Tuesday, September 23, 2014

General Debate of the UNGA Second Committee

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the General Debate of the UNGA Second Committee

Mr. Chairman,

First, allow me to congratulate you sincerely on your election as Chairman of the Second Committee. My delegation looks forward to cooperating with you over the next months, and we look forward to a productive session.

Afghanistan aligns itself with the statement of Nepal on behalf of all LDCs. Also, we would like to express our solidarity with the G77 and China, as well as other post-conflict states, LDCs and LLDCs.

Mr. Chairman,

The Second Committee this year is faced with a number of pivotal issues whose resolutions are crucial to our common efforts in creating a stable, secure, and promising common future. The financial and economic crisis, food insecurity, the eradication of poverty in developing countries, climate change, and sustainable development all represent extremely difficult challenges. It is essential that the United Nations, and we nations united under its banner, work together to address them urgently.

Recent international accords and conferences have demonstrated a broad global desire for progress. The United Nations International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries, as well as the 3rd UN Conference on Least Developed Countries have shown crucial initiative. The Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda on Aid Effectiveness, as well as the Hong Kong Ministerial declaration, all prioritize the needs and difficult situation of LDCs in our current environment. Afghanistan is committed to all of these initiatives, and hopes to add the resolution of the Doha Round to this list of crucial programs.

Mr. Chairman,

Like other nations in its situation, Afghanistan’s development capabilities have been particularly threatened by the financial crisis. Official Development and foreign aid to Afghanistan and other LDCs and special-needs countries must be effective, consistent, and predictable in order to meet the demands of development. Nations deserve the chance to lift themselves out of poverty, eradicate corruption, and become truly self-sufficient; but this cannot happen without proper use and channeling of aid, and without encouraging national ownership. Accountability, transparency, donor coordination, and fulfillment of promises must all be comprehensively addressed as soon as possible to ensure that limited resources are being effectively utilized. Otherwise, without intensified aid, Afghanistan will find it very difficult to implement its National Development Strategy, as well as the Millennium Development Goals and the IADGs.

As with other poor countries, a sustainable, self-sufficient future for Afghanistan will depend on agricultural development and food security. Least developed nations cannot afford to suffer from the consequences of a Financial Crisis that we had no hand in; more well-coordinated development programs and increased agricultural aid now are the only way to free Afghanistan of the need for them in the future.

Afghanistan’s situation reflects the desperate need for the eradication of poverty in developing countries. The global system will never be able to establish a balance of less dependence and more cooperative work if developing countries continue to be burdened by the impossibly heavy load of poverty combined with the strain of their own need for development. Afghanistan hopes that this 2nd UN Decade for Eradication of Poverty will be the last.

Mr. Chairman,

Climate Change is a unique issue without extensive precedence in the United Nations. It affects, and will unequivocally affect, all countries – no matter their size or wealth. All should recognize the dire need for a successful Copenhagen Conference, and support the G77 and China’s UNFCCC as well as the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols, as these remain central to the framework for cooperative action to address climate change. Afghanistan assures all member states of its complete cooperation towards a solution for a secure future.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is facing a number of very difficult challenges, most of which center around its situation as a post-conflict country. Sustainable development is often sidelined in post-conflict situations because of the more immediate needs of these states. After all, large-scale sustainability projects require much time and resources, and so short-term projects often seem more feasible, especially during a period where financial issues are creating donor reluctance. However, both the short- and long-term are necessary. We cannot delay development indefinitely while waiting for security, or rely on superficial quick-fixes. The ingredients of the long-term solution will include sustainable development, job creation, and poverty reduction, along with the spread of science and technology. In places like Afghanistan, efforts towards sustainable development may be the only way to establish enduring security and to reduce dependence on foreign aid.

Mr. Chairman,

Regional cooperation represents another necessary element needed to construct a solution to the situation in Afghanistan and other post-conflict states. South-South as well as North-South Cooperation are essential for development. Afghanistan hopes that its stability and prosperity, and that of the region, will benefit from cooperation through the reinvigorated use of Afghanistan as a land bridge within the larger region; through the expansion of regional energy, trade, and transit markets; and through a coordinated effort to eliminate the narcotics trade. To this end, Afghanistan is an active member of ECO, SAARC, and are in the contact group of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It is only through this cooperation that international – and especially regional – sustainable growth, trade, transit, and development can be supported.

Mr. Chairman,

The work of the second committee this year will address essential global issues that bear not just on development, but on the environment, peace and stability. We are hopeful that he work of and cooperation within the Second Committee this year would be productive.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

to the United Nations

at the Security Council

Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security


Mr. President,

First, allow me to congratulate you for assuming the presidency of this Council for the month of October, and thank you for convening this meeting so early in your presidency.  There has recently been noteworthy positive momentum in these halls concerning the rights of women, and it is my hope that we can benefit from that momentum here today.

Mr. President,

Worldwide, women start at a disadvantage. In some countries, this means wage discrepancies and debates over harassment at the workplace.  But in conflict and post-conflict situations, the substantial ills facing these societies are magnified when it comes to women.  When a society is poor, proportionally more women go hungry.  When education or healthcare is lacking, women and girls are the first to be deprived.  And when a nation faces substantial insecurity, women find themselves more vulnerable, more restricted, and more cut off from necessary resources.

Mr. President,

The situation of women in Afghanistan became an issue of wider international interest when the Taliban first began enforcing their brutal, misogynistic social policies and Afghan women became ztanin_securitycouncilhunted people in their own homeland. Thus, when the Taliban were toppled in 2001, it was seen at least partially as the stroke that freed Afghan women from their chains.  Afghanistan and the international community made a promise to each other that what happened under the Taliban would never happen again.  More importantly, we made the same promise to the women of Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Over the past eight years, we have kept those promises to the best of our abilities.  The Afghan Constitution guarantees equal rights to women and representation in the government.  Afghanistan has endorsed the Millennium Development Goals, is a signatory to the Beijing Programme of Action as well as CEDAW, fully supports the implementation of resolutions 1325 and 1820, and has put in place a legal and political framework that protects and promotes the rights of women.

Beyond these legal initiatives, Afghan women have seen a tangible improvement in their daily lives, including improved access to education, healthcare and basic infrastructure. Afghanistan’s National Action Plan for Women ensures that women and girls receive equal access to these resources.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, Afghan women now play an active role in the sociopolitical life of Afghanistan.  Women have been appointed to high governmental posts, and they represent a guaranteed percentage of both local and national governing bodies.  In this most recent election, women ran for positions in provincial councils in greater numbers than ever before – and there were even two female candidates for president.  More than 60 thousand women were trained and volunteered as observers, poll workers, and ballot counters.  And, despite the increasingly turbulent security situation, more than two million women across the country came out to vote.

Mr. President,

Despite these positive developments, Afghan women do not enjoy the freedom and security that they deserve.  In order to fully satisfy our promise to the women of Afghanistan, we need to understand the roots of the problems as well as the situations today that frustrate our efforts.

First, enduring insecurity has always played a central role in women’s suffering in Afghanistan.  In the past, insecurity caused a complete breakdown in infrastructure and resources, resulting in backbreaking poverty and lack of access to healthcare and basic education.  Today, restricted access to the most insecure parts of the country perpetuates this situation and hinders progress.  The Taliban are increasingly targeting civilians, particularly women and girls, to deny them access to basic services and rights.  In addition, insecurity promotes a gun culture that values brute force over rule of law. The resulting danger keeps women confined to their homes out of fear for their safety and honor, further fettering their access to services and public life.

Second, extremist ideologies of oppression have primarily threatened women over the past thirty years.  Throughout the 1990s, the Taliban and other armed groups engaged in severe violence against women.  Crimes against women, including sexual violence and forced marriage, were justified and protected by extremism.  Unfortunately, as long as insecurity and extremism persist, Afghanistan cannot be freed of this perversion of perspective and action regarding women.

Mr. President,

In addition to these root causes, weak and fragile state institutions in parts of Afghanistan have regrettably restricted the ability of the government to fully protect the rights of women.  An infant justice system and police force do not yet have the training or resources to investigate, adjudicate, or punish crimes adequately. And our underdeveloped bureaucracy has not yet acquired the capacities necessary to meet the demands placed upon it.  In Afghanistan, there is not a lack of will for progress, but circumstances have proved to be a formidable opponent to its achievement.

Mr. President,

Despite these continuing challenges, Afghanistan is committed to ensuring that all women enjoy the full use of their rights in safety.  With the help and support of the international community, we are addressing weak and insufficient governance through capacity-building and the strengthening of our institutions and security apparatus. In this regard, we emphasize the importance of the international forces’ new focus on protecting the population, which will help to minimize violence against women.  Further, we are continually trying to improve the legal status of Afghan women and uphold the international juridical and legislative standards, for example through the review of over 60 of the more controversial articles of the proposed Shia family relations law.

Mr. President,

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to representing the interests of all Afghans: male and female, young and old.  We are encouraging Afghan women to take a proactive and vocal role in their future, as this is essential to reknitting the economic, social and political fabric of Afghanistan.  Above all, in our political pursuit of national reconciliation, we must not break the promise that we made to ourselves and to Afghan women in 2001.  We cannot betray women’s rights and security in exchange for a shallow peace in Afghanistan, because in doing so we would betray our own hope for a stable future.  We must instead unite around the ideal of equal justice and rights for all.
Thank you, Mr. President.

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

STATEMENT BY

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

Madam President,

Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the Council for this month. I am grateful for you for convening this meeting. Afghanistan deeply appreciates the strong support and solidarity of the family of nations in its arduous struggle to stand on its feet after decades of conflicts and suffering.

Specially, we are grateful for the excellent work and efforts of the UNAMA.
Our special thanks go to Ambassador Kai Eide and his able team.

I would like to brief you on our recent presidential and provincial council elections and the way forward. The August elections were important milestones in the processes of democratization and state-building in Afghanistan.

It was a multifaceted undertaking, involving different entities and players.
This includes Afghan national security forces, the Independent Election Commission, the Election Complaint Commission, Afghan media, the UN agencies, Afghan civil society, Afghan political community, the International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan voters.

It was the first time in the history of modern Afghanistan, that Afghans had the opportunity to organize a nationwide election.

What this election made different from other elections, was the degree of security threat. Al Qaheda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups did their utmost to disrupt the election.
Painfully, we lost a number of our security forces, our international partners and Afghan civilians to terrorist attacks prior and during the Election Day.
Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully.

As with any emerging democracy, there were cases of irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be aware of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.

For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support the forthcoming decisions by Afghan electoral bodies.
Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.

Madam President,

Afghanistan is faced with four categories of challenges and needs. These are stabilization, humanitarian, reconstruction and developmental. Only by pursuing a long-term and comprehensive strategy, we can consolidate our fragile achievements and institutions since 2001. Short-term, compartmentalized and partial solutions are doomed to fail.

The objective of such a strategy must be helping create a fully sustained and functioning state. The main pillars of this strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.

A long-term and comprehensive strategy needs adequate and right resources and skills.
To implement such a strategy, there is a need for a clearer division of responsibility between us and the international community. Afghanistan has to shoulder the main responsibility in creating a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic Afghanistan.
The sustained and substantial support of the international community will be crucial in enabling us to attain our national priorities.

We are very pleased with elevating Afghanistan as one of the main priorities of the US by the new administration. We are confident the surge in US military support, coupled with the increase in civilian and developmental assistance is the best way forward.

Madam President,

Afghanistan welcomes the proposal to convene an international conference on situation in Afghanistan. We will be pleased to host it in Kabul. This conference will be an opportunity to renew our partnership and outlaying specific and concert steps and programs.

The conference will be an important forum for identifying effective ways for implementing Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
Furthermore, it will have to discuss our mutual responsibility and commitment for principles of good governance, mutual accountability, transparency, aid efficiency and enhanced coordination.
Madam President,

Allow me to say few words about the strategic issue of good governance. In addressing Afghanistan’s short and long-term needs and challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning state is absolutely essential.

However, it is a reductionist view to reduce all our problems to only one issue. Terrorists are motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatic mindset and ideological ends.
In the context of Afghanistan, we often suffer from weak governance and absence of governance, as well as bad governance.

In many cases, we do not have basic and necessary tools of governance. Rather than bashing and delegitimizing our young state institutions, we have to invest in our national institutions. Furthermore, it is wrong and unethical to ignore bad and malpractices by other agencies, including in the donor community.
Madam President,

Another important issue is the question of re-integration of illegal fighters into civilian life.

From the beginning, it has been our stated policy that Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans. To this end and in the context of Afghanistan Constitution, we have resorted to all means to encourage those Afghans that took arms against their country to participate in the process of reconstruction of their motherland.

In coming weeks and months, we will accelerate our efforts towards this end.

To succeed in this endeavor, our efforts must be consistent with the ends that we are envisioning for Afghanistan and the region.
Secondly, as long as the leadership of the Taliban and other terrorist groups remain protected by external entities, we cannot achieve our goal in dismantling the dynamic of insecurity in Afghanistan.

Any sustainable effort in reintegration must focus on the leadership as well as non-ideological fighters.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another important issue for Afghanistan is regional cooperation. For us, regional cooperation is a pillar of our foreign, security and development policy. We fully believe in the utility of economic peace in our region. Many of our challenges are regional in nature and consequence, particularly, terrorism and drug trafficking. Only by creating cooperative environment in the region, we can collectively address our interrelated challenges.

In this context, our relation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is of utmost importance. Fortunately, in recent months, there has been a cooperative atmosphere between us and the new civilian government in Pakistan.
It is our sincere wish to extend this to other entities in Pakistan. To this end, the international community must ensure that only good behaviors are rewarded.
Madam President,
In addressing all these issues, the UN has and must play a leading role. The UNAMA is well-placed to communicate and bridge the mutual needs and expectations between us and our international partners. Enhancing coordination among and between different stakeholders is another important role for the UNAMA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude by reiterating Afghanistan’s full commitment and readiness to strengthening our partnership with our international partners. I am absolutely confident that with your support and solidarity, Afghanistan will restore its historical role and place as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a crossroads for trade, transit and tourism in the region.

I thank you.