Friday, August 18, 2017

“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 “

STATEMENT
BY
H.E. DR. ZAHIR TANIN
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE THEMATIC DEBATE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 ”

Mr. President,

I would like to express the appreciation of my delegation for organizing this important debate on the progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have been a powerful mobilizing force for greater focus on global and national actions to improve the well-being of people around the world. This meeting provides the opportunity to review and discuss the implementation of the MDGs and pave the ground for a successful convening of the High Level Meeting on MDGs in September 2008. In my remarks today, I would like to share Afghanistan’s experience towards fulfilling the MDGs.

Mr. President,
In 2000, when the Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration and committed themselves to endorse the MDGs in a time-bound manner, Afghanistan was embroiled in armed conflict. In March 2004, my Government committed itself to achieve the MDGs within a time bound period. As a late entrant to global development efforts, the Afghan Government has extended its MDGs timeline from 2015 to 2020 due to quarter of a century of conflict and our inability to join this global effort in 2000. Lack of available data has posed unique problems in preventing reliable baselines from which to set targets. Therefore most of the global targets have been “Afghanized”, which means that they have been revised to make them more relevant to Afghanistan. Moreover, in recognition of the interdependency of development and security a ninth goal of ‘enhancing security’ has been added to the MDGs.

The development policy framework of Afghanistan, which was established at the London Conference in January 2006, is aimed at enabling the achievement of the MDGs. At the London Conference, we launched our National MDGs Report, presented our interim National Development Strategy (i-ANDS) and adopted the Afghanistan Compact.

Mr. President,
Notwithstanding progress towards the MDGs, many challenges still remain in the implementation of our goals. Allow me to highlight some of them:
Poverty and Hunger (MDG1). Since 2001, economic growth has not only been significant but also generated better livelihoods; GDP per capita has increased 53% in the last five years. However, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 22 million Afghans – representing 70% of the population – living in poverty especially high in rural areas. Poverty and unemployment, both of which have contributed to the increase of the terrorist activities in the country, can jeopardize the gains made in the last 6 years. We have prioritized addressing both in a sustainable and timely manner.

Education (MDG2). Since 2001, nearly 7 million children have returned to schools – one third of whom are girls. More than 3,500 schools have been built and new curriculum 2
and textbooks have been developed for primary education. In addition, the number of teachers has increased seven-fold. However, a great number of children, particularly those living in rural areas, continue to face difficulties in accessing educational institutions. It is also important to mention that the Taliban and Al-Qaida, during their campaign of terror, have attacked and intimidated teachers, students and burned out a large number of schools.
Gender (MDG3). Significant progress has been achieved to empower women in the political, economic and social areas. Women play an important role in the development and peace process in Afghanistan. However, many women still face obstacles. Among them are low rates of literacy and life expectancy, coupled with pregnancy related complications, unemployment and insufficient access to education and health services.
Reduce child mortality, Improve Maternal Health and Combat Diseases (MDGs 4, 5, 6). Today 85% of the Afghan population has access to basic health services and access to diagnostic and curative services has increased from almost none in 2002 to more than 40 % in 2008. The rate of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by 85,000 and 40,000 annually. We have created our National AIDS Control Program (NACP) in 2004 to collect systematic data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. However, close to 900 children under the age of five die daily and more than 60 women die every day from pregnancy-related complications. Malaria is prevalent in more than 60% of the country and Afghanistan is the 12th highest tuberculosis burdened country in the world and the highest in South Asia.
Environment (MDG7). In 2007, 343 community water points were constructed in the drought hit and conflict-affected parts of southern Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous initiatives to prevent environmental degradation. However, only 23 % of the entire population has access to safe drinking water and most of the diseases are caused by lack of drinkable water.
Security (MDG9). The lack of security caused by the Taliban and Al-Qaida in the southern parts of Afghanistan is a major obstacle to economic and social development. Achieving our MDGs solely depends on providing security to our people. Afghanistan has added this new goal which includes targets related to disarmament, de-mining and counter narcotics. We would like to place emphasis on the need for technical and financial assistance to our security institutions to contribute to the rule of law, and advance the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process (DDR) and the counter narcotics efforts.
Mr. President,
Develop a Global Partnership for Development (MDG8). The main part of Afghanistan’s national development resources are currently provided by the international community. Therefore, the partnership with the donor community is key to ensuring the implementation of our National Development Strategy, including the MDGs. In this

regard, it is important to mention that the delivery and effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan is faced with the following constraints:
1.
The overall volume of aid delivered to Afghanistan is less in comparison to other post conflict settings.
2.
There is a growing gap of billions of dollars between amounts pledged and amounts disbursed which undermines the ability of our government to undertake long-term fiscal planning.
3.
Nearly three quarters of the aid is disbursed outside our national budget which creates a parallel system that undermines our government’s ownership, involves multiple levels of contractors that inflate cost and fail to build Afghan national capacity.
4.
The proportion of “tied” aid is three times more than “untied” aid which affects our capability to plan and effectively implement our national development strategy.
By adopting the Afghanistan Compact, the international community committed itself to improve aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, to provide resources and support for the implementation of our development strategy including the MDGs. We would like to seize this opportunity to remind the donor community to fulfill its commitment under the Afghanistan Compact and to:
1.
Increase the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA), particularly to countries emerging from conflict.
2.
Translate pledges into commitments and therefore provide more predictable and multi-year funding commitments.
3.
Provide its financial support through our national budget in order to reduce the duplication, transactions costs, strengthen the national ownership.
4.
Deliver “untied” aid whenever possible and provide assistance within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy.
Afghanistan is currently at the crucial stage of finalizing its National Development Strategy (ANDS) and entering into its implementation phase. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy will be launched during the International Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Paris in June 2008. The Paris Conference represents an opportunity for our international partners to renew their political and financial commitment for the implementation of ANDS and the achievement of our MDGs. In Paris Conference, we expect that the international community will continue its political and financial support to Afghanistan so as to enable us to improve the lives of our people and stand on our own feet.
Thank you for your attention.

Commemorative High-level Plenary Meeting Devoted to the Follow-Up to the Outcome of the Special Session on Children

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative to the United Nations
At the Commemorative High-level Plenary Meeting Devoted to the Follow-Up to the Outcome of the Special Session on Children
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to express my delegation’s appreciation for organizing this Commemorative High Plenary Meeting on a topic that requires special attention from the family nations represented in this noble organization; The Future of Our Children”.

The protection of the rights of the child remains a fundamental responsibility of the human community, requiring children to be raised in a healthy environment and ensuring their physical, psychological, social, emotional, cognitive and cultural development.

This value represents a high priority in a country like Afghanistan, where the devastating consequences of three decades of war has particularly affected the most vulnerable part of our population, namely children and women. During this period, the basic rights of Afghan Children have been undermined due to the vicious cycle of violence, poverty and lack of access to education and health facilities.

Since the end of 2001, despite facing many challenges in our state-building efforts, we have achieved substantial progress in addressing the rights of our children. We have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols in 2002 and included dispositions in our domestic law aimed to protect the rights of children. Improving the lives of our citizens and providing our children with a better and brighter future stands high among our policy objectives. We remain committed to address the plight of our children by implementing our Millennium Development Goals through the Afghanistan Compact and our interim National Development Strategy (I-ANDS).

Mr. President,

During the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children in 2002 it was recognized that building a World Fit for Children would be a major step in fulfilling the commitments of the Millennium Summit. The four major goals of the Plan of Action strongly reinforce the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs, all of which address and affect the rights of children. In the effort to achieve this noble task, we have submitted our first progress report covering the period 2002 – 2006. In this regard, we count on sustained financial assistance from our international partners to implement our national development strategy. We remain hopeful that a greater share of such assistance will be provided on the basis of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

Mr. President,

Allow me to briefly refer to some achievements in protecting and promoting the rights of our children and improving their socio-economic conditions.

In the area of education, close to 6 million children have returned to schools – 35% of which are girls. More than 3,500 schools have been built and new curriculum and textbooks have been developed for primary education. In addition, the number of teachers has increased seven-fold.

These figures mirror achievements made in the area of health. Our Ministry of Health continues to work diligently to implement nation-wide programs to improve the lives of mother’s and children. The rate of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by 85,000 and 40,000 annually. In just September and October, more than one hundred thousand previously un-immunized children were vaccinated against Polio in southern Afghanistan. Distribution of the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS), has improved coverage of basic health services from 9% in 2003 to 81% of the population this year. These include assistance in the form of maternal and new born health, child heath and immunization, public nutrition, communicable disease control of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Mr. President,

Our Government is strongly committed to address child protection issues. Our National Strategy on Children which lays out specific activities to prevent violence and exploitation of children has been launched in May 2006. Our nation wide program to demobilize child soldiers was completed in 2006. A total number of 7,444 under age soldiers between the ages of 13-18 were demobilized through out the process. In order to facilitate social integration of those children, local demobilization and reintegration committees have been established all over the country. Important steps towards preventing child trafficking have taken place. We have established a special task force to protect children in bordering provinces from falling into hands of traffickers. As a result, since 2002, 429 cases of child trafficking have been discovered out of which 317 children have been rescued from traffickers.

We are thankful to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for making our achievements possible and rendering services during the most difficult of conditions.

Mr. President,

The prevention of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is among our priorities. However effective policies to combat HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan are hampered by the lack of reliable data on the prevalence of, incidence and ways of transmission. Nevertheless, Afghanistan created its National AIDS Control Program (NACP) in 2004 to collect systematic data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. We are also taking every measure possible to avert a full epidemic through awareness campaigns.

Mr. President,

Despite progress made, the Afghan Children continue to face insurmountable challenges. Children remain the prime victim of terrorism in Afghanistan. Just last month, a terrorist attack in northern Baghlan province led to the death of more than fifty children. Close to 90 children were left wounded. The horrific incident was among the latest of numerous attacks illustrating the effects of terrorism and insecurity on the lives of our children. As part of their intimidation campaign, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have resorted to new and brutal tactics such as executing young children for teaching English and being in possession of foreign currency. Terrorists are also attacking students and burning schools. Just between August 2006 and July 2007, at least 133 incidents of schools attacks took place, mainly in the southern provinces. As a result, 384 of the 721 schools in provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul are currently closed. Other tactics used by terrorists include deliberate targeting of female teachers and students, as well as use of children as suicide bombers.

Many present here today may recall the incident in which a six year old boy from Ghazni province was deceived by terrorists to wear a vest laden with explosives. Refusing to conduct the attack, the boy confessed to authorities he was told that by pressing the button, flowers would spring out of the vest. The use of children as a tool by terrorists is a new phenomenon that must be prevented.

Mr. President,

Despite the significant increase in enrollment of children in schools, a great number of children, particularly those living in rural areas, continue to face difficulty in accessing educational institutions. To date, approximately 1.2 million primary school age girls remain at home, owing to various factors, including dire socio-economic conditions and insecurity in some areas. We call on our international partners to support the implementation of our National Strategic Plan for Education, whose objectives also include the development of community based schools that are closer to home.

Challenges facing children are not confined to education alone. Recent estimates indicate that the rates of child and maternal mortality in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world. Close to 900 children under the age of 5 die daily. More than 60 women die every day from pregnancy-related complications. Reversing this trend will require continued international assistance to enhance the capacity of our health centers in all parts of the country. In this regard, we stress the importance of development of accessible family planning services and emergency obstetric care which will help reduce the number of deaths.

Mr. President,

Poverty remains the biggest obstacle in Afghanistan in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the Action Plan of a World Fit for Children. We would like to stress the need for full partnership and expanded cooperation with the international community in our mutual commitment to attain the MDGs and create an “Afghanistan fit for Children”. In that regard, we highlight the need for a considerable increase in the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for least developed countries, particularly countries emerging from conflict, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you Mr. President.

UN General Assembly On the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative to the UN
At the General Assembly
On the Situation in Afghanistan
Mr. President,

It is with great pleasure for me to address this august assembly, as we have gathered to consider the annual draft resolution of the General Assembly entitled “The Situation in Afghanistan.”

Today’s meeting, following the High-Level Meeting of 23 September – co-chaired by H.E. President Karzai and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon – and the Security Council’s Meeting of 15 October on Afghanistan is a clear indication of the ongoing commitment and support of the United Nations and the international community to ensure Afghanistan’s successful transition from war and conflict to peace and stability.

We are pleased that Afghanistan continues to be on the agenda of the General Assembly. Today’s gathering reaffirms that Afghanistan remains among the top priorities of the United Nations. It also indicates unwavering international support for efforts to consolidate the gains of the past six years towards the goal of a stable, moderate and prosperous Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

As we speak, Afghanistan continues to make substantial progress in various areas, including institutional building, economic growth, education, health, road-building and rural development.

In the area of security, we have increased the size and strength of our national army and police, enabling our security forces to play a more efficient role in combat operations in various parts of Afghanistan. The Afghan national army, which will stand at 47,000 strong by the end of the year, is on track to meet the target strength of 72,000 by 2009. Additional progress is evident in disbanding illegal armed groups throughout the country.

Steady progress continues in improving the socio-economic conditions of our people. Eighty-five percent of the population has access to basic health service. We have built 4000 hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Increased access to health centers has saved the lives of 89,000 children and reduced maternal mortality by 40,000 this year. More than six million students – of which girls comprise 36 percent – are attending schools and universities.

The National Solidarity Program, as the largest effort to empower and develop rural areas, has brought development projects to over 18,000 communities throughout the country, touching the lives of 13 million villagers.

Afghanistan has taken important steps towards regaining its historic role as a facilitator of regional economic cooperation. This comes after years of economic isolation, resulting from years of armed-conflict and foreign occupations. Among other infrastructure projects completed, our national highway system – stretching 6,000 kilometers – will lead to increased trade with our neighbors.

Afghanistan’s inclusion in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in May of this year was a milestone development for our integration to regional markets. And most recently, we hosted the 17th Annual Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization in the historic city of Herat with the purpose of maximizing Afghanistan’s potential to promote trade and development in the region.

The consolidation of our democratic institutions has enabled our citizens to enjoy more social, political and economic rights than ever before. The unprecedented number of women represented in our national assembly and presence of tens of political parties and numerous media outlet is clear testimony to this assessment. Hundreds of various publications and television and radio stations throughout the country have made Afghanistan one of the most liberal environments for independent media in the region.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) continues to undertake important measures to protect and promote human rights for all citizens. In this regard, I am pleased to state that, among other initiatives, progress continues towards the implementation of the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice.

Mr. President,

Despite remarkable achievements, we have not lost sight of the numerous challenges. Terrorism, illicit drugs, weak state institutions, poverty, socio-economic hardships, as well as the challenges associated with the situation in the region are among our main challenges. These are interdependent threats that have domestic, regional and international dimensions.

Terrorism remains the primary threat facing efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Afghanistan. This year, there has been a rise in violent terrorist activities of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the region. Terrorists are spreading fear and intimidation inside and outside Afghanistan. They rely on heinous and brutal acts aimed at undermining the security of our people and deterring the commitment of the international community to Afghanistan. That is why they have increased terrorist attacks in the form of abductions, intimidations, suicide bombings and use of sophisticated explosive devices, targeting and terrorizing a wide spectrum of society; children attending school, religious clerics, international aid workers, journalists and Afghan and international security forces.

Mr. President,

Substantial progress continues in defeating terrorism and extremism. Recent military operations have weakened the command and control structure of terrorist networks by capturing or eliminating an increasing number of high and middle-level Taliban commanders who were responsible for organizing and carrying out numerous suicide bombings in various provinces. Our counter-terrorism efforts also include strengthening the international sanctions regime against terrorists.

Mr. President,

Sustained success in the military campaign against terrorists is dependent on the level of technical and logistical assistance to bolster the capacity of our security institutions. A strong and professional national army and police is a pre-condition for long-term stability and security in Afghanistan. We call for increased efforts to accelerate the training of our security forces so that they become self-reliant and able to assume an independent role in addressing the security needs of our people.

Military means, by itself, is not the sole solution to Afghanistan’s security problems. An integrated military, political and development strategy is necessary for substantial and sustainable improvement of security in Afghanistan. As a complement to military action, we continue to increase efforts for political outreach to “non-terrorist” Taliban; those who are willing renounce violence and abide by the provisions of Afghanistan’s constitution.

Implementing development and infrastructure projects, particularly in areas threatened by Taliban and extremists, will have a direct impact on improving security. Therefore, every effort should be made to “maintain and win” the support of people by creating employment opportunities and ensuring the provision of basic services throughout the country. Without adequate development, employment opportunities and improved socio-economic conditions throughout the country, we will run the risk of ordinary citizens falling hostage to extremist groups.

Mr. President,

Regional cooperation is indispensable for defeating terrorism and extremism, affecting stability in Afghanistan and the region. Close cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan continues at a bilateral and multi-lateral basis to eliminate this scourge jointly and resolutely. Just last week, we convened the first meeting of the Jirgah Commission as a follow-up to the Peace Jirga, held in Kabul in the month of August. The second meeting of Peace Jirgah will be held in Pakistan early next year. It is of utmost importance that the collaborative atmosphere in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan continue. We are following the recent developments in Pakistan with concern, as security, stability and normalcy in Pakistan are critical for security and stability in the region.

For us, regional cooperation is not only the most effective strategy to address the challenges of terrorism and illicit drugs, but also underdevelopment, organized crime and natural disasters. It will also help in translating the region’s rich resources and potential into development and prosperity. There are many opportunities for regional cooperation in areas of trade, energy, transportation, transit, cultural and education, water management and joint investment projects. The opportunity must be seized.
Mr. President,

Narcotics pose a threat to the stability and well-being of our societies. In our part, we have accelerated efforts to rid this menace from Afghanistan. Apart from those areas where the Taliban-Al-Qaeda poses a threat to security, approximately twenty-six thousand hectares of land have been cleared of poppy-cultivation, amounting to 13 poppy-free provinces. This is in addition to a substantial decrease of cultivation in 12 other provinces. With enhanced law enforcement, we have apprehended 85 traffickers at Kabul International Airport and 1016 cases of trafficking were submitted to the Office of the Attorney General this year. Other measures include facilitating the arrest of numerous international traffickers in foreign countries, with the support of Interpol.

Nevertheless, to achieve long-term and sustainable success in combating narcotics, we must take into account the networked character of illicit drugs, entailing farmers, producers, traffickers and consumers. In combating narcotics our strategy must address all the components. Active participation of transit and consuming countries, on the basis of shared responsibility, is critical for enabling us to contain the menace of illicit drugs. Providing Afghan farmers with alternative livelihoods should entail a key aspect of such a strategy. In this regard, we count on the sustained support of the international community to implement our national drug control strategy.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has taken numerous steps to enhance good-governance and the rule of law. We have launched reform strategies in various institutions, including the Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office and Ministries of Interior and Justice, to enhance efficacy and professionalism in our civil service. To this end, our Civil Service Commission has finalized a revised public administration reform framework and implementation program to ensure a merit based appointment mechanism for civil servants. As part of the effort to ensure accountability in our institutions, we have arrested or detained numerous senior and mid-level officials engaged in illegal activities. These measures were complemented with the approval of the UN Convention against Corruption by the National Assembly in the month of August and ongoing preparations to present our National Justice Sector Strategy. In this context, we express our appreciation to the Government of Italy for co-hosting with Afghanistan and the United Nations the International Rome Conference on the Rule of Law and Justice in July.

However, our success in promoting good governance and the rule of law is interlinked with consolidation of a powerful and independent judiciary, effective state institutions, free media, functioning civil society, and a conducive environment for economic, social and cultural development of all citizens.

Mr. President,

More than twenty-years of conflict resulted in dire socio-economic conditions which forced millions of our citizens to migrate abroad. We are grateful to all countries, particularly Pakistan and Iran, for having hosted millions of our compatriots during some of the most difficult times of our nation’s history. While expressing our earnest desire to have all our citizens’ back home, we call for sustained international assistance to create a feasible environment for their voluntary, gradual, safe and dignified return and reintegration.

Mr. President,

The Afghanistan Compact remains the most viable framework to address our remaining challenges. Within the framework of the JCMB, we periodically evaluate our progress towards achieving vision of the Afghanistan Compact with our international partners. While expressing appreciation for the support of the international community to the Afghan process, we would like to stress need to ensure greater efficiency in the mobilization, coordination and utilization of assistance to implement our national development strategy.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan continues to struggle with legacies of three decades of conflicts and emergence of the new challenges. As such, it will not be able to deal with its magnitude of problems on its own. It will need the long, sustained and adequate support of the international community for many years to come. The presence and commitment of the international community is an existential issue for Afghanistan. The international community should acknowledge the importance of its continuing commitment for peace and security in Afghanistan, the region and the global world. Neither complacency nor exaggerated pessimism will help our efforts to achieve a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

The role of the United Nations in Afghanistan is of crucial importance for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We commend the role of UNAMA, under the ale leadership of Mr. Tom Koenigs, in promoting enhanced international engagement and coordination between the international community and Afghanistan to achieve vision of the Afghanistan Compact.

We are also grateful for the personal dedication and commitment of the Secretary General to Afghanistan. His visit to Kabul in the month of July, his participation in International Rome Conference on the Rule of Law and Justice in July, and initiative to convene the High-Level Meeting along the sidelines of the 62nd Session of the UNGA are very much welcomed by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

We are also thankful to all countries that have committed troops to serve alongside forces of our national army and police to provide security to our people. We pay particular tribute to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I should like to express my delegation’s appreciation to our colleagues at the German Mission for their tireless efforts in leading the consultations on the draft resolution before us today. Special thanks go out to Dr. Metcalf of the German Mission in that regard. We also extend our gratitude to all member-states that co-sponsored this year’s resolution.
Thank you Mr. President.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan