Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on “The Situation in Afghanistan”

STATEMENT BY  H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

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

Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on

“The Situation in Afghanistan”

(check against delivery)

 

17 November 2016

NEW YORK

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

 

Mr. President,

 

Seventy years ago, two days from now, Afghanistan’s flag was raised at the grounds of the General Assembly, as the 52nd member of the United Nations. Today, I am pleased to stand before you, on behalf of a great nation, with the world’s support behind us through the unanimous adoption of the resolution entitled “The Situation in Afghanistan”. 

 

Allow me to thank all member states for their support for the resolution. I would like to express my gratitude to Ambassador Harald Braun, Counselor Peter Neven, and the rest of the team at the Permanent Mission of Germany for so ably leading negotiations on the resolution.  We are also thankful to the delegations who took part in the negotiations in a constructive spirit, as an expression of their solidarity and support for Afghanistan.

 

I also wish to thank member states that have co-sponsored this resolution, which signifies their continued support for a stable Afghanistan.

 

Afghanistan’s story of resilience and accomplishments against all odds, despite our ongoing struggle against illegalities and stagnation, in particular those crafted and imposed on us by regional orchestrators of violent extremism and terrorism, should be a source of hope and inspiration for those who champion shared values of a democratic and free society, based on rule of law, human rights, and dignity for all. However, in the current scenario of violent extremism and radicalism threatening our global order, unanimous international consensus and support for Afghanistan is needed in the fight against global terrorism. We hope that through this resolution, member states will be guided in addressing key issues facing Afghanistan.

 

Mr. President,

 

To state that Afghanistan has achieved unprecedented progress in the past fifteen years while faced with enormous challenges is not an overstatement. I witnessed this yet again during my visit to Kabul last week, finding a more vibrant and cleaner city with major improvement in waste management. Almost all of you have been involved in some form in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan since 2001. The giant leap forward in almost all sectors of the society would not have been possible without your contribution. The Government and people of Afghanistan are truly grateful for your support, and we look forward to continuing our joint partnership for prosperity and peace. We will do so on the basis of mutual commitments, under the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) and Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) agreed upon at the recently concluded Brussels Conference.

 

The outcome of last month’s Brussels Conference on Afghanistan was truly a milestone, which revitalized the essence of our partnership with the international community. The National Unity Government’s progress report on the benchmarks of the comprehensive reform agenda laid out our efforts towards a democratic state. We will remain consistently focused on strengthening state institutions, developing self-reliance, and crafting social services to serve our people. Hence it is imperative that we consolidate the gains as Afghanistan completes its Millennium Development Goals and embarks on Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Mr. President,

 

Notwithstanding the transformational effects of our gains for the country, we have faced continued threats from violent extremism and terrorism. In 2016, we have witnessed new security challenges that impinge upon various levels of national, regional, and global stability. Currently, multiple conflicts plague many nations with painful stories of suffering, displacement and exodus of refugees in search of safety. Foreign terrorist fighters are on the move, taking advantage of negative state rivalries and operating across regions to establish new footholds in various countries. 

 

In Afghanistan, we have paid a heavy price at the forefront of global struggle against terrorism. The year 2016 was one of the bloodiest in terms of both civilian and military casualties. We faced a thinly disguised declared war, where a neighboring state, contrary to the UN Charter and the principle of good neighborly relations, used the proxy Taliban including the Haqqani network, Al-Qaida, ISIL (Daesh), and others to orchestrate and conduct attacks with the aim of overrunning a number of provincial capitals and stoking the flames of disunity among the Afghans. Those who seek solace from the intention of keeping Afghanistan bleeding must remember that such actions would bleed them too and warrant international isolation. The export of foreign terrorist fighters, including Daesh in parts of Afghanistan remains a serious concern. Lately they have sought to expand their brutal presence into northern Afghanistan, often operating in tandem with the Taliban and other affiliate groups. 

 

Yet, I am pleased to report that against the enormous odds, our national security forces have heroically confronted this myriad of interconnected extremist groups, shaped and exported to Afghanistan. They have thwarted terrorist militia plans for the capture and control of territory in different parts of the country, repulsing successive attacks in various provinces, including Kunduz and Helmand. Terrorist militias continue to sustain heavy losses, whereupon they resort to desperate attacks on soft targets, including aid agencies, educational institutions and civilian premises. Last week they attacked the German Consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif where six civilians were killed and over a hundred were injured. The recent attacks are the latest attempts by the terrorist handlers to undermine our stability.

 

Nevertheless and in order to make our security forces more sustainable and provide them with everything needed to face the ever-evolving terrorist tactics, we require continued support from the international community. We note with gratitude the outcomes of the NATO Warsaw Summit, on the basis of which partner countries pledged new commitments for training, equipping, financing, and further enhancing the operational capacity of our security forces until the end of 2020.  We very much welcome the decision reached to maintain the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) beyond 2016.  The pledges of renewed support have instilled renewed confidence in our armed forces.

 

Mr. President,

 

A joint international response to combating terrorism can only succeed if the world addresses the key enablers of terrorism. Without foreign planning, safe havens, provision of training and weapons, and logistical support, groups like the Taliban would not have the same destructive reach, and can be addressed within the democratic political system. The fact that rogue elements within certain state structures facilitate violent extremist activities is hugely problematic and contrary to relevant counter-terrorism and sanction regime resolutions of the UN, particularly resolutions 1373, 1624, 2178, 2253 and 2255. A renewed three-tier approach to UN counter-terrorism strategy is needed. At debate level, we ought to address the impact on the growth of terrorism of negative state rivalries and state use of violence in pursuit of political objectives. At operational level, we need to enrich relevant existing resolutions or adopt new resolutions to target the drivers of such policies within state structures. At implementation level, effectively and equally enforcing the counter-terrorism resolutions and sanctions regimes on the Taliban, Al-Qaida and Daesh and member states that politically and militarily support them, can have a significant impact on war and peace in Afghanistan. President Ghani has asked for the timely inclusion of select Taliban leaders in the sanctions list. We welcome the recent visit of the Sanctions Committee to Afghanistan, where relevant issues were discussed with the senior leadership. We urge all member states, in particular countries accommodating terrorists, to actively strengthen mechanisms within state structures for proper implementation of these resolutions. There is an urgent need for increased and meaningful interaction between the UN counter terrorism bodies and Afghan security agencies.

 

Mr. President,

 

The National Unity Government has made unremitting efforts to advance the cause of a durable peace. This has been a key issue for both President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah. We are determined to bring peace to Afghanistan with or without the support of those who have thus far failed to proactively support this process. The recently signed peace agreement between the Afghan Government and the leadership of Hezb-e-Islami marks our strong commitment to peace and the fact that we are willing to take hard decisions for it. The implementation process has already begun with cessation of active hostilities where relevant between our national security forces and those loyal to this group.  We hope this agreement can serve as a model for reconcilable Taliban who are willing to give up violence and embrace peace.

 

We believe the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, comprised of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, can still be a useful platform to facilitate dialogue with the Taliban. Yet, achieving any degree of progress requires clear and decisive action to honor commitments within the framework of the QCG “Road Map.”

 

Mr. President,

 

The National Unity Government’s efforts to promote regional economic cooperation through the pursuit of common regional objectives and existing processes, organizations, and programs are moving forward. Few of the recently concluded or currently ongoing regional projects include the Chabahar Port; TAPI and CASA 1000 initiatives for transfer of gas and electricity across the region, as well as the railway line between China and Afghanistan. The Afghan led Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Processes are working to strengthen connectivity and increase trade and transit for the benefit of regional prosperity. The region sees in Afghanistan, a country located in the Heart of Asia, the potential to develop as a key player in strengthening economic ties and cultivating regional connections. Once again, we would like to reiterate that we are willing to work with all neighboring countries to achieve a shared prosperous future for all.

 

Mr. President,

 

Good governance has paved the way for notable strides across social indicators. We have created a culture of free speech and tolerance for alternate opinions. The 2016 World Press Freedom Index ranks Afghanistan 4th best among the 13 countries of South and Central Asia.

 

Afghanistan is committed to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security based on our 8 year plan of action. Women’s empowerment has created a more equal society, with women taking key roles in state institutions and various professional fields. Multiple women’s protection centers for survivors of domestic violence and children’s protection units to prevent recruitment of children in the armed forces are functional. Respect for rule of law and promotion and protection of human rights for all are key values strengthening the development of our nation.

 

Mr. President,

 

As a country firmly committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Afghanistan is a candidate for the Human Rights Council for the period (2018-2020). We look to your support for our candidacy and can state with confidence that a vote for Afghanistan will be a vote to strengthen the human rights architecture worldwide.

 

By strengthening national consensus for a viable approach to reform our electoral institutions, we are enhancing the credibility and transparency of our future elections and the democratic process in Afghanistan. Recently the Selection Committee presented to the President a list of candidates, from which a select group will be appointed to serve as new commissioners in the electoral bodies. Last week, the leadership of the National Unity Government convened a consultative meeting with broad spectrum of prominent personalities to exchange views on issues related to holding future elections. These meetings demonstrate our efforts to enhance national unity and political stability.  

The fight against corruption remains our priority.  Earlier this week, the Anti-Corruption Justice Center held its first two trials open to public and monitored by representatives from civil society, media, and national and international observers. This further signifies the government’s commitment to prosecute corruption cases of senior officials. In our efforts to promote good governance at all levels, we have also pursued “merit-based appointments” to achieve more effective, transparent, and accountable institutions that are able to serve our people.  

Countering the menace of narcotics trade and breaking down the nexus of criminality and drugs remain crucial objectives for us. Increased insecurity leads to a rise in opium production, and to counter the illegality of narcotics money fueling extremist activities is a challenge we are aiming to counter through our comprehensive Afghan National Drug Action Plan with the support of our international partners.

Due to a shrinking economy and increasing insecurity, Afghanistan is still one of the leading refugee origin country. This, along with 485,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in 2016 remains a cause of concern. In recent months, we have witnessed the return of around half a million refugees from Pakistan. We urge the Pakistani Government to have a more meaningful dialogue with us on this issue. Given the magnitude of the problem, we invite the international community to support the OCHA flash appeal to provide for the immediate needs of this population. Currently, the Government is working on a long term vision for the returnees.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the joint sacrifices over the past fifteen years by Afghanistan and our international partners has ushered a profound change in the lives of ordinary Afghans.  Together, we have created a situation whereby Afghans look to the future with a great degree of confidence, knowing their country will never again be taken back to the past when tyranny, extremist ideology, and darkness prevailed over justice, democracy and rule of law. Today’s Afghanistan is among the most pluralistic societies in our region, and slowly but surely, we are regaining our historic place as a hub of connectivity, flow of people, and exchange of innovative ideas between diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Looking ahead, we stand confident in being able to continue and solidify gains in a wide-array of fields. Nevertheless, we also realize the road ahead is not void of difficulties. In this light, we urge our friends and international partners to stay the course with fortitude and determination to realize the vision of a self-reliant and prosperous Afghanistan that serves its people and the world. As we move forward, we look to your continued support for, and solidarity with the heroic people of my country.

Thank you Mr. President.

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

Under Agenda Item 60:

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

 

(Please check against delivery)

 

2 November 2016

NEW YORK

 

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

At the outset, I would like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his report and comprehensive briefing this afternoon. My delegation strongly supports the UNHCR’s mandate and commends its dedicated staff for their endeavors towards addressing the global crisis of refugees.

Mr. Chairman,

 

Today, the world is facing increasing threats from terrorism and violent extremism. As a result, there is a humanitarian crisis of unforeseen proportions, where thousands of innocent victims of war, including men, women, and children, have become refugees. The global community must act now to ensure that this humanitarian crisis is mitigated. History will not judge us kindly if we fail to take action to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable amongst us.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Despite making significant progress across socioeconomic sectors, Afghanistan is still one of the leading countries of origin for refugees worldwide. Four decades of political instability has led to this humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we have four categories of Afghan nationals who are associated with the refugee crisis today: (1) people who have recently arrived in Europe or trying to enter one of the European countries, both legally and illegally; (2) people who are currently intending to leave the country and are busy making arrangements for that; (3) people who have lived in neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran for a long time; and (4) Afghan diaspora in fear of retribution for terrorist attacks around the world.

 

In the first category, terrorism, extremism, and protracted proxy wars are few causes for Afghans leaving their country in search of security. They have taken enormous risks to endure perilous journeys, often exploited by traffickers, in search of a stable life. Shutting the doors on their faces is not only against the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, but would also develop hatred, and ultimately fuel radicalization among disenfranchised youth.

 

The second category comprises of those who are currently planning to leave the country due to two main reasons; i) security concerns in Afghanistan due to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, exacerbated by post transition changes, and ii) slow economy with endemic poverty of almost 36% and widespread unemployment of between 40-50% are additional causes of migration. The Government of Afghanistan is working to address these two issues to curb the flow of people who are planning to leave.

 

The third category includes those nationals of our country who live in Iran and Pakistan. I would like to extend my appreciation for the hospitality extended to them by these host countries. While we recognize their generosity with gratitude, we would like to call on their attention for the voluntary, gradual, and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees.

 

The last category involves those Afghans who have settled in host countries, especially in the West, and form a part of the global Afghan diaspora. On the occasion of a terrorist attack, this group often faces backlash from right wing and Islamophobic factions. Discrimination based on religion and race is a global scourge and we should work together to negate negative stereotyping of Afghan communities, and to foster inter-faith and cross-cultural networks.

 

In conclusion, I would like to highlight the renewed commitment of the Government of Afghanistan in making voluntary repatriation and reintegration of its citizens among its highest national priorities. Principles of international solidarity, responsibility, burden sharing, and partnership should drive the efforts of voluntary resettlement and repatriation. Given the global threat of terrorism imposed upon us, we anticipate further investment from the international community in bringing peace, stability, and economic prosperity in Afghanistan so the influx of refugees to other countries in search of safety and economic prospects lessen. We welcome the support shown by the international community at the Brussels conference and UNHCR’s mandate in finding a comprehensive solution to the situation of refugees worldwide.

 

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

 

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 71st Session

 

(Please check against delivery)

NEW YORK

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chairman of this session. My delegation is fully committed to the successful fulfillment of the work of the Committee, and assures you of our full support and cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

My Government has recently adopted the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), a five-year strategic plan for achieving self-reliance. The Plan focuses on three areas: reconciliation, security, and stability. We have also adopted a five-year National Campaign Plan to increase the mobility and effectiveness of our security forces. Improvements to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are critical not only for securing our country against armed extremist groups, sent from outside, but also for reducing criminality such as extortion, kidnapping, and illegal seizure, which have become huge disincentives to business investment.

Presence of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosive Remnant of War (ERW) and landmines pose a severe threat to the lives of Afghan people and impede development activities. Each month, more than 100 civilians are victims of IEDs, landmines and ERW. Unfortunately, Afghanistan still remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

According to UN reports, sustained financing is critical for the Mine Action Program in Afghanistan (MAPA) to declare Afghanistan mine-free by 2023 in line with its obligations under the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT). Achieving this goal would be historic for Afghanistan and the world, given the scope of the problem.

Mr. Chairman,

The mass illicit trafficking of arms, mainly small and light weapons, along the Durand Line which has enabled terrorists and violent extremists to cause Afghan people tremendous suffering for decades must be put to an end. The savage attacks in populated urban centers showcase the cowardly behavior of the terrorist groups and their supporters to compensate for their so-called spring and summer offensive’s losses. We have evidence that most of these attacks were orchestrated outside Afghanistan. Last month, we seized two trailer trucks entering Afghanistan from Pakistan with 35,700 kg of ammonium nitrate – an amount nearly twenty times larger than what was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. This would have caused enormous threat to lives and property if the attack was carried out. Therefore, states must be responsible to control the access of precursors and weapons to terrorists and violent extremists. 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.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation believes and reiterates its commitment to multilateral diplomacy as a crucial principle for advancing the global disarmament agenda. To achieve the goal of arms control, reduction, disarmament, and total elimination of all types of Weapons of Mass Destruction, including nuclear weapons, there is an urgent need for all sides to demonstrate political will. In this context, it is imperative that the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran fulfill their commitments to implement the agreement that was concluded successfully last year.

Afghanistan, as the state party to Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as well as weapons of mass destruction, strongly supports all initiatives in the sphere of nuclear disarmament. We support all initiatives that could lead to de-escalation of recent tensions between nuclear neighboring states in our region.

Afghanistan strongly urges all states to fulfill their international responsibilities in signing, ratifying, and actively supporting all efforts to promote the goals of all multilateral treaties relating to disarmament and non-proliferation. In this context, my delegation also condemns in strongest terms the recent nuclear test conducted by North Korea.

We express our deep disappointment at the failure to convene a conference on the establishment of the Middle East as a zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction. As the political turmoil in the Middle East threatens to spill over into its neighboring regions, Afghanistan wishes to highlight the need for immediate action by the international community to prevent looming humanitarian and political catastrophe and overcome ongoing diplomatic stalemate.

Afghanistan is extremely disturbed by the humanitarian threat posed by continued existence of nuclear weapons, and the possibility of their use, intentionally or accidentally. It is for this reason that we welcome the outcome of the third and final Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which recognizes that total elimination of all nuclear weapons is the only definite safeguard against a catastrophic nuclear explosion.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to reiterate that Afghanistan is gravely concerned about the continued use of Improvised Explosive Devices – IEDs around the globe. IEDs are responsible for thousands of civilian casualties every day. They have become the primary weapon for non-state armed groups in many conflicts. Their impact on the security and stability of states are profound, as they not only damage the political, social, and economic development of a country, but also prevent the ability of necessary humanitarian aid to reach affected areas. Due to the lack of a comprehensive, systematic approach to counter the use of IEDs, which is relatively simple in its manufacturing, acquirement, and transfer, my delegation tabled a resolution last year that was adopted by consensus. My delegation is thankful to all who supported this important resolution.

In pursuant to the resolution, the Secretary General of the United Nations has issued his report and we thank him for it. My delegation will soon start informal consultations on the follow up draft resolution; therefore we seek further cooperation and support of the member states, so that the resolution could be adopted by consensus.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation notes with concern that despite the many positive developments in the work of international diplomacy for the disarmament of nuclear weapons, we still face threats to human security and sustainability of an unprecedented nature. The global and regional climate of terrorism and violent extremism have made the call for nuclear disarmament as well as elimination of weapons of mass destruction, including small and light arms even more urgent.

Thank you.