Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
At the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement
April 29, 2009
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
My delegation would like to thank the Republic of Cuba for its leadership of Non-Aligned Movement since September 2006, and express our appreciation for their warm hospitality in this colorful city of Havana. We trust that under your leadership, this meeting will prove a success, and we will be well prepared for the upcoming Fifteen Summit in Egypt in July 2009.
The world has changed significantly since April 1955, when Afghanistan joined 24 of our brother countries in founding this Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Today, the Cold War has ended and there is a new global order: we no longer see through a bipolar prism, we see through a multi-polar one. And inter-state war has become overshadowed by terrorist attacks by state and non-state actors.
However, NAM’s founding principles are as relevant today as they have ever been. In 1983, at our movement’s seventh summit, we described ourselves as “history’s biggest peace movement.” Today the call of peace has great resonance against the violence of terrorism and the conflicts that still plague our world. Other founding principles of NAM – respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and the recognition of the equality of nations- are important, too, in addressing today’s challenges of our evolving political and economic world order.
Thus our meeting today is important. Today our discussion centers on how NAM’s voice can be most effective in answering the many challenges we face.
My country offers a unique perspective to this discussion. As a land-locked, least-developed country that is still a victim of terrorism, Afghanistan is deeply concerned with the challenges we face with many of our Southern brothers.
We join with you in remaining committed to a just solution for the suffering of the people of Palestine, the creation of two states and a harmonious Middle East. Afghanistan once again urges the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Road Map. We are hopeful for a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear program in our brother country of the Islamic Republic of Iran. My delegation also is encouraged by the increasing stability in Iraq and we congratulate our Iraqi brothers and sisters on coming together to forge a more stable and peaceful situation.
In addition, Afghanistan sees the necessity and potential of North-South collaboration, as well as cooperation between countries in the South, because we have an active and crucial partnership with the international community and with our regional neighbors.
Perhaps most importantly, Afghanistan can offer a unique perspective because our key challenges today are also the two key challenges that all NAM countries face, and which we should work to address.
The two main crises today are that of terrorism and an economic depression. These crises are related.
Terrorism is Afghanistan’s primary concern and the world’s primary challenge. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies find their sanctuaries in the area bordering our country. We feel first-hand the costs of terrorism: the death of thousands of our innocent citizens, the burnings and destruction of schools, health clinics, hospitals, and roads.
But terrorism has a global reach. From New York to London, from Mumbai to Madrid, and from Kabul to Karachi, terrorist attacks have cast their shadows on both the North and South.
The second main crisis is that of the global financial collapse which exacerbates the already severe crises of energy, environment and food that particularly threaten the developing countries of the South. Already poor countries threaten to become even more mired in poverty. Afghans have felt this firsthand, as the rising wheat prices created the threat of a deadly food shortage this past winter. Thus, this financial crisis deepens the great gulf that already exists between the wealth of rich countries and the poverty of struggling nations.
My country also offers a clear example of the political implications of this divide. Poverty breeds desperation. Thus, weak states breed terrorists, organized crime and dangerous extremist elements that threaten the safety and wealth of rich countries. Again, both the North and South are affected.
Afghanistan is on the front lines of these two key challenges, and today I would like to underline the importance of cooperation in our work for physical and economic security.
Afghans have seen how regional and international assistance is imperative to fighting our war on terror and providing stable economic futures for our citizens. Our greatest steps forward: the constitution, the elections, combating narcotics, improvements in the Afghan National Army, infrastructure, education and health, were ones we took together with international and regional partners. International cooperation has enabled Afghanistan to establish representative political institutions, encourage free media, the paving of roads, and the building of thousands of schools, clinics, and hospitals around the country. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections will prove an important test of this progress. We look for the support of the international community in our commitment to ensuring credible and transparent elections.
Because we have seen the fruits of cooperation with our own eyes, we stress that the global threats of terrorism and economic insecurity are challenges that can be met effectively only with cooperation: South with South, North with South, North with North.
Cooperation can best be accomplished through improving the operations of international and regional institutions, supporting international and regional cooperation, and increasing the effectiveness of international and regional efforts in the recipient countries.
First, to improve the operations of existing international and regional operations, Afghanistan is fully committed to NAM’s stated goal of improving the United Nations’ responsiveness and effectiveness. In chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on UN Security Council reform on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, I have the honor to see the dedicated work our countries are making to forward comprehensive, transparent, and balanced reform. I am making every effort to ensure that the reform continues in this spirit, and am hopeful for the prospects of this reform, as well as the processes focused on the revitalization of the GA and on system-wide coherence.
Afghanistan also fully supports the UN Secretary General’s call for a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) review conference in 2010. We commend the work of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development on the Implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus last December, and look forward to the High-Level Meeting planned for June. This conference reminds us of the need to maintain aid commitments despite global uncertainty. Afghanistan also supports the conference’s agreement to strengthen ECOSOC as a principal body for promotion of international economic cooperation, coordination, policy review and policy dialogue.
Second, Afghanistan is dedicated to finding more opportunities for international and regional cooperation as well as supporting the existing cooperative institutions such as ECO and SAARC. With our immediate neighbors, Afghanistan continues to work bilaterally and trilaterally to promote stability, security and strengthen economic cooperation. We are committed to working through the trilateral mechanisms including Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States, Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey and Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran. We are also looking forward to the Presidential-level meeting of the trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States contact group that is planned for May in Washington. The third regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan will be held in Islamabad soon. We hope such forms of cooperation will lead to concrete actions to ending the terrorist sanctuaries and addressing the increasing activities of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
Third, Afghanistan encourages the ongoing international efforts to find more areas of cooperation and coordination in the recipient countries themselves. With fewer economic resources, we must be smarter about how we use these resources. Afghanistan is thankful for the Paris conference last June, the recent Hague Conference, and the SCO meeting in Moscow in March-all conferences that have emphasized exactly this need for more consistent and effective delivery of aid.
The struggle for economic and political security in Afghanistan also shows the potential of a world that has met these challenges. A safe and secure Afghanistan will be able to offer innumerable benefits for the region and the world. Afghanistan can, and should, play a crucial role as a land bridge and economic hub for the region, a role that has historically placed us at the centre of Eurasian trade routes. Let this potential be one example of the light we work towards today.
Our discussion should recognize that NAM has an important voice in today’s world. Our founding principles of NAM are just as important today; these principles must stand strong against the main challenges of terrorism and economic instability.
But we stand strongest when we stand together. Afghanistan expresses its gratitude to the commitment of all our international partners, including the NAM member countries, to aiding in our efforts and success in building a secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. In turn, Afghanistan is fully committed to work together as a part of NAM to forward a more peaceful, secure world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.