Asia partners in less than a week from now at the next Senior Officials Meeting in this city.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to a matter of deep and serious concern to my Government and the Afghan people. The shelling of areas of Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan from across the Durand Line, has led to unprecedented anger and frustration among Afghans from all walks of life. We reiterate our call for an immediate and complete end to these acts, which have taken the lives of dozens of Afghans, mainly civilians, while leaving many more wounded. We remain in close contact with the Government of Pakistan to address this issue, holistically and resolutely.

Failure to end such attacks risks jeopardizing Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral relations, with potential negative consequences for necessary bilateral cooperation for peace, security and economic development in our two countries and the wider region. Afghanistan desires close and fruitful relations with Pakistan, a neighbour with whom we share historical, cultural and traditional ties.

Mr. President,

As we work to tackle the challenges on the road ahead, let us not lose sight of the historic, transformative successes made thus far. Significant advances in social and economic development are clearly evident. Millions of students, boys and girls, men and women are enrolled in primary and higher education. The majority of Afghans now have access to basic health services; and Afghans are increasingly taking part in the democratic processes, exercising their right to shape their own destiny. While we have seen such changes unfolding throughout the last decade, we can be proud that today the initiatives underway in regards to development are increasingly Afghan-driven and Afghan-led, with support from the international community.  This characteristic is crucial for the sustainability of development efforts and for helping Afghanistan realize its full potential.

Mr. President,

With the next Presidential elections fast approaching, we are fully committed to ensuring a transparent election process, free of any external interference.

Mr. President,

After over three decades of struggle and suffering, we are moving ahead with Afghanistan’s recovery and renewed strength. Afghans recognize the important indications of our sovereignty. We are determined to further our efforts toward national ownership across the board, as the most effective way to ensure lasting peace and security to our country.

Before concluding, allow me to register the Afghan Government’s strong condemnation of the recent senselessly provocative acts of insult to Islam and Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him). While acknowledging our fellow Muslims’ right to peacefully protesting these insults, we deplore any violence resulting from such protests, especially against diplomatic representations anywhere in the world.

The key for Afghanistan’s future success is cooperation, both for our transition and the Transformation Decade to follow. Building trust and confidence with the international community is the basis for our path to security and prosperity. We are pleased that the Security Council is continuing to follow the situation closely, and we are thankful for their support and the support of the United Nations, including on revising UNAMA’s mandate in line with the demands of Afghan sovereignty. With long-term cooperation and partnership in the center of our efforts, we are confident that together we can build a more peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President!