Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
To the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On Children in Armed Conflict
April 29, 2009
Delivered by : Mr. Mohammad Erfani Ayoob,
Minister Counselor , Charge d’Affaires,ai
HE Amb. Zahir Tanin, PR of Afghanistan to the UN is in Havana to lead the Afghan delegation to the NAM Ministerial meeting. On his behalf and on behalf of the delegation of Afghanistan I have the honor to participate and deliver this statement on the subject under consideration by SC which is highly important for my country.
Please accept our congratulations, Madam President, for your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for this month. We thank you for convening today’s important debate to discuss the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict and for your chairing of the Working Group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. Your Excellency’s presence here today reflects the level of the commitment and effectiveness of your delegation on this issue.
We would also like to thank Mrs. Radikha Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General, for her insightful briefing this morning, commend the Department of Children and Armed Conflict for its continuing efforts to protect children affected by armed conflict and welcome the recent establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.
My delegation welcomes this report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict. In November 2008, the Secretary General’s country-specific report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan provided us with an initial opportunity to carry out fruitful discussion with our partners in the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on ways and means to better implement Resolution 1612 in the challenging environment of Afghanistan. We are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the Working Group’s conclusions on Afghanistan when they are finalized next month.
For this debate to continue effectively, we must recognize two facts: that one, the chief threat to children in Afghanistan is terrorism, and that two, to overcome this threat, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan must work together.
First, terrorism drastically affects the daily lives of our people, particularly children. The deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is the product of the surge of terrorist activities carried out by Al Qaida, Taliban and other associated armed groups. It is the Taliban and other terrorists groups that are and remain the main violator of human rights, including children’s rights, in Afghanistan, and these violations will continue as long as the security situation does not improve.
Terrorists have increased attacks in our territory, using barbaric methods imported from outside Afghanistan including the use of car bombs, suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices. These attacks deliberately target densely populated areas where children are the prime victims. Terrorists are recruiting, training, and exploiting children as combatants and sending them to operate as suicide bombers. The intensification of the Taliban intimidation campaign, accomplished through burnings of schools and clinics, attacking of female teachers and school-children, has created an atmosphere of terror which prevents our children from accessing basic government services. The recent acid attack on a group of schoolgirls was a horrific demonstration of the particular vulnerability of girls.
Our debate must concentrate our common efforts in defeating terrorism, and in finding ways and means to protect Afghan children and end the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban and other extremist and terrorist groups. The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the suggestions of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including proposals to exert pressure on the Taliban and other armed groups to stop recruiting children. However, these measures will be counterproductive if they offer recognition or legitimization to terrorist groups.
The reported cases of alleged recruitment, detention and sexual violence by individuals in the Afghan government or National Army and Police are disturbing, but isolated cases. For its part, the Government of Afghanistan is deeply committed to fully implementing Resolution 1612 and protecting the rights of children through all possible means and mechanisms.
Afghanistan has developed domestic laws relating to children, established juvenile judicial institutions and ratified most of the international human rights treaties including, in 2002, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. Our penal code prohibits sexual violence against children, and prohibits the recruitment of persons below 18 in our national police and 22 in our national army.
According to our juvenile code the legal age of criminal responsibility for a child is 12 to 18 years of age and they can be prosecuted and sentenced only by a juvenile court and can be confined only in a juvenile detention center. The Afghan national legislation, particularly a recent law on combating terrorist offenses, strictly prohibits the detention of children in adult prisons even if the child is accused of terrorism or threats to national security.
We recognize the importance of governance and rule of law to improve and better implement all these legal provisions. We are making necessary efforts on this direction and all of these efforts need sustained international involvement.
In conclusion, Madam President, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the international community for the military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan that are assisting us in ensuring security and enabling the implementation of rule of law, good governance and human rights, including children rights. We are grateful for their sacrifices in our common endeavor to preserve peace and security, their efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan people, and their recent efforts to address, with us, the issue of civilian casualties. We must continue to move together to stop terrorism’s menace to civilians and children.
Afghanistan has made substantial progress in ensuring the rights of children through legal frameworks and other mechanisms. However, terrorism continues to threaten our goals. It is our hope that, with the continuing help and focus of the international community and the ongoing determination of the Afghan government, we can improve the implementation of Resolution 1612 and protect our children, as the hope for our future, to the best of our ability.
I thank you.