Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Press Release: The Security Council Meets to Discuss the Situation in Afghanistan

 

On 22 June 2015, the Security Council held a debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. Council Members and representatives of ten member states delivered statements at the debate. Mr. Nicolas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), opened the debate.

 

Delivering a statement on behalf of Afghanistan, H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, condemned the recent attack on the Afghan parliament, which resulted in injury to civilians.  Council Members expressed their condolences for the victims of the attack. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this time, “ Ambassador Sisson, US Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, remarked during the debate.

 

Ambassador Tanin noted that Afghanistan’s enemies have opened a new offensive against the Afghan government. “This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS,” he said. Ambassador Tanin noted the bravery, strength and determination of Afghan forces in combatting these challenges. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, he explained.

 

Noting the government’s on-going efforts to further the peace process in Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin described the efforts of the National Unity Government to engage representatives of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, civil society including women, and the Taliban, which have generated new momentum in the process. He also touched on the importance of regional cooperation to the success of the peace process. The government of Afghanistan has worked to open a new chapter in its relations with the government of Pakistan, he said. “In the last 14 years an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability.”

 

The national unity government has appointed all cabinet ministers, and all but one has been approved by the parliament. The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments, Ambassador Tanin explained.  “A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.”

 

Following Ambassador Tanin’s statement, 26 representatives took the floor and reiterated their commitments to the government of Afghanistan in the long term. Member States welcomed Afghanistan’s progress over the last several months, and praised the government of Afghanistan’s efforts to enhance peace and security in the country and the wider region.

Press Release: H.E. Ambassador Tanin Chairs United Nations Roundtable on the Question of Palestine  

From May 20 – May 22, a delegation representing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People participated in a roundtable meeting on the Legal Aspects of the Question of Palestine. The theme of the Roundtable was “Available mechanisms to ensure accountability for violations of international law”.

 

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was established by the General Assembly 1975 with the request that it recommend a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty, and to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced.

 

H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, headed the delegation and Chaired the Roundtable. Other participants included Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, Ambassador Abdelaziz Seifelnasr and Ambassador Samir Diab, representatives of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, Ambassador Haifa Saygeh, representative of the League of Arab States, and other distinguished diplomats and experts. The meeting also served as an opportunity to provide training to young diplomats representing the state of Palestine.

 

During the three-day long roundtable, participants listened to the presentations of academic experts, practitioners, and high level politicians on themes such as “strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law” and “Israeli settlements as a war crime”.  Ambassador Tanin set the stage for the meeting at its opening. “Today, we have come together to dedicate the next three days to presentations and discussions on implications and opportunities for the Palestinian people and their State vis-à-vis the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice,” he explained.

 

The meeting comes at a critical moment in Palestine’s history. After the breakdown of bilateral negotiations last spring and the devastating war in Gaza over the summer, the outlook for a solution to the conflict appears bleaker than ever before. In this context, Ambassador Tanin noted, “The Palestinian people… have every right to use legal and legitimate institutions and their instruments and mechanisms to advance their just cause.”

 

Members of the delegation representing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held several meetings on the margins of the three-day roundtable. On 22 May, the delegation met with representative of the Dutch Foreign Office, including the Director General of Political Affairs Wim J.P. Geerts, the Director of the MENA Department, Birgitta M. Tazelaar, and Deputy Envoy for UN Affairs Bahia G. Tahzib, where it discussed the Committee’s work and possibilities for future collaboration. “The Committee is very interested to hear how the Netherlands envisions the opportunities for EU actions to induce Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, freeze the settlements, and come back to negotiation table,” Ambassador Tanin noted.

 

On 19 May 2015, Ambassador Tanin addressed the Leiden Law School in Leiden, Netherlands. There, he introduced the work of the Palestine Committee and its history. He also noted recent key achievements in efforts to further the rights of the Palestinian people. In the past two years, he noted, the State of Palestine has become a State Party to the International Criminal Court and acceded to the Geneva Conventions and a number of other international treaties. “These actions are part of the legal aspect of the Palestinian people’s struggle to achieve and exercise their inalienable rights, and markers on their road of the Palestinian State to become a full-fledged member of the international community, enjoying the rights like every other sovereign state as well as assuming its responsibilities,” he remarked.

 

On 18 May 2015, the delegation participated in a meeting with Christian Berger, Director of North Africa, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Iraq Division of the European Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels. There, Ambassador Tanin briefed European Union officials on the activities of the Palestine Committee, noting recent and upcoming meetings of the Committee in Vienna, Moscow and Brussels. He expressed appreciation of the EU’s support to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and welcomed the appointment of the new EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process.

 

“The Committee is looking forward to continuing and strengthening interaction with the EU,” he said. After the war in Gaza in 2015 and the divisive political atmosphere following recent Israeli elections, the Committee believes that it is necessary for the international community to speak with a strong and cohesive voice for the rights of the Palestinian people.

 

Members of the delegation also visited the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where they held meetings on State Parties at the ICC, and the International Court of Justice, where they held meetings on the State of Palestine and the International Court of Justice.

 

Remarks by President Ashraf Ghani in the Indian Council of World Affairs

 

New Delhi, India

April 29, 2015

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Mr. Vice-President Ansari, Ambassador Bhatia, distinguished audience, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to be with you tonight. I apologize in advance for being much briefer than I intended to, because you cannot make the President of India wait.

First of all, my deepest sympathies to the people of Nepal. I have had the pleasure of walking the mountains of Nepal repeatedly, and having been a privileged observer during their remarkable process of democracy, all our hearts go to them. Himalayas are joint together among, tragically the earthquake has not been confined to Nepal, I have just learned that we have lost over 50 people in the province of Badakhshan to a recent earthquake.

I begin with ecology because the change in the climate forces us to think thorough continentally. Natural disasters do not respect political boundaries. Yet the states of the region continuously fail to take account of the need that … the imperative that we must cooperate to deal with these phenomena. And I am heartened by Prime Minister Modi’s assurance that we will all mobilize to tackle this very important issue.

In the next 20 years, I go straight to the proposition, in the next 20 years Asia is very likely to be transformed from a geographical notion to a continental economy. This is profound implications for the way subsequent centuries are going to be formed and shaped. But two trends compete, because ambassador Bhatia asked me to highlight both, challenges and the opportunities.

First, on the challenge side, the challenges that we are dealing with a new ecology of terror. Terror is becoming a system. Morally, it is reprehensible; sociologically it must be comprehended as a system. And what are some of the key characteristics of this new ecology? It is morphing very rapidly. If Al-Qaeda, with all respects to Microsoft, was Windows 01, Daesh is Windows 05.

Second, it is being imbedded within the criminal economy and an unprecedented amount of finance is being made available to this new ecology.

Three, it is becoming very brutal and focused on brutality in order to all the population.

Four, it is becoming networked in a very rapid rate. And fifth, it kills for the sake of killing and overwhelming.

Within this ecology of terror, Afghanistan both from a perspective of narrative and from prospective of operation is seen as a single theatre. Today, due to a series of convergent phenomena, various groups threatening stability in Asia are converging on our territory. They have been pushed over to our soil, because they thought that there was a weak spot.

We are the battle front. We, today in Afghanistan, are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbors from India to Russia. This fundamental challenge asks the state system to respond coherently together organically. But, what we know about bureaucracies is that they are slow to grasp, slower to act and slower to coordinate.

The main threat, therefore, is not from the phenomena the ecology of terror, the main threat is from lack of coordination by and between states, so that we can have a coordinated response to a state system where weaknesses within the state system are the opportunities on which the ecology of terror thrives. This, I hope, more than anything else makes one phenomena clear – there is no advantage to competition between and among states when it comes to the ecology of terror. Any states sponsorship of these networks or their accommodation threatens the system as such. And that is the challenge that we must deal with, because the system that we have inherited, you can date it any way and whichever way but take for convenience post 1945, is now under attack. Unless this resilience in coordination is injected into the system, we will all suffer.

The second aspect is the opportunity. So, let me highlight some of the key opportunities in terms of Afghanistan because the public perception, the metaphors are about the threat, that is why I have to  knowledge it out-front. Our first advantage in the next 25 years is our location. Until 18th century, our location was a key advantage, we were roundabout. A roundabout as (inaudible) best described it, is a place where all ideas, people and goods come to and go out of. We were an open space, we were a space that 500 year ago linked west Bengal to Nishnonivegrad no cash was required, one of the most sophisticated systems of bills of exchange were developed, a system of arbitration of disputes, a caravan trading system, a transport network, in other words, there was an economy both, symbolic and real.

This ecology was disrupted by the rise of European imperialism.  A space that was a roundabout was turned into a marginal space. We became the theatre of Kipling. So while India got reoriented to western economy, China got etc. Afghanistan got marginalized. In the next 25 years, our location is the key connector. All roads between Central Asia and South Asia, have to lead through Afghanistan. We are also the connector to East Asia and to West Asia. But this means that the potential, in order to realize the potential, we must think of infrastructure very differently.

It is not the old minority trade based system that would move the continental economy; it is a cluster of infrastructure, rail, road, pipelines, power, fiber optics and air. This cluster needs to be developed coherently in order to deliver the advantage. And development of that cluster, again just give you a slight indication, in the next 25 years globally there would be about $65 billion, the very system from $45 to $65 trillion of investment are required in infrastructure. About 60 percent of this is likely to take place in Asia.

We need to evolve very different instruments to realize this potential. But this potential would be transformative. If we were to realize this, well, the obvious question becomes, is the specialty that is required for this available? There, there are two answers. One, of course, South Asia remains the lease economic integrated region on earth. And unless South Asia grasps this opportunity within the next ten years, part of it will integrate much more to East Asia, part of it would integrate to Central Asia, and part of it would integrate to West Asia.

But the other part is for the continental economy and for the advantages of Afghanistan to develop, and that is not need to be contiguous develop. Why is that? Because our second advantage is our mineral resources. In the next 15 years, we will become the largest producer of copper in the world, the largest producer of iron in the world, one of the largest players in the gold market globally, and we have 14 of the 17 rare earth material. Our marble resources are enough to last the region 400 years, our construction material. 33% of Afghanistan’s natural resources have been mapped, the estimated worth is from $1 to $3 trillion.

With India’s and China’s transformation, this natural wealth awaits to become part of a continental framework. If you look into development of this natural wealth from a national prospective, you see limitations. When you see it from a regional prospective, you see immense potential and opportunity.

The problem with natural wealth, of course, is that it is a curse attached to it. If we are to avoid the curse of natural wealth, our first priority must therefore be our location. Our second priority, again, we have the head-waters for practically every single one of our neighbors. We only use 10% of our available water today with 1960s technology. The land under cultivation in Afghanistan is exactly about half of what it was in 1978. And, again, we are in the midst of 3 billion people. Water and cooperative arrangement regarding water is going to be the key to responding to changing global ecology, and to creating new regimes of sharing inefficiency, so we would actually put water and land second and then third being our natural wealth.

Our fourth advantage, we are a country of the poor people with enormously rich individuals. We have money, but we do not have capital. And the difference is, money does not become productive. In order for money to work and to become an agent of transformation, it has to become capital. And thereby, again, comes the immense experience of the region. India’s creativity in terms of financial instrument, in terms of the range of funds, and the enormous power of the Indian diaspora to transform money into wealth is one of the key issues.

Our fifth advantage is our entrepreneurship. The Silk Route and millennia of connectivity has given us remarkable capacity to work. With energy and thrive, we, Afghans are tough, we don’t accept hierarchy, because of that we thrive on networks. But the type of hierarchy that the market brings actually is a much more disciplined process.

So, if we have these advantages, what is it that prevents us, and what is it that we need in order to contribute both, to the rebirth of the Asian continental economy and to gain.

First, I use the word “rebirth” because for millennia there was a continental system. India’s textile exports to the west are part of every child’s story. But the amount of textiles that Northern India where we are sitting and today’s Pakistan exported to Central Asia and to Russia, is through scholarships determines was larger than the South India exported to Europe. These ranges become important.

As part of this, the fundamental challenge then shift to being conceptual. Why conceptual? Because, model of building economies are based on national boundaries. If we are going to realize Afghanistan’s immense potential, we must think regionally. Regionally because the experience of the region each single country enables us to cut time by a phenomenal extent. Take just one example, the amount of investment that India has made in technology, cost of research in development. If we wanted to start with a national model, that would require us 50 years to catch up. But thinking this to a comparative cooperative framework, allows us to master time much more quickly and to be able to bring this about.

When you put the two issues together, the challenge of the ecology of terror and the opportunity of a roundabout, I hope that we can shift political understanding.

So, what is it that we view ourselves as? Certainly, not as a battle field for proxy wars. Certainly, not as a space to become tested over. Certainly, not a buffer to be dominated. What we offer is a model of cooperation, a platform where all of us can come together. Where a transformative capacity and the imagination is translated into building solid institutions where all of us will be able to live in comfort and dignity.

Delhi, you can begin with having breakfast in Delhi, lunch in Peshawar and dinner in Kabul. I hope that what is immensely possible, can become actually achievable. And the day, when I will drive after retirement from Kabul to Delhi, I look forward to dedicating my life to creating this possibility of cooperation.

Thank you,