Monday, August 29, 2016

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

17 September 2015

NEW YORK

Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on your leadership of the Council for this month. I thank the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan and my good friend Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA, Mr. Nicholas Haysom for his comprehensive briefing. I also thank Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Director General of UNODC for his briefing and his presence today. I am very grateful for the role Spain is playing as the penholder on Afghanistan and for its capable work in the Security Council. This is my last statement at the Security Council on the situation on Afghanistan as I am leaving at the end of this month to assume my new responsibilities. As I stand in the midst of friends and colleagues in this noble council, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation, especially to those I had the pleasure of working closely with in the past few years. Thank you for your friendship and cooperation.

Mr. President,

In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed a challenging security situation in terms of increasing violence and heinous attacks by the Taliban and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. While the enemies of Afghanistan failed to achieve the aim of gaining control of territories and breaking the will of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), they have continued their brutal campaign of violence and coercion trying to destabilize the country and terrorize Afghan people. We saw these heinous attempts in a number of highly sophisticated recent terrorist attacks, like the one on August 7 that led to hundreds of causalities, including women and children. In the face of increasing violence and instability, ANDSF, who assumed full responsibility of security after the departure of thousands of international forces, through their sacrifices, patriotism, resilience, and commitment, have demonstrated time and again that they are ready to face the challenges posed by the Taliban, and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. The ANDSF is at the forefront of defense of the country and security of the Afghan people; they present a bulwark against letting Afghanistan slip into the chaos and destruction of the viscous civil war as happened in 1990s.

Mr. President,

The National Unity Government is committed to make every effort to move Afghanistan on a path of stability, peace, and security. The Government has reached out with the message of peace and reconciliation not only to the Afghan Taliban, those who are willing to stop fighting and join the peace process, but also to neighboring countries. One of the first steps taken by President Ghani was to embark on a process of ending the undeclared state of war between Afghanistan and Pakistan and start a new era of peace and cooperation. This process has been largely supported by the Afghan people and the first rounds of peace talks with the Taliban led to a surge of optimism about the prospects of peace and end of violence. The Government of Afghanistan believes that despite some of the apparent setbacks in the process of peace talks, following the declaration of the death of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and the benighted leadership changes in its ranks, we are hopeful that the prospect of political settlement will not be withered but it requires responsible attitude by all sides, mutual determination, and real commitment.

Mr. President,

The regional cooperation agenda is not just limited to peace and security but to economy, development, and prosperity as well, since the future of the region can only be fostered and strengthened through connectivity and greater cooperation. We all know that the stability of Afghanistan at the heart of Asia is essential for the stability of the wider region. Integrating Afghanistan as the center of economic hub focused on transit, transportation, and trade for the next two decades remain imperative to achieve economic self-sufficiency and shared economic prosperity. Afghanistan’s vision for advancing regional economic goals, whether through its role as the Asian roundabout between the energy suppliers in Central Asia and the energy consumers in South Asia, or through the growing number of cross-border agreements to share services in health, rural development, and training is bound up with its economic agenda for the transformation decade. The 6th RECCA conference earlier this month in Kabul also elaborated further on ways to develop and consolidate partnerships towards promoting regional economic cooperation in Afghanistan and across the region. We are looking forward to the next Ministerial level meeting of Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in Islamabad as another important step of strengthening confidence building and partnership in the region.

Mr. President,

As we approach the first anniversary of the establishment of the national Unity government, there is a greater attention to ensure effective implementation of vital reforms to strengthen the economic growth, improve governance, eradicate corruption, bring electoral reforms, and protect human rights, particularly rights of women. The promotion of good governance is a cornerstone for the Government’s reform agenda. One of the central pillars for the reform agenda is to effectively tackle the scourge of corruption. The institutions created by the Government, like the National Procurement Commission, comprehensive reorganization and review of the Supreme Court and other measures dealing with institutions and individuals involved in corruption are essential for transformation of the anti-corruption efforts into practical, measurable outputs.

The efforts of the National Unity Government against corruption also includes a series of important measures in dealing with the illicit drug trade with its overall implications on economy, polity, society, and rule of law in all parts of the country. The Government is focused not only on curbing this illicit trade but tackling all financial channels that is providing the basis for criminal networks to be linked at all levels in the region and globally. In order to achieve this goal, the Government has formed an inter-ministerial commission to clamp down on narcotics trade and the moral as well as financial corruption that goes with it.

To further the reform process, the national unity government has taken important steps to revise the election law and presented its reform proposal to the Government. Recommendations from the Commission include the allotting of one-third of Parliament’s 250 seats to political parties; the restructuring of the current election commission; the creation of a clear voter identification system ahead of future polling; and moving to an electoral system that divides provinces into smaller voting districts that can be easily quarantined in case of fraud. Proper implementation of this reform process would bring about necessary changes in ensuring free and fair elections in the future. In order to reflect on these reforms, the election law has been revised earlier this week by a Presidential decree and the calendar of the parliamentary and district council election will also be announced in the near future.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community has been paramount for the achievements of Afghanistan in last 14 years and is essential for the realization of the lasting goal of peace, stability, and prosperity for years to come. The engagement of the international community and the UN, be it in the form of aid, expertise, manpower, or sacrifices of soldiers and civilian workers, the progress seen in Afghanistan would not be possible today. Afghan people and the Government are grateful and recognize the contributions of the international community as a whole and particularly all Afghan partners.

Role of the UN has been pivotal in Afghanistan in last 14 years not only to coordinate international civilian activities for bringing peace and security but to support Government in all areas of political stability, good governance, institution building, human rights, and coordination of humanitarian needs. The Tripartite review commission and the Government of Afghanistan have embarked on full reexamination of the role, structure, and activities of all UN entities in Afghanistan and I am happy to state that Nicholas Haysom, SRSG for UNAMA, along with his colleagues played an important role in moving this process forward. The commission examined the UN engagement in the country focusing the areas where the UN brings most value and ensuring the UN serves to maximize the support of the international community for Afghanistan and its people. The discussion focused on 3 themes: UN principle of engagement, Government commitment and obligations, and future UN presence in Afghanistan. The Government is certain that the outcome of these efforts will provide the country, the security council, and the UN a framework for effective engagement of all UN activities in Afghanistan, including role of UNAMA and all UN agencies, funds, and programs in Afghanistan.The framework for review will allow the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and the UN in the coming years.

The success of transformation decade is strongly based on the constant engagement and support from our international partners, not only today but in the future. To further this goal, the agreement reached during the Senior Official Meeting earlier this month on a refreshed mutual accountability framework is a significant milestone in Afghanistan’s relationships with the international community. Afghanistan looks forward to the future conferences on Afghanistan in Brussels and Warsaw.

Mr. President,

Though much has been gained in Afghanistan, much remain to be addressed. As President Ghani has noted, 2015 will test Afghanistan’s will and capacity as a nation to address reform across all sectors- social, economic, security and electoral process. I would like to reiterate that the challenges faced by Afghanistan are many; but the country and the people have proven, time and again, that we want peace over conflict, progress over repression, unity over factionalism, prosperity over hostility, and inclusive growth over isolation. Today Afghanistan’s vibrant civil society, free media, improved social indicators, successful democratic transition of power—all signal that there is significant potential to put the last three decades of devastation behind and move forward. In order to do so, Afghanistan must protect the gains made in the last 14 years, and present a united front against all agents who are working to destabilize the country. The role of our neighbours in the region, as well as the international community, is pivotal in supporting Afghanistan during its transformation decade to achieve lasting peace and stability.

Thank you very much.

 

 

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity & Crisis

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Roundtable Discussion

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity & Crisis

22 Ju

NEW YORK

Ms. Miles, thank you for organizing this roundtable. I would like to thank Save the Children who has been a long partner in promoting children’s rights in Afghanistan and we are very grateful for their efforts. Also I would like to thank Save the Children, Center for American Progress and Saferworld for inviting the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations to co-host today’s roundtable discussion on Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity and Crisis. I welcome all distinguished guests to this important discussion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This discussion is very timely since it coincides with inter-governmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda; hopefully by the end of this month we will have a final document to be endorsed by the Post-2015 Summit in September. The post 2015 development strategies are very important for those countries that are lagging behind in implementations of the Millennium Development goals. This agenda should build on the progress made so far and complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDGs are time bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in multiple dimensions– hunger, disease, and lack of adequate shelter– while promoting gender equality, universal education, and environmental sustainability. At the time of signing of the Millennium Declaration in September 2000, Afghanistan was in the midst of a bloody war. It signed the Millennium Declaration in March 2004, thereby making it a late-entrant to global development efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Afghanistan has faced conflict, foreign interventions, and threats from violent extremist and terrorist groups for decades; since 2001, the country has undergone tremendous changes. In the fourteen years that followed, the Government of Afghanistan, along with its international partners, including NGOs like the ones organizing this roundtable discussion, have made tremendous strides in post-war reconstruction, infrastructure development, and progress across development indicators like education, healthcare, and livelihood. Despite challenges faced from the continuing violent campaign by the Taliban, foreign fighters, and other extremist groups, who have increasingly carried out numerous attacks against the Afghan people as well as critical infrastructure and development projects, one that we witnessed today in northern Afghanistan that led to the killing and injuring of many Afghans, thereby creating an impediment to development and stability, the Government of Afghanistan has not only dealt with these security threats but strengthened the path for development goals to be implemented. Thus Afghanistan’s development process is intrinsically related to its security situation, and faced with numerous complexities our goal is not just to implement the MDGs but transform the country and create a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, one where Afghans can live without the fear of death and destruction while having access to basic necessities like food, clean water, and education.

As a result of the tireless efforts of the Government of Afghanistan in cooperation with our international partners, human development indices across the board have shown improvement—more women have access to pre-natal care, life expectancy has increased, child mortality and malnourishment rates are going down, education for both male and female students have gone up significantly, more people are food secure and have access to clean drinking water and sanitation. However despite the successes, the challenges persist; endemic poverty continues to plague many in Afghanistan, the country still has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality despite the gains in healthcare, and enrolling and preventing drop outs, especially for girl students remains an issue– which is further complicated by worsening security situation in some parts of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015 is a crucial year for my country since Afghanistan is embarking on its transformation decade which would be vital for achieving not only the post-2015 development goals and targets but deal with security challenges to stabilize the country and maintain and improve on existing achievements. Once the post 2015 development goals and targets are adopted, Afghanistan will align its National Priority Programs and National Development Strategy to implement the post 2015 Development agenda. In addition to the Post-2015 Development agenda, the Government of Afghanistan has reaffirmed its commitment to development and build a better future for the country through the Self-Reliance strategy adopted at the London Conference in 2014 which reiterates the Government’s intentions to ensure peace, stability and security in the country; enhance productivity, growth and revenues; improve the welfare and well-being of the people by proving better opportunities, good governance and respect for human rights; and to deepen democracy by taking up electoral reforms, institutional restructuring, and organizing periodic elections.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is also a part of the ongoing collective effort of all nations in achieving sustainable development goals that can guide our efforts for lasting change, not only in Afghanistan but in other conflict affected countries. While reiterating our full support for goal 16 of SDGs which talks about promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, we call on the support of international partners for providing means of implementation for this goal, which is especially important in countries affected by conflict, like Afghanistan. Considering the progress made by the country despite the complexities and challenges, I would like to emphasize the violent destructive campaign of the enemies of Afghanistan will not deter the country from its difficult but determined journey to ensure security and development for its people, as well as protect the environment, vulnerable groups, and promote human rights and good governance.

Thank you.

 

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

22 June 2015

NEW YORK

Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Malaysia for its leadership of the Council this month, and for organising this important debate. I would also like to thank Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, for his statement and the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan.

 

Madam President,

 

As we gather today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country has reached a critical moment in its history. The armed enemies of the country have embarked on a new offensive against the Afghan government and its people following the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s combat mission and the transfer of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). Today, the enemies of Afghanistan conducted a heinous attack against the Afghan Parliament in Kabul, wounding dozens of civilians, including children. We strongly condemn this deliberate attack against democracy and the representatives of the people.

 

This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS. These groups not only target Afghan forces and civilians with suicide bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hostage takings and assassinations, they also seek to take control of districts and even provinces to use as bases for their agendas in Afghanistan and the wider region in South and Central Asia.

 

Afghan security forces have responded to these tremendous challenges with bravery, strength, and determination. In the past months, they have thwarted many attempts to control territory, eliminated thousands of enemy fighters, and foiled plots designed to kill, shock and terrorize the people of Afghanistan. For the first time, Afghan forces have moved from a defensive to an offensive position and have shown more capability, potential and resilience than ever before. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, and to prevent the enemies of Afghanistan from sending the country down a spiral of chaos and disorder.

 

Madam President,

 

Security is a pressing national priority and is essential to the agenda of H.E. President Ashraf Ghani as Commander in Chief. Our efforts to defend the country do not only serve the interests of the Afghan people; we are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbours to uphold the safety and security of our greater region. As the national unity government pursues this agenda, we are grateful for the continued support of our international partners and their commitment to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. In the face of the great challenges before us, continued support to Afghan forces including air support and other necessary assistance will remain essential.

 

Madam President,

 

While our counter terrorism and military efforts are fundamental to the security of the country, it is clear that lasting peace requires a political solution. To this end, the national unity government has prioritized the reinvigoration of the peace process. Recent engagements between representatives of the High Peace Council, Afghan civil society including women, and the Taliban have promoted dialogue and mutual understanding and generated momentum towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-managed peace process.

 

The role of our neighbours is crucial to our efforts to secure peace. In this regard, the government of Afghanistan has taken bold steps to open a new page in our relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the last 14 years, an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability. We highlight the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Kabul as a positive step, and expect that Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability extends to ending sanctuaries and compelling the Taliban to stop their violent campaigns.

 

Madam President,

 

Following last year’s historic elections, the national unity government is dedicated to advancing its agenda for political, economic and social reform. President Ghani has appointed all ministers, and continues to appoint governors and other senior leadership positions within the government. Every Ministry has embarked upon a public 100-day action plan, designed to achieve national objectives as defined by the government’s Realizing Self Reliance agenda.

 

The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments and the government’s work. From tackling the Kabul Bank case as one of the administration’s first acts, to establishing a national procurement board – chaired by the President himself – to review every single government contract, the national unity government is committed to combating corruption, ending impunity and strengthening rule of law. A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.

 

The government’s dedication to accountability encompasses a greater focus on the transparent and effective use of international aid and assistance. Afghanistan is tremendously grateful for the contributions of our international partners that have allowed us to rebuild our country. At the same time, it is clear that development cooperation should evolve so that aid plays a facilitating and enabling role countrywide. We look forward to in-depth discussions on aid efficiency at the upcoming Senior Officials Meeting of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The government has also requested presentations from major donors, international financial institutions and the United Nations on their development portfolios, and is actively engaged in the upcoming examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan as mandated by this noble council.

 

The agenda for reform and transformation is guided by a strong commitment to advance the rights of all Afghan people, particularly the rights of women. There are now four female cabinet ministers, one female governor, and President Ghani has pledged to appoint more women in senior government positions including ambassadorial posts. Last week, President Ghani introduced Afghanistan’s first female Supreme Court nominee. This sets an important precedent, and shows that the government’s commitment to increasing women’s participation is not merely symbolic but part of a systematic policy to include women at the highest levels of decision-making. The national unity government is working closely with our international partners to protect and promote the rights of all Afghan citizens. Last week, the Afghanistan-European Union Human Rights Dialogue was launched in Kabul to provide a forum in which to discuss, coordinate and synergize a full range of human rights issues.

 

The national unity government is also focused on fulfilling its commitment to conduct comprehensive electoral reforms. To this end, in March the government established a Special Commission on Electoral Reform, which includes representatives of civil society and the United Nations, and this month the government announced plans to finalize the election calendar in one month’s time.

 

Madam President,

 

Afghanistan continues to strengthen cooperation with all our neighbours and countries in the region as part of a broader framework for regional cooperation. In the last three months, President Ghani has engaged the leadership of Iran, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and Afghan senior officials have participated at key regional meetings including of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process and other orums. Afghanistan has also signed the draft Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement, and the final pending documents for the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000), which will strengthen Afghanistan’s potential to become the capital of the continental economy, a hub in the Heart of Asia. We look forward to the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in September, which will be an important step towards ensuring further cooperation and connectivity in the region.

 

Madam President,

 

Our international partnerships remain vital to Afghanistan’s long-term development and prosperity. The historic visit of the Afghan High-Level delegation led by President Ghani to the United States in March reaffirmed our commitment to the US-Afghan strategic partnership. During the visit, President Ghani addressed the American people and Congress and held enormously productive discussions with President Obama and the leadership of the United States. Together they announced a New Development Partnership, which will focus up to $800 million in economic assistance for Afghan development and reform priorities. President Ghani concluded his visit in New York, where he underlined the importance of the United Nations-Afghan partnership in meetings with H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leadership of the United Nations.

 

Madam President,

 

At a time when new conflicts and wars plague the world and divert our attention and resources, the continuing cooperation and support of the international community is crucial to Afghanistan’s future. While Afghanistan faces great challenges, the country is steadily realizing the goals of the transformation decade and moving towards a brighter future. As we do so, we know that our on-going partnerships and the support of the international community will be essential to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, the region, and the world.

 

Thank you Madam President.