Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ambassador Tanin Addresses Students at Princeton University

April 12th, 2013 by Afghan Mission

On Tuesday the 9th of April, Ambassador Zahir Tanin gave a lecture at PrincetonUniversity, at an event arranged by the Princeton Chapter of the United Nations Associations president John Vincent and cosponsored by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Woodrow Wilson School. The lecture was entitled”Left Behind: The United Nations in Post-Transition Afghanistan”.

The event titles inclusion of “left behind”, as explained by Ambassador Tanin, was to evoke  thoughts the third movie of Left Behind series in which a UN representative is left to deal with the situation of a post-rapture earth. However, as he outlined, this kind of negative scenario, with the UN left to “pick up the pieces” is not one he envisions for post 2014 Afghanistan. He instead described that “transition is a positive time for Afghanistan; it is a time to work with the international community towards normalization, through achieving national ownership and leadership and ending the conflict”

Through Ambassador Tanin’s remarks he explored the possible landscape of post 2014 Afghanistan and highlighted that “the overarching component of transition is sovereignty through national ownership and leadership”. He identified some of the key successes of the transition process thus far but was realistic in the challenges still to be faced and emphasized the need for a continued focus both by Afghanistan and the international community, on four main priority areas the security transition, reconciliation, the political transition and the economic transition.

Ambassador Tanin also highlighted the importance of strategic bi-lateral agreements and regional cooperation as Afghanistan moves into the transformation decade from 2015 to 2024.

However, the primary focus of his thoughts was the way in which Afghanistan’s relations withthe UN will change through this critical time. He provided a picture of the current debates surrounding future role of the UN and described that “The debate about the UN in post-transition Afghanistan is not about failing to understand the necessary role and significance of the UN”. He went on to elaborate that the ongoing discussions on the UN’s posture “will require mutual understanding and engagement to shape the assistance role in a way that matches the new dynamic in a new chapter in Afghanistan”.

Following the Ambassadors talk he engaged in a lively Q&A session with students on a multitude of issues. The video of his entire presentation can be viewed on the Woodrow Wilson School website at http://wws.princeton.edu/webmedia/ .