Wednesday, June 19, 2013
On January 21st, the United Nations Security Council debated post-conflict peace-building and Institution building. After opening remarks by the Secretary General, the Vice Prime Minister of Timor Leste, Jose Luis Guterres, spoke on behalf of G7+, a new group of conflict affected and fragile states, providing a unique perspective on the subject. Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany then addressed the Council as chair of the Peacebuilding Commission.
Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, expressed the need for institution building as an essential component for lasting peace in Afghanistan. He reminded that in the “ubiquitous debate on the current situation in Afghanistan, it is easy to overlook the thirty years of conflict that Afghanistan has overcome.” While Afghanistan was thought of as the most failed state in the world in 2001, it has made significant progress toward stabilization considering its context, he said.
Afghanistan’s reintegration and reconciliation process was highlighted in Ambassador Tanin’s statement. He invited members of the armed opposition to put down their arms, renounce violence, and join the peace process. He addressed the Taliban directly, “Now that we have come halfway, it is the Taliban’s turn to fulfill its responsibility. If the Taliban wants to join the peace talks, it must end violence and terrorist attacks…and sever ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”
In keeping with a common theme emphasized by most member states in this debate, national ownership was underscored as vital for sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Statement By H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the Security Council Debate on Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Institution Building
Please allow me to begin by congratulating you and your delegation for assuming the presidency of the Council for the month of January. I thank you for convening today’s important meeting on post-conflict peacebuilding and institution building and I wish to express my appreciation for the informative concept paper which you provided on 4 January. Thank you also to the Secretary General for his remarks. I would like to thank His Excellency, Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, who spoke on behalf of G7+ of which Afghanistan is a member. The voices of conflict-affected and fragile states provided a unique and crucial perspective on peacebuilding and institution building. Thank you to His Excellency, Ambassador Peter Wittig for addressing the council on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission.
Institution building is one of the essential components of establishing a peaceful and sustainable future in any post-conflict situation. The necessary requirements for successful institution building in post-conflict settings include: recognizing unique contexts; steady resourcing; growth of human capital; national, regional, and international cooperation; and strategic patience through the transition period. In Afghanistan we have learned firsthand the importance of each of these requirements.
In the ubiquitous debate on the current situation in Afghanistan, it is easy to overlook the thirty years of conflict that Afghanistan has overcome in order to reach a point at which, today, we can discuss institution building and post-conflict peacebuilding. Let us not underestimate the time it takes to surpass the challenges of history. An environment such as Afghanistan’s, which has faced complex conflict, power struggles, and ongoing violence for decades cannot be changed overnight. As we engage in each and every discussion about the training of the Afghan army and police, the timeline for military engagement, or international partnerships, we must keep this context in mind.
In 2001, Afghanistan was considered to be the most failed state in the world. The fall of the Taliban left a weakly governed state with no professional police or army to quell the ongoing fighting around the country. In 2001 Afghanistan lacked state institutions and had a budget of merely $27 million. After having hundreds of thousands of military and nonmilitary government employees in the early 1990s, educated and skilled workers fled the country and its government was left with less than 2,000 employees with higher educations. Many government institutions were nonfunctional because basic staffing and resourcing needs were not met.
Given the magnitude of destruction, stabilization efforts in Afghanistan have produced impressive results. Despite its uphill climb from the time of Taliban rule, Afghanistan has experienced political transformation and development over the last decade, achieved through the support of the international community. The political process for the continued growth of the country is in place. Nearly 7 million refugees have returned. Women’s roles in politics have steadily increased. Civil society has emerged triumphantly in a more unified and organized manner. There are many areas in the country where we are witnessing governance for the first time in decades. Progress in the area of infrastructure development including building and paving roads and increased access to water, education, and health care has been among the most rapid of any post-conflict nation in decades. Women and girls now have equal educational access.
Security institutions have developed, supporting the emergence of Afghan national ownership. The last year has shown that it is possible to increase the Afghan National Army substantially and simultaneously see its planning and combat abilities improve. Local administrations have increased their involvement in security efforts, particularly through the engagement of Afghan people, especially elders, in defense programs in villages.
As a measure to end violence and achieve lasting peace, we in Afghanistan have prioritized reintegration and reconciliation. We continue to encourage members of the armed-opposition to put down their weapons, choose the path of peace, and join efforts for stabilization and rehabilitation in the country. Progress continues toward implementing the recommendations of our national consultative peace-jirga, which constitutes the core of our reconciliation efforts. Now that we have come halfway, it is the Taliban’s turn to fulfill its responsibility. If the Taliban wants to join the peace talks, it must end violence and terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IEDs, kidnappings, targeted assassinations and sever ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
We must also anticipate the challenges we will face going forward. The biggest issue is the sustainability of peace, not just for Afghanistan, but for any post-conflict country. The functionality of institutions is necessary; a country must have the resources, the human capital, and capacity to stop the threat of insurgency or avoid relapsing into conflict. Capacity building is essential if state institutions are to operate effectively; empowering state institutions means enabling national government to provide services for its citizens.
In any post-conflict setting, maintained international engagement in the institution building stages, beyond military involvement, is necessary for the endurance of peacebuilding efforts. In Afghanistan, an additional component of the stabilization process is effective regional cooperation. Progress is at risk of unraveling if these partnerships do not remain strong.
Democratization in post-conflict countries is a multidimensional challenge. We have learned from our experience that the democratization process requires sustained security as well as political, and development support. However, as it has been emphasized time and again “democracy grows from within and external actors can only support it.” The international community and key national stakeholders must work collaboratively, with integrative strategies, to provide effective support for democratization.
In the coming years, national ownership and leadership with continued international partnerships will be key for Afghanistan. The adoption of the Kabul Process involves more Afghan responsibility for security, development and governance in the country. The significant increase in the amount of international funding channeled through the Afghan Government reflects renewed support for national ownership. The Afghan Government is committed to assuming full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon support to build Afghan security forces’ size, strength and operational capability.
Building peace through developing institutions can help address the causes of conflict. However, it is necessary to end violence in order to create an environment in which institutions can flourish. Progress can be destroyed when conflict flares up. We must not forget the lessons we have learned in Afghanistan: A school or clinic built in six months can be destroyed in only six minutes by the Taliban or other extremists.
Furthermore, the importance of effective international partnership during post-conflict situations cannot be overestimated. In this regard, adequate resourcing and capacity building are preconditions for ensuring lasting peace.
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