Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ambassador Tanin Visits Utah Valley University to Discuss the Future of Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, spoke at Utah Valley University (UVU) yesterday and visited several important institutions in the state.

Ambassador addressed students and academics at UVU, including US military veterans who served in Afghanistan. Ambassador Tanin’s presentation focused on the strides that have been made in Afghanistan over the last ten years and the trials that have yet to be overcome in achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. Ambassador Tanin outlined how the last decade has seen “substantial improvements…in access to healthcare and education, development of infrastructure and economic growth” in Afghanistan.

To ensure future stability and success, however, Ambassador Tanin highlighted the importance of “a responsible gradual draw down of US and international forces through 2014 that is linked to the training of Afghan forces and a strategic partnership over the next decade or more”.

Afghanistan’s transition, Ambassador Tanin explained, from “a war affected and conflict ridden zone into a functioning state and a viable society” will require a focus on five interrelated elements: 1) security, 2) governance and rule of law, 3) human and economic development, 4) reconciliation and reintegration, and 5) ending safe havens for anti-government forces. The Ambassador emphasized that a successful transition, however, is contingent upon effective regional cooperation and the development of strategic partnerships to achieve true stability in the country.

The Ambassador’s presentation ended on a hopeful note: “With a successful transition, in 10 years time, I’m confident we’ll see a stable, reliable Afghanistan partnering in a mutually beneficial way with the US.”
Ambassador Tanin and his wife, Mrs. Zarghoona Tanin met Utah Governor Gary Herbert and First Lady Jeanette Herbert, at the Governor’s mansion. They also went on a tour of the Latter Day Saints Humanitarian Center which provides vocational rehabilitation and humanitarian aid to over 140 countries worldwide, regardless of religious affiliation. Ambassador Tanin met with representatives of business and the legislators during a lunch at the World Trade Center Utah. The World Trade Center Utah supports businesses seeking to develop or increase their trade capabilities by analysis of trade capacity, referrals to relevant services, and educational events in increase knowledge. He also met with military officers who served in Afghanistan and other students during his stay.

Utah Valley University (UVU) is located in Orem, Utah and, with 33,000 students, is the largest state university in Utah.

Women, Peace and Security

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan
Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri,

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

28 October 2011

New York

Madam President,

I thank you for convening today’s debate, which offers us all an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to protecting and ensuring women’s rights and their momentous role in peace and security. I also take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his report and strong words of support for the active role and contribution of women in global peace and security.

Madam President,

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

The history of war and violence has left an upsetting impact in my country. Violence still takes its toll on every Afghan life, including women. I hope the anguish which every Afghan family faces, will one day come to an end. Women continue to bear the bulk of the burden of conflict in Afghanistan, while their right to secure, healthy and affluent lives still remains in peril.

Madam President,

We gather today to recognise the imperative role that women have in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the tangible fruits of which have already been seen in Afghanistan through the decisive presence of women at the Consultative Peace Jirga in 2010 and the continuing efforts to ensure participation of women in leadership positions within and outside of the government.

This debate is particularly appropriate as Afghanistan is entering into the second phase of transition to Afghan leadership and ownership and increased responsibility for security and economic development.

Madam President,

In regards to development we have begun implementation of the 10 yearNational Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) based upon the priorities of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. As part of this action plan (NAPWA)we have established Gender Units in 14 of 25 government ministries, however, even with a 10 year time line, accelerated efforts need to be made to ensure the full implementation of such a comprehensive action plan with vital goals that include 30 percent of governmental positions held by women by the end of 2013 and a target of 35 percent participation of female students in universities by the end of 2012.

We have also made strides in the rule of law, the most recent being the establishment of a national Commission on Elimination of Violence against Women following enactment of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in December 2010. This is vital in enhancing Afghan women’s access to legal redress, sending the strong message that the Afghan government is committed to the rights of women and ensuring that there is no impunity for those who violate them.

Madam President,

Ensuring the rights of women is only half the battle; we also need to see the full participation of women, as 1325 reminds us they have a vital role to play in the peace and security of our country. The representation of women in governance and political participation has been steadily increasing. We have succeeded in holding two Presidential and two parliamentary elections, in which women actively participated as candidates, election staff, poll watchers and electorates. Women comprise 27 percent of the parliament making Afghanistan the 30th in the world with the highest representation of women in Parliament. The Afghanistan National Parliament has also established a resource centre for women parliamentarians to enhance their capacity to include women’s voices and perspectives effectively in the national development and reconstruction plans.

Madam President,

When reviewing these facts and figures, let us not lose sight of the great personal risk that these women undertake in order to participate in the governance of their country and in their future. I wish to take this opportunity to honour the women who continue take risks to assume an active role in the future, direction and peace of our country.

Madam President,

Our international partners have been assisting the Afghan Government in our endeavors. UN-Women has administered a multi-donor trust fund for the elimination of violence against women, which provided grants for national organizations to combat violence against women. I am very pleased to report that in collaboration with UN-Women, Afghanistan has submitted its first country report to CEDAW. The continued collaboration of our Government, international partners, and both Afghan and international civil society groups will be vital to ensure the full realisation women’s rights in a strong and stable Afghanistan.

Madam President,

Building a sustained and secure environment that enables women to live free of intimidation, and violence, which supports their participation and leadership in promoting and maintaining peace and security, is one of the core objectives of the Afghan Government.

We also   focus on women political actors at national, sub national and local levels, capacity building and advocacy strategies to enable them to attain a critical role in high-level decision, policy, and law-making positions in key government institutions; and to accomplish their significant political and social responsibility.

Madam President

With the support of our partners and the international community we will continue to work toward the full implementation of 1325, in recognition that our goal of sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan will only be achieved with the full participation of the entire Afghan nation.    I thank you.

Debate on Agriculture Development and Food Security

Statement  of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Delivered by
Mr. Enayet Madani

Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

on Agenda Item (25)

Debate on Agriculture Development and Food Security:

Mr. Chairman,

To begin, let me thank you for convening this extremely pertinent and important debate. With the ongoing famine in the horn of Africa, and a looming food crisis in my own country, the issue of agriculture development and food security should be high on our agendas.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statements delivered by the distinguished representatives of Argentina on behalf of G77 and China and Nepal on behalf of LDCs. My delegation also expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his Report on Agriculture Development and Food Security, which will guide our deliberations?

Mr. Chairman,

As we discuss agriculture and food security, we must recognise the inextricable interconnections between agricultural development and poverty. The world’s poorest countries depend heavily on their rural and agricultural economies. Agriculture development is therefore a crucial means of combating both hunger and poverty.

In Afghanistan, 80% of our population is dependent on agriculture and related sectors for their livelihoods. Afghanistan is known for producing some of the finest fruits, especially pomegranates, apricots, grapes, melons, and mulberries. Several provinces in the north of the country are also known for pistachio cultivation. However, proper marketing and processing services are lacking, and agricultural production is also constrained by an almost total dependence on erratic winter snows and spring rains for water. We have therefore made agriculture development the number one priority in our current Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Mr. Chairman,

As result of more than three decades of conflict, infrastructure in Afghanistan, including in the agricultural sector, has been severely damaged. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan, with the support of international partners and the UN system, has launched a number of innovative programmes aimed at supporting the agriculture sector. For instance, one such initiative is the establishment of an Agriculture Development Fund with a US$ 100 million grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development to the Government of Afghanistan. The ADF supplies agricultural credit, providing much-needed access to credit to small commercial farmers, agribusinesses, producers of high-value crops, and processors and exporters of agricultural products. Other policies as part of the ANDS include establishing land tenure security, improving rural transportation and irrigation infrastructure, and providing access to drought-resistant crop varieties.

We call on the international community to provide greater support for such agriculture development efforts, particularly in the poorest countries, by increasing investment in agriculture and the transfer of agricultural technology and expertise, and also by addressing unjust economic policies such as subsidies which disadvantage poor, small-scale farmers.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning now to the more pressing issue of food security, one major underlying driver of the problem, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is climate change. Climate change can alter weather patterns, leading to increased desertification, destructive flooding and devastating drought, like the one we are currently experiencing. These changes adversely affect food production and the entire rural economy. Furthermore, increasing temperatures from climate change and decreasing water availability can directly reduce crop yields, further reducing food production.

To address this challenge, we call on all states to take effective and immediate action to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based realistically on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Mr. Chairman,

Food insecurity is not just a matter of food production. The distribution and economic availability of food are also crucial factors that we must address. As our Minister of Agriculture recently commented, “Global food supplies are sufficient, but 24 percent more costly than last year”. Last month, the FAO Food Price Index stood at 225, slightly lower than its February all-time high but still above even the levels of the 2008 food crisis. With our national production greatly reduced this year due to the current drought, domestic prices are significantly higher

Besides natural hazards, food prices are being artificially distorted by high energy prices, the diversion of food crops for biofuels, and in particular irresponsible financial practices such as import dumping and reckless commodity speculation. We call for an immediate end to all such practices which could undermine food security. The right to sufficient food for an adequate standard of living is a fundamental human right, and must be protected as such. We cannot alleviate poverty and improve the situation of developing countries until basic food security can be guaranteed.

We further stress that agriculture development and food security must be integrated with the broader goal of sustainable development. In this connection, we sincerely hope that food and agriculture will be given due attention at next year’s Rio + 20 Conference. Sustainable agriculture is a cornerstone of any ‘green economy’, and explicitly addressing agriculture development and food security will give the conference’s green economy theme a heightened relevance for poorer developing countries.

Mr. Chairman,

As we speak, nearly 12 million people in my country are facing food shortages due to drought conditions earlier this year. This drought is our worst since 2001, and is even worse than that last devastating disaster; we will need to assist 61 percent of the population in some of the 14 provinces currently affected.  While we are not suffering conditions as severe as the ongoing famine in the horn of Africa, millions of Afghans are nonetheless going hungry, and facing malnutrition and under-nourishment.

We have appealed for an additional $142 million in disaster aid through the World Food Programme earlier this month, to help tide affected farmers through the coming difficult months of winter. We sincerely and humbly urge all of you to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in this hour of need.

Mr. Chairman,

Before closing, let me take this opportunity to thank the UN; in particular, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization and all other partners for their continued support to the people of Afghanistan. I reiterate Afghanistan’s firm commitment to working in cooperation with all of you to advance the cause of sustainable development and food security for all.

I thank you.