Friday, August 29, 2014

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.”

 

 

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.