Sunday, December 4, 2016

Minister of Economy Abdul Hadi Arghandehwal Addresses UN Commission on Sustainable Development Roundtables on Mining and Transportation

H.E.,  the Minister of Economy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mr. Abdul Hadi Arghandehwal has addressed the 19th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, which brings together ministers as well as government high officials and representatives of international organizations and civil society to discuss the way forward in national and international development.

During his address on mining, Minister Arghandehwal emphasized the significant production potential of Afghanistan’s mineral resources.  He explained how Afghanistan’s mineral deposits remain largely untapped, and that a recent United States Geological Survey (USGS) study estimated Afghanistan’s mineral reserves to be worth up to 3 trillion dollars.   He shared that “Most of these deposits include significant reserves of iron ore, copper, cobalt, gold and industrial production metals such as lithium. Studies also suggest that Afghanistan has large deposits of niobium and other rare earth elements. The deposits are large enough to make Afghanistan a major global producer of these minerals.”

Focusing on the production potential of these mineral reserves, Minister Arghandehwal told of the significant foreign direct investment flows Afghanistan has already attracted, particularly with the MCC company for the exploration and processing of Aynak copper deposits.  Of note, he shared that this MCC investment will include the construction of more than 600 km of railroad and a 400 MW power plant.

The Minister of Economy went on to highlight current contributions to the Government of Afghanistan from mining revenues.  He noted that the Government currently receives US$20-25 million annually in mining revenues.  Further, he explained that according to IMF projections, the mining sector is expected to contribute an average of $11 billion per annum over the five years between 2014/15 to 2019/20, and that this is expected to rise to a projected average of $17 billion per annum in the 10 years between 2020/21 to 2029/30.

In addition, he addressed the challenges that lie ahead, including higher capital investments and operating costs required for the development of Afghanistan’s mining sector, the development of infrastructure for support operations, capacity building, establishing a connected transportation system to enable trade, and the establishment of effective policies for revenue management, benefit sharing, and public-private partnerships for infrastructure development.

The Minister also shared Afghanistan’s long-term vision, “To develop an economically vibrant mineral sector which creates jobs, develops infrastructure, generates domestic revenue and ensures inclusive economic growth for the benefit of all Afghans.” He added that “Mining in Afghanistan has the potential to be a driver of a poverty reduction and sustained growth, if managed properly.” Further, Minister Arghandehwal acknowledged that these developments will require strategic action and vision in order to create an enabling environment for private sector investments, including field security, good governance, and overall transparency.

During his address on transportation, Minister Arghandehwal highlighted the impact of prolonged conflict on Afghanistan’s transportation sector, noting the challenges that lie ahead in construction and restoration efforts alongside the opportunities for economic development and for the improved living standards of the Afghan people.

Focusing on the specific challenges for Afghanistan, he underscored the impact of turmoil on transportation, which has left behind damaged roads and structures and has turned away international air carriers and other sectors from investing in and servicing Afghanistan’s transportation needs.

The Minister of Economy also specified that “The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s strategic vision and goal for the transport sector is to have a safe, integrated transportation network that ensures connectivity and that enables low-cost and reliable movement of people and goods domestically as well as to and from foreign destinations. This will give impetus to economic growth and employment generation and help integrate Afghanistan into the global economy. A high priority is to have in place an efficient and viable road transportation network for achieving economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas.”  To this end, Minister Arghandehwal spoke of the many gains Afghanistan has made in building and restoring transportation infrastructure in the country.  He explained the progress that had been made with roads, railways, and civil aviation as well as the legal and regulatory gains that have been made for effective governance and for the facilitation of trade.

Further, Minister Arghandehwal drew attention to the fundamental role of transportation for economic growth, stability, and peacebuilding in Afghanistan, and that this relationship necessitates the strategic development of the Afghan transportation sector.  He noted that Afghanistan is currently “…working to develop and complete a network of regional roads to connect to neighboring countries, the coordination of funding for the implementation of projects, quality control and the development of a sustained operation and maintenance of roads, organizational strengthening and capacity building of technical staff, and strengthening the role and relation of private sector in road construction and maintenance.”

During his addresses on both mining and transportation, Minister Arghandehwal expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation for the organization of CSD 19 and for the continued support and commitment of the international community for stabilization and security in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Tanin at the Security Council

Ambassador Tanin addresses a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan. During the meeting Members reviewed the Secretary-General’s latest report on “The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security”.

The Advancement of Women

Statement By Mr. G. Seddiq RASULI

Counsellor of Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Third Committee Debate On

Agenda Item 62 (a):  Advancement of Women

on behalf H.E. Zahir Tanin

Mr. Chairman,

Eight years have passed since the signing of the Bonn Agreement on Afghanistan.  Over the course of this time, in spite of serious challenges, the people and government of Afghanistan have made advances in various sectors, including education, health, and institution-building.

Since the collapse of the Taliban, Afghanistan has seen the re-employment of women in government organizations and the resumption of female education.  Women have also begun participating at broad and unprecedented levels in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of Afghanistan, for example in the formation of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and in the creation and execution of the new Constitution and the recent Presidential and Provincial elections.

Mr. Chairman,

The government of Afghanistan remains fully committed to human rights, women’s empowerment, and gender equality. The government’s commitment to these goals is embodied in the Afghan constitution, which strongly adheres to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  For example, Article 22 of the constitution states that “the citizens of Afghanistan, men and women, have equal rights and duties before the law.”  Similarly, Article 44 stipulates that “the state shall devise and implement effective programs to create and foster balanced education for women,  … as well as eliminate illiteracy in the country.”

As part of Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy (ANDS), launched in June 2008, benchmarks such as advancing gender equality, promoting the participation of women in state and non-state activities, providing legal privileges for women, and implementing a national action plan for the development of women should be realized by 2010.  These benchmarks are intended to build upon the existing policy framework that integrates women into all aspects of Afghan life.

Women continue to play an important role in the political life of Afghanistan.  In the most recent Afghan elections, two women ran for President, and seven Vice Presidential candidates were women.  Three-hundred twenty eight women ran for provincial council seats.  Moreover, women currently hold 17 seats in the Upper House and 68 seats in the Lower House of the Parliament.  Of the 4.5 million new voters in the 2009 elections, 38% were women.

Women’s access to educational services has also improved since 2001. Of the 6.2 million students enrolled in primary and secondary school, 41% are girls.  20% of students enrolled in universities and institutes of higher education are female.  In 2008, more than 75% of the 300,000 students attending the literacy courses offered throughout Afghanistan were women.

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In spite of the progress made during the last eight years, efforts towards the empowerment and advancement of women in Afghanistan face enormous challenges.  Enemies of the people and government of Afghanistan continue to ravage the Afghan countryside by burning down schools and creating an atmosphere of precariousness and fear, which in turn affects school attendance and enrollment, particularly for women.  The Afghan Ministry of Education estimates that girls represent less than 15% of total enrollment in provinces with the lowest level of security.

The government of Afghanistan recognizes that the successful socio-economic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan requires the complete and equal participation of Afghan women in all socio-economic activities.  Regrettably, despite efforts towards progress, the security situation of Afghanistan has thus far affected the engagement of women in productive activities.

Mr. Chairman,

Violence against women is an intolerable breach of human rights.  The Afghan government has criminalized violence against women, and is engaged in a variety of initiatives to properly address this issue.  The Government remains firmly dedicated to The National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), a ten-year program designed to implement the commitments made to Afghan women in the country’s constitution.  Recently, the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs partnered with UNIFEM to create a thorough review of cases involving violence against women, in order to better address reported claims of violence.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan continues to be fundamentally committed to the advancement of women, both within its borders and across the world. Efforts to improve the situation of women face many of the same challenges that confront Afghanistan as a whole: a deteriorating security situation, weak state institutions, and an infant economy. With the help of the international community, the Afghan government is comprehensively addressing each of these issues, with particular attention to the essential role of women in the stabilization of Afghanistan. We will work towards this goal until every woman in Afghanistan can pursue the full enjoyment of her rights in safety.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.