Tuesday, July 29, 2014

United Nations At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement  by H.E. 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,

It is truly a pleasure to be among the Members of the Security Council today, at this critical juncture on Afghanistan’s path to peace and prosperity. I congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of September, and convey our appreciation for Germany’s continual support and assistance for Afghanistan during its tenure on the Council. Let me also convey a warm welcome to my good friend and colleague the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Jan Kubis. We thank him for his clear presentation of the Secretary General’s comprehensive report.

Mr. President,

We meet at an important time, when Afghanistan is transitioning confidently into a vibrant, self-reliant and sovereign nation; a nation that is increasingly taking full charge of its destiny. The Afghan people are inspired by the prospect of a future free from violence and war. And thanks to our joint efforts, important progress towards that endeavor continues.

As we speak, Afghanistan has surpassed the halfway point on our transition to full security responsibility. With the commencement of the third tranche of security transition in May, 75% of the country will be under Afghan security responsibility by the end of November.  Our progress is on track to complete security transition by the end of 2013. The Afghan army and police are showing more resilience and effectiveness, as they take on more responsibility in meeting the country’s security needs.

Needless to say, sustainability of the ANSF is inextricably linked to the international community’s long-term support.  The outcome of the recent Chicago NATO Summit was a clear manifestation of our international partners’ resolute commitment to a strong and effective Afghan national security force. We also welcome NATO’s decision to develop a new “training, advising and assistance” role, which will take effect in 2014, and look forward to working with our relevant partners on the scope and mandate of the new mission.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people are encouraged by the international community’s assurance to helping them secure peace and prosperity throughout transition, and the Transformation decade (2015-2024). In this regard, commitments made at the Bonn Conference last year, the NATO Summit this past May, and more recently, at the Tokyo Conference in July are crucial for our long-term success.

The Tokyo Conference marked the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and our international friends; one based on a result oriented cooperation, to be conducted within the “mutual accountability framework.” We expect the international community to meet its commitment in channeling assistance through our core-budget, and aligning its aid with the Afghan National Priority Programme. Combating corruption, strengthening governance, and consolidating the rule of law will remain key priorities for us. President Karzai’s decree of July of this year is a significant step forward in our counter-corruption efforts. And it will be implemented by clear and time-bound measures by all Government Ministries, agencies and departments towards full accountability and transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is regaining its legitimate place in the region and the world, through playing an active role within the neighborhood and international community. Our multilateral agreements and strategic partnerships involve long-term commitments between Afghanistan and our international partners. The partnerships we have formed, both within our neighborhood and beyond, are essential to preserving the historic achievements of Afghanistan’s young democracy and securing the future peace and stability of the country. Thus far, we have concluded strategic, long-term partnership agreements with United States of America, India, China, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Australia. We see these partnerships as the key for our collective fight against the twin menaces of terrorism and extremism and for our future peace and stability through supporting our evolving national ownership.

Mr. President,

As we continue our transition, with bold steps toward strengthening Afghan sovereignty and national ownership, the enemies of Afghanistan continue to make desperate attempts to undermine our progress towards a brighter future. Terrorist attacks have been increasingly inflicted on families and innocent Afghan men, women and children in many parts of the country, putting a brutal and tragic halt to their peaceful lives.

Undoubtedly, the unremitting violence plaguing Afghanistan is the result of the continued military, financial and ideological support enjoyed by terrorists, and the presence of sanctuaries and safe-havens outside our borders.

Mr. President,

While the fight against terrorism will continue, the next few years of the political and security transition are vital for a stable future for Afghanistan. We are working diligently to ensure a fruitful result of peace and reconciliation efforts underway. Our inclusive peace and reconciliation process seeks to build trust and confidence among all Afghans. We are determined to bring to the folds of society those elements of the armed opposition willing to renounce violence, cut ties with terrorist groups, and accept the Afghan constitution. The High Peace Council has revitalized its approach to reconciliation efforts. The international community and our region have an important part to play. The role of the UN Security Council will be imperative to this process. We thank the Council for its support of our reconciliation efforts by meeting delisting requests, which we have presented. By the same token, we hope the new mandate of the Taliban sanctions committee will entail required adjustments, in recognition of the importance of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process – so that the sanctions regime is more responsive and flexible and used in an even more effective, positive way to encourage those willing to join this process. Therefore, we look forward to working closely with the Council members to amend the resolution in a way that further benefits and accelerates the Afghan peace process.

Mr. President,

The violence in Afghanistan has had a drastic effect on the security and well-being of our citizens. We express our serious concern about the growing number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan – the majority of which are caused by the Taliban and other extremist groups.

Meanwhile, loss of innocent life and harm to populations has also occurred in the course of NATO operations. The loss of even one innocent life is one too many. We underscore, yet again, the need to exert all measures necessary to protect civilian populations.

Mr. President,

The greatest challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan, such as terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drugs, are shared regionally and internationally. Our common threats require cooperative solutions. We are working with regional countries, and other partners for a comprehensive response to these menaces. Launched in November of last year, the Istanbul Process is gaining momentum. The process was further crystallized at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June, with the prioritization of key confidence-building measures. We look forward to coming together with our Heart of Asia partners in less than a week from now at the next Senior Officials Meeting in this city.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to a matter of deep and serious concern to my Government and the Afghan people. The shelling of areas of Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan from across the Durand Line, has led to unprecedented anger and frustration among Afghans from all walks of life. We reiterate our call for an immediate and complete end to these acts, which have taken the lives of dozens of Afghans, mainly civilians, while leaving many more wounded. We remain in close contact with the Government of Pakistan to address this issue, holistically and resolutely.

Failure to end such attacks risks jeopardizing Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral relations, with potential negative consequences for necessary bilateral cooperation for peace, security and economic development in our two countries and the wider region. Afghanistan desires close and fruitful relations with Pakistan, a neighbour with whom we share historical, cultural and traditional ties.

Mr. President,

As we work to tackle the challenges on the road ahead, let us not lose sight of the historic, transformative successes made thus far. Significant advances in social and economic development are clearly evident. Millions of students, boys and girls, men and women are enrolled in primary and higher education. The majority of Afghans now have access to basic health services; and Afghans are increasingly taking part in the democratic processes, exercising their right to shape their own destiny. While we have seen such changes unfolding throughout the last decade, we can be proud that today the initiatives underway in regards to development are increasingly Afghan-driven and Afghan-led, with support from the international community.  This characteristic is crucial for the sustainability of development efforts and for helping Afghanistan realize its full potential.

Mr. President,

With the next Presidential elections fast approaching, we are fully committed to ensuring a transparent election process, free of any external interference.

Mr. President,

After over three decades of struggle and suffering, we are moving ahead with Afghanistan’s recovery and renewed strength. Afghans recognize the important indications of our sovereignty. We are determined to further our efforts toward national ownership across the board, as the most effective way to ensure lasting peace and security to our country.

Before concluding, allow me to register the Afghan Government’s strong condemnation of the recent senselessly provocative acts of insult to Islam and Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him). While acknowledging our fellow Muslims’ right to peacefully protesting these insults, we deplore any violence resulting from such protests, especially against diplomatic representations anywhere in the world.

The key for Afghanistan’s future success is cooperation, both for our transition and the Transformation Decade to follow. Building trust and confidence with the international community is the basis for our path to security and prosperity. We are pleased that the Security Council is continuing to follow the situation closely, and we are thankful for their support and the support of the United Nations, including on revising UNAMA’s mandate in line with the demands of Afghan sovereignty. With long-term cooperation and partnership in the center of our efforts, we are confident that together we can build a more peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President!

 

United Nations Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN
At the Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Mr. President,

Please allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council, and I thank you for convening this meeting. I would also like to congratulate Ms. Leila Zerrougui on her appointment as the new Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict and I wish her the best in her new role. I express our appreciation to Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, for her dedication and leadership on this issue throughout her tenure as Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Mr. President,

Fifty-three percent of Afghans are under 18 years of age. Tragically, these young people have grown up in an atmosphere of war and violence. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of their upbringing, these young people are full of hope. They represent the future of Afghanistan; they will be the ones to carry forward our vision of a safe and vibrant nation with growing economic opportunities, and equality for its citizens, male and female. My government is committed to ensuring our country’s bright future by protecting our children and fostering their development.

Mr. President,

Children in Afghanistan suffer from the consequences of the terrorism and violence of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and terrorist groups. These groups are responsible for brutal acts against civilians, such as the Taliban attacks targeting girls’ schools in 2012 using poisonous gas. Last year, 1,396 Afghan children were killed or maimed. Seventy-four percent of all child casualties in Afghanistan are caused by the aforementioned armed groups. Therefore, any course of action that seeks to ameliorate the well-being of Afghan children must also focus on diminishing the influence of terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan.

Children are being coerced to serve in armed conflict in Afghanistan, by the very terrorist and extremist groups that continue to commit heinous acts against children. We have experienced devastating situations in which children are forced to carry out suicide attacks or to smuggle weapons across the border. The use of children as a weapon of war is an atrocious crime which must be addressed with firm conviction.

Mr. President,

Just as the challenges for Afghan children need to be recognized, so too does their progress. In Afghanistan, we have seen encouraging progress in our crucial efforts to protect our children and ensure their promising future. Here are some examples of meaningful measures taken by the Government of Afghanistan to protect and address the needs of children in armed conflict:

First, in February 2012, The Ministry of Justice began drafting a comprehensive legal code to protect Afghan children. The Ministry of Justice has consulted closely with UNICEF throughout the process, and we look forward to a product that will truly benefit the wellbeing of Afghan children. We also published our 2012 report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, and we look forward to hearing reactions.

Second, the Ministry of Justice has established the General Directorate of Human Rights Protection, which will serve to oversee the upholding of Human Rights in all Government activities.

Third, we have expanded our birth registration system to cover all 34 provinces. Until recently, birth registration was only available in 6 provinces, and the expansion of this system throughout Afghanistan will greatly improve age verification procedures for recruiters so that they can recruit in accordance with the Ministry of the Interior’s age requirement provision.

Mr. President,

We must continue to our efforts to prevent underage recruitment in our armed forces. It is our goal to ensure that 18 years of age is the minimum age for recruitment to participate in police activity. To this end we have acted decisively. In 2011, Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior published an order that mandated, and I quote “in no circumstances shall individuals under 18 or over 35 be recruited or deployed to military services, and if such people are recruited or deployed, officials shall be treated as legal offenders.”

Recruitment into armed forces is indicative of a far greater problem facing children: a lack of opportunity. It is crucial that we reintegrate these young people into society and provide them career opportunities. To this end, we have created training centers for children leaving military service to train for professional and technical careers.

Mr. President,

I am encouraged by the progress made by the international community to protect children in Afghanistan and other countries. In 2011, the Special Representative reported that ten thousand children worldwide were freed from their association with armed groups because of action plans put in place by the United Nations and the parties involved in the conflict.

Mr. President,

Everyone here today knows the trials and tribulations that face a state like Afghanistan, one that has been subjected to multiple prolonged conflicts. In addition to insecurity, many issues threaten children in armed conflict. Tragically, sexual abuse of children still occurs in all parts of the world including Afghanistan. The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, the Martyred and Disabled (MoLSAMD) has been tasked with designing an effective strategy that will coordinate efforts with national and international organizations, including UNICEF, to combat the sexual abuse of children.

Mr. President,

All children deserve the right to live in a safe, secure country that is rich with education and opportunity. Since 2001, The Government of Afghanistan has been implementing policies aimed towards these objectives, but there is obviously still much work to be done. The Afghan Government is fully committed to fostering a domestic environment that will enable all Afghan children to reach their full potential. As I have said in this body before, this is the only way for Afghanistan to end a period of over thirty years of conflict and fully transition into a peaceful, safe country for all.

Thank you.

Security Council Meeting on Children and Armed Conflict

At the Security Council meeting on Children and Armed Conflict, United Nations Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the universal protection of the safety and security of children in zones of conflict. The opening session began with introductory remarks by newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui. Security Council members then expressed concerns over the protection of the rights of children, particularly in conflict areas where they continue to face the threats of violence, abuse and death.

Participants reiterated the need for innovative and practical approaches in future policy making. Many speakers emphasized the implementation of unique and robust targeting measures against perpetrators committing grave violations with impunity. Members States outlined their specific national capacity frameworks for the protection of children and armed conflict. Many states stressed the need to address accountability gaps, as it is part of the Council’s role in upholding international peace and security.

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, delivered a statement on the situation in Afghanistan and the impact of conflict on the children of the country. Afghanistan has witnessed violations of children’s rights in the last decade, as a direct result of terrorism and violence in the country. Ambassador Tanin reiterated the Afghan Government’s commitment to protecting children and fostering their development. Ambassador Tanin listed a few achievements of the Afghan Government such as the establishment of the General Directorate of Human Rights Protection by the Ministry of Justice, as well as commencement of the draft of a comprehensive legal code to protect the Afghan children.

Ambassador Tanin noted that Afghanistan remains committed to the investigation and perpetration of groups and individuals involved in underage recruitment. Quoting Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior, he said, “in no circumstances shall individuals under 18 or over 35 be recruited or deployed to military services.”

Afghanistan, like many states who have experienced armed conflict, stressed the need for collective international action to push forward the protection of children both regionally and globally. The lively debate among Member States generated a needed focus on the issue of children and armed conflict worldwide.