STATEMENT BY H.E. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary-General on “Human Security”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I begin, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting on a topic of such broad relevance. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, which provides an excellent overview of the growing attention paid to this important issue by Member States, as well as by international and regional organizations. And finally, I would like to thank my colleagues at the Japanese Mission, for the draft resolution they have tabled today which Afghanistan is proud to co-sponsor. This meeting is a clear sign that the concept of human security is both increasingly relevant and increasingly recognized, and Afghanistan welcomes this trend and supports further discussion on this concept in the future.
The need for security in Afghanistan overshadows and underlies every effort undertaken by the Afghan Government and the international community to build a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.
The most immediate threat to security comes from ongoing terrorism and violence, in particular the murderous acts of the Taliban and al-Qaeda who, through suicide bombs, assassinations and threats, create an atmosphere of fear and danger for the Afghan people, and threaten the security of the region and the world.
However, while we must address this threat immediately, we have learned from experience that killing the enemy will not, alone, provide security to the Afghan people. We must also break the cycle of violence and conflict born of thirty years of war, which decimated the social, political and economic fabric of the country and resulted in environmental degradation, wrenching poverty, poor infrastructure and weak social structures. We must address lack of governance, rule of law and a stable justice system, and promote outreach and engagement of citizens with their government. We must combat human rights abuses and promote the health and wellbeing of women, children, and other disadvantaged groups. We must ensure that every Afghan has access to education, food, healthcare and gainful employment, and encourage investment in infrastructure and business. In addition, we must address transnational issues such as crime, narcotics trafficking, and border control. We have learned to look beyond military measures to sustainable, long-term civilian efforts. We have learned to look beyond simple physical wellbeing to address the long-term economic, social and political security of the Afghan people.
The idea of “human security” admirably encompasses this broad range of needs, and can guide us in our approach in Afghanistan.
First and foremost, the concept stresses that people must be at the center of our considerations. Our goals, as governments, militaries and humanitarians, must be to locate and address the threats to the people of Afghanistan, and we should measure our successes by the changes we can bring to their lives. The military forces have already embraced this ideal in an effort to prevent civilian casualties and create sustainable progress. We need to ensure this principle is also central to the development and humanitarian realms, making sure that every dollar spent in Afghanistan directly benefits the Afghan people.
Second, this idea recognizes the essential importance of development in the prevention of conflict and the promotion of security and stability. Desperation caused by poverty, unemployment, and competition for resources and water, is an obvious and enduring factor that exacerbates conflict and has spread a culture of violence in Afghanistan. The proposed civilian surge will offer Afghans a chance to live in peace and help them find a way to take care of their families without resorting to violent or illegal activities.
Third, this concept addresses the need to look for both local, contextualized ways to repair the damage of conflict, including through peace processes, and also the need to encourage regional cooperation to address the international aspects of the conflict. In Afghanistan, the awareness that military means cannot solve the conflict has led the Government to introduce reintegration and reconciliation programs in the hope of repairing the broken social structures and encouraging national unity, while engaging in intense regional dialogue to build trust and foster cooperation on these and other issues. Without the full engagement of all of the Afghan people, the government and society can never hope to build a strong, independent nation, and without a constructive partnership with the region, Afghanistan’s efforts will not be sustainable.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, human security looks to strong societies and strong institutions as the core protection mechanisms against possible destabilizing factors. The recent strategy endorsed in London focuses on strengthening Afghan capacity, through training, mentoring and resourcing, so that Afghans can be invested in our common project and feel a sense of responsibility for its success. In addition, it emphasizes the importance of building a strong Government with stable institutions that is capable of representing its citizens and responding to their needs and concerns.
I urge Member States to, in their consideration of this issue, also consider the ways that the international community could embrace these principles in practice as well as on paper. It is clear that only a comprehensive approach can truly hope to end or prevent a conflict. However, coordination within and among local and international actors, and coherence of priorities and aims, continues to marginalize domestic leadership and circumvent the Government of Afghanistan in favor of parallel structures. The concept of “human security” will only be useful in practice if the international community is willing to commit to truly understanding the local context of a conflict, and to empowering local people to take ownership of their own affairs.
Human security is not a new concept. As governments, our primary responsibility is, and always has been, to the well-being of our people above all else. However, with conflicts increasingly involving non-state actors, and transnational conflicts and recurring conflicts becoming more and more common, the international community must truly embrace the reality that conflicts have broad and varied causes, and require comprehensive and contextualized responses. The concept of human security is an essential one in guiding domestic and international reactions to these emerging trends.
I thank you, Mr. President.