On July 22nd, 2015, Save the Children, Center for American Progress and Saferworld organized a roundtable co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations on “Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity and Conflict”. On this occasion, a report titled “Fragile Progress: The Record of the Millennium Development Goals in States Affected by Conflict, Fragility, and Crisis” was released by Save the Children and Center for American Progress. This roundtable discussion was very timely since it was convened during the final intergovernmental negotiations to adopt the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
Ms. Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children welcomed all speakers, introduced H.E Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and requested him to make the opening remarks. Ambassador Tanin spoke about the process of implementing Millennium Development Goals in Afghanistan in the backdrop of successes and challenges the country is facing today. He reiterated the successes of the past fourteen years by putting forth figures on human development indices that have shown improvement across the board— “more women have access to pre-natal care, life expectancy has increased, child mortality and malnourishment rates are going down, education for both male and female students have gone up significantly, more people are food secure and have access to clean drinking water and sanitation.” He emphasized on the efforts undertaken by the Government of Afghanistan to achieve not only the post-2015 development goals and targets but counter security challenges from radical extremist groups like the Taliban and other foreign fighters to stabilize the country and maintain and improve on existing achievements. However despite the successes, Ambassador Tanin stressed about the challenges that persist, in the form of endemic poverty that continues to plague most Afghans, the highest rates of maternal mortality that leads to deaths of many Afghan women during childbirth despite the gains in healthcare, and struggles in enrolling and preventing drop outs, especially for girl students– which is further complicated by worsening security situation in some parts of the country. He also reiterated Afghanistan’s full support for goal 16 of SDGs which talks about promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and he called on the support of international partners for providing means of implementation for this goal, which is especially important in countries affected by conflict, like Afghanistan.
Following Ambassador Tanin’s speech, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda, H.E Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria, H.E Ambassador Usman Sarki spoke about their countries efforts in adopting the post 2015 development agenda and the challenges faced in their respective countries. Ms. Zubeida Akhtar, Senior Advocacy Manager of Save the Children Afghanistan made her comments over skype where she mentioned the challenges faced by women and children in Afghanistan and how Save the Children has been working for the betterment of these vulnerable groups. Her speech was a somber reminder of the challenges faced by aid workers in countries affected by conflict, like Afghanistan. Also, the memorial arena in the roundtable, commemorating their memories of five aid workers from Save the Children who were killed in Uruzgon province in Afghanistan also served as a reminder of the monumental challenges presented by societies affected by conflict. Civil society members like Mr. John Norris from Center for American Progress discussed the report on the “Record of the Millennium Development Goals in States Affected by Conflict, Fragility, and Crisis” and spoke about the role of data in evaluating performances of fragile societies. Additionally, Mr. Tony Pipa, Special Coordinator for Post-2015 Development Agenda, USA, and Mr. Hamish Young, Chief, Humanitarian Action and Transitions Section, Programme Division at UNICEF, made remarks on the report and their experiences in working on MDGs and countries affected by conflict. The meeting ended with all participants reiterating the importance of the post-2015 development agenda and the importance of full support from UN to support Member States by providing evidence-based inputs, analytical thinking and field experience.