Thursday, October 2, 2014

General Assembly 68th Session holds the Fourth Biennial Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The General Assembly held its 4th Biennial Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on Thursday, 12 June and Friday, 13 June 2014. The review reaffirmed the four pillars of the counter terrorism strategy of the United Nations and focused on Member State experiences with its implementation.

At the start of the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for Member States to take advantage of the session to make the United Nations more relevant in its international efforts to combat terrorism. He referenced his April 2014 report on the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, which illustrated trends in terrorists operations, its direct links with political instability, the upsurge in internet usage by terrorists and increased decentralization of terrorist networks.

Following the Secretary-General’s remarks, over 60 Member State representatives took the floor, with Ambassador Michel Tommo Monthe of Cameron chairing the meeting as the acting President of General Assembly.  Statements focused on global counter-terrorism policies and approaches, as well as effective practices for mitigating ever-changing terrorist threats. Further, representatives highlighted the gaps in the Strategy and areas where it could be improved.

On the second day of the debate, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, delivered a statement in his national capacity.  “Terrorism is a menace that plagues the whole region,” he said. “It is crucial Afghanistan’s neighbors and countries in the region play their role in contributing to peace and security in my country.” Ambassador Tanin highlighted Afghanistan’s efforts aimed at eliminating terrorism in the country, including relevant legal frameworks and initiatives aimed at limiting violent extremism.

At the end of his remarks, the Ambassador emphasized the ongoing threat of terrorism to peace and security in Afghanistan, in the region, and globally. “Afghanistan deplores all acts of terror in any region by any group, and is committed to the eradication of terror at its roots,” he explained. “To this end, we commend the efforts of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and call for its widespread implementation moving forward.”


United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem in Turkey


On 12 and 13 May 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 Jerusalem in Ankara, Turkey. The meeting focused on strengthening international support for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem.

The meeting took place at the Sheraton Anakra Hotel. It was organized by the United Nations CEIRPP, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Government of Turkey. The organizers timed the meeting to coincide with current international efforts to achieve a lasting settlement on the question of Palestine, and the meeting emphasized the need for the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The opening session of the meeting was attended by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey; Iyad bin Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the OIC; Permanent Representatives to the United Nations including Abdou Salam Diallo Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations and Chairman of the CEIRPP; and Ministers of the State of Palestine including Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Minister for Waqf and Religious Affairs and Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs.

The meeting consisted of an opening, three plenaries entitled “The status of Jerusalem in international law,” “The current situation in Jerusalem,” “The current situation in Jerusalem,” and a closing. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, in his capacity as Vice-Chair of CEIRPP, chaired the 2nd plenary of the conference.

Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, delivered opening remarks at the first session. Jerusalem is not just a political issue or an area of conflict, he said, but an area of peace, representing the humanitarian conscience as a whole. There is “no need to become politicians, diplomats or experts on the issue, but to become humans, he told participants.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, in a message read out by Mr. Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, sent his greetings to all participants. He urged parties to “realize that not making a choice in favour of peace and co-existence within the two-State framework is the most detrimental choice of all. Failing to continue meaningful negotiations towards the two-State solution will lead further down the path of a one-state reality on the ground” he said.
At the meeting’s close, Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler of Turkey expressed his appreciation to the United Nations and the OIC for organizing the Meeting. Jerusalem is special, he said, because it is a “capital of all mankind… [and] does not belong to one people or one religion.” Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine to the United Nations, also took the floor. He expressed the Palestinian people and its leadership’s appreciation and gratitude to the Governments, organizations and individuals who made the Meeting a success, including the experts who had made presentations on Jerusalem. “The international community and all our friends must step up to the plate” and end the occupation, including of East Jerusalem, he said.

Statement Attributable to the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan

Kabul, 2 May 2014 – A series of heavy rain induced landslides struck in the Argo district of Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan causing significant loss of life and widespread damage to homes and agriculture. Provincial authorities report that more than 350 Afghans have been killed, more are still missing and many families have been displaced.
Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, said, “On behalf of the UN humanitarian agencies, I wish to extend our condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones as a result of these landslides. There have now been more Afghans killed through natural disasters in the past seven days than all of 2013.”
The Afghan Government’s Provincial Disaster Management Committees (PDMC) is leading the coordination of operational response within Badakhshan, with support from humanitarian agencies.
Whilst search and rescue operations remain the immediate priority, assessments have been initiated to determine the full extent of the damage caused, as well as responding to the immediate needs of the population. With some areas still difficult to access, it may be some time yet until a clear picture of the full extent of the damage is known.
“The foremost priority at the moment is saving as many lives as possible of those still beneath the rubble,” Mr. Bowden said. “The UN system is fully engaged in the ongoing effort and is mobilizing more capacity and resources to bolster the response.”
The Northern Region of Afghanistan continues to be susceptible to recurring natural disasters, where seasonal rains and spring snow melt regularly result in life-threatening flash floods and landslides. The National Disaster Management Commission, supported by the international humanitarian community, regularly prepares contingency plans to help better prepare and respond to such disasters, as well as mitigating the impact.
“Given these ongoing risks and vulnerabilities, the critical importance of investing in disaster risk reduction and enhanced mitigation measures must remain a key priority in those communities most prone to hazards,” Mr. Bowden added.