Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ambassador Tanin Delivers a Statement on Children and Armed Conflict at the Security Council  


On 8 September, 2014 the Security Council held an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict.  Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Yoka Brandt, Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker, and a former child victim of armed conflict from the Democratic Republic of Congo delivered statements at the debate’s outset.


The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ms. Zerrougui, opened the debate noting the multitude of crises affecting children since the beginning of 2014.  Ms. Zerrougui condemned the total disregard for human life exhibited by extremist armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram.  “ISIL has tasked boys as young as 13 to carry weapons, guard strategic locations or arrest civilians. Other children are used as suicide bombers,” she said.


Representatives from 58 member states and regional groups took the floor, including the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, H.E. Mr. Jean Asselborn.  Speakers noted an increase in harmful practices affecting children in conflict contexts, including sexual violence, attacks on schools, and child recruitment.  Many praised Ms. Zerrougui and her office for overseeing a campaign aimed at ending the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflict by 2016 entitled “Children, Not Soldiers,” launched earlier this year.


Taking the floor, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, noted the recent upsurge in violence against children in wartime worldwide.  “Children around the world suffer enormously as a result of war, violence and armed conflict,” he said.  “This devastating reality is even more widespread today due to the upsurge of bloody conflict and brutal extremism in Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan and around the world.”


Speaking about his own country, the Ambassador noted that in Afghanistan children have suffered for over 30 years as a result of long conflict, and that resurgent conflict and pernicious extremism continue to cause children tremendous suffering. Afghan children, he said, are “exploited by terrorists who force them to serve as combatants, suicide attackers, manufacturers and planters of IEDs, and even sex slaves.”  They are denied their right to education by terrorist groups who intimidate girls and their teachers from attending classes, and who attack schools, plant IEDs inside school premises, and detonate IEDs and suicide bombs near classrooms.


According to the May 2014 report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, in 2013 there were at least 73 incidents of attacks against schools in Afghanistan and hundreds of schools in the country closed a result of the fragile security situation, affecting approximately 115,000 children in total.


Ambassador Tanin continued by expressing the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to enhancing child protection throughout the country.  He noted the Government’s National Action Plan aimed at ending and preventing the recruitment of children in the Afghan National Security Forces, signed in 2011.  This commitment, the Ambassador said, was reaffirmed on 1 August through the endorsement of a Road Map towards Compliance.


Ambassador Tanin concluded his statement by emphasizing that while Afghanistan faces profound challenges in its fight to find peace, the Government is committed to doing its utmost to end child recruitment and enhance child protection in the country.  “As Afghanistan looks towards a bright new future with the conclusion of the elections process,” he said, “we hope to strive towards an Afghanistan in which all children are able to live in freedom and in peace, and the horrors of war and violence are but distant facts of history.”



The United Nations adopts Country Program for Development in Afghanistan 2015-2019

On 3 September, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) adopted its 2015-2019 country program document for Afghanistan.  The document was approved by the Executive Board of the UNDP at a meeting at the United Nations.

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, delivered a statement at the meeting.  “The new country programme lays the foundation for a fresh and reinvigorated partnership between Afghanistan and the UNDP,” he said.  He noted with appreciation the extensive consultations between the Government of Afghanistan and the UNDP country team in drafting the country programme, and highlighted the flexible nature of a document that the government of Afghanistan is able to revisit after the inauguration of the new government.

Ambassador Tanin noted that the new country program comes at a critical time in the country, when Afghanistan is undergoing a political transition and awaiting the results of a democratic election. “As we move into the Transformation Decade (which starts in 2015 and lasts until 2024),” he explained, “it is crucial that we learn from the past, that development assistance supports enhanced Afghan leadership and ownership, and that it enables the country to move from aid dependency to self-sufficiency.” He emphasized the importance of this approach to ending fragility, achieving greater Afghan sovereignty and coming to a more normalized relationship with the international community in the future.


Following Ambassador Tanin’s remarks, the Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific for UNDP, Mr. Nicholas Rossellini, took the floor.  Introducing the Afghanistan country program, Mr. Rossellini noted that “Afghanistan has undergone fundamental transitions in its political, security, and socio-economic spheres over the last decade.”  In the decade ahead, he said, the country would continue its journey to self-reliance.  He noted that as Afghanistan transitions towards the Transformation Decade, UNDP will also transition to meet emerging priorities and challenges in the country.


Palestinian Leader Briefs United Nations Committee on Rights of the Palestinian People


On 2 September 2014, Ms. Hanan Ashwari, Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, briefed the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people on current political developments and the situation on the ground in Palestine. H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, chaired the meeting in his capacity as Acting Chair of the Committee.

Opening the meeting, Ambassador Tanin briefed the Committee on recent developments, mentioning the Committee’s latest meetings and seminars, such as a statement delivered by the Committee Chairman at the Security Council debate on the Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question. Ambassador Tanin then introduced Ms. Ashwari as a noted Palestinian legislator, activist and scholar with a long and wide-ranging career working for the rights of Palestinians.

Taking the floor, Ms. Ashrawi thanked the Committee for its courage, persistence, and energy particularly at this critical time in the Middle East. She described the situation in Palestine, noting that Palestinians are “still coming to grips” with the events of the last few months in Gaza.   Warning the Committee that “a two state solution is disappearing before our eyes,” Ms. Ashwari noted Palestine’s attempts to accede to United Nations Conventions and Agreements to become further entrenched within the international system in order to further engage, seek support, and prevent victimization. The Palestinian leadership, she said, believes a political course of action and joint effort towards meaningful negotiations are essential for long term peace.

Concluding her statement, Ms. Ashrawi expressed appreciation for all expressions of support from the international community, and called on member states to offer assistance for emergency relief and reconstruction in Gaza.

Following Ms. Ashrawi’s statement, the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Desra Percaya presented a report on the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNON). Ambassador Tanin then closed the meeting, noting other business and thanking participants for their attendance.



363rd Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

363rd Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.