Saturday, September 24, 2016

Statement of Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan at the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ten years ago member states gathered in this distinguished assembly to take an unprecedented step: through the adoption the Millennium Declaration, we asserted our shared responsibility to humanity, and committed to making tangible progress in improving the lives of human beings around the world. In addition to being a moral imperative, this Declaration also recognized the crucial link between the wellbeing of individuals and the stability and health of societies and of states. Through the Millennium Development Goals, we committed to addressing some of the world’s most difficult and pressing development issues, including poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation, and the promotion of gender equality, education and health. Ten years later, these are still the main challenges facing our people and our countries.

Mr. President,

At the time of the Millennium Declaration’s adoption in 2000, Afghanistan was cut off, isolated from the international community by the abhorrent Taliban regime, which denied Afghan people even the most fundamental human rights and allowed terrorists to use Afghan soil to launch attacks around the world.  In 2001, with the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan slowly began to rebuild its shattered political, economic and social structures, and to regain its rightful place in the community of nations.  Our country undertook a series of policies aimed at a comprehensive reconstruction and stabilization of the political and economic situation both nationally and regionally. These policies centered around the urgent need to bring the Afghan people out of grinding poverty and provide them with the basic human rights, opportunities and services that had been denied them for decades.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has made enormous strides in the past decade, emerging from the ruins of war to build a more functioning government, a more prosperous economy, and a more healthy society.

Just three days ago, Afghanistan held its second parliamentary election. Millions of Afghans from all walks of life braved a challenging security situation, and cast their votes to elect representatives of the National Assembly. The unprecedented number of women candidates, voters and elected representatives is a clear demonstration of how far Afghan women have come in regaining their proactive role in Afghan society.

H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, addresses the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Convened by the General Assembly, the Summit is aimed at spurring action towards achieving internationally agreed goals to reduce hunger, poverty and disease.

These elections reaffirmed the steadfast commitment of the Afghan people to democracy and self-determination. Our leadership will continue to focus on good governance and to introduce institutional reforms that will make us more responsive to the needs and concerns of the vibrant Afghan civil society and population.

Economically, 80% of Afghans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and so along with other agricultural reforms we have undertaken comprehensive efforts to rebuild and repair irrigation systems, and have constructed over 10,000km of roads.  These changes improved productivity in the agricultural and trade sectors, which boosted GDP growth in the country to achieve record highs at 22.5 percent this year (2009/2010).  The average income has quadrupled since 2001. Government revenue this year surpassed a billion dollars for the first time. The recent discovery of enormous mineral resources, combined with the potential trade and transit opportunities with our neighbors, provides a chance to bring the Afghan people out of poverty, and offers a sound basis for future prosperity.

Afghanistan’s health and education sectors have also developed significantly, thanks in large part to the assistance of our international partners, including this Organization. We have established hundreds of clinics and hospitals across the country, expanding basic health coverage from 9% of the population in 2003 to close to 90% this year. Our national immunization campaign is in full swing, reaching out to millions of children under the age of five to protect them against polio and other deadly diseases. We have made substantial improvements in reducing infant and under five mortality rates.  In addition, we have a 71% school enrollment rate of Afghan boys and girls. As part of our national agenda to promote primary, secondary and higher education, we have constructed close to 4,000 school buildings over the past nine years; and we are on track to build an additional 4,900 by end of 2013.

We are also building a complex social safety net, geared towards finding work for those willing and able, and supporting those who are unable to care for themselves.

Mr. President,

We must keep in mind the backdrop of severe fragility and conflict when assessing the success of Afghanistan in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Security is the bedrock for socio-economic development, and in Afghanistan the difficult security situation has challenged our ability to sustain progress. The enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan are still active, orchestrating well-planned attacks against schools, clinics, teachers, doctors, government employees and even young children, particularly school girls. Unfortunately, similar attacks continue against humanitarian aid organizations and their personnel, who are working under difficult conditions to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.  In recognition of the crucial role of security in providing space for development, I would like to emphasize our addition of security on Afghanistan’s list of MDGs.  Improvements in security over the past year include substantial progress in clearing land mines and reducing poppy cultivation.

While we have made significant improvements, Afghanistan remains the lowest income country in the region, with 40% of its population unemployed and 36% living in poverty.  We still face a gender gap in literacy and education.  For such reasons more than ever we realize the importance of our international partners in supporting our country. Our budget for development is entirely financed by aid, and we hope to continue the transition toward streamlining aid more effectively through the government of Afghanistan with a view toward sustainability and capacity building. We have designed an extensive plan for MDG goals and targets over the next decade.

Mr. President,

His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul of Afghanistan addresses the General Assembly

While we know the path ahead is a difficult one, we are determined to forge on with a view toward reaching our commitments for MDGs.  Our number one priority as a government is to bring an end to conflict: the Afghan people are thirsty for peace. The Afghan National Army and Police are being trained and equipped to take responsibility for the Afghan people.  The Afghan government is simultaneously undertaking a broad political outreach initiative to offer a new beginning to former combatants and others willing to lay down arms and embrace a peaceful life.

In addition, in order to focus on the most pressing issues, the Afghan government has recently identified five key areas in the ANDS that will require intense attention.  These include agriculture development and rural rehabilitation; human resources development; economic and infrastructure development, governance and security.

Mr. President,

Our recent Kabul conference was a milestone in greater Afghan leadership, particularly security, governance and development. At the Kabul Conference, we presented our comprehensive development agenda, aimed at implementing tangible improvements in the lives of our citizens. Over the coming years, our government will push for a transition to greater Afghan responsibility and leadership in security, social and economic development, and governance.

Mr. President,
We are aware of the challenges we face. More than three billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day, and far too many are denied access to food, shelter, water and other necessities of life. But Afghanistan is well aware, perhaps more than many, of exactly how much we can accomplish when working together. Our responsibility, as world leaders and as human beings, is to persevere in our quest to improve the lives of our fellows. I am convinced that, with commitment and focus, we will succeed.

I thank you.

Video

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

STATEMENT BY

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

Madam President,

Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the Council for this month. I am grateful for you for convening this meeting. Afghanistan deeply appreciates the strong support and solidarity of the family of nations in its arduous struggle to stand on its feet after decades of conflicts and suffering.

Specially, we are grateful for the excellent work and efforts of the UNAMA.
Our special thanks go to Ambassador Kai Eide and his able team.

I would like to brief you on our recent presidential and provincial council elections and the way forward. The August elections were important milestones in the processes of democratization and state-building in Afghanistan.

It was a multifaceted undertaking, involving different entities and players.
This includes Afghan national security forces, the Independent Election Commission, the Election Complaint Commission, Afghan media, the UN agencies, Afghan civil society, Afghan political community, the International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan voters.

It was the first time in the history of modern Afghanistan, that Afghans had the opportunity to organize a nationwide election.

What this election made different from other elections, was the degree of security threat. Al Qaheda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups did their utmost to disrupt the election.
Painfully, we lost a number of our security forces, our international partners and Afghan civilians to terrorist attacks prior and during the Election Day.
Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully.

As with any emerging democracy, there were cases of irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be aware of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.

For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support the forthcoming decisions by Afghan electoral bodies.
Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.

Madam President,

Afghanistan is faced with four categories of challenges and needs. These are stabilization, humanitarian, reconstruction and developmental. Only by pursuing a long-term and comprehensive strategy, we can consolidate our fragile achievements and institutions since 2001. Short-term, compartmentalized and partial solutions are doomed to fail.

The objective of such a strategy must be helping create a fully sustained and functioning state. The main pillars of this strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.

A long-term and comprehensive strategy needs adequate and right resources and skills.
To implement such a strategy, there is a need for a clearer division of responsibility between us and the international community. Afghanistan has to shoulder the main responsibility in creating a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic Afghanistan.
The sustained and substantial support of the international community will be crucial in enabling us to attain our national priorities.

We are very pleased with elevating Afghanistan as one of the main priorities of the US by the new administration. We are confident the surge in US military support, coupled with the increase in civilian and developmental assistance is the best way forward.

Madam President,

Afghanistan welcomes the proposal to convene an international conference on situation in Afghanistan. We will be pleased to host it in Kabul. This conference will be an opportunity to renew our partnership and outlaying specific and concert steps and programs.

The conference will be an important forum for identifying effective ways for implementing Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
Furthermore, it will have to discuss our mutual responsibility and commitment for principles of good governance, mutual accountability, transparency, aid efficiency and enhanced coordination.
Madam President,

Allow me to say few words about the strategic issue of good governance. In addressing Afghanistan’s short and long-term needs and challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning state is absolutely essential.

However, it is a reductionist view to reduce all our problems to only one issue. Terrorists are motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatic mindset and ideological ends.
In the context of Afghanistan, we often suffer from weak governance and absence of governance, as well as bad governance.

In many cases, we do not have basic and necessary tools of governance. Rather than bashing and delegitimizing our young state institutions, we have to invest in our national institutions. Furthermore, it is wrong and unethical to ignore bad and malpractices by other agencies, including in the donor community.
Madam President,

Another important issue is the question of re-integration of illegal fighters into civilian life.

From the beginning, it has been our stated policy that Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans. To this end and in the context of Afghanistan Constitution, we have resorted to all means to encourage those Afghans that took arms against their country to participate in the process of reconstruction of their motherland.

In coming weeks and months, we will accelerate our efforts towards this end.

To succeed in this endeavor, our efforts must be consistent with the ends that we are envisioning for Afghanistan and the region.
Secondly, as long as the leadership of the Taliban and other terrorist groups remain protected by external entities, we cannot achieve our goal in dismantling the dynamic of insecurity in Afghanistan.

Any sustainable effort in reintegration must focus on the leadership as well as non-ideological fighters.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another important issue for Afghanistan is regional cooperation. For us, regional cooperation is a pillar of our foreign, security and development policy. We fully believe in the utility of economic peace in our region. Many of our challenges are regional in nature and consequence, particularly, terrorism and drug trafficking. Only by creating cooperative environment in the region, we can collectively address our interrelated challenges.

In this context, our relation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is of utmost importance. Fortunately, in recent months, there has been a cooperative atmosphere between us and the new civilian government in Pakistan.
It is our sincere wish to extend this to other entities in Pakistan. To this end, the international community must ensure that only good behaviors are rewarded.
Madam President,
In addressing all these issues, the UN has and must play a leading role. The UNAMA is well-placed to communicate and bridge the mutual needs and expectations between us and our international partners. Enhancing coordination among and between different stakeholders is another important role for the UNAMA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude by reiterating Afghanistan’s full commitment and readiness to strengthening our partnership with our international partners. I am absolutely confident that with your support and solidarity, Afghanistan will restore its historical role and place as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a crossroads for trade, transit and tourism in the region.

I thank you.

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dâdfar Spantâ, addresses the General Assembly

STATEMENT OF H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the General Debate
of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Statement

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

First, let me welcome you, Mr. President, and congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the 64th Session of the General Assembly. Afghanistan looks forward to working with you over the next year, and to strengthening the international responses to the crises facing us today.

sapanta1

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dâdfar Spantâ, addresses the General Assembly

Mr. President,
Since its inception, the UN has been instrumental in addressing world’s challenges, particularly the global south. But significant challenges remain unresolved. The growing gap in opportunities and prosperity between and among nations reminds us that we are still far away from meeting the ideals and objectives of the UN charter in creating a just and secure world.
Strengthening and restructuring of the UN agencies remain pivotal in closing the gap between the objectives of the charter and the realities of the world. The UN is not a forum for lip service. It must embody the ideals of the charter by providing political and moral direction and leadership. n our increasingly interdependent world and the multi-laterally-oriented international system, the UN must assume greater responsibility in finding collective solutions to our challenges. The world, particularly the developing nations are faced with the threats of poverty, underdevelopment, environmental degradation, extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism, culturally-based racism, spread of weapons of mass destruction and arms race.
Rather than just managing and reacting to problems, the UN must find ways to address the structural causes of world’s problems and conflicts. To these ends, closer cooperation between the UN, the international criminal court, the International Financial Organizations and global civil society is vital in moving towards a more just and equitable relations among and between the nations.
Our efforts to address the new challenges must be accompanied by redoubling our commitment for resolving the remaining historical conflicts. Chief among them is the middle-east peace process. Afghanistan reiterates its call for the full implementation of UN Resolutions and other regional initiatives for bringing an end to the suffering of Palestinian nation and creating a safe region for all middle-eastern nations.
Finding a just and working solution to the middle-east peace process will also deny terrorists a potent recruiting tool. This will also remove a significant obstacle towards mutual understanding and cooperation between the Islamic world and the West.

Mr. President,
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic world faces a number of important internal and external questions and issues. Addressing these issues and reviving the prominent role of Muslims in contributing to humanity’s progress and civilization can only be attained if we, as members of the Islamic world, collectively confront current intellectual stagnation that many of us suffer. As with the golden era of Islamic history, intellectual freedom and creativity must be elevated to our highest social and political priorities. The Islamic world is in urgent need of an intellectual renaissance.
Islamophobia and equating Muslims to a violent minority is another issue that calls upon all of us, particularly the western nations, to seek effective ways to confront them. As with racially-motivated racism and discrimination, culturally-based racism must also be rejected and confronted.

H.E. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan addresses the general debate of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.|

H.E. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan addresses the general debate of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

Mr. President,
Let me now turn to the situation in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the negative coverage of the situation in Afghanistan by international media has overshadowed the many positive trends and developments achieved since the collapse of the Taliban’s regime. Alongside terrorism, drugs, weak state institutions and corruption, a new Afghanistan is emerging. This Afghanistan comprises our emerging democracy, rising state institutions, nascent civil society, growing private sector and strong international solidarity.
I can refer to many examples about this Afghanistan. In the course of last 8 years, the percentage of access to basic health services has risen from 9% in 2001 to present 85%. The number of students had grown from one million only boy students in 2001 to nearly 7 million boys and girls in 2008. In 2001, there were only 4000 students in universities, whereas now more than 75000 are enrolled in 22 universities. The armies of private militia in late 2001 have been replaced by a nearly 200000 strong national security forces. Compared with one state Radio and a couple of newspapers during the Taliban, Afghanistan now has over 700 media outlets, who are often critical of the government.
In late 2001, only a handful had access to internet across Afghanistan, but today, we have one million users. Our average GDP per capita has grown from $US 185 in 2001 to $US 485 in 2008.
The generous support and sacrifices of the international community were vital in our joint and proud achievements in Afghanistan, for which we remain grateful.

Mr. President,
The August presidential and provincial elections demonstrated the many positive changes. It was the first time in modern history of Afghanistan, that the Afghan institutions were tasked with organizing and holding a nationwide election. Taking into account the socio-historical realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully. In addition to be our first experience, we were faced with merciless enemies who did their utmost to disrupt and derail the process by terrorizing the Afghan voters.
By braving Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, Afghan voters demonstrated their determination and desire to have a modern, moderate and democratic political system. The electoral campaigns were conducted in a democratic spirit. The candidates transcended ethnic and religious lines. There was not major physical violence between the candidates’ supporters. The Independent Election Commission conducted successfully the voter-registration process, voting and counting. The Afghan media played a crucial role in educating and mobilizing the voters. Our national security forces did an excellent job in providing security prior and during the elections with the full coordination and cooperation with our international partners. On Election Day, we lost a number of our security forces, Afghan civilians as well as members of the International Security Assistance Forces to terrorist attacks.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the UN-supported Election Complaint Commission (ECC) are working hard on counting votes and addressing the complaints.
As with any emerging democracy, undoubtedly, there were cases of irregularities. But one should not assess a terrorist-inflicted nascent democracy with the criteria of centuries-old stable and prosperous democracies. This is not a call to condone fraud and irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be conscious of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.

In due course, the Independent Elections Commission and the Election Complain Commission will announce and certify the final results of the elections. For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support their decision. Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.

Mr. President,
Afghanistan still faces significant challenges. Chief of them is terrorism, which enjoys safe haven and institutional support beyond our borders. As long as the terrorism infrastructure and sanctuaries, including the leadership of the Taliban remains protected, Afghanistan, the region and the world will be at the mercy of terrorists and their totalitarian ideology and objectives. Narcotic drugs, weak state institutions, corruption and socio-economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment constitute our other challenges.

Only by pursuing a comprehensive strategy, adequate resources, effective implementation and more importantly strategic patience and steadfastness, we can address our interconnected challenges in Afghanistan and the region. The main pillars of such a comprehensive strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.

Afghanistan fully endorses Pres. Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the new assessment by Gen MackCrystal, particularly, their emphasis on the need for a comprehensive and long-term strategy.

Mr. President,
The forthcoming international conference on Afghanistan will be an opportunity for Afghanistan and our international partners to review and reiterate our mutual commitment and determination for addressing Afghanistan’s remaining challenges. It must renew the sense of partnership and cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community. It must aim to build upon our many joint achievements as well as addressing our mutual shortcomings and deficiencies. Our renewed compact with the international community will be complemented by the new compact between the Afghan government and the Afghan nation.

What the Afghan nation expects and deserves from a renewed partnership with the international community is the reassurance of long-term commitment and solidarity. They are rightly fearful of being abandoned once again to lawlessness, extremism, and external interference. Abandoning the Afghan nation who has endured years of suffering and pain will undermine the spirit of collective cooperation and the ideals of the UN. It will also overshadow the moral credibility of those who failed to honor their promise and commitment to Afghans for many generations to come. Furthermore, it will embolden extremists in the region and beyond.
On its part, the Afghan Government is fully committed and determined to assume the lead responsibilities in providing leadership for the full realization of the aspiration of Afghan citizens and its commitment to the international community. The principles of good governance, mutual accountability and regional cooperation are of highest priority. There must be zero-tolerance for any drug-related activities and corruption by both the Afghan Government and our international partners.

Mr. President,
I have full confidence that with the full support and commitment of the family of nations, Afghanistan will be able to overcome the legacies of decades of violence and suffering. We will restore our historic position as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a regional crossroads and hub for trade, transit, transportation and tourism.

I thank you.

Video

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.