Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Minister of Economy Abdul Hadi Arghandehwal Addresses UN Commission on Sustainable Development Roundtables on Mining and Transportation

H.E.,  the Minister of Economy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mr. Abdul Hadi Arghandehwal has addressed the 19th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, which brings together ministers as well as government high officials and representatives of international organizations and civil society to discuss the way forward in national and international development.

During his address on mining, Minister Arghandehwal emphasized the significant production potential of Afghanistan’s mineral resources.  He explained how Afghanistan’s mineral deposits remain largely untapped, and that a recent United States Geological Survey (USGS) study estimated Afghanistan’s mineral reserves to be worth up to 3 trillion dollars.   He shared that “Most of these deposits include significant reserves of iron ore, copper, cobalt, gold and industrial production metals such as lithium. Studies also suggest that Afghanistan has large deposits of niobium and other rare earth elements. The deposits are large enough to make Afghanistan a major global producer of these minerals.”

Focusing on the production potential of these mineral reserves, Minister Arghandehwal told of the significant foreign direct investment flows Afghanistan has already attracted, particularly with the MCC company for the exploration and processing of Aynak copper deposits.  Of note, he shared that this MCC investment will include the construction of more than 600 km of railroad and a 400 MW power plant.

The Minister of Economy went on to highlight current contributions to the Government of Afghanistan from mining revenues.  He noted that the Government currently receives US$20-25 million annually in mining revenues.  Further, he explained that according to IMF projections, the mining sector is expected to contribute an average of $11 billion per annum over the five years between 2014/15 to 2019/20, and that this is expected to rise to a projected average of $17 billion per annum in the 10 years between 2020/21 to 2029/30.

In addition, he addressed the challenges that lie ahead, including higher capital investments and operating costs required for the development of Afghanistan’s mining sector, the development of infrastructure for support operations, capacity building, establishing a connected transportation system to enable trade, and the establishment of effective policies for revenue management, benefit sharing, and public-private partnerships for infrastructure development.

The Minister also shared Afghanistan’s long-term vision, “To develop an economically vibrant mineral sector which creates jobs, develops infrastructure, generates domestic revenue and ensures inclusive economic growth for the benefit of all Afghans.” He added that “Mining in Afghanistan has the potential to be a driver of a poverty reduction and sustained growth, if managed properly.” Further, Minister Arghandehwal acknowledged that these developments will require strategic action and vision in order to create an enabling environment for private sector investments, including field security, good governance, and overall transparency.

During his address on transportation, Minister Arghandehwal highlighted the impact of prolonged conflict on Afghanistan’s transportation sector, noting the challenges that lie ahead in construction and restoration efforts alongside the opportunities for economic development and for the improved living standards of the Afghan people.

Focusing on the specific challenges for Afghanistan, he underscored the impact of turmoil on transportation, which has left behind damaged roads and structures and has turned away international air carriers and other sectors from investing in and servicing Afghanistan’s transportation needs.

The Minister of Economy also specified that “The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s strategic vision and goal for the transport sector is to have a safe, integrated transportation network that ensures connectivity and that enables low-cost and reliable movement of people and goods domestically as well as to and from foreign destinations. This will give impetus to economic growth and employment generation and help integrate Afghanistan into the global economy. A high priority is to have in place an efficient and viable road transportation network for achieving economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas.”  To this end, Minister Arghandehwal spoke of the many gains Afghanistan has made in building and restoring transportation infrastructure in the country.  He explained the progress that had been made with roads, railways, and civil aviation as well as the legal and regulatory gains that have been made for effective governance and for the facilitation of trade.

Further, Minister Arghandehwal drew attention to the fundamental role of transportation for economic growth, stability, and peacebuilding in Afghanistan, and that this relationship necessitates the strategic development of the Afghan transportation sector.  He noted that Afghanistan is currently “…working to develop and complete a network of regional roads to connect to neighboring countries, the coordination of funding for the implementation of projects, quality control and the development of a sustained operation and maintenance of roads, organizational strengthening and capacity building of technical staff, and strengthening the role and relation of private sector in road construction and maintenance.”

During his addresses on both mining and transportation, Minister Arghandehwal expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation for the organization of CSD 19 and for the continued support and commitment of the international community for stabilization and security in Afghanistan.

Doha Forum Addresses UN Security Council Reform and International Stability

The Doha Forum in tandem with “Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference” are currently underway in Doha, Qatar. On 10 May, the second day of the three day event, the session entitled “International Stability,” featured panelists from Foreign Ministries and Government, academics and experts from around the globe including Afghanistan, France, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, the UK, and the US. The panelists discussed the future of peace in the Middle East including recent revolutions in the region and their strategic implications. Other topics included the escalation of Islamophobia in Europe, the development of the G20, the growing role of regional powers, and the reform of the United Nations Security Council.

His Excellency Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, spoke on the panel, delivering a statement entitled “ The Call for Reform: The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World.” In his discussion he gave a rich analysis of historical and current shifts in the global landscape that have led to the need for reform for the United Nations Security Council.  “International bodies, such as the United Nations, must adapt… in order to remain effective, efficient, and relevant in our dynamic world,” he said. He expressed optimism about the potential of facing the challenge of change, saying “although adjusting to change is a constant challenge, it is also a chance to progress.”

Ambassador Tanin traced the historical context of the United Nations from its founding in 1945 through the Cold War era, the Post-Cold War era, the post 9-11 era, and what he referred to as “the Post-Bin Laded time.”  He explains that in this current period, “we are witnessing new countries being born, and we are seeing a blossoming movement towards democracy – in the Arab world and elsewhere. What I think we are all witness to is a general reshaping of global alliances and new international constellations.”

Pointing out that it a time of increasing expectancy for the Council to reaffirm itself as a leader of enforcing peace and security on the global stage, Ambassador Tanin recognized that, “with no reform we risk losing the legitimacy of the Security Council.”

Other panelists addressed a range of issues related to international stability including: the Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Professor at UC Berkeley and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs in the US, a French researcher at CNRS, a former Delegate Minister for Equal Opportunities of France, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Romania, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mexico, and a Shadow Secretary of State of Transport from the UK.

Later in the day Ambassador Tanin led a workshop on the topic of Security Council Reform in which he gave a more in depth perspective on the historical and current context for Security Council Reform.  Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations who will be President of the General Assembly in the 66th Session beginning in September, also spoke at the workshop.  He talked about the importance of the issue of Security Council Reform for the next General Assembly Session and welcomed the day’s “gathering of ideas” which he believes will be useful for the process.  He also showed support for the current process, saying “I am confident in the wisdom of Ambassador Tanin as we face this challenge.”

A lively question and answer session with the diplomats and experts in the room followed in which questions ranged from discussing the stances of various nation states to speculations about how positions will progress to analysis of the UN’s increased role in today’s global climate to inquiring about the legitimacy of the Security Council.  Ambassador Tanin responded with a final argument for reform of the Council, pointing out that the Security Council “is working for the people.”  “In the streets,” he said, “there’s very little belief in the legitimacy of its decisions if the Security Council is not more inclusive, more representative, more democratic. We have to listen to the streets.”

On 12-13 May, on the margins of the Doha Forum, there will be an informal and in depth two day workshop of diplomats and experts discussing the issue of Security Council Reform.  Ambassador Al-Nasser and Ambassador Tanin will speak at the event as well.

The Call for Reform The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World by Ambassador Zahir Tanin

The Call for Reform: The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World

The Doha Forum

Doha, State of Qatar

12-13 May 2011

The Call for Reform: The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World

H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

The only consistency in the global political climate is that it is always changing. It is as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who was obsessed by change, said: “You cannot step into the same river twice.” “International Stability,” the topic we explore here this morning, must be addressed in the context of the shifting political landscape over time.  International bodies, such as the United Nations, must adapt to such changes in order to remain effective, efficient, and relevant in our dynamic world. Although adjusting to change is a constant challenge, it is also a chance to progress.

1

In 1945, the United Nations was founded upon the need to work together globally toward international stability. Recognizing the increasing interdependence of the world, and mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other, the United Nations was developed to inspire mutual respect and trust between people and nations. In the aftermath of the Second World War when the UN was founded, the global political map dramatically transformed due to anti-colonial liberation wars and movements, and the fight for self-determination. In 1965, the membership of the UN increased to 117 from 51 in 1945. In fact, the number of independent countries in Asia quintupled. In Africa, where in 1939 there had been one independent state, dozens of independent countries (now 53) emerged. In Latin America, though there were twenty or so republics, decolonization added another dozen.

Instead of being an exclusive club of former colonizers and World War II victors, the UN suddenly consisted of Member States from all over the globe, encompassing the colossal mass of the remaining two thirds of the world, representing two billion people.  In order to reflect this change, in 1965, the number of UN Security Council non-permanent members increased from six to ten.

After 1945, the Cold War, which lasted for over 4 decades, shaped UN activities, in particular the Security Council, within the limits of cooperation mainly between two super powers.  However, while the US and USSR continued to sufficiently agree to take global decisions and avoid direct confrontation, the UN was able to deal with conflicts, which essentially were confined to outside Europe.  In fact, the two super-powers used the UN as a venue of cooperation, or rather the possible entente between themselves. Therefore, the world was stable enough to avoid another war that was constantly feared: a Third, possibly Nuclear, World War.

2

The end of the Cold War marked a significant shift in the nature of conflicts and the balance of power. Gone was the traditional East-West dynamic. As such, the UN in particular the Security Council, entered a different period characterized by the need for collaboration in an increasingly diverse and multi-polar world.

Just before the end of the Cold War, in 1987, the Five Permanent members of the Security Council known as the P5, worked together through sponsoring a Chapter VII resolution to end the Iraq-Iran war. The resolution asked for an immediate ceasefire, threatening the use of sanctions if the parties did not comply with the demand. The turning point was the Security Council mandate for ejection of the Iraqi invasion from Kuwait in 1990.  It was a time in which former President George Bush Sr. talked about a new role for the UN as an agent of a “new world order”.  The Security Council’s efforts in 1990 therefore marked the beginning of a new era for the UN.

The collaboration of P5 and the other members of the Security Council extended to other conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s, from Haiti to Bosnia and Sierra Leone, or from Central African Republic to Mozambique and East Timor, and very recently from Iraq, to Ivory Coast and Libya.  Everywhere, the UN could offer its full potential of not only peacekeeping, but peacemaking and peace building.

3

In the 1990s and in the beginning of this century, we witnessed significant changes on the international stage:

1. The disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw camp;

2. The unique role of the United States, which remains today;

3. Emergence and strengthening of new power centers;

4. Rapid change of interstate relations;

5. Erosion of state sovereignty by the new wave of globalization as well as the Council’s decisions.

In the post-Cold War and the post-9/11 period, with its ever-shifting dynamics, the UN and the Security Council became immersed in a completely new trajectory of the world’s history. The fact that about 30 newly independent countries following the fall of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia joined the UN was a consequential change in both the structure and operation of the UN.

At the same time, by the end of the Cold War in the 1990s there was a shift toward a unipolar world, which posed a significant challenge in the ways the Security Council and the UN operated. Gradually, however, at the end of first decade of the 21st century, the changes reshaped the world en route for an increased multilateralism and interconnectedness.  It became clear that partnership was all-important and indispensible. The first decade after the end of the Cold War was one of renewed optimism and trust in global institutions.

4

The new era brought new expectations about the UN and the way it functions and adapts itself with the call of time. However, where the question of the change comes into play; on one hand, people wanted a more pro-active UN, and on the other, people wanted to see the UN supporting and giving voice to weaker states. Reform for the UN is about the organization adapting itself not only to post-Cold War and post 9-11 times but the on-going shifts and at times conflicting demands for its involvement.

The 1990s witnessed dramatic reforms of the peacekeeping system, of how the UN functions internally, of how the General Assembly works and of how the Security Council conducts its business. At the UN, discussions emerged about how the organization could change to reflect new and unfolding realities. As an organization, the UN was on the right path, however, the ultimate reform –a change in the composition of the membership of the Security Council – continued to elude the organization.

The first decade of the new millennium, the post 9-11 world, featured what was known as a “Global War on Terror,” a continued and accelerated pace of globalization, a heightened threat of climate change, global financial crises, and an increase in conflicts involving non-state actors. It became ever more urgent to define new global governance for the 21st Century.  The 2005 UN World Summit was an attempt by the international community to do just that and to secure the UN’s place at the centre of the international system. While that Summit was not without its accomplishments, much was left undone, among other things, Security Council reform.

5

After that disappointment, the Member States of the UN picked up the pieces and established a new reform process, namely the intergovernmental negotiations that I have been presiding over for three years now.

It has so far been a long and bumpy road towards a reform of the Security Council. While all Member States agree on the need for change, opinions differ wildly on how it should be done. Our current efforts, which were mandated by a September 2008 decision, attempt a radically different approach than previous ones: Intergovernmental Negotiations that as I mentioned are in their third year. The first year marked the launch of the negotiations, which was a break from the long-winded discussions of past working groups, and an opportunity to move towards real reform.  The main initiative of the second year involved developing a text-based process.  The completion of this text marked a watershed moment in the history of Council reform. For the first time, there was one negotiation text on which all Member States could agree. And for the first time, we had the basis for streamlining negotiations.  This was a major achievement towards progress in the reform process. This year, we completed the third revision of the text, which was the first step toward streamlining the positions, a process that is still underway.

6

While the negotiation process is essential, the reform ultimately requires the political will of Member States. Such a will can be generated in two ways:

1. If there is a consensus for a pro-active role among P5 and other big players, or

2. If there is a sufficient majority or rather a wider concurrence around an agreed model of reform.

Of course there are others who argue about the difficulties of changing the Security Council, as it was once put, “short of geo-political shocks, change has not seen nigh…” (David M. Malone, 2004).  But shall we wait for a shock, possibly a Third World War or a Nuclear Tsunami, to reform the organization and the Council that is in dire need of reform?

It has been long argued that if the UN has no role in shaping the collective conscious or implementing a pro-people agenda, it then would become irrelevant (V. Parshad 2007). However, as former Indian Prime Minister J.L. Nehru famously said, millions of people around the world in all countries see the UN as the principle institution for planetary justice. With this charge comes the responsibility of reform.

The UN can be strengthened, it can be reformed, and it can work efficiently; if the collective will is there. In 1965, the reform became possible only because there was a real majority of more than 90% of member states that wanted the reform to happen.  If there is a will there is a way.

On the way forward, it is up to member states to continue to build upon the progress made thus far toward the reform of the Security Council. In other words, political will is the sole driving factor of the reform process.  Because we have all agreed upon the shared objective of reforming the Security Council, it can be expected that all delegations will be committed to efforts to this end. National interests however, have so far taken precedence above the good of all.  Agreements then remain at the mercy of national interests, which all too often fail to make the connection between national needs and international stability.

We have come a long way since 2008, but much still needs to be done. There is no doubt that the Security Council will have to adapt in order to continue to command the same level of respect and authority as it currently does.  The United Nations, as the only body claiming to represent all nations on earth, and its Security Council, has a responsibility to reform in order to remain relevant in the current international context.

7

Already in our young but quickly unfolding current decade, let’s call it the “post Bin-Laden” time, we are witnessing new countries being born, and we are seeing a blossoming movement towards democracy – in the Arab world and elsewhere. What I think we are all witness to is a general reshaping of global alliances and new international constellations. The need for international problem-solving and burden-sharing continues to accelerate as a result of the increasing interconnectedness of the world, the collective nature of our most pressing challenges, and an increasing global desire to share the fruits of human progress. As a result, for example, we are seeing the emergence of the European Union as a relevant body, exemplified by the recent General Assembly vote to strengthen its participation in the UN.  We are seeing the expansion of the scope of activities for groups such as the G8 and G20; and the injecting of new impetuses in the work of G77 and Non-Aligned Movement and similar organizations in order to respond to current global conditions. We are seeing new and old countries considering and reconsidering the core fabric of the international system and the roles of international organizations within it.

Eyes are increasingly turning to the UN and to its Security Council – to reaffirm itself as the central player on the international stage, to coordinate all these diverse efforts, while responding to the changes in the global landscape. In order to maintain this multi-faceted role and to reflect the realities of this dynamic international environment there is a clear and urgent need for reform to the UN system and Security Council. With no reform we risk losing the legitimacy of the Security Council.