Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s important debate on “Women, peace and security.” My delegation commends your leadership of this council for the month of October.  I would also like to express my appreciation for the Secretary General’s comprehensive report on the progress of Resolution 1325.

Mr. President,

The government of Afghanistan is dedicated to the implementation of Resolution 1325. However, in post-conflict countries such as Afghanistan, forces of insecurity are the greatest threat to the advancement of the three pillars of this resolution: protection of women in war and peace, promotion of women’s rights, and participation of women in peace processes.

As the Secretary General’s report has indicated, insecurity is the basic concern that must be addressed before true progress towards women’s rights can be made. Instability affects the most vulnerable parts of the population, and women and children continue to account for the majority of casualties in hostilities.  In Afghanistan, the atrocities of the Taliban threaten the progress of women.  The historical agenda of the Taliban, during its rule in Afghanistan, included a tyrannical denial of all basic rights to women: the right to free movement, to education, to work. Today, this goal of the Taliban appears unchanged: where they advance in Afghanistan, women’s rights retreat. In areas of increased Taliban activity, there are pronounced restrictions on women’s mobility, attacks on girls’ schools, and a decrease in services for women provided by our government and aid agencies.

Mr. President,

Despite the growing threat of insecurity, Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, has made several improvements in the participation of women in peace and security.

The Government of Afghanistan has ensured that women’s rights are enshrined in the

Afghanistan Constitution, as well as all major international agreements such as the Afghanistan Compact and the recent Paris Declaration. In addition, women have participated in the transitional process from the Bonn Conference until the elections of 2004-2005 and onward. Women have been appointed to high positions in national and local governments, including cabinet-level posts. Today, women account for 27% of the National Assembly and almost 26% of civil servants. Habiba Sorabi, the successful female governor of Bamiyan, is one notable example.

Afghanistan has also strengthened its government institutions to promote women’s rights. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has achieved much through its dedicated advocacy for women. The National Justice Plan of Afghanistan seeks to improve women’s involvement in the justice sector, and the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan aims to increase women’s participation in all areas of social, economic and political life. Finally, the Government of Afghanistan, with international organizations and domestic groups, has worked tirelessly to promote women’s rights in Afghanistan by improving access to healthcare, education and basic services. Today, 40% of children in school are girls, and 81% of the population now receives healthcare through the Basic Package of Health Services. 40,000 more women now live through childbirth every year.

Mr. President,

Despite these advances, Afghanistan needs to continue to do much more to meet the objectives of Resolution 1325.

Most immediately, the security situation continues to directly affect women’s security and their access to health, education and social protection. Continued terrorist activity is affecting the implementation and monitoring of all programs and projects, especially in the provinces. In addition, poverty, the lack of education and unbalanced allocation of resources must also be addressed. More work is needed to ensure the participation of women in all parts of the stabilization process.

To continue to advance women’s participation in peace and security, our country has a few observations to offer:

1. International involvement is crucial. International support for national initiatives provides important gender-sensitivity training for national institutions such as the national army and police force. International training for women in the civil service, and international support for female students in the form of schools and increased educational opportunities are also crucial. Lastly, coordinating roles, such as the role of UNAMA in Afghanistan, are immensely helpful in coordinating activities and sharing knowledge between organizations that are working to forward women’s rights.

However, international partners must recognize that:

a) Improvement should be internally-driven. While international support is important for all of the aforementioned reasons, the international community should be cautioned that true reform for women’s participation in peace and security should be generated within the context of the particular country. International involvement should be motivated by the needs of the women within  the particular country. There should be no external imposition of standards; there should be no external political agendas.

b) International troops should assist national efforts to protect women. For better protection of women’s participation in peace and security, gender sensitivity training should be mandatory for troops from all countries. In addition, their assistance is important in facilitating women’s mobility to access water, healthcare and markets, and in creating the conditions for women’s safe

participation in the public and political life of the country. For example, in Afghanistan, international forces continue to protect roads on which women and families frequently travel to access government services.

2. Importance of regional collaboration. The Secretary-General’s advocacy of regional action plans and regional organizations to support national commitment is fully supported by our government. As infringements on women’s rights are often cross-boundary issues, such as the spillage of women refugees from conflict situations, solutions should also be cross-boundary.

3. Importance of a cohesive approach. A successful approach to advance women’s participation in peace and security must address women’s role in all major sectors of society. In Afghanistan, women’s advancement must be addressed by quelling terrorism, eradicating poverty and addressing ignorance through education.

4. Involvement of women in reconciliation processes. Talks to consolidate peace in post- conflict settings should involve women at every stage. Such talks cannot compromise women’s rights in any way and must strongly adhere to the principles of true democracy and women’s political participation.

5. The need for action, not words. Steps forward must move women’s rights beyond slogans and good intentions. The gender advisor to the Afghan Ministry of the Interior has found that “organizational inertia” is perhaps the main cause of problems associated with gender inequity in the government ministries. We need the political will and the genuine commitment that will transform words into action. And as the Paris Conference recently reminded us, international donors must fulfill their pledged aid so that efforts to improve women’s standing can be sustained.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, to advance the protection of women in war and peace, the promotion of women’s rights and the participation of women in peace processes, Afghanistan would like to emphasize the importance of addressing the threats of insecurity. Security is the first concern of post-conflict countries that hope to make progress in women’s rights. After security is addressed, the following lessons are important: recognition of the importance of international involvement, the importance of regional collaboration, the inclusion of women in reconciliation processes, and the need to move beyond words towards action.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Debate on Item 53 (Eradication of Poverty) in the Second Committee

Statement by Mr. Mohammad Wali NaeemiCounselor, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Debate on Item 53 (Eradication of Poverty) in the Second Committee

Madam Chair,

Thank you for giving me the floor on a very important agenda item: poverty eradication.

Madam Chair,

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the G77 and China, and the statement delivered by the Bangladesh on behalf of the Least Developed Countries.

Let me express my gratitude to the Secretary General for the inclusive and comprehensive reports of the United Nations’ accomplishments and further activities on eradication of poverty and hunger at the global level. Afghanistan offers its support and commitment on the beginning of the second United Nations Decade for the eradication of poverty, 2008-2017.

We strongly believe that with the political will, commitment and rigorous action of the world community, poverty will be eradicated pervasively at the global, regional and national level, by the end of the second decade.

The panel discussion held on the Second United Nations Decade for Poverty Eradication recently at the UN, will substantially contribute to the discussion in the second committee on this very important agenda item.

Madam Chair,

The Second Decade has a clear focus; special attention is given to countries in unusual situations and needs, particularly Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries. This decade should be modeled as a promoter of fairness in development in a highly globalized world. Poverty is a critical problem and raises global concern, thus eradication of poverty should be addressed from a committed, comprehensive and strong position.

The current economic crisis we face adds to the challenge of poverty and increases the potential inability of countries to meet the MDGs. Apart from the current crisis, other elements are contributing to the deterioration of poverty such as:

1. Fragile security, weak infrastructure, inaccessibility to advance technology and energy.

2. The decline in relative terms in agriculture.

3. Increase in oil prices and uncertainty in the exchange rate,

4. Growing energy demands,

5. Factors that limit international financial assistance and cooperation on capacity-building, and the rural development sector.

Given the importance of all factors above, agricultural development is crucial in responding to the food crisis and crucial in controlling poverty globally. Agriculture is the backbone of a developing country’s economy.  Therefore, critical steps must be taken in all areas mentioned, including the agriculture sector at the global, regional and national level to help with the eradication of extreme poverty.

These steps are essential for countries with special needs in particular post-conflict countries. Most countries in special situations like Afghanistan are experiencing numerous challenges such as insecurity, sharp rises in food prices and high commodities prices. The continuation of this food crisis will force millions of people to starvation and spark widespread instability. Consequently, global efforts are needed to address the current crisis in such countries standing at the edge of absolute poverty. We have the hope that the international community in the upcoming decade will seriously consider the critical situation of some countries and create an inclusive policy to address these critical conditions.

Madam Chair,

Eradication of poverty in the world is a collective responsibility based on the understanding that poverty is a threat to peace, security, and prosperity everywhere. The root causes of increasing poverty at the global level are well known. What is absent, is the political will and concrete action on the commitments made by world leaders.

I thank you.

Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan Condemns the Killing of Civilians in Afghanistan

Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, spoke yesterday from Kabul about the recent spate of civilian deaths caused by the Taliban and other insurgents. He expressed great concern over the loss of life. He said, “I have stressed many times over the past months the need for proper protection of civilians during combat. With these incidents there was no combat. The purpose of such attacks is to stoke fear among the wider population. I strongly condemn such acts.”

He also expressed his deep sympathy for those suffering in Afghanistan, and for the friends and family of those who have been killed or who remain missing.

For the complete text of the statement, click here.