Ambassador Tanin Addresses UN Security Council on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Futher Steps Needed to Safeguard the Lives and Rights of Afghan Civilians:

November 22, 2010 – H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations addressed the UN Security Council on the topic of “protection of civilians in armed conflict.”

Ambassador Tanin said Afghans were the first to feel the tragic effects of conflict in their country.  He noted that civilian casualties were mainly caused by intentional acts of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. “Terrorists and extremists have expanded the scope of their activities, attacking all segments of society.  By resorting to new and brutal tactics, including suicide bombings, abductions, targeted assassinations and use of IED’s, they show complete disregard for human life,” said Ambassador Tanin.

He however asserted that unintended casualties resulting from joint military operations by Afghan and international forces continued to occur.

Stressing the need for increased coordination and collaboration between Afghan and international forces during military operations, Ambassador Tanin said protection of civilians during combat operations is “a shared responsibility and an international obligation.” He highlighted Afghanistan’s continued call for international forces to take “necessary measures to minimize and eliminate civilian casualties.”

He welcomed enhanced measures by Afghanistan’s international partners for civilian protection.  “We appreciate NATO commanders’ commitment of giving a central place to the protection of civilians in their new military strategy. We hope that further necessary steps will be taken in this regard so as to safeguard the lives and rights of Afghan civilians, particularly in the areas affected by conflict.”

In the context of improvement of security in the country, Ambassador Tanin underscored the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan security forces over the coming years, stressing the importance of sustained international assistance for the training of Afghan security forces as essential for achieving lasting peace.

Moreover, he highlighted Afghanistan’s “comprehensive outreach initiative” for achieving durable peace. He alluded to ongoing peace talks with members of the armed opposition and the creation of the “High Peace Council” as significant steps towards peace and reconciliation.

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