Friday, April 25, 2014

Ambassador Zahir Tanin speaks with John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and others at Georgetown University’s Symposium, “Advancing of Afghan Women.”

Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, delivered a statement on 15 November 2013 at the Georgetown Symposium “Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan.” The symposium focused on the promotion of gender equality, peace and progress in the country and the current status of women’s advancement in Afghanistan, just ahead of the country’s upcoming democratic transition.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry gave the key note address, emphasizing his commitment to Afghanistan and particularly to Afghan women in the next phase of US-Afghan relations. Addressing the audience, Secretary Kerry lauded the achievements of Afghan women as “nothing less than remarkable,” and argued that “investing in Afghan women is the surest way to guarantee that Afghanistan will sustain the gains of the last decade.”

Other speakers underlined the progress that has been made in Afghanistan on gender equity, but also affirmed the need to push for further opportunities for the women in the country.

Taking the floor, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Secretary Kerry for his understanding “that we cannot walk away from this country or this region when our troops come home; that we cannot turn our backs on the people of Afghanistan and especially the women.”

Other eminent speakers included Former First Lady Laura Bush, Former United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Vervee, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and NATO Special Representative to the Secretary General for Women Peace and Security Mari Skåre.  Members of Afghan Civil Society participated as well, with the Afghan activist Anita Haidary offering remarks from the Afghan women’s perspective.

Closing the programme, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, noted the role of women in the country’s history: “The emancipation of women has been strong in the mind of Afghanistan since the beginning of the 20th century,” he said.  “Women were already making inroads into the modern world before conflict and the fanaticism behind it silenced them and drowned them out. The end of the Taliban era opened a new horizon and steps were taken to elevate women’s status, restore their rights, and strengthen their role as equal participants in building a new democratic Afghanistan.”

The Ambassador also described Afghanistan’s progress over the past 12 years in the advancement of women’s rights, and in particular their increased involvement in the democratic process. “In the last few years,” he said, “women joined the High Peace Council, participated in a number of regional peace talks, and were largely represented in the Consultative Loya Jirgas. Today, women are among the candidates for the presidential and provincial elections and the government and electoral authorities are doing their utmost to ensure the inclusion of women voters in elections.”

Ambassador Tanin highlighted the need for women to be not only represented, but also actively involved in shaping the future of Afghanistan going forward. “The role of women in social, political and economic life is improving,” he emphasized. “However, it is vital that we ensure their voices are heard, and that their role is not only symbolic, but genuine.”  He closed the event by reiterating the necessity of ensuring the promotion and protection of women’s rights, stressing “continuing support is essential to ensure that these goals are reached, and the Afghan government is committed to work for the advancement of women in Afghanistan, as enshrined in our constitution, alongside our partners.”



Afghan Law Scholars Visit the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, met with deans and professors of Law, Political Science, and Shari’a faculties of Afghan universities at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

The representatives and specialists from seven different Afghan universities were on a study tour through the University of Washington’s Legal Education Support Program-Afghanistan (LESPA). In addition to the meeting at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations, the group’s itinerary included a trip to Washington DC, where they planned to meet Afghan and US government officials.

Jon Eddy, Professor of Law and Director of the Asian Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law and Alice Stokke, Assistant Director of the Asian Law Center, also attended the meeting.

During the group’s visit, Ambassador Tanin welcomed and briefed the faculty about the history, background, and membership of Afghanistan to the United Nations. He also highlighted recent discussion within the UN Security Council and General Assembly concerning the ongoing transition and the active role that Afghanistan plays at the United Nations on a wide range of issues.


Ambassador Tanin also detailed his roles and responsibilities as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, Vice-Chair on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Chair-Designate of the upcoming Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms and Light Weapons (BMS5). He underlined that his leadership positions within these committees demonstrate Afghanistan’s expanding role on the world stage and as an active member of the international community.

The meeting closed with a question and answer session between the Ambassador and faculty members on a number of issues.


Ambassador Tanin Convenes First Information Consultations of the BMS5 as Chair-Designate

On 25 October 2013, Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, convened the first informal consultations of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illict Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (BMS5) in his capacity as Chair-Designate.  The meeting was intended as a forum for Member States to share their views on the substantive and organizational aspects of the BMS5, which will be held in June 2014.

The BMS5 will provide Member States with the opportunity to consider the national, regional and global implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (PoA), an instrument which calls for states to take action on the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons.

Ambassador Tanin opened the consultations by offering a warm welcome to Member States.  “I look forward to taking on this role,” he said, “and to working with all of you as we move forward.  Please be assured that I will work closely with Member States to ensure the success of BMS5.”  AmbassadorTanin also emphasized his commitment to an inclusive and fully transparent process from beginning to end, leading into the meeting next year.

In his statement, Ambassador Tanin expressed his intention to use the same working methods which were successfully used during previous PoA meetings, including an early circulation of a ‘zero-draft’ outcome document, and a move directly to thematic debate with no general debate or high level segment, as in the past.  He also put forward four very initial proposals for the agenda items during the BMS5, proposals based on agreements made at the last Review Conference in 2012.  These included stockpile management; marking, record-keeping, and tracing; international cooperation and assistance; and other issues.

Member States congratulated Ambassador Tanin on his nomination as Chair-Designate and offered their support to him throughout the process.  Further, Member States remarked on the proposed agenda, working methods, and other substantive issues of note leading up to the BMS5.

Closing the consultations, Ambassador Tanin reiterated his commitment to listen to Member States and expressed his desire to hear from each representative in the months to come.