Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan At the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement by Mr. Mohammad Erfani Ayoob

Deputy Permanent Representative,Charge d’ Affaires of Afghanistan to the United Nations

On the report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan

At the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict


Mr. Chairman,

Members of the Working Group,

Let me thank you for convening today’s meeting and inviting my delegation to discuss the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan.

I thank the Secretary General and the Security Council Working Group, for their efforts to report cases of violations of children’s rights and to monitor the implementation of Resolution 1612 in countries affected by conflict.

We strongly believe in the vital role of the Security Council in protecting the rights of Children during armed conflict. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to implement all relevant   Security Council Resolutions concerning the protection of children, including 1612.

I welcome Mrs. Radhika Coomaraswamy the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict who is among us, and thank her for her insightful briefing on her recent visit to Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

Every child in every country has a dream for a brighter future and as well as a common ambition to achieve their goals. Today’s children are our future generation and they deserve our best care and protection. Unfortunately, the 3 decade old war and conflict in Afghanistan destroyed our infrastructure, damaged our values and deprived our people from their basic rights including: education, health, and social – economic wellbeing. As a result, our children have become the primary victims of these conflicts.

For the last 10 years, despite facing many challenges, the Government of Afghanistan with its partners in the International community, has made significant progress in promoting and safeguarding the rights of children in all areas, including education, health and other key areas

Afghanistan is proud to have ratified human rights related conventions and protocols including, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols; adopted the National Strategy on Children at Risk to prevent violence and exploitation of children; participated in Paris process “Free Children from War.”  Further, we support the establishment of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) based on the Security Council resolution 1612, and have joined the Convention on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour of the ILO.  Additionally, we are a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Mr. Chairman

Nevertheless, despite our efforts to improve security, terrorism remains a serious threat in the daily lives of our people, particularly our younger generation.  Children remain the prime victims of terrorism in Afghanistan.

As part of their intimidation campaign, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their allies, commit crimes through recruiting and training children across Afghanistan’s border and exploiting them as combatants in our country . They urge children to operate as suicide bombers, attack female teachers and girl students, burn schools, attack civilians and international workers. Their very presence creates an environment where humanitarian aid is unable to access those who most desperately need it.

It is the Taliban and other terrorists groups that remain the main violators of our people’s human rights, including children’s rights in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is our duty to concentrate our common efforts in finding ways and means to protect Afghan children from the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.

Additionally, for a successful implementation of 1612 in Afghanistan, it is essential to recognize and address the overriding socio-economic and political challenges in Afghanistan and in the region.

Mr Chairman

We are strongly committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of our children and it is our responsibility to provide them opportunities  for education;  combating violence, prosecute those who commit crimes against children and guarantee economic and social opportunities .The Government of Afghanistan with the continued support by our international partners will spare no effort to improve the plight of our children,  through implementing our  Millennium Development Goals; National Development Strategy (ANDS); and our National Priority Programs adopted during Kabul Conference (2010).

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation appreciates the efforts lent to the publication of the Secretary General on the issue of Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan and have studied it closely.

This second country-specific report on Afghanistan is a comprehensive one which illustrates great improvement since the first report. However it also highlights that, unfortunately due to continued terrorist attacks by Taliban, Al Qaeda and other anti government elements, the grave violence against children and civilian casualties have increased during reporting period.

We appreciate the concerns of International Community toward the plight of Afghan Children and welcome the recommendation contained at the end of this report.  I would like to make the following comments on this report:

My delegation has a well reasoned reservation with the terminology of “all parties to the conflict” by the use of this terminology it has unjustly placed the ANSF on the same line with terrorist groups. We stress to all present today that there needs to be a clear differentiation between the Government of Afghanistan and International security forces  from the terrorist and Anti-governmental elements.

We hold concerns that the report should not rely on isolated cases. Isolated cases cannot constitute a solid basis and must not identify the Government of Afghanistan as a violator of children’s rights.

Afghanistan has taken numerous measures to prevent child recruitment in our national security forces, and punish those who commit sexual violence against children. According to existing laws, recruitment of any solider under the age of 18 is illegal.  Moreover, any form of sexual violence against children is a crime punishable by law.

Since Taliban , Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups use children to conduct military operations and terrorist activates in Afghanistan , subsequently some of those children has been obtained by Afghan authorities . These children are kept in the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres and treated in the line of Afghan Law for Juvenile Justice .

Let me also reiterate that the Government of Afghanistan is taking necessary steps to bring to justice perpetrators of the practice of Baccha Baazi, or “Boy Play ” as an immoral and anti Islamic practice.  We are firmly committed to bringing this practice to an end.  In short, let me state that all forms of sexual violence against children, including paedophilia is considered a crime.  At the same time, I would like to make clear that there exists no law in Afghanistan which will grant immunity to perpetrators of sexual violence.

Afghanistan looks forward to working closely with the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting to ensure the successful implementation of Security Council Resolution 1612. In the context of the overall efforts of the UN improve the plight of Afghan children; we urge the relevant agencies, including the UNDP and UNICEF to give special focus on addressing the broader socio-economic, governance and security issues. Doing so will offer an important contribution in the effort to safeguard and empower our children.

Collateral damage during international military operations has also negatively affected the well-being of our children. In this regard, we welcome recent measures by international partners to prevent such harm to all our citizens, including our children.  These include a review of tactics and procedures, as well as enhanced coordination with Afghan security forces.

Mr Chairman,

In April 2010 , the ANP was listed in the 9th report of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children  and the Working Group has the record of strong  rejection by the Government of Afghanistan on this listing . The ANSF, which have been extensively trained by the international community and scarifying their lives to fight the enemies of Afghan people , should not be included on this list of shame, along with terrorist organizations , because of some isolated incidents.

In October 2009, the Government of Afghanistan appointed a high-level focal point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work closely with the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting.

On 24th of April 2010, the Ministry of Interior issued an executive order for the prevention of recruitment of children into the Afghan National Police. This prohibits children from being recruited or employed within the Afghan National Police; requires children found within the Afghan National Police to be separated in 30 days.  It also calls for measures aimed at reintegration, and investigations and disciplinary action against those found to be recruiting or employing children.

Acting upon the conclusion and recommendation of SC working Group on Children and Armed Conflict , the Government of Afghanistan established the Inter Ministerial  Steering Committee on the 18th of July 2010, to finalize an Action Plan to prevent the recruitment of children in our national security forces.

On the 30th of January 2011, the Action Plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children in Afghan National Security Forces, and the annexes to the Plan on the prevention of sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children was signed by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rasul , MoFA of Afghanistan , SRSF Steffan DeMistura, and Mrs. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of SG for Children and Armed Conflict and officially was launched for implementation .

The Government of Afghanistan is working  closely with the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting to do its part  to implement  and strengthen reporting  mechanism under Security Council resolutions including 1882 (2009) .

Mr. Chairman

I would like to reiterate the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of children in Afghanistan, and express our readiness to fully cooperate with the SC Working Group and relevant UN bodies to implement the Action Plan.

I Thank You.

Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the least Developed Countries

Statement by M Wali Naeemi Minister Counsellor,

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN,

at the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the least Developed Countries,

New York,


Excellency Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen,

Chairman of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee:

Excellency Ambassador Cheick Sidi Diarra,

High Representative and the Secretary General of the Conference:

Excellencies:

Distinguished Delegates:

I would like to align my statement with the statements put forth by the distinguished representatives of Sudan on behalf of the G77 and China and Nepal on behalf of the Least Developed Countries.

On behalf of my delegation, I warmly congratulate you, Ambassador Viinanen, on your unanimous election as Chair of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to be held in May this year in Istanbul, Turkey. I would also like to congratulate the other members of the Bureau on their election. I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that my delegation will be constructively engaged throughout the intergovernmental negotiations and will extend full cooperation in order to ensure the successful outcome of the Conference.

I thank the High Representative and his team in OHRLLS for their continued support and hard work on the preparation of the Conference.

I also would like to thank the government of Turkey for generously hosting the 4th UN Conference on LDCs.

Mr. Chairman,

The LDCs represent the poorest countries in the world, which face severe and numerous challenges. Since the adoption of the Brussels Program of Action in 2001, progress has certainly been made, but it is becoming increasing clear that some LDCs, including Afghanistan, will be unable to reach the MDGs within the projected time frame of 2015. According to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), Afghanistan, an LDC, LLDC, and a post-conflict nation, has reassessed its situation and given the current context has designated 2020 as its target year to reach the MDGs.

Mr. Chair,

The Brussels Program of Action was adopted in 2001, and draws a comprehensive strategy for the LDCs to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Key challenges and constraints persist; the seven goals of BPoA have not yet been achieved. Going forward, we should focus on analysis of the main elements of existing challenges and constraints.

We all know that LDC-IV, which is taking place a decade after Brussels, will be dedicated to development issues of 49 LDCs; it is among the most important events in the year 2011. LDCs, particularly those emerging from conflicts have high expectations with a result-oriented outcome for this conference. The Conference will benefit and derive its sustenance from the strong political commitment of the international community.

It is equally important to note that the Conference is being held at a time when the international community continues to struggle with the impacts of economic and financial, as well as food and fuel crises, and climate change.

It is well-documented that LDCs, particularly countries emerging from conflicts, continue to face structural constraints and extreme vulnerability. While some progress has been achieved in some areas over the years, progress has been slow and uneven and whatever has been achieved is now reversed as a result of the combined effects of all these crises.  LDCs also starkly lag behind in meeting the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. Despite their best efforts and support from the international community, LDCs continue to get caught in the vicious trap of poverty and hunger.

LDC–IV needs to be seen in this wider perspective. We have stressed earlier and I will reiterate here today the LDC’s overall approach to the Conference:

Ø  Istanbul should produce an outcome that is ambitious, comprehensive, forward-looking and result-oriented so that desired socio-economic transformation is achieved in LDCs in the next decade, enabling them to graduate from the LDC status. The progress that they will make has to be sustainable and comprehensive to have a desired impact on reducing poverty and accelerating economic growth. Past experiences amply demonstrate that the ‘business-as-usual-approach’ will not yield substantial results. What is required is an enhanced, effective and consolidated package of international support measures in line with GA resolution 63/227. We want an Action Agenda that is implemented in its entirety with stronger results on the ground. The Istanbul outcome should have a robust mechanism for monitoring and follow up of the implementation of the next Programme of Action with a clearly defined and shared accountability of LDCs and their development partners.

Finally, as mentioned in by previous speakers, in view of limited time available from now until Istanbul, the preparatory process must be expeditiously and intensely conducted in a constructive manner with the involvement of all stakeholders.

Thank you!

Agriculture Development and Food Security

Statement delivered by, Mr. Enayet Madani, Counsellor
At the 2nd Committee Debate on Agriculture Development and Food Security:

Mr. Chairperson,

I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for convening this meeting, and align myself with the statement delivered by distinguished representatives of Yemen on behalf of the G77 and China, Nepal on behalf of LDCs and China on behalf of Asia Group. My delegation expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his Report on Agriculture Development and Food Security which will certainly play an important role for our deliberations.

Mr. Chairperson,

We agree and welcome the recent reforms made to the Committee on World Food Security within the Food and Agriculture Organization, which renewed their commitment towards coordination of food security on the international scale, as well as formalize the involvement of an expert panel towards this cause. We recognize the leadership and efforts of those who have kept food security challenges of developing countries on top of the global agenda, and will continue to work with them in improving food security in Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairperson,

Prior to the conflicts that disrupted the way of life in the country, Afghanistan had a healthy and self-sufficient agricultural economy, which produced both food as well as economic crops. Current agricultural productivity, however, is not as optimistic given the vast damage done to the physical infrastructure as well as higher dependence on rain-fed agriculture.  As such, millions of Afghans are either starving or threatened with starvation on a daily basis, depending on food assistance for survival. Henceforth, it is critical for us to rapidly revive our agricultural sector through restructuring and investment, while also paying attention to issues of long-term environmental sustainability.

Although crop productivity has improved in the last year from ample and well-distributed rainfall, the droughts of 2008, 2009 still reminds us of our vulnerability. Besides supporting the livelihood of the large rural population (which is 80% of the total population), agriculture also constitutes 53% of our national economy and hence is of vital importance to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. As much as we appreciate international humanitarian assistance in tiding us through our recovery period, we also seek partnerships in building improved and accessible irrigation systems, technology and better agricultural practices.

Mr. Chairperson,

The large fluctuations in crop productivity over the past years highlight the key challenges we face as we tackle the issue of food security. Increased water scarcity coupled with rainfall variability, both possibly augmented by climate change; exemplify the weakness of rural agriculture in Afghanistan. The lack of irrigation infrastructure and low water security correlates strongly with rural poverty, and hence serves as key hurdles in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

37% of our population is in the borderline of food security, and 59% of our children below the age of five, suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition. The proportion of the population below minimum energy consumption (of 2100 calories) has increased, and seasonality-driven poverty and food shortage have been drawn to our attention. Volatility in global food prices also present significant challenges to the situation.

Mr. Chairperson,

The points of leverage for effective agricultural and rural development lie in small farmer households, and the role of women in food provision and preparation is central to pursuing food security targets. Partnerships forged between the government, communities and the private sector, in directing efforts and investments can facilitate the development process and make rural agricultural communities more robust and resilient.

In the restoration of Afghanistan’s agricultural sector, we are taking these key initiatives under the Afghanistan National Development Strategies with the two broad goals of poverty reduction and livelihoods security:

Firstly, through better water and national resource development, we seek to improve both quantity and quality in our agricultural sector while reducing stress imposed on the natural systems.

Secondly, by identifying gaps in the current agricultural system dealing with inputs and outputs, we aim for comprehensiveness in agricultural production and market development.

Thirdly, taking heed of the close links between rural access and poverty alleviation, our expansion of road and communication networks will empower the rural poor.

Fourthly, local institutions will be strengthened with the establishment of Community Development Councils and civil service expansion.

Mr. Chairperson,

The revival of Afghanistan’s agricultural sector represents an opportunity for Afghanistan to achieve strong growth and food self-sufficiency, and also represents great possibilities for international cooperation and friendship. As we take these steps, we will need stronger partnerships with the UN agencies to facilitate greater investment in physical infrastructure, knowledge sharing as well as technology transfer. These investments and assistance can also be improved through responsive targeting to the needs and priorities of Afghanistan, thereby fast-tracking MDGs.

The targets of poverty alleviation, hunger reduction and stabilizing food security are all tightly interconnected with women’s rights, rural development and economic growth. Our efforts are in building resilience along with growth, and adapt agricultural practices and regimes to developing environmental and economic situations. We ask the World Food Programme, USDA, FAO and other funders to continue their assistance to us, and for the international community to work together on achieving global food security.

Before closing I take this opportunity to thank the UN system; in particular, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization and other all other partners for their continued support to the people of Afghanistan.

I thank you