Sunday, April 20, 2014

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the Security Council Debate on

the Situation in Afghanistan

NEW YORK

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting, and congratulate you on your work as president of this Council for the month of June. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his most recent report, and SRSG Staffan di Mistura for his briefing today, his first in his new role.

Mr. di Mistura and the leadership and staff of UNAMA have made exemplary efforts in Kabul. In less than three months, Mr. di Mistura has proven himself to be admirably able to bring all stakeholders, including regional actors, together around issues and principles of common concern. We are grateful to him, and I look forward to working with him and his colleagues closely in the coming years.

Mr. President,

This meeting comes less than a week after this august Council’s visit to Afghanistan, which I had the honor to be part of. Let me thank you all, and particularly Ambassador Apakan of Turkey for his work in leading the Mission. The Council’s visit came at a crucial time for Afghanistan. It was an opportunity to assess the current situation, and to prepare for the future. More importantly, it was also an opportunity to better understand the hopes, fears and expectations of the Afghan people. As was evident last week, Afghans are focused in particular on the increased role of their government in the reconstruction and stabilization process; on their expectations from the international community; and on how to address the insurgency. Our success in the coming years will depend on our ability to further involve Afghans in these crucial issues.

Mr. President,

Seven months ago, President Karzai presented a comprehensive national agenda to reengage the Afghan people and enable them to take increased responsibility for the governance, development and security of their country. This has subsequently been endorsed by the international community in London and since.

Mr. President,

The Afghanistan we saw last week has made visible progress in the past months towards meeting its commitments, progress that is also reflected in the report before us today. The Afghan National Army and Police, now operating with increased operational capability, are on schedule to reach their combined target size and strength. In partnership with the international forces, we have begun to take back the initiative from the Taliban in some key parts of the country.zahirtanin_sec

In addition, the Afghan government is increasingly focused on efficiency and effectiveness, cracking down on corruption and promoting rule of law. President Karzai recently called for initiatives to prevent nepotism in the awarding of high-level contracts, and to require businessmen related to high-level officials to disclose their assets.

The Government of Afghanistan has also taken steps to prioritize development, particularly in the agricultural sector, in an effort to ensure a sustainable economy, and is investing in minerals and human resource development to promote long-term prosperity.

Further, last month’s Peace Jirga brought together a broad and representative cross-section of Afghan society around the common desire for security, peace and justice. This Jirga marked an important step towards building an inclusive and unified Afghan approach to peace and reconciliation, and identified concrete steps to be taken in that direction.

At the same time, the Afghan-led parliamentary elections process is well underway, with 2577 candidates, including 406 women, standing for 249 seats. There is a broad commitment from the newly restructured Independent Electoral and Electoral Complaints Commissions, as well as civil society and the candidates themselves, to ensure that this is a transparent, fair and credible process, one which learns from the lessons of the past. In this regard, we appreciate the assistance of the United Nations and the international community in providing financial and logistical support, and in helping us to guarantee the security which is essential for a credible election. This election will be an important step on the path towards strengthening the engagement of people in the establishment of the democratic system.

Mr. President,

Three weeks from now the Government of Afghanistan will convene the International Kabul Conference on Afghanistan, which will allow us to renew the partnership between the international community and the Afghan government and people, crystallize our shared strategy and begin to implement concrete action plans. It will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and the United Nations, and attended at the Foreign Ministerial level and by representatives of countries, international and regional organizations, and financial institutions. This is not a pledging conference, but a chance to detail the objectives reflected in President Karzai’s inaugural platform and the London Conference outcome.

Mr. President,

Afghans have great hopes, and great expectations, from our international friends and allies. They are well aware that Afghanistan would still be under the bloody reign of the Taliban and Al Qaeda without the support and assistance of the international community. But they are nevertheless disturbed by the ongoing debates among and between our international allies, and concerned that sustainable progress may be difficult to achieve if we do not show patience, fortitude and long-term commitment.

This renewed partnership between Afghanistan and the international community must embody a recognition that trust and responsibility are equally important for all partners, rather than being the sole preserve of any one of us. We must continue to work together jointly to meet our own expectations and those of our partners.

To build the confidence and trust of the Afghan people, efforts should be geared towards:

- first, by ensuring that the transition strategy is implemented in practice, through capacity-building, empowering Afghans, and avoiding waste;

- second, by reengaging the people in the transition process;

- third, by ending the negative perceptions that have favored the enemy;

- and fourth, by ensuring visible progress in both the short and long term.

The Kabul conference and the subsequent parliamentary elections will be opportunities to achieve some of these goals, but our efforts should continue and intensify across the board.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people have suffered from violence and conflict for over thirty years, and they understand that most of our current enemies are not driven by ideology. My government has made it a priority to undertake a process to end the insurgency and consolidate security throughout the country.

The Peace Jirga outcome document recommended several steps to be taken towards an inclusive Afghan peace process that will weave Afghan fighters and enemy leaders back into the fabric of Afghan social, economic and political life. The Government of Afghanistan has already started to implement many of these recommendations. We are creating a high-level council to oversee the implementation of the peace and reconciliation process. We have also begun to review detention records with a view to releasing Taliban who are being held without adequate evidence, and have requested this Council to extend the review process of the Consolidated List as we prepare to submit a preliminary delisting request.

However, let us be clear: we will not sacrifice the progress that has been made, or the principles on which our Constitution is founded. We will begin negotiations with any disenchanted Afghans who are ready to distance themselves from Al Qaeda and to participate in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Partnership with the Afghan people has been critical to the progress made thus far, and will be critical to the success of the current transition strategy. As you noticed last week, there is intense interest, and some concern, among the Afghan people. But at the same time, there is also strength of resolve, both in the Afghan government and in civil society, and the pride that Afghans feel in their historic nation. We are eager to build a government and society that will do justice to that pride. The international community has been a true and steadfast friend to the Afghan people in this struggle, and we look forward to a partnership that is closer, more concrete and more focused.

I thank you.

“Opening and Closing Statements of Ambassador Tanin at informal plenary on Security Council reform, 16 June”

Opening Statement – 16 June 2010

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

1. Welcome back to the third exchange of the fifth round of intergovernmental negotiations. The topic today is the section of the negotiation text dedicated to the fourth key issue: size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council.

2. The negotiation text before you contains excerpts from Member States positions, and is divided according to the five key issues established and reaffirmed by Member States in decisions 62/557 and 63/565. The text contains redundancies, overlaps, and numerous areas where editorial changes would be useful. For that reason, I encourage you to improve the text to make it more useful for our shared work.

3. At our last meeting, I was delighted that some Member States took the opportunity to look at concrete language proposals. This will help us all to rationalize and improve the negotiation text.

4. I would like to underscore that we are in an informal plenary. This means that although Member States are always welcome to comment on any matter you deem relevant, in order to make this process work, I encourage all of you to make concrete suggestions and propose specific amendments that will reduce obvious overlaps, address existing differences and combine common elements in the language of the negotiation text. There is no need to restate known positions. And for those who have not yet done so, I again ask that any concrete proposals that are made be submitted to my office in writing so that we can properly reflect them in the next revision of the text.

5. As I mentioned last week, I intend to distribute the second revision of the text at the conclusion of this round, which will of course reflect all of the concrete proposals made during these meetings as well as those communicated to me.

6. As is usual practice in this house, you are, and will remain, the masters of your own positions. Though we will reflect all proposals in the text, amendments will only be applied with the agreement of the Member State, or States, whose language is affected.

7. On this note, you are of course always encouraged to also deliberate amongst each other and convey any results thereof to me either during our meetings or through a letter.

8. Finally, let me remind all of you that we continue to meet in an informal setting. We therefore do not have a speakers list today. Please raise your nameplates if you wish to speak.

Thank you.

Closing statement – 16 June 2010 – SC Reform

Excellencies, distinguished delegates

We seem to have exhausted our initial discussion of this section if there are no more Member States that wish to comment on the proposals made today.

I thank all of you for your active and constructive participation today.

As a response to the queries on the timetable, let me add that our next meeting will take place on 28 June. It will cover the section of the text relating to the third key issue, on regional representation. This meeting will be followed by a meeting on key issue number two on 7 July, and a meeting on key issue number one on 12 July.

I intend to distribute a second revision of the text following the last meeting.

The text will of course reflect all of the concrete proposals made during these meetings as well as those communicated to me.

As is usual practice in this house, you are, and will remain, the masters of your own positions. Though we will reflect all proposals in the text, amendments will only be applied with the agreement of the Member State, or States, whose language is affected.

As I mentioned in the beginning, if Member States have additional proposals or amendments on this section, for example as a result of discussions with other Member States and groups, I would encourage them to send them to me any time before the end of this round for inclusion in the second revision of the text.

In this regard, it would be very helpful if you would please forward your concrete proposals to my office for inclusion in revision 2 of the negotiation text.

Finally, let me stress once more that I am as always impartial to any of the positions. My impartiality includes the order of speakers, which is indicated to me by the Secretariat based on objective criteria usually followed in such informal proceedings.

Going forward, however, I assure you that I will duly reflect over the comments on procedure made today. In doing so, I will of course bear in mind my responsibility as Chair to ensure a legitimate and interactive modus operandi that can pave the way towards real progress.

Thank you.

Children and Armed Conflict

STATEMENT

BY

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the Security Council Debate on

Children and Armed Conflict

NEW YORK

Madam President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, please allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council, and thank you for convening this meeting; your Excellency’s presence here today reflects Mexico’s enduring commitment to advancing the international agenda on this issue. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for her briefing this morning.

Madam President,

More than half of Afghanistan’s 30 million people are under the age of 18. This is a half of the country whose earliest memories are violence and war; who have grown up amidst a decimated economy, shattered institutions and broken society. But these children are also the best and only hope for the future of Afghanistan, and my Government is fully committed to protecting them and to developing their potential.

Madam President,

A country of youth poses unique challenges. Thirty years of warfare have left thousands orphaned or disabled. Mines and unexploded remnants of war kill and injure hundreds more every year. Many children are the primary breadwinners for their families. Poverty, unemployment and weak national institutions create unrest and particularly disadvantage children, putting them at risk for diseases and malnutrition, and making them easy victims for crimes and extremist ideology.

But more than this, children in Afghanistan suffer from the terrorism and violence of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their allies. These groups are responsible for heinous acts against civilians – including the recent heartbreaking murder of a 7 year old boy, hanged as a government spy. Their complete disregard for human life is well documented, and they continue to bear the overwhelming responsibility for the danger to children across the country.

Madam President,

The Government of Afghanistan has taken many legal, institutional and practical steps to promote security, development and good governance, and to fulfill its national and international obligations to protect children.

In addition, as part of an ongoing dialogue with the Office of the Special Representative, and in line with the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group, the Government of Afghanistan has taken further steps to address the particular needs of children in armed conflict. Many of them are not fully reflected in the current report. For example:

1. My Government welcomed the recent creation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism in the country, and established an interministerial steering committee to develop a governmental action plan on children and armed conflict.

2. The Government established a Commission to oversee the needs of children and juveniles, and another to ensure the observance of human rights during detention and interrogation, as required by law.

3. The Government is working with civil society and religious leaders to address sexual violence, which is contrary to both Islamic teachings and national law.

4. Because of the threat from the Taliban, the Ministry of Education has instructed that schools will no longer be used as polling stations in elections.

5. The Government is engaged with international forces to improve protection of civilians, and welcomed recent tactical directives in this regard.

6. Focal points for child recruitment have been identified in the Ministries of Interior and Defense, and the Ministry of the Interior has tasked the Unit on Human Rights, Gender and Children to address any allegations of children in the Police, as well as allegations of sexual violence.

7. The recruitment process for both the Army and the Police is increasingly centralized and standardized, including through the introduction of biometric verification procedures, and records are kept of underage applicants who are turned away.

8. The Interior Ministry recently released an executive directive reinforcing the existing legislation by banning recruitment of anyone under 18 to the police, requiring that any children found to be reintegrated into society within thirty days, and mandating disciplinary measures for those responsible.

Madam President,

Given these steps and others we have taken, my Government is disturbed by the decision to list the Afghan National Police Force in the Annex of the present report. As the Special Representative herself has recognized, recruitment policy is clearly designed to prevent children from being involved with the security forces. This decision creates an unacceptable equivalence between the Police and the intentionally abusive practices of the Taliban and their allies, and undermines the efforts of the Afghan Government and the international community to build strong, effective and responsible Security Forces under very challenging circumstances. I have outlined my Government’s concerns more fully in a letter to the Secretary-General on this subject, which will be circulated as an official document of the Security Council. In particular, my Government was not provided with any evidence to support this report’s allegations of child recruitment in the Police, or of mistreatment or torture in government facilities in contravention of national law, and we are not satisfied with the partial and anecdotal nature of the report itself.

However, and despite our reservations, my Government remains ready as always to engage fully with the Office of the Special Representative and with the monitoring and reporting mechanism to ensure the full implementation of Resolutions 1615 and 1882, among others, and to continue to improve our capacity and procedures for the protection of children.

Madam President,

Earlier this week we became aware of vast mineral resources in Afghanistan that have the power to transform the country’s economy; likewise, the millions of children in Afghanistan are an untapped wealth of human potential, who will grow into an economic, political and social force that will remake the future of the country. My Government is fully committed to educating these children, to protecting them, to providing them with a bright and promising future, and to building a country that they can be proud to inherit. This is not just a moral and legal duty; it is also the only way for Afghanistan to fully and finally emerge from conflict.

I thank you.