Wednesday, October 22, 2014

“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 “

STATEMENT
BY
H.E. DR. ZAHIR TANIN
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE THEMATIC DEBATE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
“RECOGNIZING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AND GETTING BACK ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs BY 2015 ”

Mr. President,

I would like to express the appreciation of my delegation for organizing this important debate on the progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have been a powerful mobilizing force for greater focus on global and national actions to improve the well-being of people around the world. This meeting provides the opportunity to review and discuss the implementation of the MDGs and pave the ground for a successful convening of the High Level Meeting on MDGs in September 2008. In my remarks today, I would like to share Afghanistan’s experience towards fulfilling the MDGs.

Mr. President,
In 2000, when the Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration and committed themselves to endorse the MDGs in a time-bound manner, Afghanistan was embroiled in armed conflict. In March 2004, my Government committed itself to achieve the MDGs within a time bound period. As a late entrant to global development efforts, the Afghan Government has extended its MDGs timeline from 2015 to 2020 due to quarter of a century of conflict and our inability to join this global effort in 2000. Lack of available data has posed unique problems in preventing reliable baselines from which to set targets. Therefore most of the global targets have been “Afghanized”, which means that they have been revised to make them more relevant to Afghanistan. Moreover, in recognition of the interdependency of development and security a ninth goal of ‘enhancing security’ has been added to the MDGs.

The development policy framework of Afghanistan, which was established at the London Conference in January 2006, is aimed at enabling the achievement of the MDGs. At the London Conference, we launched our National MDGs Report, presented our interim National Development Strategy (i-ANDS) and adopted the Afghanistan Compact.

Mr. President,
Notwithstanding progress towards the MDGs, many challenges still remain in the implementation of our goals. Allow me to highlight some of them:
Poverty and Hunger (MDG1). Since 2001, economic growth has not only been significant but also generated better livelihoods; GDP per capita has increased 53% in the last five years. However, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 22 million Afghans – representing 70% of the population – living in poverty especially high in rural areas. Poverty and unemployment, both of which have contributed to the increase of the terrorist activities in the country, can jeopardize the gains made in the last 6 years. We have prioritized addressing both in a sustainable and timely manner.

Education (MDG2). Since 2001, nearly 7 million children have returned to schools – one third of whom are girls. More than 3,500 schools have been built and new curriculum 2
and textbooks have been developed for primary education. In addition, the number of teachers has increased seven-fold. However, a great number of children, particularly those living in rural areas, continue to face difficulties in accessing educational institutions. It is also important to mention that the Taliban and Al-Qaida, during their campaign of terror, have attacked and intimidated teachers, students and burned out a large number of schools.
Gender (MDG3). Significant progress has been achieved to empower women in the political, economic and social areas. Women play an important role in the development and peace process in Afghanistan. However, many women still face obstacles. Among them are low rates of literacy and life expectancy, coupled with pregnancy related complications, unemployment and insufficient access to education and health services.
Reduce child mortality, Improve Maternal Health and Combat Diseases (MDGs 4, 5, 6). Today 85% of the Afghan population has access to basic health services and access to diagnostic and curative services has increased from almost none in 2002 to more than 40 % in 2008. The rate of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by 85,000 and 40,000 annually. We have created our National AIDS Control Program (NACP) in 2004 to collect systematic data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. However, close to 900 children under the age of five die daily and more than 60 women die every day from pregnancy-related complications. Malaria is prevalent in more than 60% of the country and Afghanistan is the 12th highest tuberculosis burdened country in the world and the highest in South Asia.
Environment (MDG7). In 2007, 343 community water points were constructed in the drought hit and conflict-affected parts of southern Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous initiatives to prevent environmental degradation. However, only 23 % of the entire population has access to safe drinking water and most of the diseases are caused by lack of drinkable water.
Security (MDG9). The lack of security caused by the Taliban and Al-Qaida in the southern parts of Afghanistan is a major obstacle to economic and social development. Achieving our MDGs solely depends on providing security to our people. Afghanistan has added this new goal which includes targets related to disarmament, de-mining and counter narcotics. We would like to place emphasis on the need for technical and financial assistance to our security institutions to contribute to the rule of law, and advance the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process (DDR) and the counter narcotics efforts.
Mr. President,
Develop a Global Partnership for Development (MDG8). The main part of Afghanistan’s national development resources are currently provided by the international community. Therefore, the partnership with the donor community is key to ensuring the implementation of our National Development Strategy, including the MDGs. In this

regard, it is important to mention that the delivery and effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan is faced with the following constraints:
1.
The overall volume of aid delivered to Afghanistan is less in comparison to other post conflict settings.
2.
There is a growing gap of billions of dollars between amounts pledged and amounts disbursed which undermines the ability of our government to undertake long-term fiscal planning.
3.
Nearly three quarters of the aid is disbursed outside our national budget which creates a parallel system that undermines our government’s ownership, involves multiple levels of contractors that inflate cost and fail to build Afghan national capacity.
4.
The proportion of “tied” aid is three times more than “untied” aid which affects our capability to plan and effectively implement our national development strategy.
By adopting the Afghanistan Compact, the international community committed itself to improve aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, to provide resources and support for the implementation of our development strategy including the MDGs. We would like to seize this opportunity to remind the donor community to fulfill its commitment under the Afghanistan Compact and to:
1.
Increase the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA), particularly to countries emerging from conflict.
2.
Translate pledges into commitments and therefore provide more predictable and multi-year funding commitments.
3.
Provide its financial support through our national budget in order to reduce the duplication, transactions costs, strengthen the national ownership.
4.
Deliver “untied” aid whenever possible and provide assistance within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy.
Afghanistan is currently at the crucial stage of finalizing its National Development Strategy (ANDS) and entering into its implementation phase. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy will be launched during the International Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Paris in June 2008. The Paris Conference represents an opportunity for our international partners to renew their political and financial commitment for the implementation of ANDS and the achievement of our MDGs. In Paris Conference, we expect that the international community will continue its political and financial support to Afghanistan so as to enable us to improve the lives of our people and stand on our own feet.
Thank you for your attention.

ISAF Strategic Vision for Afghanistan was released at the NATO meeting

Declaration by the Heads of State and Government of the Nations contributing to the UN-mandated NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan

1.         We gather in Bucharest to reaffirm our determination to help the people and the elected Government of Afghanistan build an enduring stable, secure, prosperous and democratic state, respectful of human rights and free from the threat of terrorism. Afghanistan is the Alliance’s key priority.  We recognised after the tragic events of 11 September 2001, that Euro-Atlantic and broader international security is tied to Afghanistan’s stability and future. Our presence in Afghanistan is at the request of the Government of Afghanistan and mandated by the United Nations. Neither we nor our Afghan partners will allow extremists and terrorists such as the Taliban or al-Qaeda, to regain control of Afghanistan or use it as a base for terror that threatens all of our people and has been felt in many of our countries and beyond. As we help Afghanistan rebuild, our guiding principles are:

  • a firm and shared long-term commitment;
  • support for enhanced Afghan leadership and responsibility;
  • a comprehensive approach by the international community, bringing together civilian and military efforts; and
  • increased cooperation and engagement with Afghanistan’s neighbours, especially Pakistan.

We welcome President Hamid Karzai and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon along with his Special Representative Kai Eide to this Summit and reaffirm our shared vision for Afghanistan.

2.           In helping the Afghan people build security today, we are defending basic values we all share, including freedom, democracy and human rights as well as respect for the views and beliefs of others.  While much remains to be done, Afghanistan has made important strides in developing its democracy and improving the lives of its citizens; its Government is strengthening its capacity in these areas.  A reconciliation process for national unity has begun and basic security and infrastructure have improved. Over the past six years, access to health care has increased tenfold; access to education is up six times and women again have rights protected by law. Afghan and international forces from  40 countries, working side-by-side, are creating security conditions that make this progress possible. Nevertheless, security challenges remain. Violent extremists continue to attack fragile governmental institutions and the people of Afghanistan. They increasingly revert to indiscriminate terror attacks and intimidation but Afghanistan’s and our capacity to counter them continues to grow.

3.        Our vision of success is clear: extremism and terrorism will no longer pose a threat to stability; Afghan National Security Forces will be in the lead and self-sufficient; and the Afghan Government will be able to extend the reach of good governance, reconstruction, and development throughout the country to the benefit of all its citizens.  This declaration is supported by a medium-term, internal political-military plan – consistent with the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghan National Development Strategy – which will be updated regularly and against which we will measure progress.

Our shared long-term commitment

4.            We will continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan in further establishing and maintaining a secure environment and extending good governance.  To enhance our security effort we will:

  • support each other in sharing the burden in Afghanistan;
  • provide our military commanders the tools they need for success by filling  remaining ISAF shortfalls including forces, training teams and enablers;
  • provide maximum possible flexibility of use of our forces by the ISAF Commander;
  • continue to ensure that every measure is taken to avoid civilian casualties; and
  • enhance our capacity to counter extremist propaganda and communicate more effectively our goals, accomplishments and remaining challenges to Afghan and international audiences.

Enhancing Afghan Leadership

5.           Only Afghan-led security forces and institutions can ensure the rule of law in the long term. The Afghan National Army is increasingly demonstrating the ability to successfully plan and conduct complex operations with our forces in support. As Afghanistan’s security forces become increasingly capable of leading and sustaining operations independently, we expect ISAF’s role will be able to evolve to one primarily of training and mentoring. We welcome the growing international focus on building the capacity of the Afghan police which are vital for the stability and security of the nation. In support of all this, we will:

  • provide the training teams and help provide the equipment needed to meet the goal of an effective 80,000 – strong Afghan Army by 2010;
  • work towards progressively transferring lead security responsibility throughout the country to Afghan forces, supported by ISAF, as appropriate conditions are met and Afghan capacity permits; we accordingly welcome Afghanistan’s expressed intention to assume lead security responsibility for Kabul as soon as feasible;
  • encourage the appointment of a senior Afghan military officer to ISAF Headquarters when circumstances permit;
  • assist the development of effective civilian-controlled security and defence institutions including through the NATO-Afghanistan Cooperation Programme;
  • assist the development of the Afghan National Police within our means and capabilities and in close coordination with relevant international actors, where appropriate;
  • support the Government of Afghanistan in building capacity to communicate more effectively and respond to extremist propaganda;
  • help strengthen Afghan institutions required to fully establish the rule of law, protect human rights and promote our shared values, while respecting Afghan culture and traditions;
  • provide security support to upcoming elections in Afghanistan; and
  • continue to support Afghan-led efforts to tackle the narcotics problem.

Enhanced coordination

6.         There can be no lasting security without development and no development without security. Success requires a comprehensive approach across security, governance and development efforts and between all local and international partners in support of the Afghan Government.  We will intensify our contribution to such a comprehensive approach. To this end, we:

  • welcome United Nations Security Council Resolution 1806 which sharpens the UN Mission in Afghanistan’s mandate and decides to strengthen cooperation with ISAF;
  • look forward to working closely with UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Kai Eide and the UN Mission in Afghanistan as it further expands throughout the country, and in support of its lead role in coordinating the overall international civilian effort, improved civil-military coordination, political outreach and governance;
  • will work on more regular consultations with all actors involved in Afghanistan as appropriate and in close coordination with the Afghan Government; and,
  • welcome the upcoming Paris Conference that will review progress on and strengthen international efforts to further implement the Afghanistan Compact.

7.       Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)  play a significant role in enabling security, governance and development. We pledge to provide all the PRTs needed, enhance their unity of effort, strengthen their civilian component and further align their development strategies with Afghan Government priorities until such a time as Afghan Government institutions are strong enough to render PRTs unnecessary.

Afghanistan’s neighbours and the Region

8.        Afghanistan’s neighbours have an important role to play in helping Afghanistan build a more stable and secure future. The threats of violent extremism and narcotics are not Afghanistan’s alone. The region stands to benefit when these threats are dealt with effectively. To help foster a long-term regional approach to security challenges and cooperation, we:

  • call on Afghanistan’s neighbours to act resolutely in support of the Afghan Government’s efforts to build a stable Afghanistan with secure borders;
  • look forward to deepening our engagement with Afghanistan’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan;
  • support efforts to improve security and stability along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and,
  • encourage further cooperation and intensified dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan including through the Jirga mechanisms, the Ankara process and the Tripartite Commission.

Conclusion

9.         We as Allies and Partners stand united in our firm commitment to support the Afghan people fulfil their aspirations for a better life. The Afghan Government and people are taking increasing responsibility for the country’s security, reconstruction and development.   Together we will ensure they achieve the future they have long been denied and thereby bring greater security to all of our people.