Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Futher Steps Needed to Safeguard the Lives and Rights of Afghan Civilians


Ambassador Tanin Addresses UN Security Council on

“Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, a topic of particular importance in Afghanistan.  I would also like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos for her briefing and welcome the recent report of the Secretary General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

Mr. President,

Nine years ago, the Afghan people overwhelmingly supported the US–led intervention and joined the US and coalition forces in the fight against terrorism. They saw the international military campaign as crucial for security in the country and the region and for bringing an end to their suffering. From 2001 to 2006, the trust and cooperation between the Afghan people and the international community helped the country to become increasingly stable. However, with the re-emergence in 2006 of the Taliban from sanctuaries in the region and their attempts to attack national and international forces, parts of the country began to slide back into conflict. Violence and insecurity, particularly in the last two years, largely affected the security of people and thousands of civilians lost their lives. The increase in the number of civilian casualties has negatively affected the people’s trust in the prospect of peace security and development in the country.

Mr. President,

Afghans are the first to feel the tragic effects of conflict in their country.  Civilian casualties are caused mainly by intentional acts of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups. Terrorists and extremists have recently expanded the scope of their activities, attacking all segments of Afghan society. By resorting to new and brutal tactics including suicide bombings, abductions, targeted assassinations, and indiscriminate use of IEDs they show complete disregard for human life. Further, terrorists and extremists continue to conduct attacks from densely populated areas and use civilians as human shields. Nevertheless there are also a number of unfortunate, unintended casualties resulting from the military operations and activities of international forces as well as joint military operations of both International and Afghan forces.

Mr. President,

As shown in UNAMA’s 2010 midyear report, the number of civilian casualties due to violence in my country has increased. In the first six months of 2010 there were 3,268 civilian casualties including 1,271 deaths as a result of armed conflict or an average of over 18 civilian casualties a day. It shows a 31% increase from the same period last year. 76% of the incidents were the result of the activities of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups. 6,000 civilian casualties occurred in 2009.

Mr. President,

In discussing civilian casualties, let us remember that we are referring to people, the loss of human life and all too often the lives of innocent women, children, and elders.  Such deaths may not be looked at as merely “the consequences of ongoing violence” and “co-lateral damage.”  Each death in Afghanistan represents a life lost, a family left behind, and an entire future denied its potential.

Mr. President,

Protection of civilians during military operations is our shared responsibility and an international obligation. Increased coordination between international and Afghan forces during military operations and a greater cooperation between the international community and the Afghan government is necessary for ensuring safety and security of civilian populations. This is an important issue which has long been a crucial point of discussion with Afghanistan’s international partners. My government has called upon international forces to take necessary measures to minimize and eliminate civilian casualties. We appreciate the NATO commanders’ commitment of giving a central place to the protection of civilians in their new military strategy. We hope that further necessary steps will be taken in this regard so as to safeguard the lives and rights of Afghan civilians, particularly in the areas affected by conflict.

Mr. President,

To protect the lives of civilians, Afghanistan must work with the international community to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country. The protection of civilians must be placed in the context of the emerging transition in which Afghan national forces will begin to assume full responsibility by 2014.

Just this weekend in Lisbon at the NATO Summit, we embarked on the transition from an international guided process to an Afghan led process.  Security is at the core of this transition.  It is essential for NATO and international partners to enhance trainings for Afghan security forces in order to ensure enduring security and consequently the elimination of civilian casualties. This transition is happening while the enemy is attempting to disrupt the government’s activities and continue their attacks against the Afghan people, government, and international forces.  As the Afghan government seeks to prepare itself to take on responsibility for leading security efforts, the continuing support of the Afghan people for our shared efforts and their active participation in stabilization of the country are crucial for success.

Mr. President,

Protection and promotion of the rights of civilians should be among the top priorities of international engagement in Afghanistan.  In his address to Heads of State at the NATO Summit in Lisbon, H.E. President Karzai said, “we are in dialogue with ISAF on issues of serious concern to the Afghan people, in particular: civilian causalities, detentions, lawless behavior by some security companies and, at times, the NATO’s posture.  We need the space to discuss these issues and resolve them in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork. The sustainable solution to these issues will, of course, come from the realization of our common objective of replacing international forces with Afghan security forces.”

Mr. President,

We are of the conviction that civilian protection is not confined to only preventing civilian casualties. An end to civilian loss requires establishing lasting peace and stability. The recent Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board’s Progress Report on the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, covering the first 100 Days after the Kabul Conference, rightly points out that we have achieved more successes in improving security.  Afghanistan has completed 89% of planned activities in the area of security and exceeded expectations in the growth of the National Army and National Police.

In addition to military operations, the Afghan government is engaged in a comprehensive outreach initiative to achieve lasting peace and security. The Afghan led peace process calls upon the Taliban to lay down their arms and join the peace and reconciliation efforts.  Engaging the armed opposition in peace Talks and the creation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and selection of 60 members are significant steps towards strengthening the peace and reconciliation process.

Our national reconciliation plan is based on our growing responsibility to promote human rights, build trust, and continue outreach to the people of Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Going forward, the issue of civilian protection in armed conflict will continue to be central to our national strategies. Today’s meeting reminds us of the importance of civilians in the overall work of the United Nations and of the international community.  We look forward to further collaboration with our international partners for achieving our ultimate objective, which is ending violence and achieving lasting peace. The success of our partnership is the best way to ensure civilian protection.

Thank you Mr. President.

Statement by President Karzai at NATO Summit in Lisbon

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

H.E. Secretary General NATO

H.E. Secretary General United Nations

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank the Government of Portugal and the citizens of Lisbon for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to us all.

It is a privilege to address this Summit at a time when NATO is transforming the Alliance to meet the global security challenges of the 21st Century.  A transformed NATO will be an enduring partner to an Afghan state committed to assuming leadership for its own security and development.

Al Qaeda’s attack in New York and subsequent terrorist attacks around the world made us realize that terrorism is a continuous threat to our collective security. Afghanistan and NATO share common interests and objectives in eliminating this menace.

Nine years ago, the people of Afghanistan joined the United States and our coalition allies to fight international terrorism.  We have come a long way in this shared journey.  I want to express the gratitude of the Afghan people for the valuable role NATO has played, especially the sacrifices of your young men and women, in helping us recover from decades of destruction and terror.

The Afghan people take pride in our sovereignty. Expressing our national consensus I made a commitment a year ago to assume leadership for security in our country by 2014. An effective transition will reduce your burdens and increase the trust of our people in our partnership. Together, we have established a strong foundation, and we now have an agreed upon process to make the transition irreversible and sustainable. President Obama’s principled decision, as supported by your governments, to commit adequate forces and resources to disrupt and defeat Al Qaeda has paved the way for success.  In close partnership with General Petraeus and Ambassador Sedwell we are making progress towards our common objective.

The maturity of our partnership allows us to discuss difficult issues and find agreement. We are in dialogue with ISAF on issues of serious concern to the Afghan people, in particular: civilian causalities, detentions, lawless behavior by some security companies and, at times, the NATO’s posture.   We need the space to discuss these issues and resolve them in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork. The sustainable solution to these issues will, of course, come from the realization of our common objective of replacing international forces with Afghan security forces.

Excellencies,

At a time when your own citizens face economic hardship, we are grateful for your support in helping us build strong and stable institutions. As your citizens are making great sacrifices, we understand their questions regarding our capacity to deal with poor governance and corruption.  The Afghan people also share these concerns. Therefore, today, I reaffirm our resolve to work with you to promote good governance and rule of law, keys to the satisfaction of our people’s quest for peace and prosperity.

Our vision is to consolidate the institutions of an effective state bound by rule of law and capable of fulfilling its duties to its citizens and serving as a respected anchor for regional stability. These institutions will consolidate a democratic order with which Afghan citizens can identify and which they can own and defend.

While fighting terrorism is the main focus of your actions in my country, the Afghan people’s focus today, after three decades of war and violence, is peace and tranquility.   The Afghans need and want a just peace as much as your people want security.

I take this opportunity to thank you for supporting the Afghan peace initiatives, particularly the Consultative Peace Jirga and the establishment of the High Peace Council.

Excellencies,

As we look to establishing an enduring long-term partnership between Afghanistan and NATO, we must commit to reinforcing each other’s capabilities; pursuing shared strategies; adapting and overcoming differences in cultures of defense, diplomacy and development; aligning means to ends; and ensuring more efficient resource utilization, transparency and accountability.

In this regard, we look forward to our international partners fulfilling their commitments of the London and Kabul Conferences to channel 50% of resources through the Afghan government and to aligning the use of all resources around Afghan priorities.

Constitutionally, our State is unitary, so we ask that the resources your governments contribute to our common effort be provided in a manner that strengthens Afghan government, reinforces our sovereignty, and advances the success of our State.

We appreciate NATO’s comprehensive approach in Afghanistan, where the campaign against terrorism goes hand in hand with development assistance. However, parallel aid systems raise significant issues of accountability and efficiency, whereas national programs can build institutions and allow for public participation. We therefore ask our partners to join us in expanding existing national programs and in designing new ones. We must particularly work together to ensure that provincial transitions are guided by a coherent national approach. Our security institutions are still modestly equipped. Ensuring enablers and trainers for our police and armed forces is therefore essential to the success of transition.

We have long been concerned about the unintended adverse consequences of international contracts on our economy, politics and society.  We welcome the review of NATO contracts and commitment to the policy of “Afghan First”.  Giving preference to the Afghan private sector will have major positive effect in harnessing the market as a force of stability.  Providing Afghanistan with market access to ISAF/NATO countries can also boost peace and prosperity. As the transition succeeds, reinvesting the dividend into the creation of opportunity for Afghan citizens will be welcome.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Having spoken to the question of Afghan expectations of our NATO partners, I wish to reaffirm my Government’s commitments to fulfill its responsibilities to provide the Afghan people with security, rule of law and opportunity to develop their potentials. In this context, we will ensure and expand the gains made by Afghan women

Our people have made us keenly aware of the need for reforming state institutions. We are therefore committed to a holistic approach to reform. We will fight corruption as it undermines public trust in government institutions.

We are fully aware that our quest for peace and stability depends on regional cooperation. We therefore ask our allies to build regional confidence in the war against terror. We need your active engagement to promote a security and development framework for regional cooperation that will allow for mutual peace, prosperity and security.

Having articulated and committed to our common goals, we must create and implement relevant milestones. To review our progress on transition towards 2014 and broaden the scope of trade and development activities with our partners, the Afghan government proposes to host a meeting in November 2011 in Bonn, Germany and hopes that the government of Federal Republic of Germany will, as always, graciously make its facilities available.

Excellencies,

Peace and tolerance are the highest values of Islam, and the people of Afghanistan, who played a critical role in the formation of Islamic civilization, are among the heirs of that proud legacy. Over a billion Muslims, not Al Qaeda, speak and embody the values of our tolerant civilization. Islamophoebia, a spreading disease, has no place in our globalised world, and does not serve your interest or our partnership.  It is the cooperation of civilizations, not their clash that is the true pathway to the future. A sovereign Afghanistan, capable of ensuring the security and well-being of its citizens, able to contain and eliminate the threat of terrorism and serve as an anchor of regional stability, is essential to global peace and security. This worthy goal will give us the energy to endure, and the determination to overcome the obstacles we face.

Thank you.

Afghanistan Calls for More Delisting of Former Taliban Members

On 15 November, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, addressed the UN Security Council during its debate on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committees.  He said that the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security remains the terrorist activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups.  “The enemy we face,” he said, “is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support.”

Ambassador Tanin also stated that as Afghanistan and the International Community continue their fight against the terrorists, reconciliation efforts and outreach to the armed opposition who would like to join the peace process by renouncing violence are critical.  He welcomed the delisting of ten former Taliban members from the consolidated list of Individuals and Entities Associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban over the past year.  He urged the Security Council to “give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests.”

He expressed Afghanistan’s support for the counter-terrorism committees. The 1267 committee was praised for its efforts in keeping the sanctions list current and as a result of this process the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members which will contribute to Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative.  Additionally, the 1373 committee and the 1540 committee were commended for their ongoing efforts in the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors respectively.

Overall, this was an important opportunity to reconfirm the Afghan peoples’ commitment to the fight for the elimination of terrorism with the partnership of the international community.