Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Press Release: The Security Council Meets to Discuss the Situation in Afghanistan

 

On 22 June 2015, the Security Council held a debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. Council Members and representatives of ten member states delivered statements at the debate. Mr. Nicolas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), opened the debate.

 

Delivering a statement on behalf of Afghanistan, H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, condemned the recent attack on the Afghan parliament, which resulted in injury to civilians.  Council Members expressed their condolences for the victims of the attack. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this time, “ Ambassador Sisson, US Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, remarked during the debate.

 

Ambassador Tanin noted that Afghanistan’s enemies have opened a new offensive against the Afghan government. “This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS,” he said. Ambassador Tanin noted the bravery, strength and determination of Afghan forces in combatting these challenges. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, he explained.

 

Noting the government’s on-going efforts to further the peace process in Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin described the efforts of the National Unity Government to engage representatives of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, civil society including women, and the Taliban, which have generated new momentum in the process. He also touched on the importance of regional cooperation to the success of the peace process. The government of Afghanistan has worked to open a new chapter in its relations with the government of Pakistan, he said. “In the last 14 years an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability.”

 

The national unity government has appointed all cabinet ministers, and all but one has been approved by the parliament. The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments, Ambassador Tanin explained.  “A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.”

 

Following Ambassador Tanin’s statement, 26 representatives took the floor and reiterated their commitments to the government of Afghanistan in the long term. Member States welcomed Afghanistan’s progress over the last several months, and praised the government of Afghanistan’s efforts to enhance peace and security in the country and the wider region.

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,

 

At the outset, I’d like to thank the United Nations Mine Action Service for their organization of today’s event and we are pleased to co-chair this event with the Permanent Mission of Poland.  I am pleased to be here on this panel today with my distinguished colleagues, H.E. Boguslaw Winid, H.E. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, eeand Director Agnes Marcaillou.    I am grateful for their commitment to eliminating mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).  The elimination of thousands of mines in my country has only been possible with the support of donor countries such as those that my fellow panelists represent, as well as the commendable work of the Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) and its 50 national and international entities including NGOs, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, and the Government’s Department of Mine Clearance.

 

My country was mined heavily during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, as well as in the subsequent civil wars of the 1990s, and still today by the Taliban and other illegal armed groups.  Mines have been used strategically to protect supply routes, airfields, frontlines, and military posts.  They have been used to terrify communities and innocent civilians. After three decades of conflict in Afghanistan, tragically, over one million people have lost their lives or have been disabled as a result of landmines.  Afghanistan is today the most landmine and ERW impacted country in the world. Approximately half a million Afghan civilians live within 500 meters of landmine contaminated areas. Since the commencement of MAPA, 80 percent of mine contamination has been addressed. However, 4,266 minefields and battlefields in thousands of villages still need to be cleared.

 

The consequence of landmine and ERW contamination extends beyond the humanitarian space and impedes progress in economics and agriculture as well. Mines and ERWs obstruct access to basic services, facilities and infrastructure.  They render land impossible to use for schools, crops, and other productive activities. The country is still littered with hazardous explosive devices, meaning that even in areas where conflict has ceased, civilians risk death or injury from landmines, ERWs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In December of 2012, Afghanistan submitted a request to the States Parties of the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty to extend the deadline by which all antipersonnel mines would be removed from Afghan territory, by ten years.  As part of the extension request, Afghanistan submitted a 10 year work plan which will bring mine free status to the country by 2023.

 

The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices is another big threat to the lives of civilians. Indiscriminate use of IEDs is a common tactic among the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In 2014 alone, approximately 3,000 civilians were victims of injuries caused by IEDs in Afghanistan.

 

As we approach the year 2023, together with our partners, Afghanistan is confident we will see a mine free nation. This will be a monumental achievement for our country, a result of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of Afghan de-miners who risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure security for their fellow citizens. This past Saturday, 12 de-miners working for HALO trust, a partner of MAPA, were kidnapped from Logar province. On Monday, all but six were safely freed. We must continue working to ensure the safety and security for these brave men and women.

 

As we strive for the day when Afghanistan is completely mine free, the continuing support of the international community along with UNMAS, will ensure de-mining activities are conducted safely, efficiently, and effectively. With the end of the transition period and the beginning of the transformation decade, defined by national ownership and leadership, we are entering into a new phase of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, including the UN. Now, the Government of Afghanistan is engaged in a comprehensive reexamination of the role and activities of all UN entities in our country aimed at strengthening our collaboration and partnerships with the UN. This process will allow the government of Afghanistan to assume its central coordination role in development and humanitarian activities, including de-mining.  We look forward to continuing our close work with UNMAS and other organizations involved in mine clearance. For the success of our de-mining efforts, we call on the international community to continue financial assistance. We also, appreciate the support of member states for the General Assembly Resolution on Assistance in Mine Action, of which we are a co-sponsor. Together, we all seek the noble objective of an Afghanistan free of mines and explosive remnants of war, where our people will live without fear of these senseless weapons.

 

Thank you.

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations

 

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me offer my congratulations as we prepare to celebrate the Day of Vesak, the Day of the full moon. This joyous occasion, celebrated by millions on our continent and throughout the world, is a sacred day to commemorate the life, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

 

We come from different nations, speak various languages, and respect diverse customs yet, what unites us regardless of our differences is our past, our history and our tradition. Our millennia-old connection is one of a shared culture that extends from the Indian Ocean, to the valleys of the Hindu Kush, from Arab lands and to edge of Eastern Asia. Our commonalities serve as a channel of communication and connection that binds together the great historical regions of our continent.

 

The beauty and life we celebrate today recalls the major world religions. We are reminded that, these faiths have sought spiritual purity in the calm and contemplative majesty of the region. Afghanistan, in the very heart of Asia, has been a meeting place of many civilizations and great cultural traditions.

 

The Afghan city of Bamiyan, for more than 1500 years, coveted the greatest religious monuments of all mankind, Solsol and Shamama, two gigantic Buddha statues. These statues defined the historical city of Bamiyan, as the thriving center of religion, philosophy, and art. Located in the middle of the Silk Road, Bamiyan was the crossroads of cultural exchange between the East and West. Afghanistan’s history of mutual understanding of followers of other faiths allowed various cultures to coexist in harmony with great respect for one another.

 

Juxtaposing the city of Bamiyan’s historical glory, the Taliban, in 2001, tried to obliterate these revered statues with an absolute blindness for the importance of cultural heritage. Their act of destruction is a cultural crime, an act of fanaticism, bigotry, and hatred that shocked the consciousness of humanity. The Government of Afghanistan in collaboration with the international community, particularly UNESCO, is currently working to restore these symbols of shared priceless world history.

 

Today in an official ceremony, the city of Bamiyan assumed it’s historical role as the First South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s Cultural Capital of 2015. The ceremony welcomed high level members from Afghanistan and all over the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs broadcasted that over the course of the next year, several SAARC states will organize various cultural events in Bamiyan including, seminars, exhibitions, and musical performances. This reinvigorates the idea of Bamiyan as the center of the Silk Road. It once again serves the realization of our desire to turn Afghanistan into the Asian roundabout where goods, ideas, and people can flow freely in all directions.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Today Hindu and Sikh minorities in Afghanistan, who have made incredible contributions to the prosperity and progress of our country, celebrate Day of Vesak, as we do here at the UN. Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, who suffered the consequences of decades of war, violence and extremism along with millions of other Afghans, are now working together with all parts of the nations to rebuild and strengthen our country. I am here today to congratulate, all those in our country and the rest of the world, on this jovial celebration.

 

Today in New York at the United Nations, we come together with our friends, and representatives of countries from all over the world, who are here to take part in these wonderful festivities. As we do so, I would like to highlight how much this celebration today demonstrates the spirit of collaboration that unites all of our countries, at the United Nations and in the world.

 

Thank you.