Saturday, December 16, 2017

UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflic

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

 (Check against delivery)

31 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. President,

Let me thank the Mission of France for convening this open debate on the urgent issue of Children and Armed Conflict. I would like to extend my gratitude to other distinguished speakers for their statements. I would also like to welcome Ms. Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and commend her work on ending the suffering that children face globally due to conflict.

Mr. President,

Children suffer tremendously worldwide due to war, violence, and armed conflict. This is especially true in the case of Afghanistan, where so many childhoods have been compromised and impacted by imposed violence and conflict for almost four decades. But the question remains: why are our children suffering on a daily basis? And for how long we are to avoid the fundamental factors that threaten the lives and well-being of children in armed conflict? Child protection can best be ensured by addressing the root causes of the conflicts. Regardless of what we do, as long as insecurity and violence persist, the physical and psychological well-being of children will always be in danger, as we are experiencing in Afghanistan. Terror, violence, and insecurity in our country are rooted in factors that lie outside Afghanistan, with regional and global dimensions. Hence the goal should be to overcome the structural drivers of conflict and violence worldwide. This Council has a fundamental role to play in that regard, as the main UN body entrusted to maintain international peace and security. We expect the Council to respond appropriately to ensure the protection and well-being of Afghan children, and the world at large.

The Government of Afghanistan, in its own part, is fully committed to working closely with the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict to improve the lives of Afghan children. We also seek to build upon this relationship, as reflected by the constructive and positive meeting between the new Special Representative Ms. Gamba and our National Security Advisor on the sidelines of the UNGA, whereby both sides agreed to facilitate increasing engagement on the issue.

The protection of children and promotion of their rights stand high among the priorities of the Afghan Government. To this end, our efforts for their empowerment continue unabated within the framework of various international instruments, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We are implementing various measures and programs, in line with our national and international commitments aimed at ensuring that our children live in peace, security, and dignity.

To that effort, we have adopted a number of policies to ensure that no child is recruited in our national defense and security forces:

  • In 2010, we established an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict.
  • In 2011, that Committee developed a National Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in our defense and security forces.
  • Among other reforms, we established 21 Child Protection Units with the Afghan National and Local Police recruitment centers that have prevented over one hundred underage voluntary enlistment.
  • We have appointed high level focal points in our National Army to promote child protection.
  • The Prevention Law of Underage Recruitment in Afghan National Security Forces based on Article 79 of the Constitution was signed by the former President of Afghanistan and ratified by the Parliament in November 2014.
  • Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have endorsed a 15-points road-map towards compliance with the support of the UN. Among these measures, the Government has agreed to screen all National and Local Police units to release all underage recruits and establish a system to investigate, prosecute, and take disciplinary action against those responsible for the recruitment of children.
  • On 21 December 2014, “Age Assessment Guidelines to Prevent and Respond to Child Recruitment in the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF)” was adopted by the CAAC Steering Committee in Kabul, which are used for volunteers who want to join the National Army to prevent underage recruitment in the security forces.

Since these new reforms, 35 underage children serving in the armed forces have been reunited with their families, and 289 instances of children recruitment have been prevented within the eight Regional Recruitment Centers. Notably, the directives of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education in 2016, which instructed the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to stop using schools for military purposes is commendable.

The Afghan Government has established a committee to investigate instances of sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the armed forces, and has welcomed the Independent Commission on Human Rights and the office of Attorney General’s investigation of these crimes committed by the Afghan National Police force. Additionally, the Afghan Government has recently renewed the Penal Code and adopted the child protection law in 2016, which also seeks to criminalize various forms of mistreatment and abuse, including the practice of Bacha-Bazi.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan faces tremendous challenges in our effort to secure lasting peace and stability, which inextricably affects the potential of the country’s youth. We will continue to advocate the implementation of current policies so that we can end the practices that put the lives and future of our children at risk. My delegation is thankful to our international partners for supporting us in this endeavor. Afghanistan looks forward to a bright future, away from violence and terror, in which all children live in freedom and in peace.

Thank you.

UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

  (Check against delivery)

 27 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. President,

Let me thank the Mission of France for convening this meeting on Women, Peace and Security.  Let me also thank all the speakers making strong positive references to Afghanistan’s progress with women in general. However, there is no place for complacency; we remain steadfast in our resolve to improve the lives of half of our population. The role of women is inextricable for the promotion of peace and security worldwide.  Experience has also shown that the full involvement and participation of women is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary for advancement of society, as well for preventing and resolving conflicts. 

Today’s meeting is of particular importance for my country Afghanistan – a country that has seen decades of imposed conflict, including terrorism and violent extremism; all of which left our institutions and social fabric in shambles.  

Mr. President,

Afghan women have borne the disproportionate burden of violence and suffering for a long period of time. Their basic rights and fundamental freedoms were completely denied under the Taliban rule, as they had no access to education, healthcare, and employment.  Needless to say, the plight of Afghan women has seen profound improvements since the fall of the Taliban regime, which marked the start of a new era in our modern history.

Since 2001, we have seen tremendous progress across all spectrums of society. Today, the National Unity Government is consolidating gains of the past years. Women’s equality in all spheres remains an important national priority, as we are committed to furthering women’s participation and role in all stages of decision-making, particularly in relation to peace and security issues. Our commitment to women’s empowerment is embedded in a firm resolve to meet our pledges, within the framework of national and international obligations, including the principles of the UN Charter and the international treaties, which we are party to.

To this end, the Government of Afghanistan is sparing no effort to meet the goals of Security Council Resolution 1325.  The Afghanistan National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security remains the overarching framework to implement that hallmark resolution. A key component of our strategy relates to ensuring women’s participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as well as other matters related to peace and security.

Ending the cycle of terror, violence, and conflict in Afghanistan is the surest way to protect and promote the rights of all our citizens, particularly women.  In this respect, women are front and center in our national peace process as members of the High Peace Council; civil society; human rights advocates; members of parliament and Government. Accordingly, the participation of women in peace building efforts is recognized as a prerequisite for peace and reconstruction across the country. In the broader context, there is a common acknowledgement that durable peace and stability in Afghanistan requires the participation of women in all aspects of society: be it social, political or economic.

The National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, spanning the years 2008-2018, commits the Afghan Government to increase women’s representation in the civil service to 30 percent. The Ministries of Interior and National Defense have committed to increase women’s representation in these institutions by 20 percent over the next ten years.  Further, my delegation is pleased to report that at present, over 3,000 female armed service members and police officers are proudly serving in our national security forces for the protection of our citizens, combating international terrorism and preserving law and order.

In the economic domain, the launch of the National Program for Women’s Economic Empowerment marked another important step forward in the advancement of women. This development has supported 67,000 women in agriculture activities and empowered 35,000 women in the livestock sector. Moreover, the program is also recruiting 3,000 female teachers and 900 community midwives and nurses.

The physical protection of women from any form of violence constitutes an integral component of our national efforts to empower women. Numerous national structures have been established to enforce Constitutional and legislative provisions protecting women. These include: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs; Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Eliminating Violence Against Women Commissions in Kabul and provinces; creation of the post of Deputy Attorney General for the Elimination of Violence Against Women;  and the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Abuse of Women and Children. These national structures are integral to the Government’s promotion and protection of women’s rights and implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325.

Mr. President,

Amidst all our gains, we recognize the imperative of sustaining and enhancing progress on all fronts for women’s empowerment.  We can say with confidence that Afghanistan has entered a new phase in our journey to transform women’s role into a powerful force of change, contributing to the vision of a Self-Reliant nation, that stands in lasting peace, tranquilly and stability.  We are confident in our success, but the support of the international community remains of crucial importance to realize that vision.  Taking this opportunity, we extend a deep debt of gratitude to all friends and partners that have and continue to render an important contribution in our efforts.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration to elevate our progress in the protection and empowerment of Afghan women to new heights.   

Thank You!

 

General Debate of the First Committee

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

At the General Debate of the First Committee 72nd Session

(Please check against delivery)

10 October 2017

NEW YORK

 

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you as the Chairman and the bureau of the 72nd session of the 1st Committee. My delegation is fully committed to the successful fulfillment of the work of the Committee, and assures you of our full support and cooperation.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered by the delegation of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation reiterates its commitment to multilateral diplomacy as a crucial principle for advancing the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. Nuclear weapons proliferation is a pressing issue the world faces, and we must unite multilaterally to act against the threat of nuclearization to global peace and security. In this regard, Afghanistan maintains its position regarding the P5+1 and Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and believes that the commitment of all parties to the agreement and its implementation is crucial.

Afghanistan reaffirms its commitment for de-nuclearization, advancing disarmament and nonproliferation, and ultimately moving towards a nuclear-free world. My delegation strongly condemns the recent nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, and urges all states to sign, ratify and support multilateral treaties relating to non-proliferation and disarmament. Afghanistan fully supports the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Afghanistan is strongly in favor of the establishment of the Middle East as a zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan expresses concern for the current state of affairs, whereby the possibility of nuclear attack by aggressor states as well as by non-state actors appears very real. We also remain troubled about the use of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. In this regard, we welcome the recent elimination of chemical weapons arsenal by the Russian Federation. Afghanistan remains concerned on the humanitarian consequences of the use of weapons of mass destructions. Therefore, we supported the Pledge of Austria on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons.

Further, Afghanistan’s commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament was demonstrated more recently by adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in an agreement made at the United Nations in July 2017.

Mr. Chairman,

The 2030 Agenda, particularly Goal 16 acknowledges the link between arms regulation and development, as well as between illicit trafficking in arms and organized crime. The abundance of illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons across the Durand Line, gives terrorists, violent extremists, and other organized criminal groups in our region easy access to weapons. This mass illicit trafficking of arms, mainly small and light weapons, has caused Afghans tremendous suffering for decades, and must be put to an end. Hence the nexus of illicit weapons, drug trafficking, and money laundering funds the purchase of weapons by non-state actors. Therefore, we call on all relevant parties to further strengthen their rules and regulations to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

I would like to inform that Afghanistan has ratified and acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its protocol I, Protocol III, amended protocol II Protocol IV, and Protocol V on August 9, 2017.

Mr. Chairman,

The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosive Remnant of War (ERWs), and land mines pose a severe threat to humankind.  According to some surveys, in 2016 there were approximately 20,000 deaths and injuries from IEDs around the world, of which a vast majority were civilian casualties. Furthermore, in the last six years, the harm caused to civilians by IEDs has outweighed every other kind of weapon; in the first half of 2017, there were over 1,500 Afghan civilian casualties caused by IEDs. Afghanistan remains one of the worst affected countries due to IEDs. It is for these reasons that the resolution to counter the threat posed by IEDs is so critical to Afghanistan and many other countries of the world.

Let me thank all member states who supported the resolution titled “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” adopted by consensus in 2015 and 2016 by the first committee and the UN General Assembly respectively. In pursuant to resolution A/RES/71/72, my delegation held the first informal consultations in coordination with the UNODA on 29 March 2017 in New York where panelists from UNODA, UNMAS, World Customs Organization, Interpol, Mines Advisory Group and UN Institute for Disarmament Research-UNIDIR were present.

My delegation is tabling the follow up resolution to 71/72 and we will have informal consultations with member states today at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan. We seek your full support for the resolution.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan