Thursday, November 26, 2015

Archives for 2013

Press release for the Security Council Debate on the Situation of Afghanistan

H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, addresses the Security Council Meeting on The situation in Afghanistan

Permanent Representative of Afghanistan H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin delivered a statement today, 20 June 2013, at the Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. The debate addressed the status of the security transition, upcoming presidential and provincial elections, and the reconciliation process. Mr. Jan Kubiš, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UNAMA, gave a statement focusing on the necessity for Afghan leadership and ownership, the final phase of security transition, aid commitments, and human rights.

Security Council members and representatives from India, Turkey, the Delegation of the European Union, Japan, Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Spain, Latvia, Canada, and Germany also delivered statements regarding the Situation in Afghanistan.

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan noted that Afghanistan reached a major milestone two days ago with the launch of the 5th stage of security transition.  “This is a remarkable achievement; a source of pride for the Afghan people,” he said.  Noting how Afghan forces now handle complex security situations “with increased confidence and fortitude,” he stated his country’s readiness to “consolidate our gains…and secure lasting peace.”

The Ambassador also described Afghanistan’s extensive involvement in efforts to start direct negotiations with the Talban as part of the peace process.  He explained that the principles by and the manner in which the Taliban inaugurated their office in Doha betrayed previous agreements.  Moreover, he explained, the public statement by Taliban representatives in Doha not only lacked any clear commitment to peace talks with the Afghan High Peace Council but also made an explicit reference to their desire for the continuation of violence. This, the Ambassador emphasized, “goes against the very spirit of peace.”  As a result, he explained, the Government of Afghanistan decided that the High Peace Council “would not engage in peace talks under the circumstances that the Taliban office opened.”

“While Afghanistan is committed to a peace process and reconciliation that ensures a permanent end to the conflict,” he explained, “pursuing a process that will undermine the hard won gains of the past twelve years- our constitution, the rights of all citizens, particularly women, and our democratic order- will, by no means, be acceptable to the Afghan people.”

Several Council members and other speakers also emphasized the necessity of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.  The United States stressed that should a reconciliation process with the Taliban should not advance under the auspices of an office that represents itself as an embassy, an emirate, a government or a sovereign.

Other council members and speakers welcomed the announcement of the 5th stage of transition, and offered support to Afghanistan in the upcoming elections.  Several acknowledged the necessity of the commitment of Afghan leadership to continue in the fight against production and trafficking of narcotics, and adherence to international human rights protocols, including the human rights of women and children.

UN Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations  at the
Security Council Debate on  
the Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Let me begin by first congratulating you on taking the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of June.  Thank you for holding today’s debate on Afghanistan.  I welcome the presence of my good friend, Special Representative Kubis, among us here today. We thank you for your comprehensive briefing, and steadfast support for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. As foreign forces prepare to withdraw next year, Afghan national security forces are assuming full responsibility for the security and defense of their country. Two days ago in Kabul, a milestone was reached; the official launch of the 5th and final stage of security transition. This is a remarkable achievement; a source of pride for the Afghan people. Our security forces are handling complex security situations with increased confidence and fortitude. We stand ready to consolidate our gains, stand on our feet, defend ourselves, and secure lasting peace.

Mr. President,

Transition, in its entirety, aims to bring enduring peace and stability to Afghanistan. To ensure the security and defense of our country, it is essential to bring all Afghans together through a national dialogue, in a spirit of national unity, to achieve a political solution that is embraced by all.

Over recent months, Afghanistan has been extensively involved with various stakeholders, the United States of America in particular, to start direct negotiations with the Taliban as part of the peace process. In that regard, an agreement was reached with the United States on the opening of a Taliban Office in Doha, Qatar, under assurances that peace talks would be conducted in accordance with the following concrete set of principles:

-        The sole purpose of the office would be to serve as a venue for direct negotiations between the Taliban and the High Peace Council;

-        The office would not serve as an official representation of the Taliban in the form of a “Government,” “Embassy,” “Emirate,” or “sovereign”;

-        The office would not engage in, or support any activity related to terrorism and acts of violence, inconsistent with international law, and consistent with provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1988/2082;

Yet, just two days ago, on the 18th of June, in a rather theatrical sequence of events, the Taliban office was inaugurated in a manner that contradicted the very principles to which I just referred. Furthermore, the public statement by the Taliban representatives in Doha not only lacked any clear commitment to peace talks with the Afghan High Peace Council – the sole body mandated to conduct peace talks – but also made an explicit reference to the continuation of violence. Again, this goes against the very spirit of peace.  Given the concerns that have arisen, emanating from the obvious contradictions pertaining to our peace process, the Government of Afghanistan decided firstly: that the HPC would not engage in peace talks under the circumstances that the Taliban office was opened; and secondly: to suspend negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.  Afghanistan naturally expects its international partners to stand against any threat to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.  In fact, all of Afghanistan’s partnership agreements are made in light of Afghanistan’s national interests, and aimed at promoting the country’s peace, security and stability.

Mr. President,

While Afghanistan is committed to a peace process and reconciliation that ensures a permanent end to the conflict, pursuing a process that will undermine the hard won gains of the past twelve years- our constitution, the rights of all citizens, particularly women, and our democratic order- will, by no means, be acceptable to the Afghan people.

Afghanistan does not recognize such a thing as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Raising the Taliban flag on Tuesday in Doha was just a reminder of a dark and bloody past from which our country still struggles to emerge. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sole sovereign and legitimate authority chosen by Afghan people and recognized and supported by the international community.

Further, Afghanistan’s ownership of the peace and reconciliation process is indispensible, and it will not be compromised. Any successful outcome to the reconciliation process requires preserving the Afghan-led and Afghan-managed character of negotiations. This is an issue that has been recognized and endorsed, both in Afghanistan, and by the international community as a whole, including this distinguished Council.

Mr. President,

Taking this opportunity, I wish to also make clear to the international community, all member-states, and international and regional organizations, that the Taliban Office was established for one clear objective: peace talks that strictly observe agreed principles, as mentioned. Any other activity or function undertaken by or with the Taliban office outside the Afghan-led peace talks’ purposes is unacceptable.

Mr. President,

The continuing campaign of fear and terror, violence and brutality endanger the prospect of a peace process. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in acts of violence, affecting all citizens – men, women and children – as well as international personnel. We condemn all heinous acts of terror, including the recent attacks on the IOM, ICRC, Kabul airport, and the Supreme Court. Children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the conflict. Last month in Kandahar, terrorists beheaded two children, as they were scrapping for food next to a local police checkpoint to take home to their families. Days earlier, in Paktika province, children died in a suicide bombing near their school.

We also note with regret, continued civilian casualties caused by counter-terrorism operations. The loss of one innocent life is one too many. We condemn all incidents of civilian casualties, and call for their immediate end.

Mr. President,

Despite all the challenges we face, Afghanistan is confidently advancing forward towards another milestone: next year’s presidential and provincial council elections. President Karzai has embarked on a broad consultative process with relevant stakeholders, including civil society and political parties, with a clear aim to have the polls take place in a spirit of national unity, and with consensus on core-electoral issues. Afghans see successful elections as a new and important benchmark for progress, which will allow the country to embrace the needs of the post-2014 transformation decade. Preparations for the polls are well underway with voter registration and security preparations already started. The electoral law and draft Independent Electoral Commission law were adopted by the lower house of parliament, and are now under consideration by the upper house. We welcome the readiness of the United Nations and other partners to support Afghan-led elections, and we are confident that the elections will unify Afghans around a common objective.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has always seen regional cooperation as an important pillar of stability and prosperity in our part of the world. A new regional order is emerging, increasing the prospects for a more peaceful and stable region.  The Istanbul Process has become a catalyst for result-oriented cooperation in our wider region. We are encouraged by the strong commitment shown by all regional and international partners to this historic initiative. This was further exemplified by the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia Countries this past April in Almaty. We also thank the Government of China for its generosity in hosting the next Ministerial Meeting of the Process next year.

Afghanistan is committed to expanding relations with all of our neighbors.  We applaud our brothers and sisters in the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran for their recent successful elections.

The Government of Afghanistan looks forward to working with the new government of Pakistan, and hopes that Pakistan will sincerely support peace and stability in our country. Afghanistan desires friendly relations with Pakistan, characterized by mutual respect and observing each other’s national sovereignty. This is crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to prosperity and cooperation in the region.

Without any doubt, Mr. President, terrorism constitutes a serious threat to Afghanistan’s peace and stability, and that of the region.  The people of Afghanistan are still the main victims of this heinous, continuous terrorist campaign. The fact remains: so long as terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist in Pakistan’s soil and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, peace will not prevail, neither in Afghanistan, nor in the region. We also are very concerned with ongoing border shelling; this constitutes a serious threat to Afghan sovereignty and the prospect of friendly relations between our two countries.

We should not forget: Afghanistan and Pakistan, as two brotherly countries, have a shared stake in a successful fight against terrorism, and the prospect of peace and stability in Afghanistan and our region.

Mr. President,

We in Afghanistan know that long-term peace and prosperity is interlinked with development, good governance and human rights. The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework forms the basis for a revitalized partnership between Afghanistan and our international partners, addressing these key issues.  Aid coherence, in partnership with the international community, is critical to our sustainable development.  Mutual commitments made in Tokyo will be solidified during the transformation decade.  We look forward, in this regard, to the July 3rd Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul.

By the same token, empowerment of women as proactive members of Afghan society – as parliamentarians, as peace-builders, as government officials, and as the most vibrant members of civil society is among our proudest achievements. While obstacles to the full realization of this goal remain, we are working to protect and promote the human rights of all Afghans, women in particular. Afghanistan condemns, in the strongest terms, all incidents of violence against women. The fight against impunity is central to our human rights efforts. This is evidenced by the prosecution of an increasing number of perpetrators in various parts of the country.

Mr. President,

This moment marks an important page in Afghanistan’s history- the security transition and the upcoming elections will mark major achievements for the future of our country.  These achievements are the result of the diligent efforts that we have made over the past 12 years.  We have come this far together, on a joint journey, founded on a shared commitment to the betterment of our country and for the benefit of current and future generations.  Our mission is unfinished, but well on its way.  Afghanistan has come a long way to even consider falling short of fulfilling the goals we set out in 2001.  We have been, and we remain, steadfastly committed to building a peaceful, stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Briefing by UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, to Security Council on Afghanistan

Good morning Mr President, Esteemed Members of the Security Council. We meet amidst intense focus on ensuring that Afghanistan’s three complex and intertwined transition processes – political, security and economic – are on track.

These efforts are due to culminate in 2014 but the fundamentals are to be put in place this year.

The very core of transition is strengthening Afghan national ownership and leadership. The onus for driving progress is thus on the Government of Afghanistan and the country’s leading political forces.

There is however a clear need to sustained and predictable international support, through 2014 and beyond, in ways that reinforce Afghanistan’s leadership.

Mr. President,

Summer-time is when Afghanistan is at its most alive: melons fill the bazaars and wedding parties throng the streets. It is also the season of fighting. This summer, unfortunately, promises to be a “hot” one.

As announced this week, Afghan security forces have entered the last phase in assuming the lead responsibility for security throughout the country. Anti-Government elements are, however, seeking to counter this by targeting security personnel and terrorising civilians. They aim to shake the population’s confidence in the Government and its armed forces.

We see increasingly brutal complex assaults on high-profile targets, high on civilian casualties, low on reaching military objectives, but nevertheless garnering media attention. Targeted killings of those deemed supportive of the Government include civil servants and judicial workers in violation of international law and the norms of war. In population centres, attacks in public spaces demonstrate a complete disregard for civilian lives.

From 1 January to 6 June 2013, 1,061 civilians have been killed and 2,031 injured. This is a 24 per cent increase in civilian casualties compared to the same period in 2012. Anti-Government elements have been responsible for 74 per cent of these casualties and pro-Government forces (Afghan national security forces and international forces), nine per cent.

Those aged under 18 make up one-fifth of civilians killed or injured so far this year, an increase of 31 per cent over the same period in 2012.

Afghan security institutions fight bravely and bear the brunt of the losses, show increased courage, confidence and competence in countering the intentions of the anti-Government elements.

At the same time, the Afghan forces, notably the National Army, still require critical enablers such as air capacity to ensure their effectiveness and the sustainability. It is for the international community to assist.

Mr. President,

After 30 years of war, the internal and external drivers of conflict are complex and deep-seated. Diverse elements seek advantage of this fluid and unstable security transition.

Just recently, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan claimed joint responsibility for a multiple suicide attack in the Panjshir Valley, the very heartland of the former Northern Alliance. There are reports of foreign terrorists active in other parts of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s large-scale drugs economy is another source, driver and symptom of instability. This illicit production and trade simultaneously funds insurgent activity and if not curtailed, threatens to undermine Afghanistan’s institutions, security and economic self-sufficiency. The global and regional consequences demand resolute and targeted action.

Mr. President,

A smooth and legitimate transfer of power is widely acknowledged as the most critical part of transition, underpinning all other efforts. President Karzai continues to reiterate his commitment to standing aside in accordance with the Constitution. Planning and positioning ahead of the polls, scheduled for 5 April 2014, dominates the political landscape.

A robust and credible electoral architecture developed in good time in a transparent and participatory manner is a key Government commitment made at Tokyo.

Although I see progress in many technical areas, I am concerned by continued delays in the passage of the two major pieces of electoral legislation. For orderly and timely preparations for the polls, promulgation is necessary before the summer recess of the National Assembly. It will require compromise and goodwill on all sides, and notably, proactive engagement of the government.

The continuous lack of progress in this critical area has already raised questions in some minds about the intention to hold elections in a timely and acceptable manner.

An increased focus on a broad national accord with regard to electoral platforms and possible presidential candidates is legitimate and even advisable. However, this must not be at the expense of electoral preparations. And it cannot and should not be a substitute for credible elections. There is no alternative to inclusive and transparent elections as a means of delivering political transition with the necessary degree of legitimacy and acceptability. The elections are central to international and domestic legitimacy and sustained extraordinary support of the international community for the new government.

Securing the electoral process will a vital element of ensuring broad enfranchisement. Almost a year before polling day the Independent Election Commission has provided security institutions with a list of over 7,000 proposed polling centres to allow assessment and planning. This is unprecedented and I urge the full attention of Afghan security institutions, who are in the lead.

Government and donor emphasis on the e-taskira, that has been the subject of numerous delays combined with voter registration being confined to a top-up exercise means that voter identification in 2014, and even 2015, will likely see no significant improvement on this aspect of the electoral arrangements. This requires a renewed focus on a broad spectrum of other anti-fraud measures in ensuring a credible process and public trust.

Mr. President,

Peace is the Afghan people’s greatest desire.

Political efforts centred on establishing a Taliban office in Doha for the purpose of talks between the Afghan High Peace Council and authorised representatives of the Taliban to promote peace and reconciliation, led to contradictory developments and announcement this week. We hope that the current controversies and legitimate concerns around the Taliban office in Doha will soon be resolved, thus opening the way to direct peace and reconciliation discussions between the High Peace Council and the Taliban. We also hope that this will be accompanied by a reduction of violence and civilian casualties. UNAMA stands ready to support all peace and reconciliation efforts based on and in full conformity with its mandate. Among others, it stands ready to facilitate an inter-Afghan Track II dialogue, as well as to engage with the Taliban on issues related to the promotion of human rights, application of humanitarian law and reduction of civilian casualties.

Promotion of peace and reconciliation requires an enabling regional environment.

Recent developments between Afghanistan and Pakistan as noted in the Secretary General’s report are of concern. Such tensions are unfortunate and dangerous, especially at this stage of Afghanistan’s development. They bring in additional elements of risks to an already complex and complicated political and security situation in Afghanistan and in the region. It is for the two countries to address these concerns and problems and their underlying reasons, to build trust and to refrain from any step that could contribute to an escalation of tensions and inflamed public sentiments. The two neighbouring countries share common concerns and interests in fighting terrorism. They can succeed or fail together.

I am encouraged by the positive exchanges following the recent Pakistani elections between President Karzai and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as by the resumption of high-level military contacts between the two countries with the participation of the International Security Assistance Force.

Mr. President,

A major conference in Kabul next month will assess progress on the mutual commitments to Government reform and international civilian assistance made one year ago in Tokyo. Frank discussion between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners must result in a reinvigorated agenda for action in the coming year. It is important to emphasise the mutual nature of commitments. The international community pledged not just to the provision of financial assistance but how it will be delivered. It was agreed that 50 per cent of development funding would be delivered on budget and 80 per cent in alignment with national programmes. We must not get caught up in merely the technical definitions but rather ensure real progress in reinforcing national systems and dismantling parallel efforts.

Among the hard deliverables are not only issues of economic development and good governance, but, at this juncture of the transition, issues related to elections and human rights. They address fundamental building blocks of the Afghan State.

This week’s appointment of new human rights commissioners to the AIHRC saw concerns at whether the appointment process complied with international principles and standards and met Afghan legal requirements of transparency, broad consultations and selection of independent qualified individuals. These concerns are currently under review by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and will be further reviewed by the respective international accreditation body for such national human rights institutions. In the meantime, the work of the Commission will be under increased scrutiny.

Implementation of the law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in protecting and promoting the rights of Afghan women and girls, and gains made by them over the last decade, is another central obligation.

Women’s equal and meaningful participation in economic, political and public life is Constitutionally guaranteed in Afghanistan and globally recognised as central to improving social development , including the health and well-being of children – the future of any nation. Key international donors are clear that any erosion of such commitments including erosion of the the Elimination of Violence Against Women law and its implementation would have a direct, negative impact on future international assistance.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan’s already acutely low humanitarian indicators are put further at risk by shrinking humanitarian space. Recent high profile attacks, including on the Jalalabad office of the immensely respected impartial International Committee of the Red Cross, has prompted questions by humanitarian organisations and agencies on how to stay and deliver.

Amidst increasing needs, the 2013 humanitarian appeal for $471 million was 41 per cent funded at the end of May. This momentum should be maintained. I further call on member states to ensure the alignment of their assistance with the strategic priorities agreed in the common humanitarian response plan.

Humanitarian response alone will not suffice and greater attention and priority must be afforded to durable solutions and Government capacity. This includes a greater development focus on disaster management systems, internally displaced persons and refugees, their strictly voluntary return and sustainable livelihoods, and sustaining the access and quality of the health system.

Mr. President,

This is a critical juncture. The trajectory is irreversible but we need to work together – the Afghan authorities, the Afghan people and international partners – in ensuring it is sustainable.

There are results to report. But setbacks appear and are and will be inevitable.

The need is for predictability and confidence. Determined internal and external efforts are required to prove that worse case scenarios are wrong. This is challenging but possible.

Thank you for your attention.