Sunday, November 23, 2014

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin at the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider meeting the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

 1st meeting
 Monday, 16 June 2014
 10 a.m.
(New York, 16-20 June 2014)
 CR.3 (CB)     

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for the trust you have bestowed upon me by electing me today as Chair for BMS5. It is a great honour for Afghanistan. After close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. During the long conflict in my country, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and have been used to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Terrorists’ access to illicit arms has fueled the cycle of violence in my country, prolonging conflict and affecting the lives of all citizens.  As a result of this experience, my Government is highly sensitive to the negative impact of illicit weapons around the world.

 

I will work to the best of my abilities to ensure that BMS5 is a success and that the outcome of the meeting will help address the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a practical and comprehensive manner. Your support and continued active engagement are critical for the attainment of that goal.

 

The Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument remain the cornerstone of our efforts to tackle the complex issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which continues to wreak havoc in many regions and delay efforts aimed at promoting socio-economic development.

 

The Biennial Meetings of States provide us with the opportunity to take stock of our efforts, and identify innovative measures aimed at improving our collective approach in the fight against the illicit trade in, and uncontrolled proliferation of, these weapons.

 

We have five days to consider the three important topics of stockpile management, the International Tracing Instrument and international cooperation and assistance and to agree on a consensual outcome document.

 

Addressing illicit small arms and light weapons has never been more timely.  The success of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda is contingent on the prevention and reduction of armed violence. Effective action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, simultaneously at the national, regional and global levels, is central to achieving any of those goals.  Indeed, people and societies can only fully realize their development goals if their communities are safe and secure.

I am confident that you will keep the larger significance of our work in mind when we work towards a consensually agreed outcome of this week’s meeting.

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations 4th Biennial Review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy United Nations New York

Thank you, Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation for the Fourth Biennial Review of the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UNGCTS). I also commend the Turkish Mission’s role, particularly the tireless efforts of my good friend, H.E. Ambassador Y. Halit Çevik and his team, for facilitating negotiations on the Fourth Biennial Review.  Additionally, I would like to welcome the Secretary General’s recent report on the activities of the United Nations system in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). I would like to add the following in my national capacity.

Mr. President,

My country is one of the biggest victims of terrorism in the world. Afghan men, women, and children are affected every day by terrorism and violence.  As a result of this pernicious threat, Afghans regularly see their loved ones killed in suicide and roadside bombings, their clinics and schools destroyed, and their important public figures assassinated. Past weeks have seen some particularly horrific attacks.  My government condemns in the strongest terms the recent attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, the kidnapping of 35 University professors Ghaznhi province this week,the recent assassination attempt against one of the two frontrunners in Afghanistan’s presidential election, and the gruesome attack on personnel of the Turkish EMTA Construction Company in Jalalabad Province.

My government also condemns acts of terrorism all over the world, in all its forms and manifestations. We were deeply saddened by the most recent act of terror committed in our neighboring country, Pakistan, where militants attacked the Karachi airport and killed over a dozen individuals. We condemn the unforgiveable acts of Boko Haram in Nigeria and we also deplore the violence in Mosul, Iraq at the hands of terrorist groups, and the gruesome kidnapping of Turkish diplomats in that country.

 Recognizing the continuing threat of terrorism in our country, counter-terrorism policies are central to Afghanistan’s national security strategy. Over the past decade, Afghanistan, together with our international partners, has made major strides in addressing and weakening terrorist networks in the country. These efforts continue as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) assume a greater role in all security activities across Afghanistan, including counter-terrorism operations.  The increasing capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces were evident during the recent first round of elections in my country, when Afghan National Security Forces secured polling centers around the country and ensured the safety of Afghan voters on Election Day.

Moreover, we have strengthened our counter-terrorism legal framework to appropriately address the threat of terrorism in the county. Afghanistan is party to 13 international conventions and protocols concerning terrorism, and we have adopted a multitude of national laws to combat terrorism and other forms of organized crime. These include the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism and the Law on Combating Terrorist Offences.

We are working closely with the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate, and have submitted relevant national reports on implementation. We also work closely to implement relevant United Nations sanctions regimes, and commend the valuable work of the sanctions committees, including the Al-Qaida sanctions regime mandated by Security Council resolution 1267, the Taliban sanctions regime, mandated by Security Council resolution 1988, as well as the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.  While we acknowledge the effectiveness of sanctions, we call for further regional cooperation in the implementation of sanctions to ensure their further success.

Mr. President,

Terrorism is a menace that plagues the whole region. It is crucial that Afghanistan’s neighbors and countries in the region play their role in contributing to peace and security in my country. My government calls for putting an end to safe havens and sanctuaries beyond our borders, which have been used by terrorists and insurgent groups against the people of Afghanistan, international forces, and the wider region.

For our part, Afghanistan has intensified cooperation at the regional level, including through dialogue with regional partners through bilateral, trilateral and multilateral processes to effectively deal with the problems of terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations.  To eliminate terrorism and bring peace and prosperity, my government is also actively pursuing reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, including through initiatives aimed at limiting extremist violence at its very roots.

To this end in September 2013, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council organized an International Conference for Islamic Scholars and Peace from across the globe in Kabul to discuss ways that religious leaders can contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as in the region. During the conference, Islamic scholars declared suicide attacks un-Islamic, and emphasized the need to use religious practices and teachings of the Quran and Islam to eliminate violence and build peace.  We believe such initiatives are instrumental in promoting a culture of peace and dialogue.

Mr. President,

When the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006, it demonstrated a collective international commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  Today, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and all four of its associated Pillars, has been implemented at national, regional and international levels.  The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) has convened a number of important initiatives, at many of which Afghanistan has been in active participation. We applaud the Task Force Office for organizing a high-level international counter-terrorism focal points’ conference on addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism in Geneva in June 2013 and welcome its outcome.

We express our deep concern about the evolving challenge of non-state actors seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery.  We call on Member States to take necessary steps to ensure that non-state actors and terrorists will not gain access to these types of weapons and we commend United Nations bodies and Member States for providing capacity building assistance to states seeking implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.  To this end, the recent seminar on the contribution of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 in regional and global disarmament held in March 2014 in Kazakhstan was an important step forward.

 Mr. President,

Terrorism continues to threaten the peace and security in Afghanistan, and in the region. But ultimately terrorism is a global threat.  It is not limited to any religion, region, country, national group or ethnicity.   We continue to watch with horror the upsurge in terrorist attacks around the world not only in our region but also in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. Afghanistan deplores all acts of terror in any region by any group, and is committed to the eradication of terror at its roots.  To this end, we commend the efforts of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and call for its widespread implementation moving forward.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations UNICEF Executive Board United Nations New York

5 June 2014

Thank you, Mr. President.

At the outset, let me congratulate Mr. Anthony Lake on his second term as UNICEF Executive Director and commend his leadership and in particular his commitment to the world’s children. His recent visit to my country and his commitment ‘to stay’ demonstrated his dedication to Afghanistan and its children. Let me also express deep thanks to the Regional Director, Karin Hulshof. She is a good friend of Afghanistan. I would also like to take the opportunity to applaud UNICEF staff around the world for their tireless efforts in improving the lives of vulnerable and marginalized children, particularly those staff working in countries like Afghanistan under difficult operating environments. It was just a few months ago that two UNICEF staff lost their lives in the explosion in Kabul as a result of senseless extremist acts. I pay tribute to those individuals who sacrificed their lives for the lives of others.

Mr. President, I would also like to acknowledge UNICEF’s swift provision of support to Afghan families and children affected by the recent tragic landslide in Badakhshan province, which resulted in 2500 deaths and displaced over 1000. UNICEF staff, together with other UN agencies and international organizations, visited Badakhshan and provided emergency support to those affected. My government is deeply appreciative of UNICEF’s support including the delivery of over 500,000 liters of clean water to displaced families, vaccination of some 2,700 children and women against preventable diseases, and the provision of emergency nutrition services and psychosocial support for children affected by this traumatic incident.

In addition to UNICEF’s emergency support we are grateful for its continued long-term efforts in development projects in Afghanistan. With the assistance of UNICEF and our international partners, Afghanistan has made major strides in past years in terms of improving basic social services for children especially in reducing maternal and under-5 mortality rates and education.

To this end, we welcome the successes of UNICEF’s 2010-2014 Country Program, which was aligned to Afghanistan’s national goals as defined in the National Priority Programs (NPPs), the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The program’s successes include increased access to basic quality education with the construction of new schools and UNICEF-supported enrollment of over 560,000 out-of school children; increased access to healthcare including immunization, newborn care, and malnutrition interventions; and UNICEF’s support in strengthening inter-and intra- Ministerial coordination to improve safe water supply, sanitation, hygiene and the promotion of sustainable services.

Unfortunately, malnutrition rates remain extremely high especially in 10-12 provinces out of the 34, exceeding emergency thresholds. Therefore, we ask UNICEF to scale up nutrition efforts both in treating acute malnutrition and preventing chronic malnutrition in the next programme.

Meanwhile, progress in social sectors has not benefited everyone equally. Child and maternal death rates and stunting rates among children in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world. The children in Afghanistan continue to have limited access to the services that protect their rights to survival, development, protection and participation. Poverty and social inequality are among Afghanistan’s biggest challenges, with significant differences between urban and rural, among provinces, among districts in a province, and between males and females. Many segments of the population are beyond the reach of public health facilities. Afghan women have a much lower level of access than men to health services, education, and political and economic opportunity.

In Afghanistan today, over 50 percent of births take place outside health facilities, and 47 percent of pregnant women lack access to pre-natal care services. 70 percent of children aged 12 to 23 months are not fully immunized. Water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections are the biggest killers of children under five. Child malnutrition is pervasive, with nearly 54 percent of children moderately or severely stunted. Around 40 percent of the population is not using improved water sources. Despite recent advances, nationwide only an estimated 31 percent of the population aged 15 years and above is literate.

Children in Afghanistan continue to suffer from polio despite recent progress in eradication efforts, with 4 reported cases this year. However, with the help of UNICEF, WHO and other partners, we hope to keep the country polio free for the remaining months of the year and look forward to continued support of not only UNICEF and WHO but also the global community to eradicate polio completely in the world.

Tragically, armed conflict continues to have a profound effect on children in Afghanistan. Children are used in suicide attacks and in the manufacturing and planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They are often victims of attacks, caught in crossfire or injured or killed by IEDs. In 2013, 1,756 children were killed or maimed as a result of armed conflict and many see their families destroyed and their lives uprooted as a result of violence.

Understanding the challenges that the country faces, and recognizing the distance we still have to go before children’s rights are fully realized in Afghanistan, my government is grateful for the continuing support of UNICEF and for the 2015-2019 Country Program. We applaud its overall goal to address inequality so that all children, adolescents and women have access to services and its focus on the most-deprived areas of Afghanistan.

In addition, we welcome the coordination of the Country Program to the goals defined in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). UNICEF’s decision to align its priorities closely with government priorities and its emphasis on capacity development of national and subnational institutions will enable program delivery with manageable results, sustainability and greater ownership of projects by local communities.

UNICEF’s support is crucial as Afghanistan embarks upon its Transformation Decade, especially as Afghanistan continues to be one of the youngest countries in the world in terms of the population age, with 55% of the population under age 18. Moreover, in the next CPD cycle, Afghanistan will be going through significant transitions particularly in the political, economic, and security spheres. Rapid urbanization is likely to continue, which will further strain already-overstretched infrastructure, housing, and public services. In this context, UNICEF will be essential to the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to improve the situation of children and women in the country.

Thank you.