Thursday, October 23, 2014

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Third Committee Agenda Item 27 Advancement of Women

Thank you, Madam Chair,

 

It is a pleasure to have the chance to speak on this important issue. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for all his reports highlighting key issues on the Advancement of Women, and the Director of UN Women for her comprehensive reports. We also thank the United Nations for its ongoing support to our efforts to support the advancement of women in my country.

 

Madam Chair,

 

Afghanistan has entered a new chapter in its history with the election of a new President and a national unity government. This represents a new beginning for the country, and an important moment for the women of Afghanistan.

 

We have made tremendous progress since the collapse of the Taliban. For the past 13 years, the Government of Afghanistan has been committed to the advancement of women. Afghan women have been liberated from the tyranny of the Taliban, a tyranny that oppressed women first and foremost. The Afghan Constitution guarantees the equal rights of all Afghans, and the political discourse in the country regularly recognizes Afghan women and the valuable role they play in society. Women’s empowerment has become a critical criteria for social advancement in the country, and government institutions and civil society have vocalized the importance of upholding women’s rights and ensuring their participation. The international community has been stood by us steadfastly in these efforts.

 

The involvement of women in the recent Presidential elections represented a deeply significant demonstration of progress. Thousands of women voted despite threats to their lives, a situation unprecedented in Afghanistan. Additionally, five of the vice presidential candidates for the 2014 elections were women and many were elected to seats in provincial councils.

 

Since the fall of the Taliban, several laws have been developed and adopted to safeguard the rights of women. These include the Elimination of Violence Against Women law. The National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) is the main vehicle for government implementation of gender commitments at all levels.  In addition, Afghanistan is pursuing the vigorous implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to ensure that women are meaningfully represented in peace, security, reconciliation and conflict resolution efforts and initiatives.

 

Furthermore, a number of policies in the areas of women’s political participation, education, health and economic empowerment to benefit women have been adopted. Today 22% of Government employees and 27% of the Members of Parliament are women. Women hold 120 judicial positions.  In health sector, policies to enhance women’s access to health services have been promoted.  Between 2001 and 2013 maternal mortality fell from 1,600 to 327 deaths per 100,000 births, and infant mortality decreased from 257 to 77 deaths per 1,000 live births. We have also seen significant growth in the economic sector for women; today 700 small companies in Afghanistan are managed and led by women. This is a stark comparison to the past when women had zero involvement in the economic life of the country.

 

Madam Chair,

 

Despite significant gains, the path toward progress on women’s advancement in Afghanistan remains challenging. Women have been profoundly impacted by three and half decades of conflict, insecurity and violence. Their vulnerabilities are further compounded by negative traditional and customary practices that discriminate against women, low levels of literacy, lack of job opportunities and widespread poverty, particularly in the most remote parts of the country.

 

Women in Afghanistan suffer from violence, child marriage and gender discrimination, which impedes their involvement in all sectors of society.  It is of great concern that women’s rights defenders face threats as a result of their efforts to improve the lives of women in the country. Moreover, weak rule of law poses a major threat to women in Afghanistan, as made evident in their lack of access to the justice system. This has had a devastating impact on women, particularly those who are victims of gender based violence.

 

Madam Chair,

 

Recognizing these profound challenges, the new government is committed to upholding and promoting the rights and advancement of women in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani is adamant that women are essential to successful development and peace in the country. His commitment was demonstrated in his first address to the people of Afghanistan, in which he pledged to promote women’s advancement in Afghanistan and highlighted the important role that his wife, Rula Ghani, played during the campaign.  Furthermore, he noted that as First Lady she will remain dedicated to the cause of women’s rights and that she would oversee a committee aimed at providing advice, technical support and expertise to the President on women’s issues. This is historic step; it is the first time that the First Lady of a democratically elected president in Afghanistan has adopted a public role.  It has great inspiring power, and sets an example to the wider region.

 

As Afghanistan focuses on building a national unity government, and begins on a comprehensive reform program, it is clear that women’s real, full participation in the country’s future is imperative. Also, the President’s focus on enhancing the rule of law will deeply improve the situation in the country for women. Besides from their involvement, it is crucial that Afghanistan aim towards a situation where women feel safe, where they have the same freedom others have, to walk freely, to receive education, and to participate as equal members of society- not as second class citizens. The new government in Afghanistan is committed to change, and also to continuity, and so we will build upon the great achievements of the last 12 years.

 

Afghanistan is fundamentally committed to the advancement and empowerment of women; I thank the international community for their continued support of our efforts for the women of our country and their rights.

 

Thank you.

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations     At the General Debate of the First Committee

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, let me join other delegations in congratulating you on your election as Chairman of the First Committee. We wish you and the members of the Bureau every success leading the work of the Committee, and assure you of our full support and cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). However, I wish to make the following observations in my national capacity:

Afghanistan reiterates its full commitment to multilateral diplomacy, as an important principle for advancing disarmament, non-proliferation and international security. We believe the global goals towards arms control, arms reduction, and the full eradication of any type of Weapons of Mass Destruction can only be realized through all sides displaying strong political will.

 

Afghanistan supports, unequivocally, all initiatives in the sphere of Nuclear disarmament.  Consistent with a core pillar of our foreign policy, we are fully committed to realizing a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Asia and other parts of the world. In this regard, Afghanistan is party to both the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

As highlighted in two previous conferences in Oslo and Nayarit, the catastrophic consequences and humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are unbearable and should serve as an imperative to prevent any use of these weapons in the future. We echo other delegations in saying that the only guarantee against this is the total elimination of all Nuclear Weapons. We welcome the call made at the Nayarit conference, for the development of a legally binding instrument prohibiting any use of Nuclear Weapons and we are looking forward to the 3rd Conference to be held in Vienna in December this year.

 

Decades after the adoption of the NPT, we have yet to see any substantial progress towards its implementation particularly with regards to Article VI of the Treaty. As we approach the 9th review conference of the NPT next year, we believe that sincere commitment and cooperation is required by all, particularly Nuclear Weapon States; in order to move towards the realization of the overall goal of the NPT and the objectives of its review conference.

 

We strongly support the establishment of a Middle East zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction. Any continuing delay in the establishment of the Middle East Zone runs contrary to the commitments made at 2010 Review Action Plan and we call, in this regard, for the convening of the conference without further delay.

We also stress the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT and we believe its entry into force will prevent further development and proliferation of these inhuman weapons.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

This year marks one of the deadliest years for the Afghan people since 2001. Use of high Explosive Weapons systems with wide area effect, such as mortars, rockets and grenades, by terrorists groups in civilian populated areas and use of civilians as human shields have resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian causalities.

 

Indiscriminate and unlawful continuing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), including pressure-plate IEDs, roadside bombs and suicide attacks by terrorists and extremist groups continue to cause an overwhelming loss of life of ordinary civilians, as well as Afghan and international security forces on a daily basis; and are in direct violation of international humanitarian law. However, my government in 2010, prohibited the import, export, and transfer of ammonium nitrate, the main substance for manufacturing IEDs, we still face a situation in which such substances continue to be trafficked into our territory from within our immediate region. As such, we call for more coherent efforts and integrated mechanisms to address this challenge in our region and beyond.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Having experienced enduring conflict and violence, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of small arms and light weapons. During war time, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and over a million people were killed by small arms and light weapons alone and approximately one million people were disabled or handicapped because of these weapons and associated ammunitions. Small arms and light weapons have clearly been the main destabilizing and destructive element in Afghanistan over the last three decades. Afghanistan bears witness daily to fact that terrorists’ access to illegal small arms and light weapons fuels the cycle of violence in Afghanistan and in our region.

In this regard, Afghanistan fully supports the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.  We welcome adoption of the outcome document of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States, a process chaired by Afghanistan, and I thank all Member States for their cooperation throughout the process.

Despite the progress made in regulating the manufacture, trade, transit and circulation of small arms and light weapons, greater international cooperation and assistance is still needed to address challenges arising from the illicit circulation and uncontrolled spread of these weapons in many region of the world, particularly in conflict and post conflict situations. Hence, we also welcome the inclusion in the SDG’s the goal towards the reduction of illicit arms flow by 2030.

Mr. Chairman,

War and violence has left Afghanistan heavily mined; in fact it is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Abandoned landmines and explosives ordinances continue to pose a great threat to the lives of many Afghan civilians and further jeopardize the security and development of Afghanistan and its people. Over a million people have already lost body parts due to landmines, and this widespread destruction and loss of life continue today. Moreover, at present, the Taliban and extremist militant groups continue use mines to achieve their ultimate goal of threatening stability, safety, and development in Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding the many challenges ahead, the end of Afghanistan’s landmine and Explosive Remnants of War problem is in sight as Afghanistan has commenced work on a ten year plan in line with Ottawa Treaty extension request that will see Afghanistan mine free by 2023. This will be a monumental achievement for the country, a result of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of Afghan de-miners who have been supported technically and financially for many years by numerous donor states and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Yet financial constraints greatly hinder our ability to meet this tremendous challenge successfully, therefore sustained international support and assistance is core in our shared efforts towards achieving this goal.

We welcome the Maputo+15 Declaration adopted at the Third Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personal Mines and Their Destruction. We condemn in the strongest terms all use of anti-personnel mines, and support the “completion” goals of the Maputo Review Conference. While the Convention has had great success in fomenting the international community’s resolve against such indiscriminate weapons and in implementing country-specific commitments, Afghanistan still suffers from the consequences of past use.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, Afghanistan is fully committed to the eradication of cluster munitions, and ratified the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2011. With the destruction of thousands of different munitions, Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpiles. We are fully committed to the provisions of the convention on cluster munitions, condemn all use of these weapons which are indiscriminate in their impact and we encourage its universalization.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations  Before the 6th committee of the 69th session of General Assembly on “Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism” (Agenda item 107)

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

 

At the outset let me join other delegations in congratulating you on your election asChair of the Sixth Committee.  My congratulations also go to the other members of the Bureau. We look forward to working closely with you and we assure you of our full support and cooperation.

 

My delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Organization of  Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

As a country that continues to be victimized daily by terrorism, Afghanistan strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

 

Over the past decade, Afghanistan has been at the battlefront of the global counter terrorism campaign. In the war against international terrorism, our people have suffered tremendously and have made huge sacrifices in terms of human and material losses. The death toll amounts to of thousands of people, significant portion of whom are  women and children.  Many more have been maimed and wounded. We have lost thousands of our soldiers and officers in our struggle against terrorism. In the first six months of this year alone we lost thousands  of our security forces, who put their lives at risk to protect their people and to eliminate this scourge.

 

In the past six months, terrorists and extremist armed groups took advantage of the protracted political and electoral crisis and surrounding uncertainty to launch major assaults around the country, using forces several hundred strong in “swarm attacks” to overwhelm district administrative centers and security checkpoints.  This resulted in considerable casualties among civilians and security personnel. The use of indiscriminate attacks such as explosive weapons in residential and populated areas, suicide attacks, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists and insurgent groups as well as cross border shelling have made this year one of the deadliest years for the Afghan people since 2001.

 

Nevertheless, in our pursuit of lasting peace, our counter-terrorism efforts will continue unabated and our commitment to defeating this scourge, nationally and internationally, is as strong as ever. To this end, our national army and police are on the front lines of all counter terrorism operations throughout the country. Scores of terrorists and enemy combatants have been killed or captured. Moreover, hundreds of terrorist plots have been averted in various parts of the country.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan is of the belief that militancy and extremism will never serve the long-term interests of any country. In this regard, my government continues to engage its neighbours to promote regional cooperation. We express our concern about the rise and evolving trends of violent acts in our region and strongly support a comprehensive approach in addressing these threats.

 

With unwavering commitment in fighting international terrorism, we continue to adjust our national counter-terrorism legislation to correspond with international legal frameworks to combat terrorism. In this regard, our National Assembly approved a number of laws. This included laws towards combating the financing of terrorism and money laundering. We also continue to work towards the full implementation of the 13 international conventions and protocols  on terrorism, to which Afghanistan is a party.

 

Our region is particularly prone to terrorism. The government of Afghanistan sees regional cooperation as necessary to root out terrorism in our part of the world. In this regard, we are working closely with our immediate and distant neighbours, bilaterally, trilaterally and through other initiatives as part of our comprehensive approach in tackling this menace.

 

Strengthening border cooperation, inter-agency coordination and most importantly building confidence and trust among our neighbours and countries in the region is of utmost importance to our shared efforts in defeating terrorism. Moreover, regional organizations play an important role in the fulfilling our aims in this regard.

 

We hope to see concrete efforts towards the elimination of terrorist sanctuaries and support centres located outside Afghanistan, which represent the main source of the violence and terror in our country.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Increasing heinous terrorist attacks and the evolving nature of this menace in different parts of the world, once again attests to the necessity of an international, comprehensive approach in fighting such a fundamental threat to international peace and security. As the Secretary-General mentioned in his briefing before the Security Council on 24 September, “Missiles may kill terrorists. But good governance kills terrorism.” Promoting good governance, socio- economic development, respect for human rights and strengthening regional cooperation are the essential elements of a holistic approach in this fight.

 

The continued use of the internet and communications technology by terrorists and their supporters for recruitment, financing, training and inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism, to spread propaganda, and to gather and disseminate information for terrorist purposes is an issue of great concern. We call for integrated cooperation by international community to address this challenge and we stress the need for further capacity building efforts focused on legal and practical aspects in order to limit use of internet and communications technology by terrorist organizations.

 

We welcome the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, which Afghanistan co-sponsored. The increasing numbers of Foreign Terrorists Fighters travelling abroad to join extremist groups is of grave concern. In this context, we express our serious concern regarding the recent significant  increased number of Foreign Terrorist Fighters among Taliban and Al-Qaida in different parts of my country. The Afghan people suffered from the threat of Foreign Terrorist Fighters immensely. Hence, the implementation of the resolution will benefit us in our shared struggle against this phenomenon. We emphasize the need for further cooperation regionally and internationally to address the issue of Foreign Terrorism Fighters.

 

I also welcome the successful Fourth Biennial Review Process of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and commend Turkey for its hard work in facilitating the process. The adoption of the text by consensus represents once again the global condemnation of terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations while remaining aware of its evolving aspects. While the strategy provides guidance through its fourth pillar, we believe that the Strategy should be implemented in a balanced manner, with due consideration to all 4 pillars.

 

We recognize the central role of the UN and relevant UN agencies in coordinating the efforts of international community in countering terrorism and those of Global Counter Terrorism Forum in supporting member states in their fight against terrorism. We express our firm support for these efforts, which are aimed at the further implementation of the UN Counter Terrorism Framework.  In conclusion, Mr Chairman, we echo the call of other speakers in highlighting the need to achieve the early conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism.

 

 

I thank you.