Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the High-Level meeting on the Rule of Law

Mr. President,

Afghanistan welcomes today’s high-level meeting which is a manifestation of our shared conviction that strengthening the rule of law, nationally and internationally, serves our mutual benefit. Over the course of the past six decades, the United Nations has made great progress in securing peace, safe-guarding fundamental freedoms, and assisting countries emerging from conflict.  The rule of law has been a fundamental basis for all these achievements.  In short, we can say that the rule of law is the very bedrock on which peaceful, stable, and harmonious societies flourish.

 

Mr. President,

For Afghanistan, upholding the rule of law is an essential component of our transition from a society ravaged by decades of conflict and war to one where we are working to take on the security, development and justice challenges that remain. Our efforts to rebuild began with state institutions that were either non-existent or severely weak.

Over the past years, we’ve made progress in making our justice sector operate with greater capacity to ensure improved rule of law. This principle is embedded in our National Development Strategy. We have taken wide-ranging measures in support of an independent, more transparent, impartial and credible justice sector, including: the adoption of a Constitution which safeguards the rights of all citizens; conducting an overhaul of our national legal framework; and the development of national action plans to restructure and build capacity in our Ministries.

Mr. President,

Ending impunity is an important step in building public confidence and trust in our justice and security sectors. To this end, the newly drafted Criminal Procedure Code was this year presented to the National Assembly and is expected to be placed on the legislative agenda soon. Several working groups have also been continuing their efforts to revise the Penal Code, to strengthen the protection of all citizens, with particular focus on the rights of women and children. We have made considerable progress in broadening participation in education, and in particular higher education, where the judges and lawyers of tomorrow will be trained. Through these gains and many others we are re-building the necessary tools and institutions to ensure the rule of law as a solid basis on which to build sustainable peace.

Mr. President,

The chance to live in peace and security is a fundamental right of all peoples. The people of Afghanistan desire nothing more than the chance to live in a violence-free environment. In that regard, Afghanistan’s security sector reform, initiated in 2001, has led to the formation of a national army and police whose ranks represent the diversity of the country. Consistent with the transition process, our security forces are taking increased responsibility – back by public confidence in them – to meet the security needs of our peoples, in our villages, towns and provinces.

For the past decade, we have been studiously engaged in combating corruption, an ill that has had a drastic effect on our governance, stability and prosperity – it harms Afghans first and foremost. Defeating the menace of corruption therefore remains a high priority for my Government. We have taken a number of measures to achieve a fully transparent administration, the most recent of which was the issuance of a Presidential Decree this past July – directing all Ministries, agencies and independent directorates to undertake comprehensive reforms and other measures to defeat corruption and strengthen transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is party to a multitude of relevant treaties and conventions which seek to uphold and promote the rule of law in a wide array of spheres. We recognise that signing and ratifying treaties is not enough, and that rights and obligations arising from international instruments must be implemented into national law. It is for this reason that President Karzai has instructed the Ministry of Justice to actively take forward the process of ensuring that our national legislation is in full conformity with our international commitments.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General has named strengthening compliance in the context of the United Nations a priority in the field of the rule of law at the international level. Achieving a reformed Security Council with a view to increasing its representation, transparency and furthering its effectiveness is of utmost importance. Afghanistan has taken a lead role in chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, and we stand ready to ensure that this vital reform of the Security Council strengthens and enhances the United Nations ability to promote and uphold the rule of law at the international level.

 

Mr. President,

We highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in promoting international criminal justice, and addressing the most serious of crimes, as a court of last resort.  As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, we welcome the continuing increase in the number of States joining the Statute. This illustrates that the Court’s work and influence is gaining momentum.

Mr. President,

While this High-Level dialogue is significant in engaging Member States on this important issue, we must ensure that we do not stop at dialogue; our agreed outcomes must be implemented both at the national and international levels. Afghanistan will continue to do its part to help strengthen, as part of the global effort, the rule of law at the national and international levels.

Thank you.

Security Council Considers Situation in Afghanistan

H.E. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

Security Council Meeting on the situation in Afghanistan

At the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan delivered the statement on behalf of Afghanistan. Throughout the discussion, the United Nations Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the peace, security and development in Afghanistan.

The opening session began with introductory remarks by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Mr Jan Kubis. He highlighted the many challenges ahead in Afghanistan but also emphasized encouraging developments such as the recent series of successful high-level meetings that reinforced the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community. Positive developments also included President Karzai’s renewed commitments to combating corruption and strengthening governance and electoral systems in the last two years of his presidency. Mr Kubis declared that the security transition was largely on track, however, Mr Kubis also stressed the significant challenges ahead: the precarious security situation as “an insidious campaign of intimidation and targeted killings is claiming the lives of government officials, women’s rights activists, tribal leaders”. Mr Kubis said that despite the budget cuts of 2013 and the closure of nine field offices, UNAMA maintains its support for Afghan authorities in the priority areas of its mandate.

 

In his statement, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul noted that Afghanistan is on track to complete the security transition by end of 2013 and welcomed the encouraging support of the international community as seen in Chicago and Tokyo. He also highlighted that Afghanistan looks forward to working closely with the UN Security Council members “on amendments to the Taliban sanctions committee in a way that further benefits and accelerates the Afghan peace process”.

Dr Rassoul expressed serious concern over the growing number of civilian casualties and underscored the need to exert all measures necessary to protect civilian populations. He also pointed to the “matter of deep and serious concern of the shelling of areas of Kunar from across the Durand Line” and called for “an immediate and complete end to these acts”. Dr Rassoul noted the greatest challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan, such as terrorism, extremism and narcotic drugs are regional common threats that require cooperative solutions. In that respect, the Istanbul process is gaining momentum and was further crystallized at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June 2012.

While working to tackle the challenges of the future, Dr Rassoul acknowledged the significant advances in social and economic development of the past years, including better health access, and declared the Afghan authorities’ commitment to ensuring a transparent election process.

Other participants’ remarks were centered on four main topics. The Tokyo process was a welcomed development setting the ground for future partnerships and accountability between the Afghan Government and the international community. They continued violence raised concerns, in particular the recent string of suicide attacks, which were strongly condemned. Fourthly, most participants expressed concerns over the significant budget cuts of UNAMA and hoped it would not adversely impact the development work of UNAMA on the ground.