Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, delivered a statement at the 12 February 2014 debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. Lithuania convened the debate as President of the Council this month. Valerie Amos, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Hervé Ladsous Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Director General of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord briefed the council. As an outcome, the UK proposed a presidential statement.
Taking the floor, Ambassador Tanin explained the high importance of this issue to the government of Afghanistan. “The Afghan people expected to see long-awaited peace when the Taliban regime ended following decades of war, unprecedented destruction and loss of life,” he said. “Yet despite joint stabilization efforts towards peace and security, the suffering of the Afghan people continues.”
“Afghan civilians are targeted with guns and bombs,” he told the Council, “by enemies who measure success in terms of blood spilled and life lost.” He emphasized that the Taliban and other extremist groups were responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, causing thousands in 2013 alone. Their tactics are “a horrific manifestation of man’s inhumanity to man,” he noted.
The Ambassador continued, saying that tragically, ground engagements in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations have resulted in the deaths and injuries of civilians. “It is unfortunate that Afghans lost their lives during operations by international and national forces that aimed to protect their lives,” he noted, and he stressed the strong commitment of the Afghan forces to protect civilians.
In closing, Ambassador Tanin remarked that the surest way to protect the lives, honor and dignity of citizens is to end the cycle of violence that harms innocent civilians. This requires sustained international assistance to support Afghan capacity, he explained, as well as the elimination of terrorist sanctuaries that fuel the cycle of violence, and the vigorous pursuit of our Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process