Statement at the UNSC Open Debate on
“Threats Caused by Terrorist Acts – Protection of Critical Infrastructure”
February 13, 2017
Afghanistan thanks Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine and his delegation for convening today’s debate on the “protection of critical infrastructure attacks by terrorist groups.” We are pleased at the high number countries inscribed in today’s discussion, which reflects the importance of the topic under consideration.
Infrastructure provides a key component for the normal and effective functioning of society, enabling citizens access to fundamental services, such as food, water, shelter, adequate health care, transportation facilities and economic opportunity – each of which are critically important for stability in any environment. Any attack on and damage to a nation’s infrastructure, in essence, manifests in irreparable harm on the very social fabric of society. The protection of physical and social infrastructure should, therefore, comprise a key component of any strategy for ensuring peaceful and stable societies.
Terrorism and violent extremism constitute a dominant factor of instability in the current international landscape, bringing untold suffering and devastation on peoples and communities. As evident in the case of my country, Afghanistan, and many other countries where terrorist operate, extremist forces have gone to all lengths to advance their viscous agenda: creating havoc, undermining the rule of law and terrorizing populations. In that effort, and with blatant intent, they also target various infrastructures to amplify the effects of their barbarity, and to attract global media attention.
Afghanistan has been a prime victim of global terrorism for over two decades, and even long before the start of the international community’s engagement in our country in 2001. Today, our people remain defiant against a multitude of terrorist groups, such as the Taliban, Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba,Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other foreign terrorist fighters, all of whom share symbiotic linkages, have come from abroad, and are sustained with various forms of support, including political, ideological, moral and material aid. Aside from targeting our security forces, and that of international partners countries present in Afghanistan, extremists are attacking our political and legal institutions; mosques and schools; health and medical facilities, and other soft targets, such as non-governmental organizations, which are working to improve life for ordinary Afghans.
Just last week, in the continuation of their carnage, a suicide bomber conducted an attack on our Supreme Court, the highest judicial institution in our country, killing 21 people and wounding close to 50 people. The victims included several female judges, prosecutors and Court employees who were simply returning home to their families after a hard day’s work.
On the 11th of January last month, the Taliban carried out on our Parliament, resulting in more than 120 people dead, with many more left severely maimed and injured. This act of barbarity was widely viewed as an attack on the infrastructure of our democracy, which is among Afghanistan’s most significant achievements since 2001. In August of last year, extremists attacked the American University in Kabul, which is seen as a beacon of hope for a better future, among our educated and talented youth – 16 people were tragically killed in that attack.
Moreover, there are many cases of local hospitals, clinics and international humanitarian relief agencies coming under attack or otherwise being negatively affected by the activities of extremist groups. A few days ago, Daesh militants in northern Jowzjan province killed 6 personnel of the International Committee of the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan. The ICRC convoy was attacked while traveling to distribute aid to a storm stricken area. The overall security environment has only complicated humanitarian conditions for our people, to the point where 9.3 million people, mainly women and children, are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance. This figure marks a notable increase from last year. We reiterate our call on the international community to support OCHA’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan.
Terrorists also pose threat to economic and development infrastructure projects in which we have invested heavily. We are currently working to implement 18 cooperation and investment projects in the areas of energy, transport, trade as well as in the commercial and labor sectors. Once completed, these projects will benefit the prosperity of Afghanistan and our wider region.
The ongoing cycle of violence in Afghanistan is not, by any means, a homegrown phenomenon. Its roots lie elsewhere, outside Afghanistan, emanating from a strategic design crafted from within our region to advance an ill-fated political agenda, which serves no one, defies international law and constitutes a blatant violation of the very spirit and tenets of the UN Charter, including relevant counterterrorism resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. We believe the fight against international terrorism stands at a crossroads. At this critical juncture, a refined global effort is needed to combat this menace with greater precision and accuracy. In this context, we welcome the efforts of the new Secretary General to strengthen the UN counter-terrorism architecture, including his decision to create the Office of Counter Terrorism (OCT), and appoint of an Under-Secretary General to head that office.
Despite Afghanistan’s difficult security environment, we are a nation that is making steady progress towards lasting stability and Self-Reliance. The National Unity Government is working, in greater cohesion and coordination, on tackling a difficult set of challenges facing our people. In that effort, our security forces are serving valiantly to enhance security, while defending and protecting our sovereignty, infrastructure and people against terrorism and violent extremism.
In conclusion, we believe today’s meeting marks an important step forward in devising a more effective UN approach for the protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks. As the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, we hope the Security Council will continue to render due focus and attention on this important matter.
I thank you!