Monday, December 22, 2014

Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
At the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement
April 29, 2009
Havana, Cuba

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Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation would like to thank the Republic of Cuba for its leadership of Non-Aligned Movement since September 2006, and express our appreciation for their warm hospitality in this colorful city of Havana. We trust that under your leadership, this meeting will prove a success, and we will be well prepared for the upcoming Fifteen Summit in Egypt in July 2009.

Mr. Chairman,
The world has changed significantly since April 1955, when Afghanistan joined 24 of our brother countries in founding this Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Today, the Cold War has ended and there is a new global order: we no longer see through a bipolar prism, we see through a multi-polar one. And inter-state war has become overshadowed by terrorist attacks by state and non-state actors.

However, NAM’s founding principles are as relevant today as they have ever been. In 1983, at our movement’s seventh summit, we described ourselves as “history’s biggest peace movement.” Today the call of peace has great resonance against the violence of terrorism and the conflicts that still plague our world. Other founding principles of NAM – respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and the recognition of the equality of nations- are important, too, in addressing today’s challenges of our evolving political and economic world order.
Thus our meeting today is important. Today our discussion centers on how NAM’s voice can be most effective in answering the many challenges we face.

Mr. Chairman,
My country offers a unique perspective to this discussion. As a land-locked, least-developed country that is still a victim of terrorism, Afghanistan is deeply concerned with the challenges we face with many of our Southern brothers.
We join with you in remaining committed to a just solution for the suffering of the people of Palestine, the creation of two states and a harmonious Middle East. Afghanistan once again urges the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Road Map. We are hopeful for a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear program in our brother country of the Islamic Republic of Iran. My delegation also is encouraged by the increasing stability in Iraq and we congratulate our Iraqi brothers and sisters on coming together to forge a more stable and peaceful situation.

In addition, Afghanistan sees the necessity and potential of North-South collaboration, as well as cooperation between countries in the South, because we have an active and crucial partnership with the international community and with our regional neighbors.
Perhaps most importantly, Afghanistan can offer a unique perspective because our key challenges today are also the two key challenges that all NAM countries face, and which we should work to address.

Mr. Chairman,
The two main crises today are that of terrorism and an economic depression. These crises are related.
Terrorism is Afghanistan’s primary concern and the world’s primary challenge. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies find their sanctuaries in the area bordering our country. We feel first-hand the costs of terrorism: the death of thousands of our innocent citizens, the burnings and destruction of schools, health clinics, hospitals, and roads.
But terrorism has a global reach. From New York to London, from Mumbai to Madrid, and from Kabul to Karachi, terrorist attacks have cast their shadows on both the North and South.

The second main crisis is that of the global financial collapse which exacerbates the already severe crises of energy, environment and food that particularly threaten the developing countries of the South. Already poor countries threaten to become even more mired in poverty. Afghans have felt this firsthand, as the rising wheat prices created the threat of a deadly food shortage this past winter. Thus, this financial crisis deepens the great gulf that already exists between the wealth of rich countries and the poverty of struggling nations.
My country also offers a clear example of the political implications of this divide. Poverty breeds desperation. Thus, weak states breed terrorists, organized crime and dangerous extremist elements that threaten the safety and wealth of rich countries. Again, both the North and South are affected.

Mr. Chairman,
Afghanistan is on the front lines of these two key challenges, and today I would like to underline the importance of cooperation in our work for physical and economic security.

Afghans have seen how regional and international assistance is imperative to fighting our war on terror and providing stable economic futures for our citizens. Our greatest steps forward: the constitution, the elections, combating narcotics, improvements in the Afghan National Army, infrastructure, education and health, were ones we took together with international and regional partners. International cooperation has enabled Afghanistan to establish representative political institutions, encourage free media, the paving of roads, and the building of thousands of schools, clinics, and hospitals around the country. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections will prove an important test of this progress. We look for the support of the international community in our commitment to ensuring credible and transparent elections.
Because we have seen the fruits of cooperation with our own eyes, we stress that the global threats of terrorism and economic insecurity are challenges that can be met effectively only with cooperation: South with South, North with South, North with North.

Mr. Chairman,
Cooperation can best be accomplished through improving the operations of international and regional institutions, supporting international and regional cooperation, and increasing the effectiveness of international and regional efforts in the recipient countries.

First, to improve the operations of existing international and regional operations, Afghanistan is fully committed to NAM’s stated goal of improving the United Nations’ responsiveness and effectiveness. In chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on UN Security Council reform on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, I have the honor to see the dedicated work our countries are making to forward comprehensive, transparent, and balanced reform. I am making every effort to ensure that the reform continues in this spirit, and am hopeful for the prospects of this reform, as well as the processes focused on the revitalization of the GA and on system-wide coherence.
Afghanistan also fully supports the UN Secretary General’s call for a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) review conference in 2010. We commend the work of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development on the Implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus last December, and look forward to the High-Level Meeting planned for June. This conference reminds us of the need to maintain aid commitments despite global uncertainty. Afghanistan also supports the conference’s agreement to strengthen ECOSOC as a principal body for promotion of international economic cooperation, coordination, policy review and policy dialogue.

Second, Afghanistan is dedicated to finding more opportunities for international and regional cooperation as well as supporting the existing cooperative institutions such as ECO and SAARC. With our immediate neighbors, Afghanistan continues to work bilaterally and trilaterally to promote stability, security and strengthen economic cooperation. We are committed to working through the trilateral mechanisms including Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States, Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey and Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran. We are also looking forward to the Presidential-level meeting of the trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States contact group that is planned for May in Washington. The third regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan will be held in Islamabad soon. We hope such forms of cooperation will lead to concrete actions to ending the terrorist sanctuaries and addressing the increasing activities of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
Third, Afghanistan encourages the ongoing international efforts to find more areas of cooperation and coordination in the recipient countries themselves. With fewer economic resources, we must be smarter about how we use these resources. Afghanistan is thankful for the Paris conference last June, the recent Hague Conference, and the SCO meeting in Moscow in March-all conferences that have emphasized exactly this need for more consistent and effective delivery of aid.

Mr. Chairman,
The struggle for economic and political security in Afghanistan also shows the potential of a world that has met these challenges. A safe and secure Afghanistan will be able to offer innumerable benefits for the region and the world. Afghanistan can, and should, play a crucial role as a land bridge and economic hub for the region, a role that has historically placed us at the centre of Eurasian trade routes. Let this potential be one example of the light we work towards today.

Mr. Chairman,
Our discussion should recognize that NAM has an important voice in today’s world. Our founding principles of NAM are just as important today; these principles must stand strong against the main challenges of terrorism and economic instability.
But we stand strongest when we stand together. Afghanistan expresses its gratitude to the commitment of all our international partners, including the NAM member countries, to aiding in our efforts and success in building a secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. In turn, Afghanistan is fully committed to work together as a part of NAM to forward a more peaceful, secure world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Debate of the Security Council On Children in Armed Conflict

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
To the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On Children in Armed Conflict
April 29, 2009
Delivered by : Mr. Mohammad Erfani Ayoob,
Minister Counselor , Charge d’Affaires,ai

HE Amb. Zahir Tanin, PR of Afghanistan to the UN is in Havana to lead the Afghan delegation to the NAM Ministerial meeting. On his behalf and on behalf of the delegation of Afghanistan I have the honor to participate and deliver this statement on the subject under consideration by SC which is highly important for my country.
Madam President,

Please accept our congratulations, Madam President, for your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for this month. We thank you for convening today’s important debate to discuss the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict and for your chairing of the Working Group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. Your Excellency’s presence here today reflects the level of the commitment and effectiveness of your delegation on this issue.
We would also like to thank Mrs. Radikha Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General, for her insightful briefing this morning, commend the Department of Children and Armed Conflict for its continuing efforts to protect children affected by armed conflict and welcome the recent establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.

My delegation welcomes this report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict. In November 2008, the Secretary General’s country-specific report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan provided us with an initial opportunity to carry out fruitful discussion with our partners in the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on ways and means to better implement Resolution 1612 in the challenging environment of Afghanistan. We are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the Working Group’s conclusions on Afghanistan when they are finalized next month.

Madam President,

For this debate to continue effectively, we must recognize two facts: that one, the chief threat to children in Afghanistan is terrorism, and that two, to overcome this threat, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan must work together.

First, terrorism drastically affects the daily lives of our people, particularly children. The deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is the product of the surge of terrorist activities carried out by Al Qaida, Taliban and other associated armed groups. It is the Taliban and other terrorists groups that are and remain the main violator of human rights, including children’s rights, in Afghanistan, and these violations will continue as long as the security situation does not improve.

Terrorists have increased attacks in our territory, using barbaric methods imported from outside Afghanistan including the use of car bombs, suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices. These attacks deliberately target densely populated areas where children are the prime victims. Terrorists are recruiting, training, and exploiting children as combatants and sending them to operate as suicide bombers. The intensification of the Taliban intimidation campaign, accomplished through burnings of schools and clinics, attacking of female teachers and school-children, has created an atmosphere of terror which prevents our children from accessing basic government services. The recent acid attack on a group of schoolgirls was a horrific demonstration of the particular vulnerability of girls.

Madam President,

Our debate must concentrate our common efforts in defeating terrorism, and in finding ways and means to protect Afghan children and end the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban and other extremist and terrorist groups. The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the suggestions of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including proposals to exert pressure on the Taliban and other armed groups to stop recruiting children. However, these measures will be counterproductive if they offer recognition or legitimization to terrorist groups.

Madam President,

The reported cases of alleged recruitment, detention and sexual violence by individuals in the Afghan government or National Army and Police are disturbing, but isolated cases. For its part, the Government of Afghanistan is deeply committed to fully implementing Resolution 1612 and protecting the rights of children through all possible means and mechanisms.

Afghanistan has developed domestic laws relating to children, established juvenile judicial institutions and ratified most of the international human rights treaties including, in 2002, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. Our penal code prohibits sexual violence against children, and prohibits the recruitment of persons below 18 in our national police and 22 in our national army.

According to our juvenile code the legal age of criminal responsibility for a child is 12 to 18 years of age and they can be prosecuted and sentenced only by a juvenile court and can be confined only in a juvenile detention center. The Afghan national legislation, particularly a recent law on combating terrorist offenses, strictly prohibits the detention of children in adult prisons even if the child is accused of terrorism or threats to national security.

We recognize the importance of governance and rule of law to improve and better implement all these legal provisions. We are making necessary efforts on this direction and all of these efforts need sustained international involvement.

In conclusion, Madam President, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the international community for the military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan that are assisting us in ensuring security and enabling the implementation of rule of law, good governance and human rights, including children rights. We are grateful for their sacrifices in our common endeavor to preserve peace and security, their efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan people, and their recent efforts to address, with us, the issue of civilian casualties. We must continue to move together to stop terrorism’s menace to civilians and children.

Madam President,

Afghanistan has made substantial progress in ensuring the rights of children through legal frameworks and other mechanisms. However, terrorism continues to threaten our goals. It is our hope that, with the continuing help and focus of the international community and the ongoing determination of the Afghan government, we can improve the implementation of Resolution 1612 and protect our children, as the hope for our future, to the best of our ability.

I thank you.

Falling Short on Afghanistan

By PADDY ASHDOWN and JOSEPH INGRAM–

A just-released report from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance has produced some shocking findings with disturbing implications for the future of the war-ridden country and its unstable neighborhood. Yet the report and its conclusions have failed to capture the attention of the key politicians overseeing financial and military support from Afghanistan’s allies.

What this technical report, “The Donor Financial Review for 2008,” concludes is that the international community is falling woefully short in financing its own estimates of Afghanistan’s needs. For the period from 2008 to 2012, the financing gap is about $22 billion, or 48 percent of estimated needs. Worse, the activities financed by the donors have so far been seriously out of line with the strategic priorities established in Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy, which has been strongly endorsed by the donor community as a whole.

Although the Obama administration and its allies have stressed the need to direct more resources to economic and social development, the review suggests this direction is still to be established. As under the Bush administration, proportionately more appears to be going to security, with shrinking resources available for meeting Afghanistan’s development needs.

If this trend continues, as projected donor commitments suggest it will, the suffering of a very poor population will get worse, fueling support for the fundamentalist insurgency that threatens the entire region.

How can these dangerous trends be addressed, and are there lessons to be drawn from “successes” in other parts of the world?

Given that in the first years following conflicts in Bosnia and East Timor, financial aid per capita was on the order of $580 and $400 respectively, commitments today of only $57 per capita to Afghanistan seem laughably insufficient. These numbers suggest that the financing aid that has been committed or actually disbursed needs to be dramatically augmented.

At the same time, the proportion of resources being managed through Kabul’s own budget – rather than separately by each donor – needs to be increased. Currently, only 20 percent of the international community’s financial aid is being managed through Afghanistan’s national budget and in accordance with its strategic priorities. This is occurring despite a recent World Bank assessment that shows substantial improvements in the government’s overall capacity to manage developmental resources. Instead, 80 percent is being managed by donors themselves, creating costly inefficiencies.

Indeed, the situation described in the review defies all the principles of good practice in donor coordination, principles established by these same donor governments in a recent document known as the “Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.” While coordinating the donor community is often equated with herding cats, and each situation is unique, there are “success stories” like Bosnia, which offer important lessons.

In Bosnia, the international community was led by a so-called high representative, an impartial individual with credibility in the eyes of both the civilian and military communities. Though equipped with extraordinary powers conferred by a council made up of the government signatories to the Dayton Peace Accord, the high representative used these powers selectively, and only after consultation with the Bosnian government and council members.

Critical to successful coordination, however, was the creation locally of a board of key donor agency heads, a de facto cabinet under the chairmanship of the high representative, which met weekly, set common objectives and worked to align those objectives with government priorities. The board consisted of the heads of NATO forces, international police and security forces, the ambassadors of the European Union, the United States, Britain, the United Nations, the I.M.F. and the World Bank. Through this arrangement, the high representative, an E.U. national, was perceived as representing the interests of the broader international community rather than those of any single power.

This enabled the international community to act with unity in a way that allowed them to be better partners to the domestic authorities. The result was an efficient use of international aid, through a more effective prioritization of financial resources directed to infrastructure, health, education, a social safety net and job creation, as well as ensuring adequate security.

Given the desperate poverty and the danger of a fundamentalist takeover in the region, Afghanistan deserves no less.

Lord Ashdown is a former E.U. high representative in Bosnia. Joseph Ingram is a former director of the World Bank’s office in Bosnia.