Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

 Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan  to the United Nations

 At the United Nations Security Council debate on

The Situation in Afghanistan

Check Against Delivery

 Mr. President,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council. I would like to express a warm welcome to our good friend, Special Representative Jan Kubiš, who spoke for the first time in the Security Council today. In a short period of time, the SRSG has gained much confidence and admiration of the Afghan people, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation. I also take the opportunity to thank H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for his comprehensive report on Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

We meet today at a critical juncture in Afghanistan’s history. It is a time in which the culmination of the efforts of my country and the nations involved in the stabilization process in the last ten years has reached a moment of truth. Today’s debate falls within a line-up of important events that will shape the contours of the international community’s work during the transition and beyond: from the Bonn conference in December, to the Tokyo Ministerial Conference this July. After a decade, we are also looking today into a new framework of the UN’s mandate and work in a situation characterized by transition, followed by the transformation decade.

Mr. President,

The transition process, which started with the transfer of responsibilities to Afghan security forces a year ago, is continuing apace. With the second tranche completed, we are nearing the launch of the third phase of transition, at the conclusion of which, the majority of Afghan territory will come under full Afghan security control. By end of transition by 2014, Afghanistan will assume full responsibility of security as well as the ownership and leadership of governance and development. A shift of paradigm is underway, the aim is sovereignty – empowering Afghanistan to take charge of its own destiny and turning the direct military and civilian function of the international community into a support and enabling role.

A successful transition, Mr. President, requires renewed parameters of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with the guaranteed commitment of the continuation of military, political and financial support during the transition and the decade of transformation from 2015 – 2024. This is what we, Afghanistan and the international community, set out to do last December in Bonn. This commitment will be supported concretely in July in Tokyo.

Mr. President,

At this stage, we hope the assistance of the international community as manifested in the commitments of the Kabul conference in 2010 and Bonn in 2011, will help to meet the requisite needs of our security forces. This is crucial for the building-up, training and equipping of our national security forces, who have proven themselves in recent weeks to be increasingly capable in protecting their fellow Afghans. Furthermore, the transition dividend, channeled into Afghanistan’s political stability, economic growth and social advancement, will have a direct effect on fostering sustainable peace in the country, and bring about real change in the lives of people.

In the long term, what matters is the establishment and strengthening of enduring strategic partnerships that will provide us with a solid base of mutual cooperation. Thus far, we have already signed and are negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with our international partners, including those in the region. In this connection, Afghanistan and the United States are working to finalize all parts of the strategic partnership agreement, which will ensure our combined commitment to the future of a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. On 9 March we signed a memorandum of understanding with the US on the handover of control of the Parwan detention facility to the Afghan Government and we are working to finalize another memorandum relating to special operations in the very near future.

Mr. President,

An effective transition is also contingent upon the successful outcome of an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, outreach and reintegration process. The dynamics of the peace talks shifted with the announcement of the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar, which we believe will provide fresh impetus to our peace efforts. We welcome recent measures taken by the 1988 Committee of the Security Council, which have enhanced confidence building, and will help expedite our reconciliation efforts.

On a national level, outreach and reintegration efforts remain essential to bringing back members of the armed opposition to mainstream society. Nearly 3,500 anti-government elements are enrolled in the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), and in the coming months, we expect to see many more, joining the program and returning to normal life.

At the same time, we will continue to work with all relevant regional and international partners to move the peace process forward, including the UN, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. We are pleased that the peace process has garnered the support it needs from all countries in the region. Our desire for multi-faceted cooperation is embodied through the Istanbul Process that began in November 2011. It is a visionary step forward to achieving a benevolent regional order, characterized by cooperation, collaboration and shared goals. We look forward to furthering our progress at the follow-up to the Istanbul Process this June in Kabul.

Mr. President,

For the success of transition we must redouble our efforts toward a more effective, accountable, transparent Government that is ready to deliver services and safeguard national interests as set out in the Kabul Process. Afghanistan continues its fight to strengthen good governance, end corruption, promote human rights including gender equality, combat illegal narcotics and foster greater economic opportunities.

For Afghans, Mr. President, a successful transition is the key for peace and stability. We are well aware of the challenges, but the bitter memories of war and conflict only further our determination to work together to secure a peaceful future. However, our confidence needs to be deepened by real cooperation, trust, and mutual respect between Afghanistan and the international community. The recent incidents such as the brutal killing of 16 innocent civilians, mostly children and women, in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, the burning of the Holy Quran north of Kabul, and similar atrocities could undermine our trust and cooperation, by inciting deep sorrow, anger and frustration among Afghan people. It is imperative that these incidents are ended immediately and the perpetrators be held accountable.

Mr. President,

The UN over the last ten years has been in the forefront of helping the Afghan people. The UN has supported the efforts of the Afghan Government for building a more peaceful future for the country. While Afghanistan continues transition, it will still largely benefit from the support of the UN. We are thankful to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive review of UNAMA’s mandated activities and the UN’s support in Afghanistan and for the work of the review team. The Afghan Government fully agrees with the report of the Secretary-General’s findings that UNAMA should use its good offices to continue to support Afghan-led political processes and capacity building for Afghan institutions. We appreciate the report’s emphasis on the UN’s work for human rights of all Afghans; and we share the report’s assertion that aid coherence in support of Afghanistan’s development agenda is crucial.

We are satisfied with the work of the comprehensive review. And, of course, plenty of work for us all lies on the road ahead. The size and configuration of UN presence is to be considered in the coming months as well as the application of a One-UN approach for streamlining UN activities, based on the evolving realities on the ground and needs of transition. The Government of Afghanistan is looking forward to close cooperation in this regard.

A long-term, strategic view into the renewed posture of the UN in Afghanistan will be needed to answer some of the bigger questions about the organization’s political role, the necessary steps towards reinforcing integration and delivery as one, and questions about bringing more transparency and accountability in managing resources and coordination of aid during the transition and transformation decade. I am confident that with our strong, ongoing partnership, Afghanistan and the UN are well-equipped to address all future challenges.

Mr. President,

In the last ten years, Afghanistan and the international community were together in fighting terrorism and working to bring stability and peace to the country. This fight is not yet finished.  We still have a long way to go, and we continue to struggle to normalize the situation in the country. This is the aim of transition. But the transition we agreed upon must be a responsible, unhurried, and coordinated process. Afghanistan and its people count on both the conscience and commitment of the international community to remain steadfast to the countless and long reiterated assurances for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.

 

 

Afghan Women and Girls Move Forward Towards Progress and Happiness

“Towards a Healthier Future: Afghan Women and Girls move forward” Photo Exhibition

March 7th, 2012

 On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to present a unique exhibition of photographs called “Towards a Healthier Future: Afghan Women and Girls move forward.”

The exhibit, consisting of photos by eleven different photographers, presents the viewer with a glimpse into the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan. The photos focus on health and education of Afghan women and girls and detail the challenges and difficulties that still persist for women and girls. However, on a more positive note, they also shows the evident progress that has been made in the country since the fall of the Taliban.

 

The attendees were addressed by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Laura Laski, Chief of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit for UNFPA, and Dr. Ian Pett, Chief of Health Systems and Strategic Planning for UNICEF, who all made insightful speeches.

Ambassador Tanin gave remarks about the distance Afghanistan has traveled since the dark days of 2001 when Afghan Government inherited one of the worst situations for women in the world.  Ambassador Tanin said, “we lived in a male-centered, anti-woman society that expelled women into the darkest corners of the periphery with limited of no access to health services…now we live in a society where 60 percent of Afghan women are now receiving antenatal care from skilled attendants.”  Ambassador Tanin then went on to report the significant improvements in current maternal mortality rates in comparison to ten years prior.  The time and effort invested by many international groups along with the Government of Afghanistan in infrastructure, education and health care have thus clearly paid off.

H.E. Ambassador Tanin subsequently detailed how the pictures currently on display serve as important reminders to all of us that, “the well being of Afghan women is vital for the future of the country.  Not because of the fact that women are half of totality, but because women are essential and irreplaceable for human society.  Without women, there is no enduring humanity.”  These words, not only powerful and insightful, were also timely given that they were spoken on the evening before International Women’s Day.

Ambassador Tanin then concluded his remarks by stating, “it is my hope that as the UN Ambassadors and all UN people involved in Afghanistan see these photos on their way to meetings and consultations and will be reminded of the plight of Afghan women.  This wonderful collection of photos is also a reminder that we must not allow the women of Afghanistan to slip from the grasp of our conscience or that of the international community.”

Dr Jacob Kumaresan, Executive Director of WHO in New York, concluded the evening, and spoke of the cooperation and continuing partnership between the Afghan Government and the vital UN agencies such as WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA who work to ensure the healthy future of Afghan women and girls. The exhibit will be on display until the 16th of March in the Boat Room located at the Delegates Entrance of UN Headquarters.

 

 

Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan

Panelists agree that Afghan women must not slip from the International conscious: Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan

Wednesday 29th of February, 2012 by Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to United Nations

 

On Wednesday afternoon, the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan and Liechtenstein led a panel discussion on “Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan.”  The panel discussion was held in large part to discuss the ongoing country-specific work.  The renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in March 2012 is creeping up quickly and the need to provide relevant stakeholders a chance to voice their appreciated opinions and recommendations for the Security Council was crucial.  This critical discussion followed a workshop organized by the Mission of Liechtenstein from the 28th-30th of January in Liechtenstein that detailed concrete findings and recommendations for the Security Council on how to further promote the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan.

 

The three panelists that participated in the discussion were H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan; H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein; and Wolfgang F. Danspeckgruber, the Founding Director of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination.  In front of a full house of attendees from a wide range of backgrounds, the panelists agreed upon the necessary and vital role of Afghan women in the political, economic and social spheres.

 

H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser briefed attendees on the January report, noting, “the goal of the workshop was to agree upon recommendations for the Security Council on the UNAMA mandate that is up for renewal in March; these recommendations will hopefully facilitate negotiations.”  Ambassador Wenaweser discussed two main pillars that were at the forefront of the workshop: protection and participation.  Ambassador Wenaweser emphasised that, “there is a need to protect women from all forms of violence and for women to participate in all decision-making processes that take place in Afghanistan [as] this will help lead to lasting stability and security in the country and that is our main goal.”

 

Following Ambassador Wenaweser’s remarks, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin addressed the attendees with a poignant speech situating the plight of Afghan women in a greater historical framework.  He began with a brief history into Afghanistan’s decades of conflict that women particularly “felt the wrath of,” emphasizing their long-lasting suffering and admirable survival. Ambassador Tanin then discussed three primary challenges that prevent the full inclusion of women, insecurity and the associated violence, social and economic exclusion of women and the extremist anti-culture that exists as the antithesis of social progress. Though Ambassador Tanin acknowledged the progress that has occurred over the past ten years, he warned that “[i]t is not enough. We must not only focus on the outcomes, but also on the steps required to reach them.” He stated that women’s emancipation was hand-in-hand with general human emancipation in Afghanistan. As such, he stressed the continued necessary involvement of the international community, noting that not “[e]ven the best constitution…will change the status of women without economic and social stability.” Ambassador Tanin explained that the people of Afghanistan and the international community must continue their firm and uncompromising commitment to the Afghan women, Afghanistan as a whole and strengthen efforts encouraging the strong mobilization of women to defend their rights. Ambassador Tanin highlighted the challenges ahead and asked the international community for its continued support for Afghan women.

 

Professor Danspeckgruber ended introductory remarks with a mention of his long history with Afghanistan and echoed Ambassadors Wenaweser and Tanin’s belief in the vitality of Afghan women in society. Professor Danspeckgruber noted that, “it is impossible to perceive the future of Afghanistan without taking into account the women in Afghanistan.”  He also stated that, “it depends on how the Afghan women feel, not [how] the international community feels, whether the Afghan women feel better today than they did before.”  He noted that he partially spoke from a personal perspective with regards to his experience with Afghan widows who have suffered tremendous losses and continue to do so.

 

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Tanin said, “as we continue to strive and build on our progress, initiatives such as today’s event and workshop of earlier this year, help us sustain the international community’s continued involvement which is needed to support these efforts.  We must not allow the women’s issue to slip from the grasp of our conscious or that of the international community.”