Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan

Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan
Statement of Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri
Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) of Afghan Mission to the United Nations
Commission for Social Development

 Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to begin by thanking the organizers of today’s event, and The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, for moderating our panel. I am pleased to be here today among fellow panellists. The Commission for Social Development is involved with important work and I am pleased to contribute to panel through focusing on the theme, “Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan.”

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is now in the process of reversing decades of economic and social decline from long years of conflict through a series of initiatives with significant assistance from international donors. While efforts are underway to ensure equitable growth and development opportunities for all, there has been a special focus on vulnerable groups and especially people with disabilities. In Afghanistan, one out of every five households has a person with disabilities. While this is only a conservative estimate according to the national sample survey, the actual prevalence of disability could be around 15% considering  the definition of a person with disabilities under the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

This survey indicate that majority of persons with disabilities are in the age under 14 yrs. Among the population of children in Afghanistan, children with disabilities face many challenges and are in a vulnerable situation due to various reasons such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of health and nutritional support apart from prevailing insecure environment. The level of literacy is the lowest among children with disabilities and especially among girls with disabilities. The Survey also pointing out that around 73% of children with disabilities above the age of 6 do not receive education, with the rates of school attendance even lower for girls with disabilities. Economic difficulties and burden on the families to arrange transportation are the main causes for high drop-out rates among children with disabilities.

The constitution of Afghanistan has many enabling articles that promote and protect the rights of the people with disabilities.  In addition to the constitution, the government of Afghanistan has formulated a number of legal frameworks and strategies to empower people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to promote social integration.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Government of Afghanistan has recently passed legislation for persons with disabilities titled ‘Law of Rights and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities’. This Law has been established to provide economic, social, political, cultural, educational, and rehabilitation support for the disabled (men, women and children) to ensure their rights and active participation in society. The law provides 3% reservation of jobs in government and private sector.

The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disability (MOLSAMD) with active cooperation and participation of civil society framed an action plan as a way forward to integrate the economic and social needs of the persons with disabilities within the over- arching framework of the Afghanistan national development strategy and other key national policies.

The following measures have been envisaged for people with disabilities to achieve economic and social integration within the Afghan society;

 

  1. Promoting decent employment for all, including people with disabilities by developing efficient labor market.
  2. Reduce the risk of poverty among people with disabilities through developing social insurance.
  3. Reduce poverty and social exclusion through developing social assistance arrangements.
  4. Strengthening extended network of social care services for the protection of people with disabilities
  5. Enhance awareness about the socio-economic needs of people with disabilities
  6. Strengthening capacity to lead national labor and social protection policy development and implementation.

In order to fulfil its responsibilities both in National and International level to protect and promote the human right values, the government of Afghanistan, apart from the national instruments has joined the  following international conventions and frame works

The following treaties ratified by the government of Afghanistan are enabling people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to join the mainstream of development: Convention on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personal mine and on their destruction; The Convention on Cluster Munitions; UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and Vocational rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention.

There has been substantial work undertaken by the government, UN agencies, international development organizations and the Afghan civil society in establishing economic, social and legal institutional foundations to promote the interest of vulnerable populations which includes people with disabilities as well. Through development and humanitarian work, disability is emerging as a cross-cutting issue in all policy and programme development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation process. The government of Afghanistan has identified the following principal areas of intervention to create enabling environment for people with disabilities: Access to education, especially for girls and women with disabilities; Access to justice; Access to decent and full employment; and Good governance for persons with disabilities.

The Afghanistan relevant institutions will sensitize the officials of the key ministries impacting the lives of people with disabilities to deal with issues related to disability benevolently and with all sensitivity. Disbursement of pensions and other social security benefits will take place in a time frame manner. The Directorate will ensure that grievances related to social security benefits are disposed -off without inordinate delay and within the time stipulated by the government. The proposed disability commission will monitor the process ensuring good governance to persons with disabilities in all the key departments.

The disability movement is largely led by the civil society which is exposed to ‘social and a rights-based model’ of approaching disability. The Disability Stakeholder Group in Afghanistan comprises NGO, INGOs and members from the civil society such as the media who attend monthly meetings and are part of the decision –making process of the ministry regarding all issues related to policies and programmes for people with disabilities. The government will ensure that the disability stakeholders group of Afghanistan is consulted by the UN Country Team in preparing the UN Strategic Framework in accordance with the UN Guidelines.

No single agency can fulfil the needs of people with disabilities alone; all development agencies should include disability as a key component within their efforts. Afghanistan is going through a brisk period of reconstruction and development. It will be the policy of the government to ensure that disability becomes a ‘cross-cutting theme in our agenda. Every effort will be made by the government to include disability within the policies and programmes of agencies such as UN, NGOs, civil societies, donor agencies and other ministries. The proposed National Institute for Persons with Disabilities will have a department for promoting disability policy and advocacy which will specifically focus on mainstreaming disability within the national agenda of all the stakeholders.

I thank you.

“New Approaches to the Security Council Reform”

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and

increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters  At the meeting on

“New Approaches to the Security Council Reform”

Rome, Italy

4 February 2013

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would first like to extend my appreciation to our Co-Chairs the Honourable Minister Giulio Terzi and Secretary of State Gonzalo De Benito of Spain, for hosting this important Ministerial Meeting and for their earlier remarks. I also wish to thank the Italian Government for their hospitality in bringing us together again in the historic city of Rome.

For me, as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, it is encouraging to see capitals, like our hosts today, investing in the reform process by organising meetings such as this third conference here in Rome. An active engagement of capitals is a key component in the reform process. These international meetings are an important factor in this equation and I welcome the pertinent questions framed in the concept paper for this meeting.

In New York we have undergone eight rounds of negotiations on Security Council reform. Our most recent round saw marked progress in regards to deepening interaction and dialogue amongst Member States. We witnessed a notable increase in the momentum of the process, and the beginning of real give and take. This is progress which should not be lost.

The eighth round allowed the membership to study in depth and discuss the proposals of five groupings of Member States. However, the focus on the five Member States’ initiatives has meant that there has not been an opportunity to fully explore all models for Security Council reform. It could prove to be productive to address these options in the current session of the General Assembly.

Together, since 2009, we have created a number of milestones. Member States came together around the idea of text based negotiations, which reflects the positions of all Member States. The next logical step from here, as suggested in my letter of 25 July 2012, would be to work towards genuine give and take based on a concise working document. It is my hope that this suggestion, and others contained within my letter, even if they are not a point of agreement for all, they can be points for discussion. As Chair I am committed to moving the negotiations forward, impartial to any position and yet partial to progress.

I have undertaken a number of consultations with Member States and groupings of States in the last months. I will be continuing these consultations in the coming weeks with all who wish to discuss the way forward during the 67th Session of the General Assembly. This continuing interaction with Member States will help to shape our collective thinking about the progress of Security Council reform negotiations this year. After this period of consultations we will need to re-focus our efforts within informal plenary, allowing all Member States to weigh in on our next steps during this General Assembly session.

Revision three of the text is now undergoing an update to reflect letters received from Member States, to ensure all positions are correctly reflected in the text. As a result of this update, the text will stand as an accurate reflection of all the positions on the table, to be used by Member States as a point of reference and possibly a tool for negotiations.

Early reform was envisioned by our leaders in 2005 and is encapsulated in the World Summit Outcome Document. Our effort towards this objective requires genuine political will from all stake holders in the process. As I outlined in my letter, to ensure that the current process of the Intergovernmental Negotiations is truly assisting us towards an early reform, it should not be seen as an open-ended process. There is a widespread reluctance against “artificial deadlines” but there is an equally widespread demand for concrete results.

Member States have expressed a wish for negotiations in which they can undergo genuine give and take. To achieve this, it would be helpful to hear from Member States about what would bring the process to this point and how Member States intend on contributing to that. In my view, this conversation would be central to our next discussions about Security Council reform, whether here in Rome or with all Member States at the United Nations in New York.

This conference’s focus on “new approaches” is important. We all agree that Member States must be the drivers of this process so it is indeed time for Member States to use the tools available to explore any new and creative initiatives through cross grouping collective efforts towards our common goal of a Council that reflects today’s realities.

I would once again like to thank our hosts here in Rome, Minister Terzi and his colleagues, for this opportunity to bring together distinguished participants. I am personally thankful for his commitment to this process in support of our efforts, one which we have shared since the Intergovernmental Negotiations began in the 63rd General Assembly session. I look forward to continuing to work closely with him and all Member States.

A colleague told me last night at dinner, that it is now the Luna year of the snake. In the Chinese calendar this is a symbol of wisdom. I hope that such a message will boost our collective effort towards Security Council reform this year.

 

Thank you.

 

“New Approaches to the Security Council Reform” Ministerial Meeting in Rome, Italy

Feb. 5th, by Afghan Mission

On Monday, February 4th, 2013, in Rome, Italy, a Ministerial Meeting on the subject of UN Security Council Reform was co-chaired by Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi and Spanish Secretary of State Gonzalo de Benito Secades.  The theme of the meeting was, “New approaches to the Security Council Reform.”  Over 60 countries met in Rome to foster political dialogue on this important matter.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi’s opening remarks, noted that “the reform of the UNSC can no longer be postponed so as to reinforce the UN’s credibility as a champion of international peace and security and in laying the solid foundations of a new architecture of collective security.”

Ambassador Zahir Tanin, was in attendance in his capacity as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.  He addressed the Member States in attendance by expressing his encouragement at the recent level of participation and involvement in the Intergovernmental Negotiations.  He highlighted “a notable increase in the momentum of the process, and the beginning of real give and take”, during the most recent round of negotiations in New York and expressed a wish to move the process along further in this session of the General Assembly. Ambassador Tanin also made reference to his 25 July 2012 letter to Member States and the recommendations contained within it, stating that it is his hope that “even if they are not a point of agreement for all, they can be points for discussion.”

Ambassador Tanin also urged discussion from the participants in regards to the level of real give and take interaction in the negotiations and asked Member States to comment on how to further “bring the process to this point and how Member States intend on contributing to that.”

The meetings focus on “new approaches” to reforming the Security Council and high level of its participants not only raises awareness but shows the commitment of the Member States to take the reform process forward in the next General Assembly session.