Monday, July 24, 2017

The Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENTBY H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the General Assembly debate on  agenda item 38 “The Situation in Afghanistan”

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here today to discuss the annual resolution on “The Situation in Afghanistan.”  I wish to extend my gratitude to all delegations who have contributed to the debate, and to all of the co-sponsors, whose collective work on this resolution reaffirms a unified commitment to shaping a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

I would like to further express my appreciation to H.E. Peter Wittig, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Mr. Daniel Krull, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Germany, and their entire team for their great diligence and efforts to chair the informal negotiations and coordinate the positions of member countries for the support of this resolution.

Mr. President,

Last year, in November, just after President Karzai’s re-election, he set forth an ambitious national agenda for the next five years.  In his inaugural statement, President Karzai called for all who are willing to renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution to join the peace process and embrace national reconciliation.  He asserted the determination of the country to take the lead in ensuring security and stability with continued international support.  He also committed to establishing a competent, clean, transparent government, promoting good governance, and fighting corruption.  In his speech, the President reaffirmed the commitment of the Afghan government to focus on economic development, growth, and the well being of Afghan people.  He set out the aim for greater regional cooperation in all areas, and finally expressed with appreciation the desire to further the partnership between Afghanistan and its international allies.

The President’s national agenda marked a new beginning for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet. The commitments made highlighted the readiness of the Afghan government and the international community to embark on a transition to national leadership and national ownership.

Mr. President,

In January, the international community came together for the London Conference to align international support with Afghanistan’s efforts regarding security, governance and development, as stated in President Karzai’s inauguration speech.  This conference was an opportunity to establish concrete plans for transforming Afghanistan’s commitments into realities. Through engaging with our international partners, mutual security goals were set and specific measures for tackling corruption, achieving national reconciliation, and improving the delivery of basic services were presented.

In May, the Presidents of Afghanistan and the United States, with members of both governments, met in Washington in order to assess jointly the prospect of a successful new focus on Afghanistan.  This meeting aimed to strengthen the partnership between the US and Afghanistan, and solidified the united efforts of the two nations for sustainable cooperation, peace and stability in the region.

In June, The National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ) jumpstarted our reconciliation process with aims to end the violence and unify our nation.  By consulting with different leaders for ideas and proposals we began to align all peace efforts in the country. The Jirga included 1,600 delegates representing a wide variety of segments of Afghan society including both men and women from all over the country.  The conference spawned a unified call to end the miseries of this war and move together toward peace.

In July, the Kabul Conference hosted by the Afghan government and co-chaired by the United Nations marked an important step forward in the continued empowerment of Afghanistan to assume its leadership role, which is key for a successful transition process.  It was the first time that high representatives of more than 70 countries and international organizations came together on Afghan soil.  The conference furthered the international commitments made in the London Conference. The resulting agreement secured a significant increase in the amount of international funding that would be channeled through the Afghan Government, reflecting renewed support for national ownership.

The conference crafted the Kabul Process, which is the new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan government.  It also developed a new compact between the Afghan government, the Afghan people, and the international community. The Kabul Process also had a major focus on regional relationships, encouraging improved cooperation between all regional parties. At the conference, Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy: Prioritization and Implementation Plan, was presented, which reflects the renewed commitment of Afghanistan’s government to building a secure and democratic future.

In September, we had our second parliamentary election, which, as the first Afghan-led election, represents a significant transition to leadership and responsibility in the hands of the Afghan people. This recent election included 2,556 candidates, 406 of whom are women.  Millions of Afghans cast their ballots to choose 249 members of the parliament, shaping our nation’s future by strengthening Afghan institutions and building momentum for stabilization.  More than one million votes were discounted in this election, reflecting the seriousness with which the Afghan electoral institutions attribute to fairness in this election, and marking a courageous demonstration of regulating and protecting democracy.

Mr. President,

Throughout the year, the Government of Afghanistan made strong efforts to enhance and strengthen trust and cooperation with its neighbours and regional partners.  The government sought to involve regional players not only in peace and security, but in trade, development, and economic cooperation.  President Karzai visited China in March, India in April, Japan in June and Pakistan in September.  He attended the 16th annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Bhutan in April. Important trilateral summits from the year include those with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey in Istanbul in January, with Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan in Tehran in August, and Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in Tehran in January.  Afghanistan participated in a quadrilateral along with Pakistan, Tajikistan and Russia in Sochi, and was a guest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting of the council of heads of states in Uzbekistan.

As we speak, the fourth round of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECCA) in Turkey is finishing, and through Afghanistan’s participation, our government aims to promote economic cooperation with all countries in the region, international partners and financial institutions. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have played important roles in strengthening the process of regional and economic cooperation, through measures such as facilitating regional trade and infrastructural connectivity.

Mr. President,

With our fresh start mapped out by President Karzai’s National agenda, and consistent help of the international community, this first year, our Year of Refocus, was one marked by hard work and rewarded by notable progress.  Despite our busy calendar year, we have made substantial strides in the areas of economic growth and human rights advancements as we near our national goals.

While challenges remain ahead, progress has been made in all areas including economic advancement, women’s rights, education, and health. Our average income has quadrupled since 2001, and government revenue in the past year surpassed one billion dollars for the first time. Women will make up over a quarter of our parliament after this election and are currently 18% of government employees.  There are now more than 1,000 women in Afghan National Security Forces and we have ambitious plans to increase this number in the coming years.  Women and girls now have equal access to education, and make up 37% of the 7 million students in Afghanistan. The 71% student enrollment rate is also a sign of our success in improving education in our country.  We have built 4,000 school buildings in the last nine years and plan to build 2,900 more by the end of 2013. Furthermore, by providing basic health services to nearly 90% of our population, health care in Afghanistan has improved greatly. Our immunization efforts have helped millions of children, and infant and under five mortality rates continue to improve.

Mr. President,

Important steps have been taken to promote good governance, rule of law, and fight corruption.  The government of Afghanistan has progressed in this regard, including through establishing the Senior Appointments Panel and strengthening the power of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC). Last year, our commitment to good governance was demonstrated by the prosecutions of dozens of corrupt officials.

Our fight against narcotics has seen progress over time.  The number of Poppy-free provinces has maintained at 20, and there has been a major reduction in the production of opium this year. Meanwhile, our efforts to fight illicit narcotics continue as we work with regional and international partners on all aspects of this global challenge.

Mr. President,

Security is the most immediate and critical challenge facing Afghanistan, and is also the most basic building block of progress. The Taliban and its allies continue their attempts to increase insecurity and spread violence to new parts of the country. The violent campaigns of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children. It has further destroyed our economy and what we have worked so hard to build throughout the last decade. Our aim is to stop this momentum and despite the challenges we continue to make important strides in the fight against terrorism.  During this year, Afghanistan’s partners and friends increased the number of forces and engaged to disrupt and defeat the murderous activities of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. As we meet here today, the Afghan and international forces continue fighting together to stop terrorists and violent activities of armed groups.

Mr. President,

With all the important steps taken throughout the course of the year, and with international support, my government is prepared to intensify efforts and work together to launch the transition process.  We are committed to taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon the full support of our friends and partners in helping to build the size, strength and operational capability of Afghan security forces.

Afghans know that ultimately, it is the responsibility of our own Afghan forces to defend the country and provide security for our people. Therefore, a new focus on the accelerated training and equipping of the Afghan National Security Forces is vital for security and for a successful transition.  We hope that at the end of this transition period, the Afghan army and police will be able to take full responsibility within Afghanistan as intended. We have increased the number of National Security Forces significantly. With the help of our partners, we now have approximately 130,000 soldiers and 106,000 police. We plan to increase that number to 171,000 soldiers and 134,000 police by October 2011. The strengthening and development of the Afghan armed forces largely depends on the immediate end to parallel private security structures.  In the coming years, the Afghan armed forces will require the continued commitment and sustained support of NATO and our main allies and partners.

Later this month, a NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. This Summit will be another important milestone in our partnership with NATO. Among the important issues discussed at the Summit will be Afghanistan’s transition strategy. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with NATO and expect to establish the steps needed for a long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan that will endure beyond the completion of NATO’s combat mission.

Mr. President,

Military strategies alone are not sufficient for the success of stabilization efforts. The peace process necessitates national reconciliation, outreach to the people, and sustainable partnerships with the region and international community.

Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country. It is a reasonable and a responsible policy to open the door for reconciling those who would like to join the peace process. We are not only committed to such a policy, but have embraced it through our actions.  Outreach to the armed opposition has led to their inclusion in peace talks, as an effort for achieving peace and security, while our government and international partners continue to end the armed activities of the enemies of peace and progress. Throughout our reconciliation process, human rights, including the rights of women remain a high priority.

Secondly, outreach to the Afghan people is more than a communication strategy. Afghans from all segments of society should be more actively involved in the political arena, and play a role in promoting security, defense and development.  We must ensure an environment in which all Afghan people feel that they are the masters of their own destinies.  This will enable them to participate in the betterment of Afghan society.

Thirdly, regional cooperation is vital for peace and security in the country. In order to address terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking, we must have meaningful cooperation and conduct sincere and effective dialogue with our neighbors. Ending sanctuaries where terrorists continue to receive training, financial, and logistical support in the region is a necessary element for eliminating terrorism.  Additionally, Afghanistan is firmly committed to enhancing economic cooperation in the region.  We recently signed several trade agreements, which seek to increase bilateral and multilateral trade and create opportunities for prosperity. Afghanistan is a connecting bridge between Central and South Asia and all could benefit from economic cooperation, trade, and investment.  This role can be enhanced within the new frameworks of regional cooperation based on mutual commitments made in various forms.

Mr. President,

Essential to our efforts is the continued support of our friends and allies.  We appreciate their commitments and sacrifices, despite the economic struggles of recent years.  We aim to work actively together to move beyond today’s military activities and share our energies for establishing stability and long-term cooperation.

While it is important to assess our efforts consistently, we must recognize the progress we have made and the need to allow time for transition to continue in the ripe moments for change.  The strength of our partnership with the international community is crucial for the stability of our people and the people of the world.

Mr. President,

The current resolution on the situation in Afghanistan is a reaffirmation of the commitment of the international community for the betterment of our country. We know all too well the seriousness of the challenges ahead, but with the strength from enduring and now overcoming decades of war and tragedies, and the sustained support of international partners, our nation can emerge, united for peace and prosperity. Our continued transition is not only about handing over leadership to the Afghan government, but also transforming our entire national landscape and culture from one afflicted with war to one that is graced with peace.

I thank you.

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

STATEMENT

BY

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin

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

at the Third Committee

Of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

On agenda item 61

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

2 November 2010

NEW YORK

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to thank Mr. Antonio Gutrress, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for his comprehensive report under agenda item 61 and his insightful briefing this morning.

I further wish to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s gratitude to the High Commissioner and dedicated staff of UNHCR for their commitment and tireless efforts to the plight of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in particular their special attention to the refugees and IDPs of Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan has suffered from the consequences of over thirty years of conflict.  During the 1980s and 1990s, millions of Afghan people tried to escape the calamity of war by leaving their relatives and belongings behind and seeking refuge in neighbouring states, particularly Pakistan and Iran.  Regrettably, due to reoccurring instability and violence, one of the greatest numbers of refugee countries of origin in the world is Afghanistan.  In this regard, the challenge of refugees and IDPs is not an issue we have encountered recently but much rather one that has affected the Afghan people for decades.

More than 5.5 million Afghans have found their ways back to their homeland since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, which constitutes one of the largest and most successful voluntary repatriation programs in recent decades. However, this number translates into a population increase of 20 percent within the past eight years, an adjustment with which any country would struggle, let alone a state that has found itself in turmoil and instability for the past three decades. Returnee settlements’ main concerns are often very basic: infrastructure, water, and shelter, as well as the lack of possibilities to support livelihoods.  The majority of Afghan refugees have been living in exile since the late 1980s, and in many cases have spent their entire lives outside of their homeland.  This fateful reality further complicates any reintegration process.  Thus far, the overwhelming majority of refugees have returned from the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran.  Nevertheless, 2.7 million registered Afghan refugees still remain in both countries.

Mr. Chairman,

The Afghan government places among its top priorities the voluntary, gradual, and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees.  My government is particularly aware of the importance of providing stability within our borders and leading a functioning reintegration process in order to provide refugees and IDPs with incentive to return as well as to keep them from entering this vicious cycle again.  During this year alone, the number of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan already exceeds 100,000. Guiding a sustainable repatriation which prioritizes reintegration will continue to be the focus of our discussions with the Governments of Iran and Pakistan during our respective Tripartite Commission meetings in cooperation with the UNHCR. We will carry on utilizing these reunions as opportunities to exchange best practices and advance our collaboration. The Pakistani government and the government of Afghanistan have been working vigorously throughout and renewed commitments earlier this year.  Furthermore, the recent recommencement of Tripartite consultations with the Government of Iran signifies a tremendous step in the right direction on both ends.  Last month, we had fruitful discussions about how to improve reintegration prospects in the future.

Much progress has been made over the past nine years; still, much remains to be accomplished. Relative to previous years, recently repatriation has stalled substantially.  This is undoubtedly, intrinsically linked to the twin threats of terrorism and insecurity as well as the growing challenges of the humanitarian situation. The number of IDPs remains high, particularly for displaced people coming from provinces that have seen the highest levels of unrest and terrorist activity.

Regrettably, this year we have yet again witnessed deterioration of security in parts of Afghanistan. Over the last twelve months, the circumstances contributed to a rise in internal displacement of over 100,000 persons, mostly in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Throughout these trying times, the international humanitarian agencies have been indispensable and both our government and people are tremendously appreciative for the assistance in the emergency response in dealing with these situations.

The successful homecoming of our people abroad remains a main concern of the Afghan government. In order to facilitate this immense voluntary repatriation, we intend to sustain efforts to fully implement our comprehensive sector strategy concerning refugees, returnees and IDPs, as outlined in the 7th Pillar of our National Development Strategy. Increasing our absorption capacity in order to better be able to administer and assist sustainable reintegration will be crucial and must therefore be a centre piece to our efforts. In that regard, we will endeavour to improve capacity in relevant Ministries dealing with repatriation, foster greater inter-Ministerial coordination, and mobilize additional resources with support from our international partners.

Afghan refugees, returnees and IDPs are faced with numerous challenges due to poverty and, undoubtedly, decades of conflict. In recognizing the intricacy of this essential undertaking at hand, we are conscious that a positive outcome will entail patience, resources, and above all, the unrelenting commitment of our international partners. Nevertheless, we are confident in the outcome of our joint efforts.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me conclude by expressing the appreciation of the Afghan government and its people to the brotherly peoples and governments of the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran for hosting Afghan refugees over the past three decades. Furthermore, we are wholehearted in extending our sincere gratitude to UNHCR and all other relevant international organizations for lending a hand during these trying times. Certainly, if it were not for their generous support for this grand scale voluntary repatriation in Afghanistan, our advancements would not have been attainable.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Security Council debate on Women and Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

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

At the Security Council debate on Women and Peace and Security

New York

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this important and historic debate on “women, peace and security.”  On behalf of my delegation, I commend you on your able leadership of the Council this month.  We welcome not only the Secretary General’s extensive report, but the Security Council’s first “Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace, and Security.”

On the tenth anniversary of Resolution 1325, it is important to take a step back to gain a more global perspective and to celebrate how far we have come as well as recognize areas for improvement in terms of the participation and protection of women in situations of conflict. There have been ten years of overwhelmingly strong consensus around this resolution.  During this time, my country has emerged from decades of suffering to major progress for women.  We now work in solidarity with the international community to eliminate the deeply rooted tragedy of the disproportionate effects of conflict on women and highlight the crucial role of women’s leadership in the peace process.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people have suffered immensely for more than 30 years under foreign invasions, civil wars and Taliban rule. In the 1990s Afghan women were the targets of brutality and widespread violence, including gender based violence and oppression. The Taliban completely removed women from all aspects of public life, depriving them of such fundamental rights as education, and participation in both the economic and political sectors.  The enemies to women’s rights remain strong in their efforts. They misrepresent Afghan traditions, using their own interpretations of Islam to justify their actions.

Mr. President,

Since 2001 Afghanistan has made considerable progress in the advancement of women. The government of Afghanistan has committed its energy and resources to strengthening the rights of women, improving their roles in all aspects of political, social, cultural and economic life as shown through our National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). The voices of Afghan women have been increasingly amplified by our growing, vibrant civil society and the active presence of women in media.

Key areas of success for the improvement of the lives of women have been in the spheres of political participation, education, and health. As we finalize results for our second parliamentary election, we recall that last month, millions of Afghans went to the polls to make their voices heard.  In these recent elections, 406 out of 2,556 candidates were women.  This compares with 328 women candidates from 2005, and ensures that women will at least fill all 68 seats, or 25%, allocated for women and will likely win additional seats.  Women will fill at least a quarter of the Afghan parliament, nearing our MDG goal of 30%, and make up 18% of government employees. There are now over 1,000 women in Afghan National Security Forces. We plan to increase the number of women in the Afghan National Police to over 5,000 in the next five years.  The presence of women in these crucial positions has made a significant impact.  We are proud of their resilience and bravery in protecting our population.

Remarkable progress has been made in terms of the numbers of women and girls in all levels of education, and the increased literacy ratio of girls to boys. Around 37% of the 7 million students in Afghanistan are female. Today, Afghan boys and girls have equal access to education.  We must continue our efforts to teach girls to read, and to provide more accessible schooling for women and girls particularly in rural areas.  Furthermore, by providing basic health services to nearly 90% of our population, health care in Afghanistan has improved tremendously for both men and women alike.  This sector also provides employment opportunities for women, as over 20% of doctors and half of health care workers in Afghanistan are women.

Mr. President,

The Commitment of the government of Afghanistan and support of the international community have been the crucial factors for the achievements of women in the last decade. During the London and Kabul Conferences, in January and July of this year, we reaffirmed our commitment to protecting the rights of women.  As the country is moving towards seeking a new political framework for peace and reconciliation, it is vital to make sure that these achievements are sustained and the rights of women are protected in the future.

While we consider the Peace Talks to be an important part of our shared stabilization efforts, the human rights and women’s rights enshrined in our constitution are non-negotiable.  I can assure today that in every single peace talk, and in every single step of the reconciliation process, women’s rights will remain a priority.  We see our reconciliation process as the way to end violence for all Afghan people, including women. The representation of women in the Afghan Peace Jirga in June 2010, and the inclusion of ten women representatives in the newly established High Peace Council are important steps in guaranteeing the active involvement of women in the peace process and in facilitating reconciliation talks with those who are willing to renounce violence.

Mr. President,

At the ten year mark, as we reflect on the successes and challenges of Resolution 1325, we welcome the Secretary General’s report of 28 September 2010, which mentions clear, revised indicators for measuring the success of 1325.  We now have an extremely useful set of tools which must be implemented in order to gauge our impact in this area going forward. We must revisit the original goals and objectives of 1325 in order to strengthen the monitoring process, address potential gaps, and learn from one another’s best practices.

We are appreciative of the crucial role of the international community and thank UNAMA for their support of all national efforts toward improving the situation of women in Afghanistan. We extend our gratitude to UNIFEM for engaging women’s groups in supporting authorities to improve investigation of sexual violence, thus strengthening community capacity for the prevention of such horrendous acts.  We are committed to further working with UNIFEM toward completing our CEDAW report in the near future.  We also appreciate the roles of all UN bodies, such as UNICEF, UNDP, and UNFPA, for their efforts toward improving the lives of women in Afghanistan.  We have high expectations for the work of UN Women and support the development of a strong relationship with this institution going forward.

Mr. President,

Resolution 1325 is not about rescuing women.  It is not only about helping women who are struggling to overcome conflict, but about recognizing the unique role of women as peacemakers, and creating opportunities for women to excel in leadership roles.  What better place in the world to demonstrate the importance of this issue than Afghanistan. Afghan women are not damsels in distress.  They have been victimized, but are not helpless victims.  They have their own ideas about the needs of women in their country, and must be listened to and supported on their paths to self-empowerment.  Honoring Resolution 1325, and subsequent resolutions 1820, 1888, and 1889, is not only a commitment of the Afghan government, but it is a necessity.  While women are generally the first to be affected by conflict, let us all look forward to witnessing women as those who are the first beneficiaries of peace.

Thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan