Thursday, November 27, 2014

The UN General Assembly shows Continued Support for the Future of Afghanistan by Unanimously Adopting the Resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan

Press Release:

On 20 November 2014, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan. H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, delivered a statement on behalf of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Heiko Thoms, introduced the draft General Assembly resolution. “The draft resolution reflects the remarkable shift in the security transition which Afghanistan and its international partners are approaching,” he said. Ambassador Thoms highlighted the significant progress made in Afghanistan over the past decade and also acknowledged the tremendous challenges facing the Government of Afghanistan in the years ahead. “Continued efforts are of paramount importance to protect and advance the gains made,” he said. He praised the Government of Afghanistan for its determination to tackle these challenges with vigor. “By adopting this resolution today, once again by consensus, the General Assembly will reaffirm its commitment to a prosperous and peaceful future for Afghanistan,” he remarked.

Taking the floor, Ambassador Tanin welcomed the General Assembly’s message of support for the new Government. Ambassador Tanin also expressed profound gratitude, on behalf of his Government, to all civilian and military persons who served with the Afghan people to build a better future for the country. “The Afghan people will always remember and honor their sacrifice and dedication,” he said.

Ambassador Tanin noted that 2014 was an historic year for Afghanistan, with the first democratic transfer of power from one president to the next and assumption of full responsibility for national security by the end of 2014. These significant achievements would not be possible without the support of the international community. “The support of our friends and partners allowed us to overcome the difficulties and move towards a unified, peaceful, democratic and prosperous future,” Ambassador Tanin said.

The newly elected President of Afghanistan, His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, and the National Unity Government are undertaking a comprehensive reform program to uphold the security of the nation, preserve the achievements of the last decade and build prosperity across the country. Key components of the reform agenda include eradicating corruption, enhancing democratic accountability, governance and rule of law, and promoting economic growth and social development.

Ambassador Tanin stressed that continued international support for the new Government will underpin successful reform. “The support of the international community has allowed us to build a new Afghanistan and will continue to be crucial in the transformation decade ahead,” he said.

Following Ambassador Tanin’s statement, over twenty members of the General Assembly delivered statements, which expressed continued support for Afghanistan in its efforts to strengthen national security forces, build strong regional partnerships, combat terrorism and narcotic threats and support Afghan refugees and returnees. At the conclusion of the debate, the General Assembly adopted, by consensus, the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan with the strong support of over eighty co-sponsors.

Ambassador Tanin speaks about Legal Aid in Afghanistan in a Panel Discussion at the United Nations

On 13 November 2014 at the United Nations, the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, South Africa and the United States to the United Nations, the Rule of Law Unit (on behalf of the UN Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group) and the International Legal Foundation co-organized a panel discussion on “Enhancing Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems”. The panel featured H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, the Hon. Judge Dunstan Mlambo, President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa and Chair of the Board of Directors for Legal Aid South Africa, Judge Lisa Foster, Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative, Ms. Jennifer Smith, Executive Director of the International Legal Foundation. Ms. Simone Monasebian, Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, moderate the discussion.

All panellists stressed the importance of access to legal aid. “No justice system can be credible without legal aid”, said the Hon. Dunstan Mlambo. Ms Foster discussed the establishment of legal aid services across the globe, including in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Tanin explained the historical context of the justice system in Afghanistan and the significant achievements made over the past 10 years to expand access to legal aid services. “Decades of conflict,” he said “rendered Afghanistan’s legal system virtually non-existent.” Now, legal aid is available across all provinces in Afghanistan. A mbassador Tanin emphasised the important role played by international partners, civil society and non-governmental legal aid organizations in expanding access to legal aid.

While significant progress has been made in Afghanistan, many challenges remain. These include lack of awareness about defence rights, financial constraints, scarcity of justice professionals, limited capacity in regional areas and corruption, Ambassador Tanin explained. Moving forward, he noted, “the new government of Afghanistan will prioritize combating corruption and strengthening the rule of law countrywide.” However, the sustained support of the international community and non-governmental organizations will remain central to these efforts.

Following individual statements, the panellists answered questions from the audience about legal aid provision in conflict and post-conflict settings, understanding legal aid in the development context, and the challenges of monitoring and evaluation activities. The event was well attended by Government representatives, civil society and staff of various United Nation bodies.

H.E. Ambassador Tanin Highlights the Importance of Women’s Leadership in the Future of Afghanistan at the Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

On 28 October 2014, the Security Council held an Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, with the theme of “Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors”. Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Edmund Mulet, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Mr. Chaloka Beyani and a representative of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Suaad Allami delivered statements at the debate’s outset.

The Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, opened the debate and noted that the Council is facing extraordinary challenges including the rise of violent extremism and the worst levels of displacement since the end of the Second World War. “We will not overcome these challenges without putting gender equality at the front and centre of our efforts to maintain peace and security,” she said.

Representatives from over 65 Member States and regional groups took the floor.  Speakers noted with concern the ongoing, protracted conflicts that are contributing towards the unprecedented levels of displacement, and the violent extremism directly targeting women and girls.

Taking the floor, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, noted the timeliness of the Security Council debate. “War and conflict affect more lives today, all over the world but particularly in Afghanistan and the wider region, than at any time in recent history,” he said.  “Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes, and millions of women and children have been left vulnerable, bearing the brunt of the burden of these tragic circumstances.”

Ambassador Tanin stressed that the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, have suffered immensely as a result of almost 40 years of war and conflict. “Violence in my country shattered their lives, interrupted their educations, threatened their livelihoods, destroyed their communities, and pushed them from their homes to other countries or to unfamiliar cities and slums,” he said.  Despite these challenges, the Ambassador noted that the new President and National Unity Government are committed to women’s full and equal participation at all levels of governance and decision-making.

 

Ambassador Tanin concluded his statement by emphasizing that as Afghanistan prepares for the challenging transition from international security forces to Afghan forces and institutions at the end of this year, the Government of Afghanistan believes that women’s participation is critical to preserving and enhancing the gains of the last 12 years and to the future stability, democracy, prosperity and peace of the country. “Afghan women,” he said, “have suffered immensely as a result of Taliban rule, extremism and decades of war. It is only when they are free from violence, want and fear that we will be able to secure democracy, stability and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”