Sunday, July 5, 2015

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

22 June 2015

NEW YORK

Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Malaysia for its leadership of the Council this month, and for organising this important debate. I would also like to thank Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, for his statement and the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan.

 

Madam President,

 

As we gather today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country has reached a critical moment in its history. The armed enemies of the country have embarked on a new offensive against the Afghan government and its people following the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s combat mission and the transfer of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). Today, the enemies of Afghanistan conducted a heinous attack against the Afghan Parliament in Kabul, wounding dozens of civilians, including children. We strongly condemn this deliberate attack against democracy and the representatives of the people.

 

This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS. These groups not only target Afghan forces and civilians with suicide bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hostage takings and assassinations, they also seek to take control of districts and even provinces to use as bases for their agendas in Afghanistan and the wider region in South and Central Asia.

 

Afghan security forces have responded to these tremendous challenges with bravery, strength, and determination. In the past months, they have thwarted many attempts to control territory, eliminated thousands of enemy fighters, and foiled plots designed to kill, shock and terrorize the people of Afghanistan. For the first time, Afghan forces have moved from a defensive to an offensive position and have shown more capability, potential and resilience than ever before. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, and to prevent the enemies of Afghanistan from sending the country down a spiral of chaos and disorder.

 

Madam President,

 

Security is a pressing national priority and is essential to the agenda of H.E. President Ashraf Ghani as Commander in Chief. Our efforts to defend the country do not only serve the interests of the Afghan people; we are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbours to uphold the safety and security of our greater region. As the national unity government pursues this agenda, we are grateful for the continued support of our international partners and their commitment to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. In the face of the great challenges before us, continued support to Afghan forces including air support and other necessary assistance will remain essential.

 

Madam President,

 

While our counter terrorism and military efforts are fundamental to the security of the country, it is clear that lasting peace requires a political solution. To this end, the national unity government has prioritized the reinvigoration of the peace process. Recent engagements between representatives of the High Peace Council, Afghan civil society including women, and the Taliban have promoted dialogue and mutual understanding and generated momentum towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-managed peace process.

 

The role of our neighbours is crucial to our efforts to secure peace. In this regard, the government of Afghanistan has taken bold steps to open a new page in our relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the last 14 years, an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability. We highlight the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Kabul as a positive step, and expect that Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability extends to ending sanctuaries and compelling the Taliban to stop their violent campaigns.

 

Madam President,

 

Following last year’s historic elections, the national unity government is dedicated to advancing its agenda for political, economic and social reform. President Ghani has appointed all ministers, and continues to appoint governors and other senior leadership positions within the government. Every Ministry has embarked upon a public 100-day action plan, designed to achieve national objectives as defined by the government’s Realizing Self Reliance agenda.

 

The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments and the government’s work. From tackling the Kabul Bank case as one of the administration’s first acts, to establishing a national procurement board – chaired by the President himself – to review every single government contract, the national unity government is committed to combating corruption, ending impunity and strengthening rule of law. A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.

 

The government’s dedication to accountability encompasses a greater focus on the transparent and effective use of international aid and assistance. Afghanistan is tremendously grateful for the contributions of our international partners that have allowed us to rebuild our country. At the same time, it is clear that development cooperation should evolve so that aid plays a facilitating and enabling role countrywide. We look forward to in-depth discussions on aid efficiency at the upcoming Senior Officials Meeting of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The government has also requested presentations from major donors, international financial institutions and the United Nations on their development portfolios, and is actively engaged in the upcoming examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan as mandated by this noble council.

 

The agenda for reform and transformation is guided by a strong commitment to advance the rights of all Afghan people, particularly the rights of women. There are now four female cabinet ministers, one female governor, and President Ghani has pledged to appoint more women in senior government positions including ambassadorial posts. Last week, President Ghani introduced Afghanistan’s first female Supreme Court nominee. This sets an important precedent, and shows that the government’s commitment to increasing women’s participation is not merely symbolic but part of a systematic policy to include women at the highest levels of decision-making. The national unity government is working closely with our international partners to protect and promote the rights of all Afghan citizens. Last week, the Afghanistan-European Union Human Rights Dialogue was launched in Kabul to provide a forum in which to discuss, coordinate and synergize a full range of human rights issues.

 

The national unity government is also focused on fulfilling its commitment to conduct comprehensive electoral reforms. To this end, in March the government established a Special Commission on Electoral Reform, which includes representatives of civil society and the United Nations, and this month the government announced plans to finalize the election calendar in one month’s time.

 

Madam President,

 

Afghanistan continues to strengthen cooperation with all our neighbours and countries in the region as part of a broader framework for regional cooperation. In the last three months, President Ghani has engaged the leadership of Iran, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and Afghan senior officials have participated at key regional meetings including of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process and other orums. Afghanistan has also signed the draft Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement, and the final pending documents for the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000), which will strengthen Afghanistan’s potential to become the capital of the continental economy, a hub in the Heart of Asia. We look forward to the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in September, which will be an important step towards ensuring further cooperation and connectivity in the region.

 

Madam President,

 

Our international partnerships remain vital to Afghanistan’s long-term development and prosperity. The historic visit of the Afghan High-Level delegation led by President Ghani to the United States in March reaffirmed our commitment to the US-Afghan strategic partnership. During the visit, President Ghani addressed the American people and Congress and held enormously productive discussions with President Obama and the leadership of the United States. Together they announced a New Development Partnership, which will focus up to $800 million in economic assistance for Afghan development and reform priorities. President Ghani concluded his visit in New York, where he underlined the importance of the United Nations-Afghan partnership in meetings with H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leadership of the United Nations.

 

Madam President,

 

At a time when new conflicts and wars plague the world and divert our attention and resources, the continuing cooperation and support of the international community is crucial to Afghanistan’s future. While Afghanistan faces great challenges, the country is steadily realizing the goals of the transformation decade and moving towards a brighter future. As we do so, we know that our on-going partnerships and the support of the international community will be essential to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, the region, and the world.

 

Thank you Madam President.

 

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,

 

At the outset, I’d like to thank the United Nations Mine Action Service for their organization of today’s event and we are pleased to co-chair this event with the Permanent Mission of Poland.  I am pleased to be here on this panel today with my distinguished colleagues, H.E. Boguslaw Winid, H.E. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, eeand Director Agnes Marcaillou.    I am grateful for their commitment to eliminating mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).  The elimination of thousands of mines in my country has only been possible with the support of donor countries such as those that my fellow panelists represent, as well as the commendable work of the Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) and its 50 national and international entities including NGOs, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, and the Government’s Department of Mine Clearance.

 

My country was mined heavily during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, as well as in the subsequent civil wars of the 1990s, and still today by the Taliban and other illegal armed groups.  Mines have been used strategically to protect supply routes, airfields, frontlines, and military posts.  They have been used to terrify communities and innocent civilians. After three decades of conflict in Afghanistan, tragically, over one million people have lost their lives or have been disabled as a result of landmines.  Afghanistan is today the most landmine and ERW impacted country in the world. Approximately half a million Afghan civilians live within 500 meters of landmine contaminated areas. Since the commencement of MAPA, 80 percent of mine contamination has been addressed. However, 4,266 minefields and battlefields in thousands of villages still need to be cleared.

 

The consequence of landmine and ERW contamination extends beyond the humanitarian space and impedes progress in economics and agriculture as well. Mines and ERWs obstruct access to basic services, facilities and infrastructure.  They render land impossible to use for schools, crops, and other productive activities. The country is still littered with hazardous explosive devices, meaning that even in areas where conflict has ceased, civilians risk death or injury from landmines, ERWs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In December of 2012, Afghanistan submitted a request to the States Parties of the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty to extend the deadline by which all antipersonnel mines would be removed from Afghan territory, by ten years.  As part of the extension request, Afghanistan submitted a 10 year work plan which will bring mine free status to the country by 2023.

 

The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices is another big threat to the lives of civilians. Indiscriminate use of IEDs is a common tactic among the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In 2014 alone, approximately 3,000 civilians were victims of injuries caused by IEDs in Afghanistan.

 

As we approach the year 2023, together with our partners, Afghanistan is confident we will see a mine free nation. This will be a monumental achievement for our country, a result of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of Afghan de-miners who risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure security for their fellow citizens. This past Saturday, 12 de-miners working for HALO trust, a partner of MAPA, were kidnapped from Logar province. On Monday, all but six were safely freed. We must continue working to ensure the safety and security for these brave men and women.

 

As we strive for the day when Afghanistan is completely mine free, the continuing support of the international community along with UNMAS, will ensure de-mining activities are conducted safely, efficiently, and effectively. With the end of the transition period and the beginning of the transformation decade, defined by national ownership and leadership, we are entering into a new phase of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, including the UN. Now, the Government of Afghanistan is engaged in a comprehensive reexamination of the role and activities of all UN entities in our country aimed at strengthening our collaboration and partnerships with the UN. This process will allow the government of Afghanistan to assume its central coordination role in development and humanitarian activities, including de-mining.  We look forward to continuing our close work with UNMAS and other organizations involved in mine clearance. For the success of our de-mining efforts, we call on the international community to continue financial assistance. We also, appreciate the support of member states for the General Assembly Resolution on Assistance in Mine Action, of which we are a co-sponsor. Together, we all seek the noble objective of an Afghanistan free of mines and explosive remnants of war, where our people will live without fear of these senseless weapons.

 

Thank you.

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations

 

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me offer my congratulations as we prepare to celebrate the Day of Vesak, the Day of the full moon. This joyous occasion, celebrated by millions on our continent and throughout the world, is a sacred day to commemorate the life, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

 

We come from different nations, speak various languages, and respect diverse customs yet, what unites us regardless of our differences is our past, our history and our tradition. Our millennia-old connection is one of a shared culture that extends from the Indian Ocean, to the valleys of the Hindu Kush, from Arab lands and to edge of Eastern Asia. Our commonalities serve as a channel of communication and connection that binds together the great historical regions of our continent.

 

The beauty and life we celebrate today recalls the major world religions. We are reminded that, these faiths have sought spiritual purity in the calm and contemplative majesty of the region. Afghanistan, in the very heart of Asia, has been a meeting place of many civilizations and great cultural traditions.

 

The Afghan city of Bamiyan, for more than 1500 years, coveted the greatest religious monuments of all mankind, Solsol and Shamama, two gigantic Buddha statues. These statues defined the historical city of Bamiyan, as the thriving center of religion, philosophy, and art. Located in the middle of the Silk Road, Bamiyan was the crossroads of cultural exchange between the East and West. Afghanistan’s history of mutual understanding of followers of other faiths allowed various cultures to coexist in harmony with great respect for one another.

 

Juxtaposing the city of Bamiyan’s historical glory, the Taliban, in 2001, tried to obliterate these revered statues with an absolute blindness for the importance of cultural heritage. Their act of destruction is a cultural crime, an act of fanaticism, bigotry, and hatred that shocked the consciousness of humanity. The Government of Afghanistan in collaboration with the international community, particularly UNESCO, is currently working to restore these symbols of shared priceless world history.

 

Today in an official ceremony, the city of Bamiyan assumed it’s historical role as the First South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s Cultural Capital of 2015. The ceremony welcomed high level members from Afghanistan and all over the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs broadcasted that over the course of the next year, several SAARC states will organize various cultural events in Bamiyan including, seminars, exhibitions, and musical performances. This reinvigorates the idea of Bamiyan as the center of the Silk Road. It once again serves the realization of our desire to turn Afghanistan into the Asian roundabout where goods, ideas, and people can flow freely in all directions.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Today Hindu and Sikh minorities in Afghanistan, who have made incredible contributions to the prosperity and progress of our country, celebrate Day of Vesak, as we do here at the UN. Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, who suffered the consequences of decades of war, violence and extremism along with millions of other Afghans, are now working together with all parts of the nations to rebuild and strengthen our country. I am here today to congratulate, all those in our country and the rest of the world, on this jovial celebration.

 

Today in New York at the United Nations, we come together with our friends, and representatives of countries from all over the world, who are here to take part in these wonderful festivities. As we do so, I would like to highlight how much this celebration today demonstrates the spirit of collaboration that unites all of our countries, at the United Nations and in the world.

 

Thank you.