Today the 65th session of the General Assembly opened under the Presidency of Switzerland.
This year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, and the General Assembly will face a heavy agenda including a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, the ongoing review of the Human Rights Council, and a third year of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.
The President of the General Assembly is H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, a career Swiss politician who has previously held high-level positions including President of the Swiss Confederation, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Economic Minister, in addition to a period as a Member of Parliament. In his first statement, officially opening the 65th session of the General Assembly, President Deiss emphasized his faith in the United Nations and the General Assembly, and stressed that the United Nations Charter gives the General Assembly a central role as â€œthe pre-eminent forum for global debate.â€ He outlined an ambitious set of goals, including the achievement of the MDGs; returning the United Nations to its rightful place at the center of global governance; and the promotion of sustainable developmentÂ (click here for the complete text of the opening statement).
Afghanistan, represented by Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will serve as a Vice President of the 65th GA. This is the second time that Ambassador Tanin will play this role; he previously served as Vice President of the 63rd GA from 2008-2009.
H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, today addressed the UN Security Council on the topic of â€œprotection of civilians in armed conflict.â€
The meeting, which was opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, heard briefings from Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes; and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay.
In his opening remarks Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted that events around the world showed that the protection of civilians in armed conflict remained a common challenge world-wide. He said the Security Council made important progress in protection of civilians, but more needed to be done. In that regard, he underscored maximizing the effectiveness of â€œpeace-keeping operations through increased Council support, and enhanced training of troop and police contributors.
In his statement, Ambassador Tanin alluded to the situation in Afghanistan, and said the increased awareness of the need to re-engage the Afghan people in the reconstruction and stabilization of their country, has helped enable the government of Afghanistan and its international partners to â€œfocus on finding ways to meet the needs and expectations of the Afghan people.â€
He however asserted that civilians continued to â€œpay a staggering price in the ongoing conflictâ€ in the country. He said over six thousand Afghans, including women; children and the elderly were killed and injured in just last year. In that regard, he said the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their terrorist allies continue to show complete disregard for human life, embracing assassinations and executions in an effort to control the population through terror.
He said the cost of the conflict was not limited to just Afghanistan, but also international partners countries. He highlighted increased terrorist attacks on UN staff and members of humanitarian organizations who work in various fields, including health and education. In that regard, Ambassador Tanin expressed gratitude to UN staff and other partners â€œwho continue to work under difficult circumstances for the sake of the Afghan people, and in pursuit of international peace and security.â€
Moreover, he welcomed the increased measures by former ISAF former commander, General McCrystal, aimed at better protecting the lives of civilians. He expressed confidence that civilian protection would continue to receive due consideration from ISAFâ€™s new commander, General Patraeus.
He nevertheless noted that civilian casualties remained a concern to Afghanistan, and undermined the peopleâ€™s confidence in the good-will of the international community. He emphasized increased efforts at the national level â€œfor building an efficient, effective and responsible army and police force dedicated to the protection of Afghans and maintenance of security and the rule of law.â€
Ambassador Tanin also said the safety of the Afghan people should remain a priority, and it was necessary to enhance collaboration for strengthening the trust and confidence of Afghans in future efforts.
New York, July 7, 2010