Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Policy Forum on the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan

Press Release

September 14, 2012 By Afghan Mission

The International Peace Institute (IPI), the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan and Turkey to the United Nations co-hosted a panel discussion at IPI to discuss Afghanistan’s significant progresses, as well as future challenges since the adoption of the November 2011 Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan. The lively discussion focused on the origins of the Istanbul Process, then transitioned to Afghanistan’s many efforts and advances in regional cooperation and collective security with the Heart of Asia countries and their partners. Regional safety and stability also depends heavily on Afghanistan’s multilateral cooperation with neighboring states such Turkey, as they continue to strengthen efforts towards security and prosperity in the region at large.

 

Ambassador Maureen Quinn (Senior Adviser, International Peace Institute) chaired the panel which included H.E Ambassador ErtuÄŸrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey, H.E Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN spoke on the panel, as well as Dr. Keith Stanski (Senior Program Officer, Afghanistan Regional Project at New York University).

 

Ambassador Quinn introduced the speakers and opened the discussion reminding participants of the “tricky” nature of regionalism, noting some of the key questions that regional processes must address in order to ensure their success.

 

The first speaker, H.E Ambassador ErtuÄŸrul Apakan of Turkey, delivered a rich, informative presentation on the origins and developments of the Istanbul Progress, highlighting its essential goals and objectives. He described the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and Turkey tracing back to the 1920s when the countries were first establishing independence.

 

Following H.E Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, H.E Ambassador Zahir Tanin, expressed the Istanbul Process as a “unique endeavor, whereby Afghanistan is at the center of a new effort in our wider region, supported by international partners to realize peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, the region, and beyond.” Characterizing and highlighting key features of the Istanbul process, Ambassador Tanin went on to identify the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), which have provided a framework for countering concerns in the areas of terrorism, narcotics, and disaster management, while mobilizing institutional cooperation among national chambers. This includes the preparation of a “Concept Paper” which prioritized 7 of the 43 CBM’s relating to the “political and security; economic and education” fields.

 

Ambassador Zahir Tanin went on to highlight “Three Key Outcomes” of the Conference, which included political consultations, CBM implementation and synergy among regional organizations. The Istanbul Process is distinctive in nature because of its element of inclusivity. It calls for the participation and cooperation of neighboring states, and organizations as well as support from international partners.

 

Dr. Keith Stanski described the promise the Istanbul Process holds, as well as described the major factors which will effect its outcome. He explained the unique nature of the Istanbul Process from other regional processes in that it ambitiously encompasses a wide range of issues and seeks to coordinate many specific regional efforts that are already in place.

 

The panel was followed by a lively question and answer session with a packed room of participants.

 

UNDP Hosts Briefing by DSRSG Keating

On 13 September, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a working luncheon in which Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) and UNDP Resident Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. Michael Keating, gave an informative briefing. Mr. Ajay Chibbher, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific opened the event with introductory remarks, welcoming first H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

Ambassador Tanin expressed sincere appreciation for the work of DSRSG Keating and UNDP in Afghanistan. He emphasized the connection between development and security in his country. “Afghanistan’s ability to provide basic needs for its citizens, can build confidence among Afghans for their Government,” he said, “voiding the kind of desperation that can lead to alignment with anti-Government forces.”  He described the importance of the international community’s continued support going forward, while noting the need for more coherent, coordinated aid. He thanked Mr. Keating for his efforts toward effective aid delivery, and encouraged further measures to this end.

In his briefing, DSRSG Keating highlighted that although there is often a big focus on any negative trends or events in Afghanistan, there are in fact a lot of “amazing” things happening. He noted the progress made by Afghan-driven initiatives toward development and governance, and underscored the importance of international support for those country-led processes. He expressed optimism about the pledges made by the international community at the Tokyo Conference in July and said honoring those pledges will be crucial. He also noted the need for the international community to continue assessments of its assistance in order to continue improvement and ensure the most effective practices.  It is not a sign of disease, he said, but “a sign of health that we’re getting to the bottom of some of the problems.”

Held at the Millennium Plaza Hotel in New York, the briefing was followed by a conversation between representatives of Afghanistan, UNDP, and a number of UNDP’s development partners on some key development issues in Afghanistan at this important juncture.

 

United Nations Children’s Fund Executive Board Second regular session

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin  Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations  United Nations Children’s Fund Executive Board Second regular session 2012  Regional summaries of midterm reviews of country programs 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to begin by extending my sincere appreciation to United Nations Children’s Fund and to the international community for its strong commitment for Afghanistan’s development and the protection of women and children.  In particular to Ms. Karin Hulshof, who made it her priority to visit Afghanistan immediately after her appointment as UNICEF Regional Director.  It is an encouraging sign of continued support for and focus on the people of Afghanistan; particularly our children who will be vital in shaping  the future of Afghanistan as the country transitions into a new phase of Afghan ownership and leadership.

Afghanistan’s transformation agenda is not only a time of change but also a time of unprecedented opportunity. The country has the potential to build a better future through investing in its people, and in particular, its children. As such, the government of Afghanistan will continue to work closely with UNICEF and build on the success of the MTR process which was truly a government led process and resulted in a productive and positive Formal MTR meeting chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this year.

Three decades of perpetual war and conflict has led to the destruction of vital infrastructure and social services in Afghanistan, including schools, clinics and health centers. While intensive efforts have been made to re-build these essential services, due to continuing insecurity, more will need to be done to ensure safe access to education, sanitation and healthcare services for all.

Tragically, Afghanistan has one of the worst infant and maternal mortality ratios in the world with 1,400 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, the figures have improved significantly in the last decade and we remain committed to continued improvement in the years to come. The advancement of women and protection of children cannot be separated from our fight for a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan. In conjunction with our international partners, we will continue to work to ensure that the gains we have made in infant health will not be lost to insecurity.

Over the past decade, we have seen that investments made by UNICEF, various UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations in the areas of infrastructure, education and health have paid off. Innovative strategies have achieved positive results in mitigating internal and external challenges. Our UNICEF partners have engaged communities, civil society and relevant government agencies in creating forums for community dialogue.

We welcome the strategic shift made by UNICEF and the partnership arrangement under the National Solidarity Program of Afghanistan to closely align with the priorities of the Government to enable it to deliver programs with measurable results, sustainability and with greater ownership of projects by local communities. Collaborative efforts between the Afghan government and UNICEF have strengthened and engaged Afghan civil society; we endorse the priorities set out by UNICEF for the next country program. Our growing civil society alongside the Afghan Government will play a key role in helping to internalize these priorities to ensure long term success for the protection, health and education of children, particularly in rural areas.

Afghanistan remains committed to eradicating preventable diseases, such as measles and polio through childhood vaccinations. Improvements in water sanitation have also bolstered disease prevention rates. Additionally, Afghanistan’s Minister of Health joined with other Health Ministers around the world to sign a pledge renewing Afghanistan’s commitment to child survival. The pledge supports the ending of preventable child deaths and will help to sharpen Afghanistan’s national plan for child survival, monitor results, and focus greater attention on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

There is an observed positive trend in the education sector as a result of continued efforts toward providing quality access to basic education for all children but particularly in the area of the enrollment of female students in schools across the country.  Despite countless obstacles and security threats more than 2 million girls are now enrolled in schools and pursuing their education. We must continue our partnership with the international community to eliminate the violence and intimidation, utilized by extremist groups and promote the educational development of Afghanistan’s future generations.

Notwithstanding continuing traditionalism and conservative social practices in some areas of the country, we see Afghan women and children in a different situation today than ten years ago. In close cooperation with UNICEF and the international community, we have made real progress towards children rights. It is now time to focus on the prospects that lie ahead.

The government of Afghanistan fully appreciates the assistance provided by UNICEF, its efforts and innovative work in responding to the needs of the Afghan people. We hope that the support provided by UNICEF and the international community will be an indication that they will remain steadfast in their commitments to real change in the status of all Afghans and importantly, children.

Thank you.