H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA
Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the Council for this month. I am grateful for you for convening this meeting. Afghanistan deeply appreciates the strong support and solidarity of the family of nations in its arduous struggle to stand on its feet after decades of conflicts and suffering.
Specially, we are grateful for the excellent work and efforts of the UNAMA.
Our special thanks go to Ambassador Kai Eide and his able team.
I would like to brief you on our recent presidential and provincial council elections and the way forward. The August elections were important milestones in the processes of democratization and state-building in Afghanistan.
It was a multifaceted undertaking, involving different entities and players.
This includes Afghan national security forces, the Independent Election Commission, the Election Complaint Commission, Afghan media, the UN agencies, Afghan civil society, Afghan political community, the International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan voters.
It was the first time in the history of modern Afghanistan, that Afghans had the opportunity to organize a nationwide election.
What this election made different from other elections, was the degree of security threat. Al Qaheda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups did their utmost to disrupt the election.
Painfully, we lost a number of our security forces, our international partners and Afghan civilians to terrorist attacks prior and during the Election Day.
Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully.
As with any emerging democracy, there were cases of irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be aware of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.
For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support the forthcoming decisions by Afghan electoral bodies.
Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.
Afghanistan is faced with four categories of challenges and needs. These are stabilization, humanitarian, reconstruction and developmental. Only by pursuing a long-term and comprehensive strategy, we can consolidate our fragile achievements and institutions since 2001. Short-term, compartmentalized and partial solutions are doomed to fail.
The objective of such a strategy must be helping create a fully sustained and functioning state. The main pillars of this strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.
A long-term and comprehensive strategy needs adequate and right resources and skills.
To implement such a strategy, there is a need for a clearer division of responsibility between us and the international community. Afghanistan has to shoulder the main responsibility in creating a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic Afghanistan.
The sustained and substantial support of the international community will be crucial in enabling us to attain our national priorities.
We are very pleased with elevating Afghanistan as one of the main priorities of the US by the new administration. We are confident the surge in US military support, coupled with the increase in civilian and developmental assistance is the best way forward.
Afghanistan welcomes the proposal to convene an international conference on situation in Afghanistan. We will be pleased to host it in Kabul. This conference will be an opportunity to renew our partnership and outlaying specific and concert steps and programs.
The conference will be an important forum for identifying effective ways for implementing Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
Furthermore, it will have to discuss our mutual responsibility and commitment for principles of good governance, mutual accountability, transparency, aid efficiency and enhanced coordination.
Allow me to say few words about the strategic issue of good governance. In addressing Afghanistan’s short and long-term needs and challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning state is absolutely essential.
However, it is a reductionist view to reduce all our problems to only one issue. Terrorists are motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatic mindset and ideological ends.
In the context of Afghanistan, we often suffer from weak governance and absence of governance, as well as bad governance.
In many cases, we do not have basic and necessary tools of governance. Rather than bashing and delegitimizing our young state institutions, we have to invest in our national institutions. Furthermore, it is wrong and unethical to ignore bad and malpractices by other agencies, including in the donor community.
Another important issue is the question of re-integration of illegal fighters into civilian life.
From the beginning, it has been our stated policy that Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans. To this end and in the context of Afghanistan Constitution, we have resorted to all means to encourage those Afghans that took arms against their country to participate in the process of reconstruction of their motherland.
In coming weeks and months, we will accelerate our efforts towards this end.
To succeed in this endeavor, our efforts must be consistent with the ends that we are envisioning for Afghanistan and the region.
Secondly, as long as the leadership of the Taliban and other terrorist groups remain protected by external entities, we cannot achieve our goal in dismantling the dynamic of insecurity in Afghanistan.
Any sustainable effort in reintegration must focus on the leadership as well as non-ideological fighters.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another important issue for Afghanistan is regional cooperation. For us, regional cooperation is a pillar of our foreign, security and development policy. We fully believe in the utility of economic peace in our region. Many of our challenges are regional in nature and consequence, particularly, terrorism and drug trafficking. Only by creating cooperative environment in the region, we can collectively address our interrelated challenges.
In this context, our relation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is of utmost importance. Fortunately, in recent months, there has been a cooperative atmosphere between us and the new civilian government in Pakistan.
It is our sincere wish to extend this to other entities in Pakistan. To this end, the international community must ensure that only good behaviors are rewarded.
In addressing all these issues, the UN has and must play a leading role. The UNAMA is well-placed to communicate and bridge the mutual needs and expectations between us and our international partners. Enhancing coordination among and between different stakeholders is another important role for the UNAMA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude by reiterating Afghanistan’s full commitment and readiness to strengthening our partnership with our international partners. I am absolutely confident that with your support and solidarity, Afghanistan will restore its historical role and place as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a crossroads for trade, transit and tourism in the region.
I thank you.
STATEMENT OF H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the General Debate
of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
First, let me welcome you, Mr. President, and congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the 64th Session of the General Assembly. Afghanistan looks forward to working with you over the next year, and to strengthening the international responses to the crises facing us today.
Since its inception, the UN has been instrumental in addressing world’s challenges, particularly the global south. But significant challenges remain unresolved. The growing gap in opportunities and prosperity between and among nations reminds us that we are still far away from meeting the ideals and objectives of the UN charter in creating a just and secure world.
Strengthening and restructuring of the UN agencies remain pivotal in closing the gap between the objectives of the charter and the realities of the world. The UN is not a forum for lip service. It must embody the ideals of the charter by providing political and moral direction and leadership. n our increasingly interdependent world and the multi-laterally-oriented international system, the UN must assume greater responsibility in finding collective solutions to our challenges. The world, particularly the developing nations are faced with the threats of poverty, underdevelopment, environmental degradation, extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism, culturally-based racism, spread of weapons of mass destruction and arms race.
Rather than just managing and reacting to problems, the UN must find ways to address the structural causes of world’s problems and conflicts. To these ends, closer cooperation between the UN, the international criminal court, the International Financial Organizations and global civil society is vital in moving towards a more just and equitable relations among and between the nations.
Our efforts to address the new challenges must be accompanied by redoubling our commitment for resolving the remaining historical conflicts. Chief among them is the middle-east peace process. Afghanistan reiterates its call for the full implementation of UN Resolutions and other regional initiatives for bringing an end to the suffering of Palestinian nation and creating a safe region for all middle-eastern nations.
Finding a just and working solution to the middle-east peace process will also deny terrorists a potent recruiting tool. This will also remove a significant obstacle towards mutual understanding and cooperation between the Islamic world and the West.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic world faces a number of important internal and external questions and issues. Addressing these issues and reviving the prominent role of Muslims in contributing to humanity’s progress and civilization can only be attained if we, as members of the Islamic world, collectively confront current intellectual stagnation that many of us suffer. As with the golden era of Islamic history, intellectual freedom and creativity must be elevated to our highest social and political priorities. The Islamic world is in urgent need of an intellectual renaissance.
Islamophobia and equating Muslims to a violent minority is another issue that calls upon all of us, particularly the western nations, to seek effective ways to confront them. As with racially-motivated racism and discrimination, culturally-based racism must also be rejected and confronted.
Let me now turn to the situation in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the negative coverage of the situation in Afghanistan by international media has overshadowed the many positive trends and developments achieved since the collapse of the Taliban’s regime. Alongside terrorism, drugs, weak state institutions and corruption, a new Afghanistan is emerging. This Afghanistan comprises our emerging democracy, rising state institutions, nascent civil society, growing private sector and strong international solidarity.
I can refer to many examples about this Afghanistan. In the course of last 8 years, the percentage of access to basic health services has risen from 9% in 2001 to present 85%. The number of students had grown from one million only boy students in 2001 to nearly 7 million boys and girls in 2008. In 2001, there were only 4000 students in universities, whereas now more than 75000 are enrolled in 22 universities. The armies of private militia in late 2001 have been replaced by a nearly 200000 strong national security forces. Compared with one state Radio and a couple of newspapers during the Taliban, Afghanistan now has over 700 media outlets, who are often critical of the government.
In late 2001, only a handful had access to internet across Afghanistan, but today, we have one million users. Our average GDP per capita has grown from $US 185 in 2001 to $US 485 in 2008.
The generous support and sacrifices of the international community were vital in our joint and proud achievements in Afghanistan, for which we remain grateful.
The August presidential and provincial elections demonstrated the many positive changes. It was the first time in modern history of Afghanistan, that the Afghan institutions were tasked with organizing and holding a nationwide election. Taking into account the socio-historical realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully. In addition to be our first experience, we were faced with merciless enemies who did their utmost to disrupt and derail the process by terrorizing the Afghan voters.
By braving Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, Afghan voters demonstrated their determination and desire to have a modern, moderate and democratic political system. The electoral campaigns were conducted in a democratic spirit. The candidates transcended ethnic and religious lines. There was not major physical violence between the candidates’ supporters. The Independent Election Commission conducted successfully the voter-registration process, voting and counting. The Afghan media played a crucial role in educating and mobilizing the voters. Our national security forces did an excellent job in providing security prior and during the elections with the full coordination and cooperation with our international partners. On Election Day, we lost a number of our security forces, Afghan civilians as well as members of the International Security Assistance Forces to terrorist attacks.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the UN-supported Election Complaint Commission (ECC) are working hard on counting votes and addressing the complaints.
As with any emerging democracy, undoubtedly, there were cases of irregularities. But one should not assess a terrorist-inflicted nascent democracy with the criteria of centuries-old stable and prosperous democracies. This is not a call to condone fraud and irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be conscious of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.
In due course, the Independent Elections Commission and the Election Complain Commission will announce and certify the final results of the elections. For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support their decision. Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.
Afghanistan still faces significant challenges. Chief of them is terrorism, which enjoys safe haven and institutional support beyond our borders. As long as the terrorism infrastructure and sanctuaries, including the leadership of the Taliban remains protected, Afghanistan, the region and the world will be at the mercy of terrorists and their totalitarian ideology and objectives. Narcotic drugs, weak state institutions, corruption and socio-economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment constitute our other challenges.
Only by pursuing a comprehensive strategy, adequate resources, effective implementation and more importantly strategic patience and steadfastness, we can address our interconnected challenges in Afghanistan and the region. The main pillars of such a comprehensive strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.
Afghanistan fully endorses Pres. Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the new assessment by Gen MackCrystal, particularly, their emphasis on the need for a comprehensive and long-term strategy.
The forthcoming international conference on Afghanistan will be an opportunity for Afghanistan and our international partners to review and reiterate our mutual commitment and determination for addressing Afghanistan’s remaining challenges. It must renew the sense of partnership and cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community. It must aim to build upon our many joint achievements as well as addressing our mutual shortcomings and deficiencies. Our renewed compact with the international community will be complemented by the new compact between the Afghan government and the Afghan nation.
What the Afghan nation expects and deserves from a renewed partnership with the international community is the reassurance of long-term commitment and solidarity. They are rightly fearful of being abandoned once again to lawlessness, extremism, and external interference. Abandoning the Afghan nation who has endured years of suffering and pain will undermine the spirit of collective cooperation and the ideals of the UN. It will also overshadow the moral credibility of those who failed to honor their promise and commitment to Afghans for many generations to come. Furthermore, it will embolden extremists in the region and beyond.
On its part, the Afghan Government is fully committed and determined to assume the lead responsibilities in providing leadership for the full realization of the aspiration of Afghan citizens and its commitment to the international community. The principles of good governance, mutual accountability and regional cooperation are of highest priority. There must be zero-tolerance for any drug-related activities and corruption by both the Afghan Government and our international partners.
I have full confidence that with the full support and commitment of the family of nations, Afghanistan will be able to overcome the legacies of decades of violence and suffering. We will restore our historic position as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a regional crossroads and hub for trade, transit, transportation and tourism.
I thank you.