Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Renowned Intellectual Noam Chomsky Speaks on Palestinian Rights at the United Nations

On 14 October, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People invited Professor Noam Chomsky, leading American philosopher and political activist, to deliver a lecture at the United Nations as part of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. H.E. Ambassador Fode Seck of Senegal, Chair of the Committee for the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, opened the meeting and then gave the floor to Amy Goodman of the independent news program Democracy Now.  Ms. Goodman moderated the audience question and answer session that followed and introduced the Professor.  Dr. Chomsky focused his remarks on the Palestinian struggle for statehood and the related responses of the international community.


Speaking specifically on the role of the United Nations, Dr. Chomsky suggested that the organisation could recognize the State of Palestine, noting that 138 Member States did so in the General Assembly in November 2012 and that members of the Swedish and British parliaments recently voted in favour of doing the same.


Taking the floor in the discussion that followed, H.E. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, noted that the Palestinian People’s determination to continue the struggle. “Our people are dead determined that we do not want to stay in Bantustans in apartheid-style,” he said.


Before the meeting, Dr. Chomsky participated in a special briefing before the press. H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, delivered the opening statement at the briefing.  “Professor Chomsky is undoubtedly one of the most prominent critical thinkers of our time,” Ambassador Tanin said in his introductory remarks. “His extensive study and work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 40 years could not be more relevant and pertinent than at this particular juncture.” A question and answer session followed the briefing, during which a number of journalists raised questions answered by Professor Chomsky.



Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations     At the General Debate of the First Committee

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, let me join other delegations in congratulating you on your election as Chairman of the First Committee. We wish you and the members of the Bureau every success leading the work of the Committee, and assure you of our full support and cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). However, I wish to make the following observations in my national capacity:

Afghanistan reiterates its full commitment to multilateral diplomacy, as an important principle for advancing disarmament, non-proliferation and international security. We believe the global goals towards arms control, arms reduction, and the full eradication of any type of Weapons of Mass Destruction can only be realized through all sides displaying strong political will.


Afghanistan supports, unequivocally, all initiatives in the sphere of Nuclear disarmament.  Consistent with a core pillar of our foreign policy, we are fully committed to realizing a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Asia and other parts of the world. In this regard, Afghanistan is party to both the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).


Mr. Chairman,


As highlighted in two previous conferences in Oslo and Nayarit, the catastrophic consequences and humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are unbearable and should serve as an imperative to prevent any use of these weapons in the future. We echo other delegations in saying that the only guarantee against this is the total elimination of all Nuclear Weapons. We welcome the call made at the Nayarit conference, for the development of a legally binding instrument prohibiting any use of Nuclear Weapons and we are looking forward to the 3rd Conference to be held in Vienna in December this year.


Decades after the adoption of the NPT, we have yet to see any substantial progress towards its implementation particularly with regards to Article VI of the Treaty. As we approach the 9th review conference of the NPT next year, we believe that sincere commitment and cooperation is required by all, particularly Nuclear Weapon States; in order to move towards the realization of the overall goal of the NPT and the objectives of its review conference.


We strongly support the establishment of a Middle East zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction. Any continuing delay in the establishment of the Middle East Zone runs contrary to the commitments made at 2010 Review Action Plan and we call, in this regard, for the convening of the conference without further delay.

We also stress the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT and we believe its entry into force will prevent further development and proliferation of these inhuman weapons.


Mr. Chairman,


This year marks one of the deadliest years for the Afghan people since 2001. Use of high Explosive Weapons systems with wide area effect, such as mortars, rockets and grenades, by terrorists groups in civilian populated areas and use of civilians as human shields have resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian causalities.


Indiscriminate and unlawful continuing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), including pressure-plate IEDs, roadside bombs and suicide attacks by terrorists and extremist groups continue to cause an overwhelming loss of life of ordinary civilians, as well as Afghan and international security forces on a daily basis; and are in direct violation of international humanitarian law. However, my government in 2010, prohibited the import, export, and transfer of ammonium nitrate, the main substance for manufacturing IEDs, we still face a situation in which such substances continue to be trafficked into our territory from within our immediate region. As such, we call for more coherent efforts and integrated mechanisms to address this challenge in our region and beyond.


Mr. Chairman,


Having experienced enduring conflict and violence, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of small arms and light weapons. During war time, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and over a million people were killed by small arms and light weapons alone and approximately one million people were disabled or handicapped because of these weapons and associated ammunitions. Small arms and light weapons have clearly been the main destabilizing and destructive element in Afghanistan over the last three decades. Afghanistan bears witness daily to fact that terrorists’ access to illegal small arms and light weapons fuels the cycle of violence in Afghanistan and in our region.

In this regard, Afghanistan fully supports the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.  We welcome adoption of the outcome document of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States, a process chaired by Afghanistan, and I thank all Member States for their cooperation throughout the process.

Despite the progress made in regulating the manufacture, trade, transit and circulation of small arms and light weapons, greater international cooperation and assistance is still needed to address challenges arising from the illicit circulation and uncontrolled spread of these weapons in many region of the world, particularly in conflict and post conflict situations. Hence, we also welcome the inclusion in the SDG’s the goal towards the reduction of illicit arms flow by 2030.

Mr. Chairman,

War and violence has left Afghanistan heavily mined; in fact it is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Abandoned landmines and explosives ordinances continue to pose a great threat to the lives of many Afghan civilians and further jeopardize the security and development of Afghanistan and its people. Over a million people have already lost body parts due to landmines, and this widespread destruction and loss of life continue today. Moreover, at present, the Taliban and extremist militant groups continue use mines to achieve their ultimate goal of threatening stability, safety, and development in Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding the many challenges ahead, the end of Afghanistan’s landmine and Explosive Remnants of War problem is in sight as Afghanistan has commenced work on a ten year plan in line with Ottawa Treaty extension request that will see Afghanistan mine free by 2023. This will be a monumental achievement for the country, a result of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of Afghan de-miners who have been supported technically and financially for many years by numerous donor states and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Yet financial constraints greatly hinder our ability to meet this tremendous challenge successfully, therefore sustained international support and assistance is core in our shared efforts towards achieving this goal.

We welcome the Maputo+15 Declaration adopted at the Third Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personal Mines and Their Destruction. We condemn in the strongest terms all use of anti-personnel mines, and support the “completion” goals of the Maputo Review Conference. While the Convention has had great success in fomenting the international community’s resolve against such indiscriminate weapons and in implementing country-specific commitments, Afghanistan still suffers from the consequences of past use.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, Afghanistan is fully committed to the eradication of cluster munitions, and ratified the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2011. With the destruction of thousands of different munitions, Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpiles. We are fully committed to the provisions of the convention on cluster munitions, condemn all use of these weapons which are indiscriminate in their impact and we encourage its universalization.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.



Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations  Before the 6th committee of the 69th session of General Assembly on “Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism” (Agenda item 107)

Thank you Mr. Chairman,


At the outset let me join other delegations in congratulating you on your election asChair of the Sixth Committee.  My congratulations also go to the other members of the Bureau. We look forward to working closely with you and we assure you of our full support and cooperation.


My delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Organization of  Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.


Mr. Chairman,


As a country that continues to be victimized daily by terrorism, Afghanistan strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


Over the past decade, Afghanistan has been at the battlefront of the global counter terrorism campaign. In the war against international terrorism, our people have suffered tremendously and have made huge sacrifices in terms of human and material losses. The death toll amounts to of thousands of people, significant portion of whom are  women and children.  Many more have been maimed and wounded. We have lost thousands of our soldiers and officers in our struggle against terrorism. In the first six months of this year alone we lost thousands  of our security forces, who put their lives at risk to protect their people and to eliminate this scourge.


In the past six months, terrorists and extremist armed groups took advantage of the protracted political and electoral crisis and surrounding uncertainty to launch major assaults around the country, using forces several hundred strong in “swarm attacks” to overwhelm district administrative centers and security checkpoints.  This resulted in considerable casualties among civilians and security personnel. The use of indiscriminate attacks such as explosive weapons in residential and populated areas, suicide attacks, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists and insurgent groups as well as cross border shelling have made this year one of the deadliest years for the Afghan people since 2001.


Nevertheless, in our pursuit of lasting peace, our counter-terrorism efforts will continue unabated and our commitment to defeating this scourge, nationally and internationally, is as strong as ever. To this end, our national army and police are on the front lines of all counter terrorism operations throughout the country. Scores of terrorists and enemy combatants have been killed or captured. Moreover, hundreds of terrorist plots have been averted in various parts of the country.


Mr. Chairman,


Afghanistan is of the belief that militancy and extremism will never serve the long-term interests of any country. In this regard, my government continues to engage its neighbours to promote regional cooperation. We express our concern about the rise and evolving trends of violent acts in our region and strongly support a comprehensive approach in addressing these threats.


With unwavering commitment in fighting international terrorism, we continue to adjust our national counter-terrorism legislation to correspond with international legal frameworks to combat terrorism. In this regard, our National Assembly approved a number of laws. This included laws towards combating the financing of terrorism and money laundering. We also continue to work towards the full implementation of the 13 international conventions and protocols  on terrorism, to which Afghanistan is a party.


Our region is particularly prone to terrorism. The government of Afghanistan sees regional cooperation as necessary to root out terrorism in our part of the world. In this regard, we are working closely with our immediate and distant neighbours, bilaterally, trilaterally and through other initiatives as part of our comprehensive approach in tackling this menace.


Strengthening border cooperation, inter-agency coordination and most importantly building confidence and trust among our neighbours and countries in the region is of utmost importance to our shared efforts in defeating terrorism. Moreover, regional organizations play an important role in the fulfilling our aims in this regard.


We hope to see concrete efforts towards the elimination of terrorist sanctuaries and support centres located outside Afghanistan, which represent the main source of the violence and terror in our country.


Mr. Chairman,


Increasing heinous terrorist attacks and the evolving nature of this menace in different parts of the world, once again attests to the necessity of an international, comprehensive approach in fighting such a fundamental threat to international peace and security. As the Secretary-General mentioned in his briefing before the Security Council on 24 September, “Missiles may kill terrorists. But good governance kills terrorism.” Promoting good governance, socio- economic development, respect for human rights and strengthening regional cooperation are the essential elements of a holistic approach in this fight.


The continued use of the internet and communications technology by terrorists and their supporters for recruitment, financing, training and inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism, to spread propaganda, and to gather and disseminate information for terrorist purposes is an issue of great concern. We call for integrated cooperation by international community to address this challenge and we stress the need for further capacity building efforts focused on legal and practical aspects in order to limit use of internet and communications technology by terrorist organizations.


We welcome the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, which Afghanistan co-sponsored. The increasing numbers of Foreign Terrorists Fighters travelling abroad to join extremist groups is of grave concern. In this context, we express our serious concern regarding the recent significant  increased number of Foreign Terrorist Fighters among Taliban and Al-Qaida in different parts of my country. The Afghan people suffered from the threat of Foreign Terrorist Fighters immensely. Hence, the implementation of the resolution will benefit us in our shared struggle against this phenomenon. We emphasize the need for further cooperation regionally and internationally to address the issue of Foreign Terrorism Fighters.


I also welcome the successful Fourth Biennial Review Process of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and commend Turkey for its hard work in facilitating the process. The adoption of the text by consensus represents once again the global condemnation of terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations while remaining aware of its evolving aspects. While the strategy provides guidance through its fourth pillar, we believe that the Strategy should be implemented in a balanced manner, with due consideration to all 4 pillars.


We recognize the central role of the UN and relevant UN agencies in coordinating the efforts of international community in countering terrorism and those of Global Counter Terrorism Forum in supporting member states in their fight against terrorism. We express our firm support for these efforts, which are aimed at the further implementation of the UN Counter Terrorism Framework.  In conclusion, Mr Chairman, we echo the call of other speakers in highlighting the need to achieve the early conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism.



I thank you.