Saturday, October 10, 2015

Archives for 2013

United Nations Ambassadors attend High Level International Conference on Water Cooperation

Press Release

photo-(9)The High Level International Conference on Water Cooperation was held on the 20and 21 of August 2013 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  It was a remarkable event focusing on an issue of enormous significance both in the region and the world, an issue that despite its importance is too often pushed to the sidelines.

Recognizing the necessity of international cooperation on the use and management of water and its related risks, organizers aimed to promote dialogue and mutual understanding and to strengthen partnerships on water issues among all stakeholders at all levels.  The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan convened the Conference according to General Assembly Resolution A/67/204 “Implementation of the International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013,” adopted on 21 December 2012, with the intention of mobilizing all stakeholders’ efforts to achieve these internationally agreed goals. Accordingly, subsequent steps must be taken to ensure the issue is placed highly on the international agenda.

More than 900 high-ranking guests, including Prime Ministers, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and the President-Elect of the 68th General Assembly participated at the conference.  United Nations (UN) Ambassadors represented countries as diverse as the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Guyana, Jamaica, Namibia, Thailand, Cape Verde and Afghanistan. The former Ambassador of Kiribati and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji also attended the conference. In addition heads of UN agencies, funds, programs and the UN Secretariat, well-known specialists and experts from over 70 countries, representatives of numerous regional and international organizations, and delegations from many countries including Afghanistan took part.

Opening the conference, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, welcomed participants from around the world. “Tajikistan has always been in favor of mutually beneficial cooperation and good neighbourly relations,” he stated in his introductory remarks. “We understand clearly that only civilized cooperation and political will can ensure for all of us a progress in this direction. Tajikistan is completely ready for such cooperation.”

Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, attended the conference as a member of the “Friends of Water,” a group of UN Ambassadors who played a central role in promoting General Assembly Resolution A/67/204 “Implementation of the International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013.”  Ambassadors in this group participated in a special High Level Panel Discussion on the margins of the conference entitled “Sharing Lessons and Experiences on Water and Disasters.”  The Mr. Kenzo Hiroki, Principle of the International Center for Water Hazard and Special Advisor of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, facilitated the panel.

Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan, speaking on the High Level Panel, offered lessons from the Afghan experience. He reflected that while the world often thinks of Afghanistan in terms of security and insurgency, another crisis exists in Afghanistan as well. “Today,” he explained, “millions of Afghans are without access to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

Yet Afghanistan, he said, is not a water-scarce country.  The country is endowed with sufficient water to meet domestic, agricultural-industrial and environmental needs. However, he said, Afghanistan “has limited capacity to make full use of potentially available resources.”

Ambassador Tanin explained that lack of access to water is primarily caused by poor water management.  For example, Afghanistan has the lowest water storage capacity in the region.  He explained, “if water becomes abundant during certain periods in the year, it cannot be stored to meet demand during periods of shortage,” which renders the country more vulnerable to drought and other climate shocks.

Ambassador Tanin pointed out that while water is seen as an essential public good, it is also a source of major disasters and climate shocks.  Afghanistan is particularly sensitive to the effects of drought and flood.  In 2002, for example, after four years with little or no rain, an estimated 60 percent of households were extremely debt insecure.  Following the dry year of 2004, 37 percent of the population across several heavily affected provinces became food insecure, he pointed out.

Such issues demonstrate the necessity of water cooperation and transboundary water management.  This is particularly true in the River basin area, where most of Afghanistan’s neighbors depend on surface resources originating from within the country.  Taking this into account, Ambassador Tanin stressed the importance of water diplomacy and impressed upon participants the necessity of legal cooperation and water sharing in the region and the world.

Looking to the future, Ambassador Tanin noted the importance of seeing water from a human development perspective. He stressed two human development challenges in particular: the necessity of securing access to water for all—regardless of gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status—and the need to provide protection against water-related shocks.  In addition, Ambassador Tanin remarked that climate change would have a powerful impact on water needs, particularly in terms of crop irrigation, seasonal behaviour of rivers, and increases in the incidence and intensity of drought. Scarcity and climate shocks must therefore be well managed, he said.

On conclusion of the Special High Level Panel and the other High Level Panels, Plenary Sessions, and Special Focus Events, participants put forward proposals for the future.  These included priority areas for action such as addressing the needs of the poor and enabling mechanisms for action such as fostering South-South exchanges of best cooperative practices.  The proposals represent important, concrete outcomes of the conference, and governments, international organizations and other relevant stakeholders are encouraged to refer to them for inspiration and follow up.

After the formal conclusion of the conference, UN Ambassadors participated in an official program that highlighted the unique water resources and needs of both Tajikistan and the region.  The Government of Tajikistan escorted these Ambassadors to Sarez Lake in the Pamir region, which is situated in the middle of 2,416 meter high mountain ranges stretching from Afghanistan to Tajikistan.  Sarez Lake, which not only flows through Tajikistan but Afghanistan as well, exemplifies the need for transboundary water cooperation. UN Ambassadors also visited the Usoi Dam, a natural landslide dam held by Sarez Lake.  At 567 meters high, the dam constitutes the highest among both natural and artificial dams in the world.

Afterwards, the UN Permanent Representatives also visited the Pamir Mountains, the center of Tajikistans Badakhshan region where they were welcomed by officials from Darwaz, a district neighboring the Afghan river Pyanj. From Darwaz, Ambassadors were able to see the villages of Afghanistan. Another day, Ambassadors visited the Nurek Dam, which was completed in 1980 after almost two decades of work while Tajikistan was still a republic of the USSR.  Nurek is currently the tallest man-made dam in the world, and generates energy that supports Tajikistan as well as the greater region.



The first Senior Officials’ international meeting on Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework was held in Kabul

Kabul –The first international meeting of senior officials from donor countries and organizations that support Afghanistan was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. This meeting reviewed the progress made by both sides in achieving joint objectives of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

This meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Finance Minister Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, from the Afghan side and United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative Jan Kubis from the international community side. Senior Officials from40 donor countries and 8 international Organizations, civil society and the private sector representatives also participated in the Meeting.

Dr. Zalmai Rassoul stressed “The international community’s participation in today’s conference shows their common will for supporting Afghanistan and ensuring a bright future for the people ofthis country.”

Dr. Omar Zakhilwal mentioned in his opening remarks, “Our international colleagues once again renewed their commitment of a 16 billion dollar assistance, which had been promised in the Tokyo Conference.” He added, “It is very important that the assistance is delivered in accordance with the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and the Afghan Government’s priorities through the national budget in order to make the assistance more effective.

The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative His Excellency Jan Kubis said in his speech, “Afghanistan has had enormous achievements and we must not lose them. We have a lot of other common goals to achieve”.

In this meeting the civil society also appreciated the progress made towards the commitments made by the Afghanistan side in the Tokyo Conference. In this meeting, a detailed written report on the evaluation of commitments from both sides was also presented.

All participating countries and organizations in the conference, once again confirmed their financial commitment of US$16 billion and economic support that they had promised in the Tokyo Conference.

The Tokyo Conference was held in Japan in July 8th 2012, where the International Community and the Afghan Government met to reaffirm and further consolidate their partnership from Transition to the Transformation Decade (2015-2024).

In today’s Meeting, the Afghan Government and the international community had agreed on Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) for the effective flow of the international financial aid to Afghanistan in the decade 2014-2024.

The Afghan Government and the International Community will convene the meetings at the senior officials and ministerial level every alternate year. The Participants look forward to next ministerial meeting to be co-hosted by Afghanistan and the United Kingdom within the year 2014.


Joint Statement Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) Senior Officials Meeting Kabul, Afghanistan


Co-Chair’s Statement

Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF)

Senior Officials Meeting

Kabul, Afghanistan, 3 July 2013



  1. The Senior Officials Meeting (hereinafter called “the Meeting”) was held on 3 July 2013 at Kabul, Afghanistan, a year after the Tokyo Conference of July 8, 2012 where the International Community and the Afghan Government met to reaffirm and further consolidate their partnership from Transition to the Transformation Decade. Today’s meeting serves as a follow-up mechanism for the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), the main outcome of the Tokyo Conference (July 2012). The TMAF establishes an approach based on mutual commitments of the Afghan Government and the International Community to help Afghanistan achieve its development and governance goals. The purpose of the Meeting was to review progress, key policy issues, and the way forward under TMAF. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan thanked the International Community for their generous support and emphasized the significance of a peaceful political transition through free, fair and transparent elections. The Meeting was co-chaired by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Finance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to Afghanistan. Delegations from 40 countries and 8 international agencies in addition to Ministers and senior officials of the Afghan Government and representatives of Afghan civil society and private sector attended the Meeting.
  1. Substantive policy discussions took place in two plenary sessions on elections and aid effectiveness and three working group sessions on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights (with a particular focus on the rights of women and girls); Integrity of Public Finance and Commercial Banking; Government Revenues, Budget Execution and Sub-National Governance; and Inclusive and Sustained Growth and Development.
  1. Representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan emphasized their continued resolve to fulfill commitments made by the Government under TMAF. The international community also reiterated its pledge to continue to support Afghanistan through transition and the transformation decade and reaffirmed its Tokyo commitment of providing US$16 billion US dollars through 2015, and sustaining support, through 2017, at or near levels of the past decade. The participants stressed that sustained international support in the years ahead requires resolute action by both the International Community and the Afghan Government, particularly in the coming months, to address areas of TMAF where further progress is required.
  1. Afghanistan has made progress in a number of areas under the TMAF. A comprehensive timeline and a detailed operational plan for the Presidential elections have been prepared as well as arrangements for top up voter registration. Participants agreed, however, that it is important for the two elections laws to take effect as soon as it is passed by the parliament and signed by the President before the summer recess, in order to provide the basis for the appointment of Commissioners of the Independent Elections and Complaint Commissions. This will help ensure that the Presidential, Provincial Council and Parliamentary elections are seen by the Afghan people to be properly based in sound legislation. The Afghan Government and the International Community agree that credible and inclusive elections are profoundly important for a successful and peaceful political transition and for sustaining international support.
  1. Discussions on progress in relation to human rights, including women’s rights, noted the vital need for a continued commitment of the Afghan Government to safeguard these rights. Participants agreed that while much has been achieved in the last decade, these gains should not be rolled back and more remains to be achieved. Maintaining this momentum includes implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law and monitoring of its progress. Participants noted the initial concern of the UN High Commisioner with respect to the new appointments to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).  The Afghan Government reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining the standards of the Human Rights Commissioners in acccordance with Article  11 of the AIHRC law and the Paris Principles to retaining its “A” accreditation.
  1. Participants agreed that continued efforts were needed to hold complicit parties accountable for their actions and to secure appropriate criminal convictions in relation to the Kabul Bank fraud, which would enable measures to recover stolen assets, particularly those held abroad.
  1. The overall revenue growth over the last decade was welcomed as a significant achievement.  At the same time, the Afghan Government agreed that continued efforts were needed to ensure that revenue targets, as agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), were needed to help remove outstanding obstacles to the continuation of the IMF-supported program.
  1. Participants acknowledged that progress has been made on the declaration and publication of assets of senior members of the Executive and Judiciary, while agreeing that declared assets will continue to be verified based on Afghan law.
  1. The International Community congratulated the Afghan Government on its impressive performance on budget transparency, resulting in Afghanistan moving from a score of 21% in 2010 on the Open Budget Index to 59% in 2012, exceeding the TMAF target. Participants anticipate further progress in budget management when the new Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment is completed.
  1. Participants agreed that progress had been made in drafting new policies to enable the Provincial and District levels of government to play a more effective role in responding to development needs at those levels and increasing the ability of citizens to hold government to account. Participants also agreed that it was now important to finalize, consult, and start applying a Provincial budgeting policy.
  1. Participants also noted that great strides have been made by Afghanistan to make progress toward its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Of note, there has been considerable progress in enabling boys and girls to enroll in school and in enabling women and men access to basic health services.  It was agreed that quality improvements across basic service delivery will require attention and adequate national budget allocations.
  1. Participants looked forward to the passage of the Minerals Law, which was approved by Cabinet and is now before the Parliament. Participants commended the progress made towards Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative compliance, while noting that some issues remained to be addressed. The Afghan government  reaffirms its commitment to the preparation and implementation of a comprehensive and effective development framework for the Extractive Industries, including measures incorporating international best practice on social, environmental, as well as on community engagement.
  1. Participants acknowledged that the International Community had made progress in delivering its commitments under TMAF. Participants expressed  the need for the international community and the Afghan Government to make greater efforts to progress against aid effectiveness commitments, and the 50 percent on budget and 80 percent alignment targets as per TMAF.
  1. Participants welcomed the contribution of the civil society and their active engagment in the TMAF process, and took note of their statement. The Participants further recalled and reaffirmed the  role of the Afghan civil society, particularly women‘s organizations in advocating for and supporting human rights, good governance and sustainable social, economic and democratic development of Afghanistan through a sustained dialogue.
  1. Participants recognized the need to continue to review and encourage rapid progress against the TMAF within a realistic but accelerated timeframe as a roadmap for Afghanistan to achieve economic self-reliance. Government and donors will continue to meet in Kabul on a monthly basis, both at the Ministerial and Ambassadorial levels, or equivalent, with their designates pursuing progress at the working level. Existing Ambassador and Heads of Agency fora will serve as a continued platform for engaging with the wider international community.
  1. Participants looked forward to the Ministerial meeting to be co-chaired by Afghanistan and the United Kingdom in 2014, after the Presidential election in Afghanistan. The meeting will be held 3 to 6 months after the formation of the next Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As agreed at Tokyo, the Ministerial meeting will review progress, update indicators, assess resource requirements and renew Afghan Government and international commitments.
  1. Participants encouraged the Afghan Government and the International Community to continue efforts to meet commitments under TMAF to help improve the lives of the Afghan people and advance good governance, economic growth, peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  1. The Co-Chairs thanked the participants for their continuing support to Afghanistan at a time of fiscal hardships in donor countries and looked forward to another productive dialogue to review TMAF at the Ministerial level in 2014.