On 10 March 2014 in at the League of Arab States Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and Vice-Chair of the Committee, attended the Joint Meeting of the League of Arab States and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP).
The CEIRPP delegation to the meeting included H.E. Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations and the Chairman of the Committee, H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations and vice-chair of the committee, and H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations. The CEIRPP delegation also held bilateral meetings with the leadership of the League of Arab States, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
In addition to other participants, representatives from the League of Arab States including its Secretary General, H.E. Dr. Nabil El Araby, and Assistant Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Sobeih also attended the joint League of Arab States – CEIRPP meeting. The 25 Member States of CEIRRP were in attendance with the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iraq, Malaysia, Malta, Maurtania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine, Tunisia, and Turkey among the countries represented at Ministerial and Ambassadorial level. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Assistant Secretary General for Palestine Affairs, H.E. Mr. Samir Bakr Diab, represented the organization at the meeting.
The meeting involved a plenary session, during which participants discussed support of the Arab countries during the international year; renewing support of Arab states and the Committee for the successful conclusion of the permanent status negotiations in accordance with international law; buttressing international solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and reinforcing the practical solidarity of the Arab states and of the Committee with the Palestinian people and the state of Palestine. Ambassador Diallo chaired the meeting, with Ambassador Tanin chairing the meeting’s conclusion. Closing the meeting, the President of the Committee and the Arab League delivered a joint press statement.
At the meeting’s close, participants adopted the Cairo Declaration in Solidarity with the Palestinian People. “We, members of the League of Arab States and the Members and Observers of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People…commemorate the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” participants declared. In the document, they reaffirmed their “unwavering solidarity” with the Palestinian people, noting the unprecedented challenges Palestinians face today and reiterating the longstanding call for a just, lasting and peaceful solution.
Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Campaign Launch: Children, Not Soldiers
Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for your participation at this event and for the leading role of the Ambassador of Luxembourg, Sylvie Lucas. I would like to thank our esteemed friends Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative to the Secretary General, Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Mr. Hervé Ladsous, Under Secretary General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for their statements, and for their collective work to prevent the suffering of children in armed conflict in countries like mine and around the world. I am honored to speak at the launch of the Special Representative’s commendable campaign to end the recruitment and use of children by government security forces.
Children have suffered profoundly in Afghanistan as a result of over 30 years of violent conflict. War cast a shadow over their daily lives, cutting their childhoods short, subjecting them to violence, and leaving them without their families and loved ones.
Yet, while children have experienced indescribable anguish throughout Afghanistan’s long conflict, the nature of today’s wars and the tactics of terrorist groups have made the past several years particularly brutal for children.
War in Afghanistan left young boys and girls without support systems and forced them to become the main breadwinners for their families. Motivated by poverty, children in my country often try to join the national and local police or the army, even lying about their age so that they can serve. This is not a result of a systematic attempt by the government to recruit children, but rather a result of children’s desperation to provide for their own and their family’s livelihoods.
Understanding these awful circumstances, my government still affirms that child recruitment is unacceptable in all cases. Preventing children from joining security forces in Afghanistan has thus become a focus for my government, as it has for the international community.
To this end, the government of Afghanistan has taken strong measures to ensure that recruitment and use of children by our security forces ends completely, among them I can name:
In 2006, the Ministry of the Interior set the age requirement for recruitment at 18-35 years, and has since issued identity cards to verify the ages of those enlisting. Relatedly, the Ministry of Justice enacted a criminal law imposing a penalty of 5-10 years in prison for the falsification of identity cards. In addition, since 2010 a series of strong Presidential and Ministerial decrees have been issued condemning the recruitment of children in both the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan National and Local Police. Now both the Local and National Police have high-level focal points working to limit recruitment. Also, Afghanistan created the first ever Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee to implement the 2011 Action Plan to halt child recruitment, signed with the UN.
These successes, Excellencies, do not negate the tremendous challenges ahead of us. We know that much progress is yet to be achieved. While our government is working steadily to protect children, progress thus far has only been possible through the committed support of our international partners. We need their technical expertise and funding- in addition to their advocacy- to prevent recruitment and to end this scourge. We call on our international partners to continue their support so that this campaign is no longer applicable to our country.