Thursday, August 24, 2017

Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations at the Security Council
on the Situation in Afghanistan
Mr. President,

I should like to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of March, while expressing my delegation’s appreciation for convening today’s meeting on the Situation in Afghanistan.

My delegation would also like to seize this opportunity to warmly welcome Dr. Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, and Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, back to this Council. We extend our gratitude for their informative briefings.

In addition, we are also pleased to have H.E. Massimo D’Alema, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, among us in today’s discussion.

My delegation is grateful to the Secretary General for his comprehensive report on the situation in Afghanistan. His report provides an overview of the current situation and the multiple threats that we continue to face alongside our international partners.

Mr. President,

In assessing the current situation in Afghanistan, we must look back to where Afghanistan was five and half years ago. We are well aware of the many achievements that have taken place since 2001 – to which we have referred to on numerous occasions before this Council. Therefore, I shall limit my comments to some of the most pressing challenges facing both Afghanistan and the international community in our joint endeavor towards achieving lasting peace, stability and prosperity in my country.

Terrorism, narcotics, weak state institutions and the slow pace of economic development are among our main challenges. As such, it would be safe to state that we have jointly underestimated the magnitude of the challenges facing Afghanistan. Therefore, it is ever more obvious that the renewed commitment of the international community is required to address the remaining obstacles and consolidate the gains of the past years.

The prevailing security situation remains forefront among our challenges. Regrettably, we witnessed in 2006 a significant surge in terrorist related activities, occurring mainly along the southern parts of the country. These activities have not only affected the daily lives of the Afghan people, but have also had a significant negative impact on various sectors, including health and education, as well as development and reconstruction projects undertaken with the support of our international partners.

Particularly worrisome was the fact that the Taliban and extremist elements resorted to the abhorrent practice of suicide attacks, a phenomenon relatively unknown in Afghan history. According to our records, an estimated 123 incidents of suicide bombings were carried out during the previous year. These attacks remain a great source of concern to both the Afghan Government and the international community as they terrorize the lives of ordinary people.

Mr. President,

Improving security in Afghanistan will require a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach, one which will address both the internal and regional dimensions of the problem. Internally, our national army and police lack the number of personnel required to effectively combat a resurgent enemy force. Therefore, accelerating the recruitment and training of our security forces will be crucial to achieve our intended goal of a 68,000 standing army and 82,000 police force by the end of 2008. The success of our security institutions to combat effectively a revitalized and well-equipped enemy force will depend largely on the level of international assistance in terms of financial, logistical and technical support.

In this regard, we welcome the recent decision taken by the United States of America, NATO allies and other international partners to increase in their level of financial and military assistance to our security forces.

The regional dimension relates directly to the presence of foreign sanctuaries that train, equip, recruit and indoctrinate extremist fighters carrying out attacks in Afghanistan. As indicated in paragraph five of the Secretary General’s report, [and I quote] “Many attacks appear to have been financed from abroad. According to national and international security sources, the training camps for these attacks are located outside Afghanistan” [end of quote].

It has by now become evident that unless the external sources of insecurity are addressed in a comprehensive and resolute manner, our efforts to achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan may go in vain. The threat posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremists is not limited to Afghanistan alone, rather it puts at risk the stability of the region and beyond. We are pleased to note that this fact has finally been acknowledged by the wider international community.

Mr. President,

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan attaches great importance to the role of regional cooperation in the combat against terrorism. While commending the crucial role of the international community in providing security, we are of the firm conviction that regional cooperation will be indispensable to achieving our shared goal of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. We welcome, in this respect, the recent arrest of the former Defense Minister of the Taliban by the authorities of the Government of Pakistan. We hope that such measures will continue in a sustainable manner.

Afghanistan continues to maintain high-level and constructive contacts with the Government of Pakistan, with a view to improving security along the border region. These interactions are taking place both within the framework of the Tripartite Commission, as well as on a bilateral basis. Efforts are now underway to convene a cross-border Jirgah of tribal and influential figures from both sides of the border. In this connection, we are pleased to inform that the first preparatory meeting of the Jirgah Commissions took place on the 14th of March. The next meeting is scheduled to convene in Kabul in the coming month.

We look forward to the up-coming Third Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, scheduled to convene in Islamabad in late 2007. The conference will offer another opportunity to further enhance regional cooperation in achieving security and development in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Apart from security, another area which requires due attention is the social and economic development of the country. The inextricable link between development and security necessitates a particular focus on accelerating the pace of implementing development and reconstruction projects throughout the country. This will, in turn, have a positive impact in creating employment opportunities and providing basic services to achieve substantial and sustainable progress in improving the daily lives of the people. In this regard, a particular focus should be accorded to conflict affected areas.

As the principal mechanism mandated to coordinate the efforts of Afghanistan and the international community in the implementation of the interim National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Compact, the Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board (JCMB) has proven its importance. My delegation, therefore, underscores the need to further strengthen the role of the Board with a view to improving the effectiveness of international aid and promoting greater international engagement.

Mr. President,

Our efforts alone, no matter how intense or skillful, will not be sufficient to enhance the capacity of our State institutions in order to meet the needs of the people. While expressing our sincere appreciation for the support of the international community over the past five and half years, it is worth mentioning that Afghanistan has received far less assistance from the donor community in comparison to other post-conflict countries. We, therefore, reiterate the need for increased and sustained assistance to meet the benchmarks of our National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Compact. In this context, we believe that better coordination of donor assistance will serve beneficial in achieving greater transparency and tangible results.

Mr. President,

The combat against narcotics remains a top priority of Afghanistan, as it poses a threat to the stability and security in Afghanistan and the region, given its nexus with terrorist-related activities. Alleviating this menace from the region will require a concerted effort by the international community. In our part, we have initiated a series of substantial measures to that effect. The national drug control strategy forms the basis of our counter-narcotics endeavors.

It should be noted that the successful implementation of the strategy will only be realized if we are able to provide other modes of legal economic activity. Regional cooperation will be key in overcoming this common threat. In this regard, we underscore the need for an equal effort on the part of transit and consuming countries, in accordance with the principle of shared responsibility.

Mr. President,

We pay tribute to the United Nations for its central role in leading international efforts to implement the Afghanistan Compact. In this context, we welcome the intention of UNAMA to expand its presence to additional provinces in the country as an important step towards further strengthening UN activities in Afghanistan.

As we have now entered a critical phase in building a prosperous Afghanistan, it is ever more imperative that we maintain the level of international consensus on Afghanistan and to intensify our efforts to overcome the remaining challenges. We look forward to continue working with our international partners to achieve our shared objectives, and remain committed more than ever to realize the vision set out in the Afghanistan Compact. I would like to also seize this opportunity to express our appreciation for the sustained support of the international community to our efforts aimed at achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

In conclusion, we would like to thank Dr. Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, and the members of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan for their tireless efforts in carrying out their important mandate.
Thank you Mr. President.

Role of the Security Council in Security Sector Reform (SSR)

Statement by
H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
at the Security Council on
the Role of the Security Council in Security Sector Reform (SSR)
Mr. President,

At the outset, I should like to extend, on behalf of my delegation, our congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council during the month of February, and to wish you every success in guiding the work of the Council to a successful conclusion. We wish to also express our appreciation to your delegation for initiating today’s debate, aimed at developing a comprehensive, coherent and integrated approach to security sector reform.

My delegation attaches great importance to the concept of security sector reform as it constitutes one of the key elements in the restoration of peace, stability and normalcy in post-conflict settings. We therefore note with satisfaction the increased level of awareness among the general membership of the United Nations and the international community on security sector reform.

Mr. President,

As a country emerging from more than two-decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan is well aware of the importance of security sector reform (SSR) in ensuring security, recovery, development, as well as improving human rights and the rule of law in post-conflict countries.

Security sector reform has served as the lynchpin to the entire state-building process in Afghanistan. The process has been also the flagship of the international engagement in rebuilding Afghanistan’s security forces and law enforcement agencies. The reform process in Afghanistan has consisted of five pillars, each supported by a lead country in the following areas: military reform, police reform, counter-narcotics, judicial reform, and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.

The disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR ) process, launched in October 2003, marked the beginning of the security sector reform process in Afghanistan. In accordance with the mandate of the program, more than sixty thousand former combatants were disarmed and demobilized with a view to creating an environment conducive for the implementation of the SSR and reconstruction process in the country.

As the second phase of our reform process, we embarked upon the disbandment of illegal armed groups, aimed at disarming military units not registered with the Ministry of Defence. We remain committed to conclude this process by end of 2007 with the support of our international partners.

SSR has not only facilitated improvements in the security environment, but also served as a precondition for the formation of our national army and police. Over 35,000 soldiers of the national army and 62,000 officers of the national police have been trained. Our goal is to reach target strength of a 70,000 standing army and 82,000 police force by the end of 2008.

Moreover, additional reforms in the ministries of Defence and Interior have constituted the main components of the SSR process in Afghanistan. In this regard, a number of steps have been taken to implement institutional reforms to achieve greater professionalism and ensure adherence to democratic principals, such as accountability, transparency and respect for human rights.

Despite our progress, we continue to face significant challenges in strengthening the capacity of our security institutions. Lack of resources, modern equipment and low salaries of soldiers have had a drastic impact on the effectiveness of both the national army and police to address the prevailing security challenges in the country. We therefore are of the firm conviction that a sustained level of international engagement in building the capacity of security institutions in post-conflict countries should constitute an essential component of a successful security sector reform process.

I would like to seize this opportunity to express our appreciation for the unwavering support of the international community in assisting the reform process of our security institutions. In this regard, we welcome the recent pledge made by the United States of America to increase its assistance to enhancing the effectiveness and capacity of our national army and police.

Mr President,

SSR will be a long-term process in Afghanistan. It has served as a means to confront our immediate security challenges. Continuing terrorist attacks conducted by terrorist groups whose sanctuaries are located outside Afghanistan, coupled with the nexus between insecurity and the narcotics trade represent the main challenge to a successful security sector reform process in Afghanistan. In this connection, I would like to acknowledge the pivotal role of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in the implementation of SSR in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

On the basis of our experience and lessons learned, we would like to refer briefly to some of the issues contained in the concept paper distributed by the Presidency.

First, we must be cognizant of the fact that security sector reform is an endeavour that will be achieved over many years. There is no quick fix solution. Reform of the security sector is not just about disarming former combatants or the “training and equipping” of new army; rather it is a long-term process that requires a particular focus on development. The objective should be to transform former combatants into civilian life. In this regard, it will be of paramount importance to facilitate the provision of long-term income generating projects. Doing so will prevent former combatants from resorting to illegal activities.

Secondly, we are of the view that national ownership is an essential component of a successful and sustainable security sector reform process. As in the case of Afghanistan, SSR has taken place on the basis of consensus among all segments of Afghan society. Indeed, without the lead role and cooperation of the country concerned, efforts to achieve a successful reform process will risk failure.

Thirdly, we stress the need for enhanced coordination between the relevant organs and agencies of the United Nations and other international actors view to achieving a comprehensive, coherent and integrated approach to security sector reform. In this respect, my delegation would welcome the preparation of a report by the Secretary General covering existing UN related activities on security sector reform and a concrete set of recommendations for the future action.

Finally, we believe that security sector reform should be addressed as part of an overall strategy to ensure a lasting peace and stability in countries emerging from conflict. Equal attention must be accorded to building and strengthening state institutions and enhancing the rule of law and good-governance if we are to achieve a successful transition from conflict to peace in post-conflict countries.

Thanks, Mr. President

UN Security Council on Peace-building

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
at the Security Council
Mr. President,

I should like to begin by commending you for the able manner in which you led the work of the Council during the month of January. Allow me to also express my delegation’s appreciation for convening today’s open debate on the important topic of “post-conflict peace-building.”

The establishment of the Peace-building Commission on the 20th of December 2005 marked a major step forward towards achieving a more efficient and effective organization. It also marked a turning point in the efforts of the United Nations to promote peace, stability and development in post-conflict countries and countries emerging from conflict.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan notes with great satisfaction the launch of the Peace-building Fund on the 11th of November 2006, and the subsequent convening of four country specific meetings on Burundi and Sierra Leone as a clear indication of the international community’s determination to achieve long-term peace and stability in countries emerging from conflict.

As a country emerging from more than two-decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan is well aware of the challenges associated with post-conflict peace building. In a relatively short period of time, we have made significant gains towards a stable and democratic Afghanistan. The convening of the Emergency Loya Jirgah; adoption of a new Constitution; and holding of Presidential and Parliamentary elections are but some of our major accomplishments. We managed to attain these achievements against the backdrop of numerous challenges posed to our peace-building efforts.

We attribute that success to two primary factors: 1) the determination of the Afghan people to live in peace and tranquility, and 2) the sustained support of the international community, in particular the United Nations.

Mr. President,

On the basis of our experience, we have come to realize that effective peace-building requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted strategy, encompassing the essential components of social and economic development, good governance, human rights and the rule of law; national reconciliation, as well as the proactive and sustained engagement of the international community. In this context, we also underscore the importance of the leadership role of the country concerned in the process.

As it was stated by His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, at the launch of the Peace-building Fund, [and I quote] “Although peace-building is a collective effort, involving the international community, it is the Government of the country concerned that carries the main responsibility for setting priorities and ensuring that the peace process can be sustained. National ownership is the core principle of peace-building, and the restoration of national capacity to build peace must therefore be at the heart of our international efforts” [end of quote].

We are also of the view that creation of mechanisms with a mandate to coordinate and monitor peace-building efforts will be crucial to the overall process.

Mr. President,

The initial stage of post-conflict peace-building necessitates altering the conditions that give rise to a particular conflict. Adopting a passive stance in dealing with dominant threats will not only complicate the situation, but also jeopardize the process in its entirety. As in the case of Afghanistan, continuing terrorist attacks resulting from cross-border infiltration of terrorists along the south and south-eastern parts of the country constitutes the main threat to Afghanistan’s peace building process. These attacks have drastically affected the daily lives of the people and hampered the reconstruction and rehabilitation process.

It is therefore essential to address both internal and external factors that contribute to insecurity in a particular country. In that regard, we also stress the need to enhance the capacity of national security institutions to effectively address prevailing security challenges.

Equally important is the need to accelerate the pace of social and economic development, as security and development are not only interconnected but also mutually reinforcing. We have come to realize that improving security in post-conflict countries will not be achieved by military means alone. It will also require sustained economic development. Successful re-integration of ex-combatants in post-conflict countries will depend largely on the launching of quick impact reconstruction projects and creation of employment opportunities. This will encourage former combatants to re-integrate fully into civilian life and refrain from joining illegal armed groups.

Mr. President,

National reconciliation can be vital to a successful peace-building process. Enhanced dialogue among all segments of society in the peace-process is necessary to realize national peace-building goals. An inclusive political process; one which ensures equal representation and participation among all national actors and stakeholders will lead to greater confidence-building.

In that regard, allow me to mention that the full participation of all of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups and main political parties in the political process was one of the key factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the Bonn Agreement of 2001.

Finally, Afghanistan emphasizes the need for the international community to maintain an adequate level of aid, including the provision of financial assistance, to countries emerging from conflict, with a view to facilitating a smooth transition from conflict to lasting peace and stability. The political presence of the United Nations through its country team, together with the active vital role of development agencies – under the umbrella of the resident UNDP coordinator – will contribute significantly in that regard.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate Afghanistan’s full support to the work of the Peace-building Commission. We remain confident that this newly established Commission will spare no effort to carry out its important and noble task of securing peace and tranquility in post-conflict-countries.

Thank you Mr. President.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan