Saturday, December 20, 2014

Statement by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the NATO Ministerial Meeting in Brussels

December 2, 2014

Brussels, Belgium

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguished Foreign Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Compelled by tragedy and cemented by mutual sacrifice, the partnership between Afghanistan and NATO is entering a new phase. We welcome the end of the combat mission but more significantly, we welcome the noncombat mission. Our forces are ready to assume their patriotic duty of defending our homeland but our trust and performance of that duty is enhanced by the knowledge that through the Resolute Support Mission, our forces will be helped in training, supporting and assistance.

NATO’s combat mission has demanded immense sacrifice in blood and treasure. Over 3400 personnel have been killed in action, over 30,000 wounded in actions, and hundreds of thousands of veterans live with memories of war in our country. We pay tribute to the fallen, the wounded and the veterans. May God protect and comfort them and their loved ones.

We have a political and social consensus on our strategic partnership with the United States and NATO, acting on the mandate provided by the election and the Consultative Loya Jirga, our first act as the government of national unity was to sign the bilateral security agreement with the US and the Status of Forces Agreement with NATO.

 The ratification of both agreements by the two houses of Parliament, which I had the honor of signing into law on November 30 is further proof of the value that our people and government attach to our partnership with NATO. On behalf of our masters- the people of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah, the CEO and I express appreciation for NATO’s ongoing steadfast support, emphasizing the importance of NATO’s contribution to our security efforts.

During NATO’s decade of presence in Afghanistan, North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and other troop-contributing countries have been safe from massive acts of terrorism, thank God.

 Our people– whether children or adults, civilians, military—and our public places- whether mosques, markets, schools, homes or critical infrastructures- have been and are subject to heinous acts of senseless terror routinely. To hold the mangled body of a child from a volleyball field or speak to the father of a young girl blown to pieces on her way to college is to experience the depth of our fall from the values of tolerant Islamic civilization.

We had fervently hoped that NATO’s presence would enable our people to live in safety and security, enabling our society to focus on elimination of poverty, and empowerment of our women and youth.

Security, unfortunately, is still our top priority. Fortunately, our people grasping the nature of imposed conflict on us, while yearning for peace, are extending full support to our security forces, enabling us, the leaders of the government of national unity, to identify with, take pride in and lead and manage our security forces.

I am proud to be the Commander-in- Chief of such a patriotic force and fully identify with and represent the ANDSF-the Afghan national security forces are a young but credible force, having grown from a division to a professional force of 350,000 during the last 13 years.

 Having had the privilege of leading the security transition before the elections, I know the conditions of our soldiers, non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers first then, as I have been to their barracks and training centers in all 34 provinces of our country.

 Knowing their commitment and concerns, we are committed to implement the necessary reforms to create systems of accountability, management, and personnel to ensure the trust of the men and the women in uniform in their officers and leaders.

The flower of our youth is fighting and dying to build a new nation. God willing, we will prevail and overcome the past. Despite our limited revenues, we are allocating more than the agreed share of our resources to support of our national security forces. When the support for the Directorate of National Security is included, which was omitted in Chicago, our contribution for 2015 will be $750 million, exceeding the agreed figure of $500 million by 50 per cent.

Having been in the lead for security operations for two years, our forces are now ready to assume full responsibility for national security starting next year. This is a remarkable achievement in four years, after the articulation of the notion of transition in the Chicago summit. Despite our firm commitment, we are not yet able to do everything alone. Your continued support will, therefore, be key in ensuring that our collective gains of the 13 years will be enduring. Specifically, we need your help to build the processes and systems necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our forces and to honor your financial commitments made in the Chicago summit during the forthcoming decade of transformation.

 Meeting the gap in numbers for the Resolute Mission is critical, as is the presence of framework nations across the critical areas of our country to create a sense of balance and trust.

Our security expenditure is nearly 2.5 times our national revenues. Neither wanting nor expecting your indefinite support. We are determined to implement a strategy of self-reliance. Our actions since my inauguration and the formation of the government of national unity should speak louder than our words that we are delivering on our commitment of forming a compact between the people and the state and the government of Afghanistan and our partner governments and international organizations. Permit me to articulate some of the foundational principles of our strategy of self-reliance:

Generating and utilizing political capital is our first principle. We have taken the rare step in South Asia and middle-east to form a government of national unity that represents the absolute majority of the population, this should establish full trust in our capacity to focus on delivery to our people and make sure that we can deliver.

Second, we have political will and have demonstrated that political will will be used to create facts on the ground. Our signing of bilateral security agreement and SOFA are one indication but Kabul Bank – the symbol of corruption in our country on the second day is another.  I am glad to report that the Supreme Court has affirmed the judgment of the appellate court and Kabul Bank will be dealt with through the rule of law.  Approval of the agreements by parliament again is a critical indication that political will will result in generation of partnership.

Promoting good governance from a perspective of the whole of the state and whole of the government is our third principle. We are committed to ensure that reforms are driven by us, owned by us and implemented by us, but of course, we want to make sure that our partners and us are aligned. We know that the international fatigue with aid, we are keen to win not only governments and parliaments of our partner countries but the public and we are keen to work with you to align delivery and communication.

Rights of women are critical to us and we are committed to bringing at least four women which would be 16 per cent of our cabinet. In the coming two to four weeks, the cabinet will be formed from new faces based on the principles of competence, commitment, accountability and transparency.

Creating a competitive export-driven economy is our fourth principle. We intend to use all our key assets to create an economy that would answer the needs of both our security and the eradication of poverty.

Engaging neighbors in a dialogue on peace, stability and prosperity is our fourth principle. our actions in the last two months should be clear in this regard. Yesterday, we were in Azerbaijan and again we have had a breakthrough, as well as with our other neighbors and the Arab world. We intend to produce a regional consensus that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is essential for regional security and prosperity and for the emergence and consolidation of an Asian continental economy.

Providing a platform for global cooperation is our fifth principle.  Instead of being at the center of a vicious circle of conflict, we intend to be at the center of a virtuous circle of cooperation.

Ensuring stability for our people is the sixth and most significant principle of our strategy of self-reliance.  Sustaining security generated through use of legitimate force requires that it should be embedded in a stable order.

 Hence, our determination for sustaining the political consensus and consent of the people through our comprehensive reform program, especially those of security forces.  As peace is our national priority, we are dedicated and determined to launch, lead and own an inclusive Afghan peace process. Political differences must be resolved politically, but we will not permit anyone to use our country as battlefield for pursuit of illusory ideas, arenas of criminal networks or spaces of breeding.

Terror is supported by networks of criminality and violence but the most significant enabling condition are those governments that in a short-sighted manner decide to tolerate these networks or use them as measures of state practice. We must realize that regardless of the rationale for the genesis of the symbiotic relations that produce reliance on non-state actors by states as lethal instruments of competition, it should be clear that such measures have blow-back effects, destabilizing the state system as such.

As Afghanistan and NATO mark the resolute support mission, we need to notice that the threats that brought NATO to our country, are not only still present but also constantly morphing into new forms. NATO’s gaze must, by necessity, be global, taking stock of its neighborhoods in the world, focusing on strengthening the international state system as a system of rights and obligations, and striving to persuade states not to support or adopt behavior characteristic of malign non-state actors, however, will have multiple benefits for the safety and stability of our interconnected world.

We, the people and government of Afghanistan, are committed and determined to overcome history and form value-based compacts with our partners and interlocutors.

  Let us, therefore, use the opportunity of the launching of the Resolute Support Mission to articulate and agree on the principles of enduring partnership. We have a strategic relationship that requires strategic understanding, strategic patience and strategic delivery.

Mr. Secretary General, we look very much forward to our continued partnership and be assured that there is a new spirit of partnership in Kabul that will drive the process forward.

Thank you!

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.