Monday, June 25, 2018

Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict meeting

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict meeting

Mr. Chairman,

Please allow me to begin by thanking you for convening today’s meeting on children in armed conflict and for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan.  I wish to further extend appreciation for the great efforts of the working group in developing conclusions on the basis of the Secretary General’s report on the situation of children in Afghanistan and for taking into account our concerns.

The Government of Afghanistan views the role of the Security Council as important in protecting the rights of children during armed conflict. We are committed to implementing all relevant Security Council Resolutions concerning the protection of children, including 1612 and to taking all measures to ensure the protection of Afghan children.

Mr. Chairman,

As the working group gathers to formally adopt its conclusions, I have the honor of reflecting upon its findings and recommendations.  The Afghan Government shares the sentiment of the Working Group in responding favorably to the Secretary General’s report.  We have begun to implement the Action Plan signed by the Afghan Government and the UN Country Task Force on monitoring and reporting regarding Children Associated with National Security Forces in Afghanistan on 30 January 2011.  The Afghan Government is currently providing training to the relevant Ministry focal points which conduct periodic field visits throughout the country.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan, in close cooperation with NATO and ISAF, is working fervently to review and eliminate isolated incidences of recruitment of young people which took place mistakenly and in violation of our national law.

Furthermore, Shura Ulema, the Religious Council of Afghanistan, has issued a Fatwa, or religious decree, declaring the sexual abuse of young boys by adults reflected in terms of Bacha Baazi as well as recruitment of children under the age of 18 to be against Islamic values.  Any misuse of children or form of sexual violence against children is considered a crime punishable by law.  The Government has taken necessary steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of Bacha Baazi and to implement serious punishments.  This practice has been sensationalized widely by media sources who are hungry for attention-grabbing stories.  While the tragedy of sexual abuse of children is not limited to Afghanistan, in our country it is an unfortunate effect of the protracted absence of law enforcement institutions.  We are firmly committed to ending this immoral and anti-Islamic practice.

Mr. Chairman,

We share the conviction of the Working Group that it is necessary to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. However, we wish to emphasize, in this regard, the need to differentiate between the various actors involved, in line with our response to the use of the terminology, “all parties to the conflict,” in the Secretary General’s Report. The Government of Afghanistan, as well as NATO and ISAF have all reaffirmed their commitments to international humanitarian law. On the other hand, terrorist groups in Afghanistan and the region have continually and brutally disregarded such international norms and should not be categorized with international nor Government actors.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan shares the deep concern expressed by the Working Group about the continued violations and abuses of Afghan children in the context of terrorist and non-State armed groups using children in suicide attacks and as human shields, as well as about the growing number of school children attacked directly by the Taliban and other groups. Just yesterday, a 12 year old boy who had been brainwashed by the Taliban was tragically used in a suicide attack to kill four civilians.  We, the Afghan Government and International Community, must redouble our efforts to ensure that these horrendous acts against the children of Afghanistan come to an end.

We recognize the concern of the Working Group in relation to children detained by the Afghan Government. However, I wish to emphasize that those children who have been detained due to their association with armed groups are detained separately from adults.  The Afghan Juvenile Rehabilitation Center is a separate facility and therefore detainees are not meant to undergo the same procedures as adults.

Following the fall of the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous key steps to protect the rights of Afghan children, including the reform of the juvenile justice system. In order to guarantee the best interests of the children, as well as to comply with ratified international standards, a new Juvenile Code with eight chapters and sixty-six articles was promulgated. Decree No. 46 endorsed and enacted the Juvenile Code of Afghanistan. According to the new Juvenile Code, the minimum age of criminal responsibility was changed from 7 to 13 years of age. Afghanistan adopted the Juvenile Code – Procedural Law for Dealing with Children in Conflict with the Law in March 2005 incorporating the basic principles of juvenile justice as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the efforts of the Working Group and appreciates the concerns of International Community toward the plight of Afghan children.  We look forward to further cooperation with the Working Group and relevant UN bodies in our implementation of the Action Plan. The children of Afghanistan need all of our efforts and cooperation in order to provide an environment that every child deserves, one in which they are safe to thrive in pursuit of their dreams.

I thank you.

Nowruz Celebration

STATEMENT BY

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

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

At the General Assembly

Nowruz Celebration

New York

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

Today we come together from many nations to celebrate Nowruz, an official international day. Last year, the representatives of Azerbaijan, Albania, Macedonia, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan co-sponsored the General Assembly resolution that took Nowruz beyond our national and regional boundaries and brought it here to the heart of the international community. With this, we created a new piece of history for our age-old cultural tradition.  I am honored and humbled to have been among my colleagues as part of that major achievement. As we celebrate Nowruz, the beginning of our New Year from the Balkans to China in the East and to the Himalayas in the South, we join with other colleagues here today in celebrating the beginning of spring for the entire Northern hemisphere.

Nowruz is about a new beginning. It is a rebirth, which comes in the season in which nature plays out the metaphor of renewal in its budding, blossoming return to green.  After months of cold, snow, and perhaps even hibernation, we emerge from our winter slumber across nations and regions to our spring awakening.

The celebration of spring and the vernal equinox is embraced by many cultures and religions. In Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and many other religions and civilizations, this seasonal change is marked with unique traditions all stemming from the same feeling of reinvigoration at the much-anticipated arrival of spring.

This time of renewal also has the potential to become a means of internal and natural reconstruction.  It is a time for personal growth and rebirth of the self.

Nowruz belongs to all of us, an estimated 300 million people who have celebrated this event for more than three thousand years. It came to us as an old and most natural of all festivities, through myths, stories, and history.  The tradition spanned through generations and continues in our time, not as a tradition of an empire or state, but a tradition that goes beyond all boundaries that divide us and reminds us of the common ground that unites us.  This is a tradition that many of our individual cultures enjoy, defining us within the context of a larger, shared culture. While we live within our national boundaries, our cultural landscape has always been greater than the political ones to which we belong.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

In today’s deeply interconnected world, globalization has had a transformative effect, necessitating cooperation between countries and regions.  It has been first the political or economic interests that underpin this cooperation. However, globalization is only successful when it is rooted in the realization of cultural common ground.  Political and economic cooperation and integration, as shown by the European Union for example, can only be sustained when it is based on a strong cultural foundation. For us, history, including historical traditions like Nowruz, is a part of that common cultural identity.

We are thrilled to celebrate Nowruz with our friends from around the world, and to join with millions of people to honor this time of joyous festivity and renewed hope for a new year, a new season of life. Here in the United Nations, we are not only part of a co-sponsorship of this international day but we all work together for the realization of the noble objectives of peace and cooperation between our nations.  I hope that in celebrating together today we can play a role in bringing about a natural new beginning to our work here in this building by the East River, and reinvigorate our collective efforts for peace around the globe.

United Nations Security Council Debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council Debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

At the outset, I congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of the Council. I also wish to thank the Secretary General for his report on the Situation in Afghanistan, and extend a warm welcome back to the Council to my good friend, Special Representative Staffan de Mistura.

I also take this opportunity to express deepest sympathies, on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, to the people and Government of Japan, for the tragic loss of life and destruction from the earthquake and Tsunami this past week.  We stand beside the friendly peoples of Japan as they recover from that tragedy.

Mr. President,

As we come together today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country embarks on transition to full Afghan sovereignty, national ownership and leadership in an effort to realize the noble vision of a secure, democratic, and prosperous nation – one that is able to meet the needs of its citizens independently. We in Afghanistan know that transition is no easy task, but achievable with our determination and unity, and the sincere support and commitment of the international community.

The logic of transition will guide the way forward over the next four years. During this time, Afghanistan is determined to assume full responsibility at all levels, in order to provide Afghans with security, opportunities for social and economic progress, and the benefits of a society governed by the rule of law.

Mr. President,

The role of the international community in supporting the transition will remain essential for our success.  In London, Kabul and Lisbon, the international community endorsed, and committed to supporting the transition towards Afghan ownership and leadership. Over the next four years, the international community’s role in Afghanistan will revolve around the needs and requirements of the transition process.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting comes on the eve of the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate.  As the lead international civilian coordinator, the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan over the transition period and beyond will remain crucial. We convey our appreciation for the resolute commitment of all UN staff working under difficult conditions to help meet the aspirations of the Afghan people. As we prepare to officially commence the transition process on the 21st of March, we look to the UN as a key partner in the way forward.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan cannot stand on its own feet if its state institutions remain weak and undermined by various parallel structures, and if its capacity is not strengthened. So, Mr. President, securing Afghanistan is first and foremost about Afghan ownership and leadership; about taking responsibility; and about operating effectively to achieve sustainable progress. This is our ultimate goal to which we are firmly committed.

In the past weeks, we have been engaged in discussions about how UNAMA’s mandate should evolve, in light of transition.  In that regard, on the First of March, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul sent a letter to the Secretary General on behalf of the Afghan Government, in which he underscored three main requests:

First, a comprehensive review of the UNAMA mandate and the role of the UN in Afghanistan, to be conducted, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, within the next six months.  In subsequent weeks we have agreed that such a review will be done before the Bonn Conference at the end of 2011.

Second, greater coherence, coordination, and efficiency in the work of UN funds, programs, and agencies operating in Afghanistan towards “One United Nations.” Such an approach, bringing each of the UN’s entities together in synergy, is necessary for an efficient and successful transition in the country.

And third, a reshaping of this year’s UNAMA mandate around the transition. To this end, Mr. President, the Government of Afghanistan proposed the following adjustments to the mandate:

1. Transition must be the Central Focus of UNAMA.  A UN mandate that is centered on transition objectives would facilitate a smooth shift to Afghan ownership and leadership. The underlying imperative to transition full responsibility for security, governance, and development to Afghan leadership by the end of 2014 should guide the work of UNAMA and the SRSG.

2. Emphasis must be placed on UNAMA’s responsibility as the co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) to promote coherence in the international community’s support for the Afghan-defined and Afghan-led development strategy.

3. We stress the need to increasingly channel aid through the Afghan budget, and align it with our Afghan National Priority Programs.  We are convinced that this will lead to more effective and efficient utilization of development assistance.

4. UNAMA plays a crucial role in improving civil military coordination with ISAF. This role, however, should be recalibrated to reflect the aim of the transition process in order to support Afghan-led stabilization efforts.

5. National ownership of the reintegration and reconciliation process is necessary. We are reaching out to all Afghans who are willing to renounce violence and join the peace process. The peace and reconciliation process is Afghan-led and could benefit from support and good offices of UNAMA if requested by the Afghan government.

6. The Afghan government must have ownership of the election process, based on the clear requirements of the Afghan constitution and principle of Afghan sovereignty. In line with the Kabul and London Communiqués, the Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to electoral reform as a measure to ensure sustainability for the democratic process, one which is national in nature and should be addressed by the citizens of Afghanistan. We welcome the availability of UNAMA in helping with capacity building and technical assistance for electoral law if requested by the Government of Afghanistan. Last year’s elections in Afghanistan cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a cost which is not sustainable for an Afghan-led democratic process over time. The election process in Afghanistan must be effective and sustainable; this is only possible through Afghan ownership.

7. A reassessment of UNAMA’s work throughout the country is necessary. While the presence of UNAMA’s offices in eight regional zones remains important, the number, location and TOR of UNAMA’s offices in other provinces should be looked at within the comprehensive mandate review.  This will help encourage Afghan institutions to end the culture of dependence; avoid unnecessary security risks for the UNAMA staff; and streamline funding for the relevant UN agencies in the country.

8. UNAMA’s role in supporting the efforts to enhance governance and rule of law would be achieved best through strengthening the effort of the government of Afghanistan, in accordance with the Kabul Process. This is why we request that all efforts be made toward strengthening the Afghan government’s capacity.

9. The coordinating role of UNAMA in delivering humanitarian assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles is crucial. However, in the way forward, the focus must be on strengthening the central coordinating role of the government of Afghanistan, consistent with the goal of Afghan ownership.

Mr. President,

The realization of our requests, will not only facilitate a more efficient UN in years to come, but also a government functioning with greater confidence in its ability to become self reliant.

Ten years after the Bonn Conference, Afghanistan is adamant in its decision to take responsibility for its country and people. This is a process that will not happen overnight, but over time. Throughout the four-year transition to Afghan leadership and ownership, and beyond, the enduring partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, the UN and other partners will remain crucial. The transition is not an end to the relationship between Afghanistan and the international community, but the beginning of a new chapter in an evolving partnership.

Mr. President,

We must end the war and violence in Afghanistan. The time has come to ensure that Afghans have the chance to live in peace – free from the threat of violence and sufferings endured for many years. The war against terrorism will not be won without the confidence and support of the Afghan people. While most of the civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, incidences of loss of innocent life during military operations have increased. However, our moral obligations place a heavy burden on us to make the protection of civilian lives priority number one. Civilian casualties must end and additional measures must be taken to prevent harm to civilians.

We all have come to realize that war and violence cannot be ended through military means alone. That is why we continue to reach out to all those who want to join the peace process. The support of the international community and our enduring partnership is essential for this process and for success in Afghanistan. Afghans are determined to work toward their own destiny. Let us renew our efforts to achieve peace and prosperity in the country through the transition and beyond.

I thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan