Monday, September 1, 2014

The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

I wish to begin by congratulating you and the Government of Lebanon on assuming the Presidency of the Council for the month of September. I also thank my good friend Special Representative Staffan De Mistura for his briefing, and presentation of the Secretary General’s report on Afghanistan.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to address this Council once again.  Today’s meeting takes place against the backdrop of yet another recent tragedy in Afghanistan. A little over a week ago, the enemies of peace in Afghanistan martyred the Chairman of the High Peace Council (HPC), and former Afghan President, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. Professor Rabbani will be remembered for his distinguished service for the cause of peace in Afghanistan.  But I want to assure the Council that, despite this national loss, our reconciliation process will continue. On behalf of the Afghan people and Government, I convey gratitude and appreciation for the outpouring of condolences and support received from around the world.

Mr. President,
This year is of particular importance to Afghanistan. Firstly, it marks ten years since the end of the rule of the Taliban, culminating in the opening of a new chapter in our modern history; defined by a concerted effort to achieve what has eluded us Afghans for far too long:  peace, stability and prosperity.  Over the past decade, we have come a long way in our joint efforts, and have much to show for our progress: in building our state-institutions, in ensuring our people with essential services; in enabling democracy to take root; and in up-holding fundamental rights of all our citizens.

Secondly, this year we also embarked on Transition, an ambitious process by which we Afghans will take full responsibility for the security of our country by the end of 2014. As President Karzai’s statement to the General Assembly last week underlined, “With the completion of the Transition process, we Afghans and our international partners will achieve the most strategic goal of our ten-year long partnership: the emergence of a sovereign Afghanistan that is self-reliant, and the peaceful home of all Afghans; an Afghanistan that is at peace, and lives in peace with the rest of the world.”

In addition to solid Afghan national resolve, the success of the transition process also depends on the continued support of the international community, most importantly in building the capacity of our national security institutions.

Alongside transition of security responsibilities, we are focused on doing what is necessary to implement the economic pillar of the transition process. This will be a more difficult task, requiring more time, and the sustained and long-term engagement of our international partners during and after the transition process.

In this regard, we are determined to maximize the potential offered by our natural resources to strengthen our economy. Furthermore, we have prioritized attracting foreign investments, and building our infrastructure. Such efforts will enable us to play our key role in broadening, deepening and strengthening regional economic integration, by reviving our historic place as the land-bridge between Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. In that connection, we are pleased that the New Silk Road initiative has gained momentum; and we welcome the constructive discussion of last week’s ministerial meeting here in New York, which we co-chaired with Germany and the United States.

Mr. President,

Despite our efforts to stabilize our country, Afghans still suffer from an endless campaign of terror carried out by Afghanistan’s enemies. Over the past months, terrorists launched sophisticated attacks, including the raid on the Inter-Continental Hotel; the attacks on the NATO compound and US Embassy in Kabul; and a chain of targeted assassinations of a number of Afghanistan’s prominent and high-profile national figures.

The continued spate of attacks, which originate from terrorist sanctuaries and safe-havens beyond our borders, has generated an unprecedented level of anger and frustration among a wide-spectrum of Afghan society. Mr. President, let me underline, once again, our repeated call for a definitive end to these sanctuaries that are not only harming Afghans, but also destabilizing the region as a whole.

Mr. President,

To help end the conflict, and meet the demands and aspirations of the Afghan people for a durable, dignified and inclusive peace, we will work to bring back to social, economic and political life all members of the armed opposition willing to renounce violence, sever ties with terrorist groups, and accept our constitution, including respect for human rights, women’s rights in particular.  Despite the assassination of Professor Rabbani, which intended to disrupt the peace process, the High Peace Council (HPC) will continue its mandate for peace and reconciliation. For reconciliation to succeed, we must have the support of regional and international partners. And I highlight, in this connection, the importance of a result-oriented role by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

At the same time, we wish to remind the Council that we are committed to defeating those bent on the destruction and destabilization of our country at all cost.

Mr. President,

We have an important political calendar ahead of us. We look forward to the Istanbul and Bonn conferences, scheduled for November and December of this year.

In Istanbul, together with countries making up the Heart of Asia, and other international partners, we will focus on defining a new vision for regional peace and development. We will do this by soliciting concrete commitments to enhance confidence building, security and political cooperation centered around Afghanistan. For, Mr. President, a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is not only an Afghan need – such an Afghanistan is an absolute precondition for peace, security and prosperity in the region.

And in Bonn, we will brief the international community on our achievements over the past decade with a specific focus on transition, reconciliation, and regional cooperation. We will also share our vision for the ten years after transition on consolidating our stability, democracy and economic development. Above all, at Bonn, we will call upon the international community for continued assistance beyond 2014.

Indeed, Afghanistan is already working with our friends and allies on mapping out our enduring partnerships, including the United States, the European Union and NATO. These partnerships will help guarantee our security, stability and future economic development.

The United Nations has played a very important role in our achievements thus far, for which we remain grateful. On the way forward, this role must be adjusted to reinforce Afghan sovereignty. We welcome all efforts to ensure a more integrated, effective and one UN approach, and look forward to the joint, comprehensive review of UNAMA’s mandate. In that connection, let me thank the Secretary General once again for authorizing this joint review.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I thank all of Afghanistan’s partners in the international community for standing beside us in solidarity as we strive to strengthen the foundations of peace, democracy and development we have laid down in Afghanistan. Over the past decade, we have come a long way in our joint efforts, something we can all be proud of. But we are still not completely out of the woods.  We in Afghanistan are convinced that together with the support of the international community we will succeed in realizing our common vision of a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan; a country that is self-reliant and a factor for regional and global peace and cooperation.

I Thank You!


H.E. Zalmai Rassoul and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

H.E. Zalmai Rassoul Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right)

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers


Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by conveying, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, our sincere appreciation to our friends of the Republic of Nepal for their successful leadership of the Least Developing Countries. Your able leadership at a time when the world is confronting various challenges helps us to maintain our unity, expand and strengthen cooperation among the members of our group.

Mr. Chairman,

Not long ago, the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries was held in Istanbul, generously hosted by of our brothers the people and government of Turkey, where the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted. This strategic document will remain a roadmap for us to achieve the eradication of poverty and our internationally-agreed development goals. It is imperative that we implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, and integrate its provisions into our national development policies.

Afghanistan also welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is concerned over the multiple global crises of extensive poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, and threats of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages.  All of these challenges have had enormous deleterious effects on the implementation and realisation of our MDGs.

As LDCs are heavily reliant on agricultural products, improving and increasing productive capacity and competitiveness with the assistance of our development partners is of significant importance.

Conversely, the disastrous effects of climate change have become one of the greatest obstacles to the prosperity and sustainable development of LDCs.  Natural disasters such as flooding, droughts, earthquakes and mudslides are becoming more frequent in our part of the world. None of us can afford to experience the devastating effects of such calamities, on our people, our agriculture, our environment, and our infrastructure.  As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

Mr. Chairman,

In a globalized world, we cannot and should not isolate ourselves from international markets and cooperation with the rest of the world. However, it is only prudent for us to adopt policies to free ourselves from total dependence on international assistance and vulnerability to the shocks of the international market. Afghanistan fully supports the position of the LDCs, in calling upon the G-8 countries to give due consideration to the LDC agenda and take appropriate measures to ensure that the concerns of LDCs are taken fully into account in their decisions.

Afghanistan further supports the LDCs position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan has achieved great progress over the past 10 years. However, we still live in a part of the world where trans-national threats such as terrorism, extremism, poverty, organized crime and natural disasters still exist. Terrorism is among the dominant challenges in our region. In terrorism, we all share a common enemy, regardless of our cultural and religious differences. The terrorism threat we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network, responsible for attacks across our region, in defeating terrorism will not be possible without an effective global strategy. We must focus more on addressing terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region, which operate as the life-line for terrorist activity. Unless this is achieved, all our efforts will be in vain.

Widespread poverty and a lack of socio-economic opportunities are another critical challenge which we are confronted with. Afghanistan is pursing regional cooperation as the cornerstone of our overall efforts to secure peace, stability and prosperity. In that regard, we are working with the region and the international community to revive Afghanistan’s central position in promoting and developing regional trade and commerce through the New Silk Road Initiative, to the shared benefit of all involved.   In that regard, like other LDCs Afghanistan is looking forward to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil next year. Rio+20 will focus on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. We call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

Thank you.