Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Security Council Debates the Situation in Afghanistan

This Wednesday morning, 27 June 2012, the United Nations Security Council held its quarterly debate on the Situation in Afghanistan under the presidency of China. The Security Council (SC) first heard a briefing from Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, followed another briefing from Under-Secretary General of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yuri Fedotov. The debate was opened with a statement from the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin. Also speaking at the debate was Assistant Secretary-General for Operations of NATO, Mr. Stephen Evans.

This quarter’s SC debate took place against the backdrop of the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and recent reaffirmations of international commitments to that process. A number of important events were highlighted in the debate in this regard, including the NATO Summit in Chicago in May, the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June, and a number of strategic partnership agreements signed in recent months, including one inked with the US in May. Many speakers were looking forward to the upcoming Tokyo conference in July.

H.E. Zahir Tanin (Right), Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, Yury Fedotov (left), Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Security Council’s meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

Drawing upon the words of the Secretary-General’s report, many speakers exhibited a tone of “cautious optimism” towards the situation in Afghanistan. Based on the recent conferences, USG Ladsous said that their success “reinforces the message from the international community that transition will not mean abandonment”.

“Transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is our number one strategic priority,” said Ambassador Tanin in his address to the Security Council. He highlighted the progress made thus far on the path to peace and stability in Afghanistan through an increased level of international and regional cooperation, he said that Afghanistan “is on track to complete the third phase [of the security transition] before the end of the year, by which 75 per cent of the population throughout the country will come under Afghan security force responsibility.” In his speech Ambassador Tanin also noted the challenging task of implementing the socio-economic aspects of the transition in order to secure long term development.

In addition to hearing from USG Ladsous, USG Fedotov and Ambassador Tanin, the SC heard statements from all fifteen members as well as Australia, Japan, the EU, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, Latvia and Iran.

 

 

United Nation’s Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin  Ambassador and Permanent Representative

of Afghanistan to the United Nations

In the Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting, and we commend your able leadership of the Council this month. We also thank the Secretary-General for his report on Afghanistan, and welcome the presence of Under Secretary-General Ladsous and Under Secretary-General Fedotov among us.

A month ago at the NATO Summit in Chicago, Afghanistan’s friends and partners came together to express their unanimous support for the end of war and beginning of a new phase in our enduring partnership, which was first envisioned in Lisbon in 2010. Our partnership will continue into the Transformation Decade, during which Afghanistan will take full charge of its security, governance and development.

Just weeks before, we inked the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States of America as a guiding framework of our bilateral cooperation for the long-haul, and solidifying mutual commitments, including strengthening Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity in the years to come. Although the specifics of this partnership will continue to be further crystallized, the agreement has been endorsed by both houses of the Afghan parliament – a clear manifestation of the overwhelming support from all corners of the country.

Mr. President,

As part of the new phase of international engagement in support of Afghanistan, we have also established strategic partnerships with Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and most recently Australia. Furthermore, discussions are underway to conclude similar agreements with Turkey, Norway, and the European Union.  And in our region, we signed a strategic partnership with India, a country with whom we have shared historic and traditional ties.  Earlier this month, Afghanistan took an important step forward towards establishing a strategic and cooperative partnership with our other great neighbor, China.

Mr. President,

The launch of the Istanbul Process last November was a milestone in realizing a new regional order, by which Afghanistan and other Heart of Asia Countries joined hands for a common goal and future: peace, stability and prosperity. The Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference held in Kabul less than two weeks ago advanced the objectives of the Istanbul process. As part of the conference outcome, we reaffirmed our solid commitment to implement a wide-range of confidence-building measures (CBMs). I take the opportunity to convey our gratitude to all friends and partners for their participation and support.

Afghanistan has also obtained observer status of the Shanghai Cooperation Council in its recent conference in Beijing. It is an important move. With all these steps, Afghanistan is restoring its historic role as a land-bridge, and its potential to become a catalyst for peace and stability in the entire region.

Mr. President,

We look forward to next month’s Tokyo Ministerial Conference, where we aim to effectively address the areas of Afghanistan’s economic sustainability and development, addressing the fiscal gap, as well as finalizing a mutual accountability agreement between Afghanistan and the international community. In Tokyo, Afghanistan will be presenting a comprehensive action plan on self-reliance, and our national priority programs. The conference will not be another pledging event, but an important venue for a solid commitment of the international community during Transition and the Transformation Decade.  Our thanks go to the friendly Government of Japan for their generosity in hosting the event.

Mr. President,

Transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is our number one strategic priority. In that regard, I am pleased to note that we are making steady progress. The third tranche of security transition has officially commenced, which includes some of the most conflict prone provinces with the highest levels of insecurity.  Needless to say, we are on track to complete the third phase before the end of the year, by which seventy-five percent of the population throughout the country will come under Afghan security force responsibility.  As we strive to complete security transition by 2013, the need for sustained support for training and equipping of our national security forces is inevitable.  NATO and other allies’ undertakings for such support at the Chicago NATO Summit are particularly important.

Another core-priority on the way forward will a strong new focus on establishing a more clean and competent government, strengthening governance, fighting corruption, and enforcing the rule of law. The agenda of reform is in the center of our efforts. At the same time, we are diligently addressing all currents that may pose a threat to national interests, law and order. Such measures will enhance the full trust and confidence of all Afghans for the future.

Mr. President,

A far more challenging task will be implementing the socio-economic component of Transition, which is vital to our state-building efforts. Central to this goal is underscoring support for the Afghan National Priority Programs, which in addition to security and governance, emphasizes development of our agriculture, human resources, infrastructure and private sector, all of which are vital for our economic growth.  Our vision is an Afghanistan that is a self-reliant state, standing on its own feet. Afghanistan will not remain an aid economy; we are working to significantly reduce aid dependency by the end of the Transformation Decade.

Mr. President,

Advancing the peace-process towards a successful outcome is a core-element of our strategy to bring lasting peace to our people and nation.  Pursued on the basis of a national consensus, we are convinced that our reconciliation efforts remain the surest path to ending the conflict and a ensuring a durable peace. Let there be no doubt, our Afghan-led peace process will not ensue at the expense of the hard won democratic gains of the past decade, including human rights, the rights of women in particular.

For achieving a successful outcome to our reconciliation efforts, I wish to underscore the importance of resolute support from our immediate neighbors, and other partners in the region and beyond.  In this connection, I take the opportunity to express gratitude for the support provided by this Council with the framework of the 1988 Committee.

The up-coming elections in 2014 will be another important step towards Afghanistan’s political maturity and the consolidation of democracy. We are taking a number of measures, including electoral reforms, to ensure a smooth political transition, consistent with our constitution.

As we proceed through transition and into the Transformation Decade, international engagement will remain crucial. In that regard, we also look forward to advancing our close cooperation with the United Nations towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

One of the greatest impediments to both development and security in Afghanistan is the illicit drug problem. Despite our challenges, Afghanistan is sparing no effort to rid our society of the menace of illicit drugs. Over the past 5 years, we have significantly reduced poppy cultivation. However, there are a number of various factors that impact the increase and decrease of poppy cultivation from one year to another. And just this year alone, eradication figures have increased three-fold since the previous year. We are tracking down and bringing to justice an increased number of individuals involved in drug trafficking. A long-term solution is not possible without cooperation and coordination in addressing the dominant factors behind the drug problem, such as preventing flow of chemical precursors into Afghanistan, as well as providing Afghan farmers with alternative livelihoods.

Mr. President,

 As we continue our joint journey towards a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, building on the gains of the past, Afghanistan’s enemies are still very much intent on derailing our progress, and preventing our success. This is evident by continued brutal acts of violence and terror by the Taliban and those behind them, the latest of which was the massacre on Spozhmai Hotel just outside Kabul last weekend. It is a continued psychological war, a war of perception. However, Mr. President, no such shameful acts of terror will deter the will of the Afghan people from their ultimate goal of securing peace and prosperity. Afghans have come too far, and endured far too many sacrifices to give up now. With such brutal acts, the Taliban are not threatening the state, they are just disrupting people’s peaceful lives. Let us remain committed as ever before to complete the journey we began a decade ago.

The Afghan people and Government express their gratitude to the international community for their resolute support for Afghanistan.

I thank you Mr. President!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Briefing on Afghanistan to the Security Council by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous,

Monsieur le Président,

 

Depuis le dernier briefing du Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général, M. Ján Kubiš, au mois de mars, la situation en Afghanistan a été marquée par d’importants développements internes et externes.

 

Des progrès importants ont été réalisés à l’occasion des deux conférences internationales de Kaboul et de Chicago – avec une troisième qui doit se tenir le mois prochain à Tokyo.  Ces progrès ont contribué à façonner et définir plus précisément les contours du futur de l’Afghanistan.

 

La Conférence ministérielle de Kaboul qui s’est tenue le 14 Juin fut l’occasion pour l’Afghanistan de démontrer son efficacité dans la conduite d’un processus essentiel pour sa stabilité à venir : celui qui consiste en développer la confiance et la coopération régionale.  Le processus d’Istanbul, dirigé par les Afghans, en partenariat avec les acteurs régionaux, et avec l’appui de la communauté internationale, a permis d’importantes avancées depuis son lancement en novembre de l’année dernière, il y a un peu plus de sept mois.

 

À Kaboul, les nations « Heart of Asia » ont adopté sept mesures de confiance, élaborées dans le cadre d’un processus consultatif régional, portant sur les menaces communes et les obstacles à la stabilité régionale, le développement économique, et les questions humanitaires.  D’autres mesures de ce type sont attendues à l’issue de ce processus. Je me félicite que ces nations aient fait appel aux organismes compétents des Nations Unies qui fourniront un appui technique à chacune de ces initiatives.

 

Ce processus représente une avancée stratégique qui est particulièrement important notamment parce que sous conduite afghane.  Il s’ajoute aux instances bi-latérales, tri-latérales et multi-latérales déjà en place, avec notamment l’Organisation de coopération de Shanghai, la Conférence afghane de coopération économique régionale, l’Association sud-asiatique pour la coopération régionale. Il doit contribuer à notre objectif commun, qui est celui de construire une région empreinte de stabilité, prospérité et coopération.

 

En ce qui concerne les initiatives régionales onusiennes, j’apprécie le rôle joué par des agences de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour relever les défis persistant qui dépassent la capacité d’un seul pays de la région.

 

Tout d’abord, je note le travail de l’Office du Haut Commissariat aux Réfugiés. Plus de trois millions de réfugiés afghans ont été enregistrés au Pakistan et en Iran, avec un impact énorme pas seulment pour l’Afghanistan, mais aussi pour ces deux pays.  Ainsi, je me réjouis et je vous appelle à apporter votre soutien à la stratégie de solutions pour les réfugiés afghans, lancée à Genève en mai dernier par l’Afghanistan, le Pakistan et l’Iran, avec le soutien du HCR et d’autres membres de la famille des Nations Unies, pour permettre le  retour et la réintégration des réfugiés afghans d’une façon globale et durable.

 

[SI UNODC S’ADDRESSE AU CS: La production et le trafic de stupéfiants en provenance d'Afghanistan menace la stabilité de la région et touche le monde entier.  Je suis heureux que le Secrétaire général adjoint Yuri Fedotov de l'Office des Nations unies contre la drogue et le crime soit ici aujourd’hui pour nous informer des derniers développements liés à la lutte contre les stupéfiants et la criminalité transfrontalière.]

 

Monsieur le Président,

 

The Meeting on Afghanistan on May 21, which took place as part of the NATO Summit in Chicago, went a long way towards defining the shape of, and the long-term support to, Afghan National Security Forces. We saw important guarantees – both financial and technical – as well as a reconfirmation of NATO commitments to previously agreed timelines for transition.

 

Providing this level of clarity and commitment on continued support to the security sector helps to dampen growing anxiety both within Afghanistan as well as among its international partners as to the post-2014 situation. It also reinforces the message from the international community that Transition will not translate into an abandonment of Afghanistan.

 

As Afghan National Security Forces gradually assume responsibility for security of the country, we will continue to advocate for the strengthening of their oversight and accountability mechanisms – particularly within police and local police structures. Again, I emphasize that all parties, and given their increased responsibilities Afghan security forces in particular, must continue to prioritize the protection of civilians.

 

As the Secretary-General’s report on Afghanistan notes, the past three months saw a dramatic decline in the number of security incidents over 2011, but it was also marked by large-scale incidents and an increase in the use of tactics which target civilians, particularly the indiscriminate use of Improvised Explosive Devices and targeted killing of civilians by anti-Government elements. And let us not forget, it is these forces that are responsible for up to 80 per cent of civilian causalities.

 

As Special Representative Kubiš highlighted in May, UNAMA has documented that 2011 marked the fifth consecutive year of increasing civilian casualties. This is simply not acceptable. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to increase their efforts to protect civilians and call for individuals responsible to be held accountable.

 

On that note, I wish to make special mention of the 12 June ISAF decision, following the tragic civilian deaths from an air strike in Logar Province six days earlier, to increase restrictions on the use of aerial munitions against civilian dwellings. Although the number of incidents attributed to pro-Government forces continues to decline and is a small portion of the total – and these forces, notably ISAF, continue to vigorously adopt measures to reduce civilian casualties – UNAMA has repeatedly expressed concern that aerial operations have resulted in more civilian deaths and injuries than any other tactic used by pro-Government forces.  This ISAF decision is a welcome development.

 

Mr. President,

 

Security alone will not bring lasting stability and peace to Afghanistan. Just as we have seen progress in defining long-term support to the security side, it is equally important to see the same level of commitment to the social-economic development sector. Therefore, we very much look forward to the upcoming Tokyo Conference as an important step in that direction. The Secretary-General will head the United Nations delegation, which will include the UNAMA Special Representative and myself.

We have noted concerns from all sides that the fine words and commitments expressed during the many conferences on Afghanistan over the past decade be lived up to. To that end, I welcome the ongoing development of a framework and a mechanism which will track progress on such commitments and hold both the Afghan Government and donors accountable for their implementation. This ‘Mutual Accountability Mechanism’, which should report through the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, is expected to be agreed upon in Tokyo and will provide a solid foundation upon which to build long-term development support.

 

However, we must ensure that expectations surrounding what Afghanistan can do over a short timeframe – given capacity and resource limitations and given the fragility of its nascent institutions – are realistic and do not prove self-defeating.

 

We must keep in mind our overall objective: to see a stable, self-reliant Afghanistan with effective institutions delivering essential services, justice and opportunities to its people. We will only reach this goal if we continue to invest in Afghanistan’s maturing institutions and in the priorities Afghans themselves set.

 

I welcome Afghan leadership on the processes that most affect the country and its people, starting with the prioritization of development objectives and the Heart of Asia process I noted earlier, but also including reconciliation initiatives and the preparation of upcoming elections.

 

The appointment of Salahuddin Rabbani to lead the High Peace Council signals continued engagement, commitment and continuity from the Afghan Government. The United Nations continues to stand ready to support the Council’s efforts and looks forward to seeing an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process gain momentum.

 

The upcoming 2014 elections will be a watershed moment, with significant impact on the consolidation of the progress made to date and on long-term stability. They should be held in full accord with the Constitution to ensure a smooth political transition and to demonstrate Afghanistan’s growing self-reliance and sovereignty. We welcome President Karzai’s statement in Chicago in May that elections must be marked by integrity and must be free from internal or external interventions. Already we are seeing a rise in political activity and debate ahead of the 2014 polls.

 

We also welcome the constructive consultation process on the electoral law, which the Independent Elections Commission recently completed as well as the decision to begin work on the voter registry – both encouraging signs of an essential ingredient for a sound process, inclusiveness.

 

In addition to the ongoing United Nations Development Programme’s Elect II project, providing electoral technical support, Special Representative Kubiš has been consulting with the Government and relevant institutions to determine how best the United Nations can assist the electoral process. With some two years to go before elections, it is critical that such Government decisions proceed apace.

 

Mr. President,

 

As our report clearly shows, humanitarian issues continue to be a cause for concern. This year’s spring floods have been particularly severe following the harsh 2011-12 winter, and continuing conflict exacerbates already serious displacement issues. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, on her recent visit, highlighted the extensive humanitarian needs, an uncertain future and the lagging support for this year’s Consolidated Appeal. While we must aim over the longer-term to link humanitarian assistance with development initiatives, we cannot neglect the urgent, immediate needs on the ground.

 

Mr. President,

 

Allow me to turn to developments which affect more directly the future of the UNAMA mission itself.

 

Circumstances around the world – including financial crises in major economies and competing demands for international attention – have combined to impact United Nations peace operations and have led to shrinking budgets. This will likely also affect UNAMA. Expectations that the Mission will be able to do more, as transition proceeds, are unrealistic in the face of this greater fiscal austerity.

 

UNAMA and other special political missions must meet targets set by the General Assembly over two–year cycles. While it is ultimately for UN budgetary bodies to determine budgets and resource requirements, the budget we will put forward for UNAMA for 2013 will reflect the overall need for cuts requested by Member States.

 

As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, a strategic decision has been made to reshape our provincial footprint in line with recommendations from the Comprehensive Review undertaken last year at the Security Council’s request, with changes related to Transition and with the latest Security Council mandate. This decision will certainly reduce costs.

 

For the Mission to address a significant reduction to its budget, UNAMA will also need to review all aspects of its substantive and support structures and prioritize its programming activities. Such an exercise would necessarily have an impact on mandate delivery, the extent of which is yet to be determined and will soon be reported to the United Nations budgetary bodies and this Council.

 

Monsieur le Président,

Les discussions informelles sur le rôle de la communauté internationale après 2014, y compris celui des Nations Unies, en Afghanistan, doivent prendre en considération les contraintes budgétaires et programmatiques que je viens d’énoncer, ainsi que les impératifs de la transition et la situation sur le terrain.  Ces discussions doivent également faire l’objet d’un processus de consultation adéquat, d’abord et avant tout avec le gouvernement afghan, afin de permettre au Conseil de sécurité de prendre une décision éclairée.

 

Thank you, Mr. President