Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

 

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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.

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Sixth Committee under agenda item 84: The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels

 

6 October 2016

NEW YORK

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to thank the Secretary General for his report “Strengthening and Coordinating United Nations rule of law activities,” – in document A/71/169.

My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

The rule of law is the fundamental pre-condition for achieving a rules-based international order, in which citizens can live peaceful, secure, and dignified lives. In that respect, it provides the very foundation upon which stable and prosperous societies are built. We are pleased that the subject of rule of law at national and international levels remains an essential topic in the agenda of the United Nations.

This is also a fitting opportunity to highlight the centrality of the United Nations’ role in achieving a world where the principles of peace, equal opportunity, justice, and prosperity prevails.

Mr. Chairman,

In Afghanistan, our efforts to advance the rule of law has been a challenging task, owing to the tragic legacy of more than twenty years of conflict we inherited in 2001, when we began a new chapter in our modern history. It has also been a constant conflict between legitimacy and illegitimacy, legality and illegality. Whereas the National Unity Government and preceding administrations have sought to strengthen governance and transparency in our society and institutions, extremist groups sent to Afghanistan from outside our borders have defied our constitution and engaged in a reign of terror, aimed at undermining our stabilization.  In doing so, they violate fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter, including international law and international humanitarian law.

Since its formation two years ago, the Unity Government has worked to consolidate the rule of law as a cornerstone of our strategy to achieve a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan. Over the past two years, we have conducted a major overhaul of our State and local institutions to promote transparency and accountability in all affairs of the Government.  We have done so knowing that the rule of law is the ultimate guarantee for our long-term stability.

In the area of civil service, we have established a merit based process for the appointment of senior officials. A number of capable officials who place Afghanistan’s national interest above all other considerations, have been appointed to key positions, including the judiciary. In that process, more than 600 judges were replaced, with some being prosecuted for illegal activity. We have created a National Council on the Rule of Law, which is fully operational with a mandate to address all forms of administrative corruption.  In addition, we have also begun to reform our electoral institutions to consolidate the democratization process. In the sector of public finances, we have established the National Procurement Commission to ensure transparency in all Government contracts.

Yesterday, at the international Brussels conference on Afghanistan, we opened a new chapter in our partnership with friends and allies to build on what we have collectively achieved so far. At the conference, we provided an update on our reform efforts. The international community made new pledges of assistance to help us implement our National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), which constitutes our overarching strategy to advance social, economic, and institutional development.

Mr. Chairman,

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight the central role of the United Nations in coordinating the international community’s support to Afghanistan over the past several years, which has had a profound contribution to our rule of law efforts:

Promoting fundamental rights and freedoms for all our citizens, especially women and children;
Enhancing capacity in our State institutions for effective delivery of services;
Strengthening democratic values and principles in our society;
Laying the foundation for an Afghanistan that is governed fully by the rule of law, and is self-reliant in providing for our own security and development needs.
Mr. Chairman,

We are convinced that security, economic development, and the rule of law are reinforcing in nature, and thus inextricably linked to each other. That said, continued violence in Afghanistan in the form of terrorism and violent extremism remains the dominant challenge facing our stabilization and rule of law efforts. We have initiated a comprehensive strategy, comprising both a military and peace-building component, to overcome this obstacle and achieve durable peace for our people. While continuing our fight against terrorism, we are also pursuing peace and reconciliation with reconcilable armed opposition groups, who are ready to shun the path of violence, become law abiding citizens, and adhere to the provisions of our constitution.

We are also focused on building a broad-based economy that will empower our citizens with job opportunities, and instill renewed confidence in our cities, districts, and villages throughout Afghanistan. To achieve this, we have already taken important steps in strengthening regional connectivity to substantially increase the volume of trade and transit with our neighbors, and invested in modernizing our agricultural sector. In addition, we have also developed new policies to make the most of our vast natural resources, which can serve as a key pillar of our future economy.

Mr. Chairman,

The rule of law provides the very foundation for a rules-based international order, in which States meet their respective obligations to abide by the principles of the UN Charter. In this context, it is imperative that States meet their commitments within the framework of multitudes of international treaties and conventions related to peace and security, human rights, and social and economic development. For our part, we are sparing no effort to implement our commitments under all international instruments that we are party to.

Mr. Chairman,

Just fifteen years ago, Afghanistan began its state-building efforts from sub-zero.  We were a country forgotten by the global community, whose social fabric was decimated in various aspects. Yet we are a resilient nation, which has overcome adversity throughout history. Over the past decade and half, we have come a long way and regained our place among the responsible community of nations that is committed to the full implementation of the rule of law and other universal principles enshrined in the UN Charter. We are confident that with the continued support of the United Nations and other international partners, we will realize the vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for our people.

Thank You.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan