Saturday, November 29, 2014

UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan 2010-2013

Statement of H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
On the Draft Country Programme document for Afghanistan, 2010-2013
At the occasion of the Executive Board meeting of UNDP/UNFPA
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Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your leadership throughout your presidency of the Executive Board of UNDP and of UNFPA. Since it is the first time I’m taking the floor, I would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Helen Clarke for her appointment as Administrator of the UNDP and for her inspiring statement on Tuesday, which has provided us with a clear vision of UNDP’s role in the coming years. I would finally like to thank Mr. Ajay Chhibber of UNDP for his insightful presentation of the UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan values highly its partnership with UNDP and is grateful to UNDP for the operational activities it has carried out in Afghanistan since 2002 in the areas of development, stabilization, state building, and governance.

One year ago, the international community renewed its political and financial support to the stabilization efforts in Afghanistan by welcoming the launching of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The consideration of UNDP‘s new country programme for Afghanistan will help one of our most important development partners to further assist us in improving the lives of Afghans by implementing our national priorities and working towards the achievement of Afghanistan’s MDGs.

Mr. President,

The UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan for the period 2010-2013 presented to the board this year is of utmost importance for Afghanistan. Since 2002, significant progress has been achieved in Afghanistan in our path to recover from 30 years of devastating conflict, but much remains to be done. We can state today, in view of the alarming human development indicators and challenges that we are still facing, that Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture of its post-2001 development history. We need to ensure successful progression from an emergency situation to sustainable development and not regress into violence. It is therefore time for intensified action.

Allow me to stress from the beginning that we need to set up an effective framework of partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners that can align policies and funding behind the stated priorities of ANDS. This will enhance institution building and national ownership as well as further capacity development. There is also an urgent need to coordinate programmes and projects with the Government in order to focus on priorities, eliminate duplication and redundancy, and rationalize development activities to maximize cost effectiveness.

Mr. President,

The new Draft Country Programme of UNDP for Afghanistan is the product of a series of consultations held in Kabul, between the Government of Afghanistan, the donor

community, UN agencies, civil society and other relevant development partners to ensure its alignment with our national development priorities as well as those contained in the UNDAF.

The four core programmatic areas identified in the Draft Country Programme accurately reflect key areas of challenge for Afghanistan. With the upcoming elections, a deteriorating security situation, and increasing levels of poverty, Afghanistan requires support on a broad spectrum of issues. However, the Draft Country Programme document needs greater detail about planned projects, priorities, and budgeting in order to provide us with the tools to accurately monitor the effectiveness of the operational activities and their alignment with the ANDS. Donor countries can work with the government of Afghanistan and UNDP on these details. In addition, in many of these areas, particularly in peace-building and governance, it is important that the international community work in a coherent, consolidated way to support the government of Afghanistan and avoid overlap.

Mr. President,

Rising insecurity requires the international community to focus on the security sector as a central pillar in our efforts to end terrorism. However, the Afghan people differentiate between security and stability. While the military efforts undertaken by Afghan forces, the US, NATO and our other allies are becoming instruments of security, they cannot deliver stability on their own. To be stable Afghanistan must be prosperous.

Our greatest challenge in this regard remains poverty, and the UNDP is our main partner in our path to achieve MDGs and poverty eradication. Afghanistan reiterates the central importance it gives to the core development mandate of the UNDP in supporting our national efforts to address poverty. Without advances in agriculture, a mainstay of our economy, it will be difficult to achieve the target set in MDG1. We therefore encourage UNDP to focus on its core development mandate, particularly through promoting livelihoods with a focus on agriculture, rural development, food security and income generation.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan must build capacity and, with the support of UNDP, articulate development priorities, and invest in the abilities of our people, institutions, and communities to advance human development and achieve results. In this regard, we welcome the Draft Country Programme’s emphasis on national ownership.

The effective implementation of the national priorities identified in ANDS will require a strengthened partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its development partners and a coherent and integrated United Nations system response to national priorities and needs within the framework of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.

We have seen what happens when aid is not harmonized. Flows of money outside the budget are undermining our efforts at creation of credible institutions, sound public finances, and stability. The solution involves not just more aid-committed with more certainty over a multi-year period-but a better quality of aid. Better quality aid, however, can only be attained through a tighter compact between the Government and donors. Alignment with the National Development Strategy is therefore an essential principle for all donors that will serve to enhance aid effectiveness and accountability.

Mr. President,

Our aims are high. In the coming years, we believe that with enough of the right kind
of support, we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In one of the poorest and most damaged countries in the world, this challenge will test our combined will to the core, but we must succeed. The stakes have never been higher. Afghanistan can and must provide a much needed victory in the international wars against poverty and terror.

I thank you.

Taliban’s Foreign Support Vexes U.S.

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN-

U.S. officials recently concluded that the Afghan Taliban may receive as much money from foreign donors as it does from opium sales, potentially hindering the Obama administration’s strategy to rehabilitate Afghanistan by stopping the country’s drug trade.

Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in a recent interview that the Taliban has three main sources of funding: drug revenue; payments from legitimate businesses that are secretly owned by the armed group or that pay it kickbacks; and donations from foreign charitable foundations and individuals.

“You have funds generated locally, funds that come in from the outside, and funds that come from the illegal narcotics business,” he said. “It’s a hotly debated topic as to which is the most significant and it may be that they are all roughly around the same level.”

Gen. Petraeus estimated that the Taliban raise a total of “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars” each year from the three sources, and said the U.S. doesn’t have precise figures.

The Taliban have depended in part on foreign support for decades. In an interview last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said some Afghan militants could draw on “external funding channels” created in the 1980s for wealthy Muslims — with U.S. support — to funnel money to Islamic fighters battling the Soviet military. “It wouldn’t surprise me if those channels have remained open,” he said.

Two senior U.S. officials said the Central Intelligence Agency has identified individuals and charities suspected of providing the bulk of the Taliban funding, but declined to name them, citing continuing operations to disrupt the money flows.

Senior U.S. officials said the Taliban received significant donations from Pakistan — where sympathy for the group is widespread in the country’s Pashtun community — and Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Pakistani Ambassador Hussein Haqqani said his government had frozen hundreds of bank accounts tied to the Taliban and other extremist groups and said the effort is a “work in progress.”

“The extremist networks continue to find new financing schemes and methods to evade law enforcement,” he said.

A senior Saudi official here said his government regularly arrested citizens suspected of funneling money to armed groups such as the Taliban but questioned the extent of the practice. The official said Saudi charities are barred from sending money outside the country.

“If the Americans have actionable intelligence on Saudis who are supporting the Taliban, they should provide us the intelligence, and we will act on it,” he said.

Officials from the Kuwaiti Embassy declined to comment.

The Taliban’s ability to continually replenish its coffers concerns U.S. policy makers such as Mr. Gates, who conjectured in the interview that American public support for the war will dissipate before the end of the year unless the administration achieves a “perceptible shift in momentum” there.

American officials said most of the money was sent to the Taliban through the informal hawala money-transfer system — a network of money brokers with little outside oversight. A 2006 World Bank report about Afghanistan said the hawala system “carries out the majority of the country’s cash payments and transfers.”

The resurgent Taliban have been mounting attacks in recent months, inflicting heavy casualties on U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan soldiers. On Thursday, U.S.-led forces raided a suspected foreign-fighter camp in eastern Afghanistan, setting off a gun fight that killed 34 militants, according to an Afghan official.
-Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Debate Over Child Executions Roils Iran’s Presidential Vote

By FARNAZ FASSIHI–

TEHRAN, Iran , The day before two of his young clients were to be hanged, lawyer Mohamad Mostafaei went to a Justice Ministry office here to request a stay of execution.

Mr. Mostafaei’s errand should have been routine, if solemn: He represents 30 of the 135 criminals under the age of 18 on Iran’s death row. Instead, he says, he was detained and grilled for an hour and a half, part of Iran’s widening crackdown on human-rights activists.

“Anything can happen to you at any time,” said Mr. Mostafaei, 34 years old. A Justice Ministry spokesman said the mid-May incident wasn’t a detention, and that Mr. Mostafaei was merely asked the purpose of his visit.
Agencies Suffer in Iran

As Iranians prepare to elect their next president on June 12, a range of civil-liberties issues — from juvenile executions to the freedom to blog — have become hot topics. Ending a period of relative openness, the government has pursued a clampdown on dissidents, human-rights activists, journalists and students, the likes of which hasn’t been seen here in decades.

The crackdown is led by conservative lawmakers who rose to power in recent years. Analysts say Iran’s regime tends to view dissent as a national-security risk and a departure from the ideals of Iran’s Islamic revolution of the 1970s under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In June’s vote, all three of the major candidates seeking to unseat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — two reformists, and one conservative — have criticized his government for its lack of tolerance. Each has promised more personal and social freedom if elected.

Iran’s use of the death penalty in juvenile cases has become particularly controversial, largely due to efforts by Mr. Mostafaei. The past two years, Iran led the world with a total of 28 hangings of youth offenders. Iran’s constitution stipulates that the age of maturity for boys is 15, and for girls, 9 — the ages at which Islamic law calls for children to take on religious duties such as prayer and fasting. (Executions aren’t carried out until the person reaches 18.)

Some other Islamic countries also have juveniles on death row, but executions are rarer. According to Human Rights Watch, since January 2005, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen have carried out a total of six juvenile executions.

In some U.S. states, death penalties for crimes committed by juveniles over the age of 15 remained legal until 2005, when the Supreme Court said the punishment should be reserved for individuals who had committed their crimes after reaching the age of 18. That ruling ended a 29-year era in which the U.S. executed 22 people for crimes committed as juveniles.

Iran’s Parliament, under intense pressure from local activists and international human-rights groups alike, recently approved legislation to make it tougher — although not impossible in murder cases — to sentence juveniles to death.

“The issue of juvenile executions has preoccupied us. We are not indifferent to world public opinion about this matter, and we are trying to find a solution,” said Ali Shahrokhi, a cleric and lawmaker who heads the Parliament’s judiciary committee.

The legislation, must still win the approval of the Guardian Council, a conservative committee of clerics, to become law.

Mr. Mostafaei and others want Iran to ban juvenile executions altogether by changing the age of maturity to 18, where it stood before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Earlier this month, one prominent presidential candidate who is also a cleric, Mehdi Karroubi, denounced child executions and said he would end them if elected. The next day, the conservative newspaper Kayhan called Mr. Karroubi an agent for Zionists.

“The intimidations won’t stop us from doing what we believe is right,” said Mr. Mostafaei. The day after his run-in with authorities earlier this month — with his two clients scheduled to be hanged at dawn — Mr. Mostafaei gathered several dozen protesters at 4 a.m. near the execution grounds, shouting the names of Muslim saints and calling for an end to child executions.

Just minutes before sunrise, prison officials announced a six-month stay of execution. His two clients, both convicted of murder in their teens, remain alive, for now.

However, their stay of execution isn’t much of a guarantee. Earlier this month another of Mr. Mostafaei’s clients, a young woman named Delara Darabi, was hanged in violation of a two-month stay she had obtained.

Word of Ms. Darabi’s fate came when the executioner let her phone her family. “Oh mother, I see the hangman’s noose in front of me,” she said, according to Mr. Mostafaei. At age 17, Ms. Darabi had confessed to a murder that took place in a jewelry heist, but later said her boyfriend was the killer and that she took the blame to protect him.

Human-rights activists have long complained that Iran has curbed civil liberties. In the past few years, reform-minded newspapers and magazines have been shut one by one. In May, one such paper published by another presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, lived for only one day before a court ordered it to shut.

Movies and books go through rigorous layers of censorship. Art galleries must seek approval for every item to be displayed. Restrictions like these were put in place or expanded over the past four years during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s tenure.

Mr. Ahmadinejad dismisses claims that human rights have deteriorated. “I have not been informed that anybody has spent time in prison for criticizing the president, who is the No. 1 executive of the country, after all, or has been subjected to persecution of any sort. It’s really very free,” he said last September at a press conference at the United Nations General Assembly.

The president’s office hasn’t responded to interview requests from The Wall Street Journal.

As recently as five years ago, under President Mohammad Khatami, Iran was relatively progressive in the Islamic world, as embodied in its expanding array of human-rights groups, charities and other so-called nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. Between 1997 and 2005, as many as 7,000 such domestic groups worked in areas as diverse as women’s issues, children’s cancer, transvestites’ rights and environmental policy.

When Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, he set out to limit their activity. The Ministry of Interior created a special office to supervise them. The government also set new restrictions on United Nations activities regarding NGOs, requiring them to work only with groups recommended by the government.

In interviews, nearly two-dozen NGOs said they must now get the government’s OK for every activity, from naming board members to holding fund-raisers.

“The regime has made it clear that it does not like NGOs and it’s very afraid of us,” said Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient whose own organization, Iran’s Center for the Defense of Human Rights, was shut down in January.

The government believes some NGOs are fronts for foreign spies. In January, Iranian intelligence officials said they uncovered a coup plot involving the Central Intelligence Agency and a local AIDS charity.

Tehran suspects the U.S. is trying to stir up a “velvet revolution” — a peaceful uprising like the one that overturned communism in the Czech Republic two decades ago. It cites Congress’s 2006 decision to allocate $75 million toward social programs in Iran. “Our enemies have officially announced that they want to infiltrate our civil society and have even declared a budget for their plans,” said Ali Fouladi, who heads the Interior Ministry’s department for monitoring NGOs. “We will outsmart them.”

The U.S. and other countries have denied that they aim to overthrow the government. “Yes, we support reform and defend human rights, but there’s a world of difference between that and trying to start a revolution here,” said a senior Western diplomat in Tehran.

Mr. Mostafaei began his human-rights advocacy by volunteering with Rahi, an NGO that doled out free legal advice to women prisoners. He sought clients by reading crime stories in local papers.

Today he runs a private law practice. Along a narrow, tree-lined street in central Tehran, a bronze plaque with the words “The Protectors” marks his office.

“We defend and protect victims whom the law does not protect,” he said recently, sitting at his desk there. The walls are decorated with artwork by death-row clients including Ms. Darabi, the woman executed earlier this month. One of her oil paintings hangs above a fireplace, depicting an old man with a violin.

Mr. Mostafaei’s reputation grew after he won a case five years ago involving a teenage girl, Nazanin Fatehi, who faced execution for stabbing and killing a man who she said was trying to rape her. Nazanin was 15 years old at the time of the stabbing.

After Mr. Mostafaei won her release, parents of other death-row children sought him out. He is both attorney and therapist, of sorts. During a recent interview, his phone rang — it was the mother of a client. “It’s OK. Don’t cry,” he says. “You have to be strong.” He tells her he saw her son that morning.

Mr. Mostafaei grew up in a poor family with five siblings and a father who forced the children to take jobs. In elementary school, he said, he worked at a brick factory.

“I’m mostly seeking justice for children because I suffered so much as a child,” he said.

As a young man, he took Iran’s national university entrance exam, and ranked in the top 50. He ended up at the prestigious Tehran University Law School.

His budding law career coincided with Iran’s reform years, a period starting in late 1997 when politicians moved away from the strict ideology rooted in Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1970s Islamic revolution.

The clampdown began more recently. In March 2007, Rahi, the NGO where Mr. Mostafaei volunteered, was shuttered by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which deals with national-security matters. Rahi’s founder, lawyer Shadi Sadr, was put in solitary confinement for two weeks and charged with conspiring to overthrow the Iranian leadership with foreign funds via a “velvet revolution.” Ms. Sadr is awaiting trial on bail.

Other NGOs also say they have come under pressure. The president of Mahak, a widely known Iranian NGO that helps children with cancer, said security forces last year conducted an unannounced audit of its financial records.

“These are the darkest days for NGOs,” said Zahra Eshraghi, who runs a women’s organization that she says was instructed several years ago to avoid advocacy work by the Interior Ministry. Ms. Eshraghi is also the granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini.

As for Mr. Mostafaei, he is responding to the pressure with unconventional means of advocacy. He recruited Iranian movie stars to campaign for his cause, although in November the judiciary subpoenaed the stars and warned them to stay away from publicly campaigning against juvenile executions.

He also runs a blog that tracks human-rights cases. And this past summer, Mr. Mostafaei made a documentary about juveniles on death row. The film opens with the voice of Behnam Zareh, a former client of his, who was convicted of murder at age 15 after killing another boy in a fight over a bird.

“I want to stay alive. Please, please I want to stay alive,” the young man says. The recording is his final phone conversation with Mr. Mostafaei before being hanged last August.

Source: The Wall Street Journal