Thursday, April 17, 2014

United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Quito, Ecuador

On 25 – 27 March 2014 Ambassador 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 (CEIRPP), attended the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Quito, Ecuador at the Swissótel Quito.  The theme of the meeting was “Engaging for Peace: the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

Ahead of the conference, the CEIRPP delegation attended a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with H.E. Mr. Ricardo Patiño, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador.  There, Minister Patiño welcomed the Committee expressed his support for and solidarity with the people of Palestine.

ambassadors2At the official opening of the International Meeting, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ecuador, H.E. Leonardo Arizaga spoke in his capacity as representative of the host government.  H.E. Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, delivered opening remarks and H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, delivered a statement in his capacity as representative of the State of Palestine.

Mr. Oscar Ferdnanez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, delivered remarks on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and delivered the keynote speech. Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, Oscar Ferdnanez-Taranco remarked, “the current renewed round of peace negotiations has presented a rare and important opening to advance the two-State solution.  I call on both parties to act to reach an agreement, even if it requires painful concessions.”

The meeting took place in the context of the ongoing renewed round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations with the aim of reviewing challenges and opportunities in advancing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  It also focused on support by Latin American and Caribbean countries related to the question of Palestine, as well as support by non-governmental actors, civil society initiatives, and South-South cooperation in support of Palestinian socioeconomic development.

The meeting consisted of three plenary sessions, with Ambassador Tanin chairing the first meeting of the second day. Sessions featured keynote presentations and statements by Governments, international organizations, academic experts, and UN agencies as well as a showing of Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s award-winning documentary, “5 Broken Cameras”.  The meeting closed with a United Nations Meeting of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.


No Change in Afghanistan’s Position on the Bilateral Security Agreement

Press Release

In his remarks to the Security Council yesterday at the debate on the Situation in Afghanistan, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to United Nations, described the government’s position on ongoing cooperation with the international community, including the prospect of signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States.

Speaking today, the Ambassador further clarified the government’s position.  “Let me be clear,” he said, “the BSA will be signed only if Afghanistan’s conditions are met, including the beginning of official peace talks.”  There is no change in Afghanistan’s position on the Bilateral Security Agreement; the preconditions for signing the BSA remain, he explained.

Afghanistan’s position has been reiterated by H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including most recently at the opening session of Parliament.  As the President remarked, “The people of Afghanistan recognize peace as the main base of life like any country in the world and any other nation in the world.  So if a country wants a security agreement, relations and a military base, that presence must bring peace in Afghanistan.”


The Security Council extends UNAMA’s Mandate for Another Year

On 17 March, 2014 the Security Council extended UNAMA’s mandate for another year and convened a debate on the situation in Afghanistan. H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, delivered a statement on behalf of his government.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr. Jan Kubiš, opened the debate. In his statement, Mr. Kubiš offered his deepest condolences to the families of those UN staff and others who lost their lives in the January suicide attack in Kabul. Mr. Kubiš went on to stress the historic nature of the upcoming Presidential and Provincial Council elections, noting that a credible political transition has the ability not only to provide stability, but also to unify the people of Afghanistan.  “The success of the April 2014 elections will be of critical significance in reinforcing Afghanistan’s institutional and political stability and instilling confidence in the future,” he said.

Mr. Kubiš closed his statement by remarking on the United Nation’s long-term commitment to a “peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” noting the value that UNAMA brings in the exercise of good offices, protection and promotion of human rights, and the facilitation of international development coherence to the country.

Taking the floor, Ambassador Tanin recalled the establishment of the UNAMA mandate in 2002.  At the time, he said Council members aimed to establish a political mission to lead international civilian coordination efforts and to support Afghanistan in building a democratic, stable, and peaceful country (SC/RES/1401).  Since then, he said, UNAMA’s “comprehensive focus on security, economy, governance and development challenges has been essential to my government’s work to lay the foundations for sustainable development and peace in the country.”

After 12 years of unprecedented international cooperation and engagement, the Ambassador stated, “Afghan people are less than a few weeks away from the pinnacle of transition: Presidential and Provincial elections.”  Noting the historical significance of the event, the Ambassador also explained that preparations by the government, international community, Independent Election Commission (IEC), and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) were well underway to ensure their legitimacy, credibility, and transparency.

Continuing his statement, Ambassador Tanin emphasized that his country was not losing sight of other challenges crucial to building a stable, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan.  Continued focus is needed on cooperation with the international community, fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth, and regional cooperation, he said, as well as a continued commitment to ensuring rights for all.

In closing, the Ambassador explained that after decades of war and instability, and 12 years of tremendous progress, “it is crucial that momentum continues towards our goal of achieving a long-lasting, stable, peaceful and democratic Afghanistan.”

After his statement, members of the Security Council voted unanimously for the twelve-month extension of UNAMA’s mandate.  Then members of the Security Council, Australia, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Rwanda, Nigeria, France, the United Kingdom, Chile, Lithuania, China, Chad, Jordan, the United States, the Russian Federation, and Luxembourg delivered statements on behalf of their governments.  Representatives of India, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, the European Union, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Romania and China also took the floor.  Countries emphasized their support for Afghanistan’s transition, and expressed sentiments of hope for peace and security in the country. Common themes included the importance of women’s participation in the upcoming elections, continuing momentum towards sustainable economic development, and international commitments to assisting Afghanistan during the transition process.