Friday, March 27, 2015

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Security Council

Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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Mr. President,

As this is the first time I have taken the floor in this chamber this month, please allow me to begin by congratulating you for assuming the Presidency of this Council, and thank you for convening this meeting. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and Mr. Le Roy for his comprehensive briefing.

Mr. President,

Today marks an important step in the partnership between Afghanistan and the international community. For the first time since 2001, we are debating a mandate that focuses on a transition to Afghan ownership, Afghan leadership, and Afghan responsibility. This transition is not an end, not an end game, but a new beginning. With dedication, patience and realism, we have the opportunity to put an end to the ongoing violence, build a state capable of protecting our citizens and meeting their needs, and strengthen the trust, unity and leadership of the Afghan people.

Mr. President,

The Afghan Government has taken up this challenge. In the coming year, our priority will be Afghanization: in every area, Afghans and Afghan priorities should take the lead. We face a busy calendar that will test our strength and resolve but, with the support of the international community, it can also set us firmly on the path towards success.

Mr. President,

The first step is to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and improve security across the country. General McChrystal’s new strategy, which was recently put to the test in Marjah, will begin to turn the tide. At the same time, the Afghan National Army and Police, with intensive training, equipping and resourcing, will gradually replace the international community in leading the defense of the country and the security of its people. This turnover will begin as soon as possible, and, with the help of the international community, Afghans will bear full responsibility in five years.

The military efforts will be complemented by political and economic efforts. We have the plan and initial resources for a reintegration program, and it is beginning to offer an alternate life to many of those fighting against us.

The second step is reconciliation which has increasingly become the focus in our efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. In Istanbul and in London, our plans were widely supported by the countries of the region and the international community. Since then, we have engaged with regional partners at a high level to explore ways that the region could help facilitate reconciliation and to build confidence and trust in new stabilization initiatives.

The cooperation of the region and the unity of international support will be essential, but this process must be Afghan-led and guided by Afghan priorities. In this regard, the next milestone will be the consultative National Peace Jirga at the end of April, which will bring together Afghanistan’s elders, community leaders, government officials and civil society groups. The conference’s agenda will revolve around three goals: first, to have consultations, understanding and agreement among the Afghan people on the need for sustainable peace; second, to reach an agreement on a framework for understanding with the opposition; and third, to create a mechanism to pursue this understanding.

However, Mr. President,

The security dimension is only the first part of this transition to Afghan ownership. Afghanistan and the international community have already laid out a plan to Afghanize security, governance, development and to create a stronger framework for regional cooperation. The next step will be in the Kabul Conference this summer where we will move beyond strategy to focus on a detailed plan of implementation. The Government of Afghanistan is concentrating on building capacity, rooting out corruption, encouraging participation, and promoting justice and rule of law. We are also working to ensure the long-term sustainability of these changes through developing agriculture, infrastructure and natural resources, regional initiatives, and improved coordination. In all of these areas, Afghans will increasingly take the lead, with the support of our partners and friends.

And finally, Mr. President,

In September, Afghanistan will hold its Parliamentary elections. As in other areas, the elections and the electoral bodies must be driven by Afghans and Afghan priorities. Afghanistan is learning from past experience to undertake short- and long-term electoral reforms to ensure that these and future elections will be transparent, credible, and fair. However, Afghanistan will need time to build the capacity to run an election alone. Therefore President Karzai has sent a letter to the Secretary-General requesting the technical and logistical assistance of the UN, and has determined that two of the seats on the ECC will be occupied by foreign experts. Likewise, the international community’s assistance will be necessary in supporting the elections with resources and ensuring they are held in a safe and peaceful environment.

Mr. President,

The importance of the UN’s central role in supporting Afghanistan and coordinating international efforts cannot be overstated. Afghans still view the UN as an impartial force working for the benefit of the Afghan people, and as a guarantor of our stable, peaceful future as a democratic country. Our common mission will require a lot from all of us: realism about our own abilities and the abilities of our partners, an understanding of our different perspectives and the pressures upon us, and a recognition that we have different timelines and different expectations. Only the UN can balance this relationship, and ensure that the views of both the Afghans and the international community are heard and taken into account.

The Afghan government fully supports the extension of UNAMA’s mandate, and we welcome the appointment of SRSG Staffan di Mistura, who arrived in Kabul to begin his work last weekend. We look forward to working closely with him in the months and years ahead.

Mr. President,

Nine years ago Afghanistan was a broken country. The assistance and support of the international community has been a crucial crutch as the country has slowly begun to heal. Afghanistan is eager to stand solidly on its own feet, but we must walk before we can run. It will take time for the government and security forces to build the capacity to ensure peace and good governance across the country. The continuing commitment of the international community will therefore remain vital in the years to come. But we are on the right path. We have set a clear goal. And in a strong partnership with the international community, we can succeed.

I thank you, Mr. President.

commemorative meeting of the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Women

Statement by HE Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Chairman of Asian Group for the month of March

on behalf of Asian Group

to the commemorative meeting of the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Women

Mr. President,

First and foremost, on behalf of the Asian group, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Chile. We wish the Chilean people a speedy recovery and we admire their strength during these tragic times.

Mr. President,

On behalf of Asian Group, it is an honor for me to address this historic gathering commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration.

In September 1995 we gathered in Beijing for the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on women. Today, fifteen years later, we come together again to commemorate the occasion, acknowledge progress made and challenges ahead, and pay tribute to the ideals embodied in the Beijing Platform of Action. In Beijing we unequivocally declared our shared determination to advance the goals of equality, development, and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity; we recognized the persistent inequalities between men and women and the repercussions they have on societies; and we acknowledged that the situation is exacerbated by the abject poverty that affects the lives of many of the worlds people, in particular woman and children. We concluded by dedicating ourselves to addressing these constraints and obstacles, and, perhaps more importantly, we recognized the urgency of this endeavor and the need for collective determination and cooperation for the tasks ahead.

In assessing our progress in implementing the commitments we made to the world’s women in Beijing, we realize much progress has been made, but considerable obstacles remain that hobble and dehumanize women throughout the world.

Women’s rights are progressive and evolving. Since the Beijing conference men and women throughout the world have become ever more aware of the inequities that women endure, and they have spoken up to demand change. It is that demand that has brought about the improving recognition of women’s rights in each country’s legal system and here at the United Nations.

Furthermore, the Beijing Conference cemented the notion that it is unacceptable to differentiate women’s rights from human rights. But still in many countries around the world women are not safe from the threats of domestic violence, continued discrimination, and wide-ranging socio-economic barriers. We must continue our efforts toward the implementation of Beijing Declaration.

But progress has been made through a concerted effort of the international community, national governments, and in part through the action of women and girls themselves. According to the World Bank, women in South Asia now live longer than men for the first time. This improvement in women’s longevity is an indicator of better treatment of women and girls and a valued outcome identified in the Beijing Platform for Action. In addition, high economic growth has led to significant reduction in gender gaps in the labor markets of Asian and Pacific nations.

In the political realm, Asia, where, according to the World Bank, women political leaders are more prevalent than anywhere else, has certainly made progress through the introduction of quota systems to increase women’s representation in political governance structures. For example, in Afghanistan where the misogynistic Taliban once ruled and women were deprived of their very basic human rights, now constitutional law stipulates that 27% of all seats in parliament must be filled by women.

Undoubtedly, because of our actions over the past three decades, women’s issues have gained prominence on the international and national development agendas. Attention has gone not only to the plight of poor and disenfranchised women in developing countries, but also to the unfinished gender agenda in more developed countries, such as addressing women’s representation in higher-paying jobs and management positions and reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence.

We gather here today to commemorate this special occasion, to celebrate a cause, to celebrate progress, but more importantly to realize that our job is not finished – to realize that there are remaining and arising new challenges. We have come a long way since the conference in Beijing; we shall be ruthlessly unyielding in our pursuit to ensure that our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, are treated with equality, respect, and dignity.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN at the Security Council Debate

on the Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

I would like to first congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of this Council for the month of January, and thank you for convening this first debate of the New Year.

I would also like to thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your presence in the council and your remarks today, for your latest report on Afghanistan, and in particular for making Afghanistan one of your priorities and the personal attention you have dedicated to Afghanistan in the past months.  Further, especially in the face of the tragedy of 28 October 2009, I would like to thank the UN and all of its entities, including this august body, for the substantial and invaluable aid that has been extended to the Afghan people in the past decades.

In addition, as this is the last appearance of Mr. Eide in this Council in his capacity as SRSG, let me offer him here my own heartfelt thanks, and the sincere gratitude of the people and government of Afghanistan.  He has shown tremendous dedication to the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and displayed ingenuity and persistence under extremely challenging circumstances. He has pushed for a stronger UNAMA and for practical steps towards real progress in Afghanistan.  Perhaps most importantly, he has consistently, and most recently during the elections, worked for closer cooperation and better understanding between all parties in and out of Afghanistan. We thank him.

Mr. President,

With the conclusion of the Presidential elections, an important but difficult milestone, Afghanistan has reached a new beginning defined by a five-year mandate to bring Afghans closer to taking control of their own futures.  In his inaugural address, President Karzai outlined his plan to fulfill this mandate. He committed himself and his administration to peace, to the physical and economic security of the Afghan people, to national participation and reconciliation, to good governance, and to the fight against corruption.

Most importantly, we all share the same ultimate goal: to prepare and empower Afghans to take charge of their own destinies. In the next five years, the central goal of the Afghan government will be preparing for the transition to full Afghan rule by strengthening Afghanistan’s sovereignty and national ownership. We aim to consolidate national authority and improve the government’s capacity and institutions. We call upon the international community to ensure that every action taken in Afghanistan is in support of these efforts.

Mr. President,

The formation of a new Afghan government is an important first step in this new beginning. After the Parliament’s rejection of some of the Ministerial nominees, the President is preparing to introduce new candidates, and he has ordered Parliament to finalize their confirmations before they recess for the winter. We are eager to avoid any delay in the formation of the government and any vacuum of management that could be counterproductive for Afghanistan at such a delicate time.

Next, the Afghan government and the international community must look together at the challenges facing us and forge a compact that clearly identifies our strategies and responsibilities.  On 28 January, a conference will be held in London, chaired jointly by President Karzai, Prime Minister Brown, and the Secretary-General. This conference will be followed closely by a second in Kabul. The London conference will prepare a roadmap for future efforts that will be transformed into a detailed action plan in Kabul, possibly in March. In London, focus will be directed towards security and the Afghanization of security and defense, social and economic development, good governance, and international and regional cooperation.  For each of these areas, we will need to clearly define the respective roles of the Afghan government and the international community.

Mr. President,

Afghans are ready to take responsibility for securing our people and defending ourselves against our enemies. In three years’ time, the Afghan National Security Forces will assume responsibility for security and defense in conflict areas in the South and East of Afghanistan.  In five years, with the necessary training, equipment and long-term resources from the international community, we will assume full responsibility for security and defense across the entire country. The international forces will be able to transition simultaneously to a role focused on training and enabling local forces.

However, there is a general consensus that peace and stability in Afghanistan cannot be reached through purely military means.  As a result, the government of Afghanistan has always been, and remains, committed to reconciliation and the integration of former combatants into all levels of Afghanistan’s civilian and security structures. Afghanistan’s government has opened its doors to all Afghans willing to participate in the stabilization and reconstruction of their country, in line with the Afghan Constitution and with respect for human rights.

But while reconciliation is an Afghan-led effort, it cannot be achieved by the Afghan government alone.  Mr. President, we ask this Council to conduct a review of the Consolidated List established under Resolution 1267 with a view to the possibility for elements of the Taliban willing to renounce violence and join the peace process to be removed from the sanctions list upon request by the Afghan Government.

Mr. President,

Afghans continue to face crippling poverty and widespread unemployment, and their trust is wearing thin. Social and economic development and good governance remain important priorities for Afghanistan. However, it cannot sustain these efforts without the continued assistance of its international partners.  The London conference will be an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan and its international friends to coordinate their development and capacity-building efforts so that Afghanistan may eventually mobilize its resources, generate income and jobs for its people, and begin to support its institutions.

Mr. President,

As the Secretary-General concluded in his report, reinforced efforts toward coordination of donor aid and civilian and military strategies are vital for our efforts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan supports the central coordinating role of UNAMA, as mandated by this Council. We should discuss further what shape any additional mechanisms might take and how they would relate to the relevant actors. Crucially, any focus on coordination must strengthen Afghan institutions and encourage Afghan national ownership, rather than promoting parallel governance structures.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is fast approaching its Parliamentary elections, which will occur at the end of May as required by the Constitution.  We must ensure a credible process; in this, the lessons learned from last year’s elections will be important. We feel that any suggestion to postpone the elections ignores the Constitutional requirements and will damage the integrity of the process. Rule of law must be maintained, even as that law evolves to reflect lessons learned.

In conclusion, Mr. President,

A true partnership between Afghanistan and the international community is important for success in Afghanistan. This partnership will require realism – about timing, about resources, about abilities – and a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities. Most importantly, this partnership should be based on supporting and encouraging strong Afghan national ownership, particularly as we seek to transfer security and defense responsibilities. Afghanization, and the promotion of Afghan capacity and leadership, must be the ultimate aim of all of our activities and the central consideration during discussions going forward.

I thank you, Mr. President.