Saturday, September 20, 2014

December Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

On 17 December 2013, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, delivered a statement at the Security Council’s Debate on the situation in Afghanistan.

 

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 noted that despite challenges, progress is on track in Afghanistan. He stressed the need for the international community to work together in order to ensure a sustainable and sovereign Afghanistan free from terrorism, organized crime, narcotics and violence.

 

Highlighting President Karzai’s recent regional engagement, Kubiš stressed the importance of regional cooperation to the stability and sustainability of both Afghanistan and its neighbors. The political transition following the 2014 Presidential and Provincial council elections will mark a history democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan, he added. Moreover, he assured Council members that as the security transition in Afghanistan proceeds as planned, UNAMA will continue to support the rule of law and judicial sectors in Afghanistan.

 

Kubiš concluded that the United Nations in Afghanistan remains a vital long-term partner in the country’s future, supporting Afghan institutions and priorities to ensure a “stable, inclusive, and sustainable state.”

 

Following Special Representative Kubiš, Ambassador Tanin recalled the environment in Afghanistan when leaders of Afghanistan’s political parties signed the Bonn Agreement.  This December Council, he said, “evokes the hopeful atmosphere of Bonn that winter of 2001, when unity was in sight, when an emergence from the shadow of violence and fanaticism seemed possible, and when the vision of an Afghanistan as a home for all, a home for tolerance and moderation, was taking shape.” The Ambassador noted the progress made since then, highlighting the achievements of the past 12 years.

 

In his statement, Ambassador Tanin noted upcoming milestones in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond, including the renewal of strategic partnerships with many international partners. After 15 months of comprehensive negotiations on, and the subsequent completion of, the text of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), he said, 2500 Afghan representatives endorsed the agreement in a consultative Loya Jirga.  The Jirga, he noted, reaffirmed that the BSA should ensure Afghanistan’s peace, security and development, and should be accompanied by visible steps taken in the lead up to the signing of the agreement including assurances for measures to end the military raids on Afghan homes, and the launching of negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban.

 

Ambassador Tanin also discussed ongoing developments related to the Presidential and Provincial Council elections, the peace and reconciliation process with the Taliban, and strengthening regional understanding and cooperation. “In recent months,” he said, “we have ramped up efforts to increase contact with neighbors and countries in the region… Leaders agree that they have a strategic stake in Afghanistan, and that peace and stability in the country is essential to the peace and stability in the region.”  Additionally, Ambassador Tanin pointed out that Afghanistan’s progress depends on preserving the rights of all Afghans, particularly women and girls, upholding the rule of law, and furthering economic transition. He noted that continuing partnership with the international community is critical to success in these areas.

 

At the end of his remarks, Ambassador Tanin again recalled the spirit of Bonn.  “So as we arrive at 2014, we ground our progress firmly in the constitutional foundations established 12 years ago, in the spirit of hope and optimism that was alive in Bonn, and with commitment to build upon and maintain the great achievements of the last decade,” he concluded.

 

After Ambassador Tanin delivered his statement, members of the Security Council, including Australia, Rwanda, China, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Russian Federation, United States, Pakistan, Togo, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Argentina, the Republic of Korea, Morocco, and France took the floor.  Representatives from India, Japan, the European Union, Canada, Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Germany also gave statements on behalf of their governments.  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, strengthening systems to prevent narcotics production and trafficking, protecting children from violence and conflict, and international commitments to assisting Afghanistan during the transition process.

 

 

General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, delivered a statement on the 20 November 2013, at the General Assembly’s 55th plenary meeting on the situation in Afghanistan. In the meeting, draft resolution A/68/L.11 was introduced by the Permanent Representative of Germany, H.E. Ambassador Peter Wittig, as the Permanent Mission of Germany facilitated this resolution, like it has done since the resolution’s inception.  The General Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus.

 

At the beginning, Ambassador Wittig stressed that the resolution is “about the long-term commitment of the international community throughout the Transformation Decade.” By adopting the resolution once again by consensus, “the General Assembly will reaffirm its commitment to a prosperous and peaceful future of Afghanistan and send a strong message of support to the Afghan Government and its people,” he said.

 

Following the introduction of the resolution, Ambassador Tanin noted that over the past 12 years “Afghanistan’s progress has been huge, and, to a larger extent, unprecedented for a country that is still struggling to leave conflict and violence behind.” Since 2001, he said, with the help of the international community, a new state was founded on the basis of a democratic constitution and the will of the Afghan people. Afghanistan has “regained its historical place as a responsible member of the international community…home to all Afghans, all ethnic groups, men and women,” he said.

 

Following a decade of extraordinary engagement by the international community in reconstruction and stabilization efforts, Afghanistan is moving towards a new beginning, “characterized and guided by the principles of national ownership, leadership and strengthened sovereignty,” he said.  He noted several milestone events that were upcoming for the country including the convening of a Consultative Loya Jirgah to discuss the Bilateral Security Agreement that is “at the core of strategic relations between Afghanistan and the United States.”  He also mentioned upcoming presidential and provincial council elections, which will mark the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one elected president to another.

 

Ambassador Tanin described a number of immediate priorities in the future, “key to the success of transition and to achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.” These developments include the peace and reconciliation process, regional cooperation, economic development, good governance and rule of law, and the protection and promotion of “the rights of all Afghan people, including those of women and girls.” “The coming year for Afghanistan is crucial. We are embracing the challenges of the future with full confidence. Our commitment to building on the achievements of the past is as strong as ever,” the Ambassador concluded.

 

Ambassadors of the European Union, China, Australia, the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Japan, the United States, India, Italy, Iran, Malaysia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Czech Republic, Turkey and Romania expressed support for the resolution.  Representatives commended the major achievements and political, security, economic and developmental progress made by Afghanistan in the past decade. They reiterated the vital role of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace- and reconciliation process and underlined the significant step forward that will be made with the upcoming democratic elections in 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.”