Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

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

At the Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s important debate on “Women, peace and security.” My delegation commends your leadership of this council for the month of October.  I would also like to express my appreciation for the Secretary General’s comprehensive report on the progress of Resolution 1325.

Mr. President,

The government of Afghanistan is dedicated to the implementation of Resolution 1325. However, in post-conflict countries such as Afghanistan, forces of insecurity are the greatest threat to the advancement of the three pillars of this resolution: protection of women in war and peace, promotion of women’s rights, and participation of women in peace processes.

As the Secretary General’s report has indicated, insecurity is the basic concern that must be addressed before true progress towards women’s rights can be made. Instability affects the most vulnerable parts of the population, and women and children continue to account for the majority of casualties in hostilities.  In Afghanistan, the atrocities of the Taliban threaten the progress of women.  The historical agenda of the Taliban, during its rule in Afghanistan, included a tyrannical denial of all basic rights to women: the right to free movement, to education, to work. Today, this goal of the Taliban appears unchanged: where they advance in Afghanistan, women’s rights retreat. In areas of increased Taliban activity, there are pronounced restrictions on women’s mobility, attacks on girls’ schools, and a decrease in services for women provided by our government and aid agencies.

Mr. President,

Despite the growing threat of insecurity, Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, has made several improvements in the participation of women in peace and security.

The Government of Afghanistan has ensured that women’s rights are enshrined in the

Afghanistan Constitution, as well as all major international agreements such as the Afghanistan Compact and the recent Paris Declaration. In addition, women have participated in the transitional process from the Bonn Conference until the elections of 2004-2005 and onward. Women have been appointed to high positions in national and local governments, including cabinet-level posts. Today, women account for 27% of the National Assembly and almost 26% of civil servants. Habiba Sorabi, the successful female governor of Bamiyan, is one notable example.

Afghanistan has also strengthened its government institutions to promote women’s rights. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has achieved much through its dedicated advocacy for women. The National Justice Plan of Afghanistan seeks to improve women’s involvement in the justice sector, and the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan aims to increase women’s participation in all areas of social, economic and political life. Finally, the Government of Afghanistan, with international organizations and domestic groups, has worked tirelessly to promote women’s rights in Afghanistan by improving access to healthcare, education and basic services. Today, 40% of children in school are girls, and 81% of the population now receives healthcare through the Basic Package of Health Services. 40,000 more women now live through childbirth every year.

Mr. President,

Despite these advances, Afghanistan needs to continue to do much more to meet the objectives of Resolution 1325.

Most immediately, the security situation continues to directly affect women’s security and their access to health, education and social protection. Continued terrorist activity is affecting the implementation and monitoring of all programs and projects, especially in the provinces. In addition, poverty, the lack of education and unbalanced allocation of resources must also be addressed. More work is needed to ensure the participation of women in all parts of the stabilization process.

To continue to advance women’s participation in peace and security, our country has a few observations to offer:

1. International involvement is crucial. International support for national initiatives provides important gender-sensitivity training for national institutions such as the national army and police force. International training for women in the civil service, and international support for female students in the form of schools and increased educational opportunities are also crucial. Lastly, coordinating roles, such as the role of UNAMA in Afghanistan, are immensely helpful in coordinating activities and sharing knowledge between organizations that are working to forward women’s rights.

However, international partners must recognize that:

a) Improvement should be internally-driven. While international support is important for all of the aforementioned reasons, the international community should be cautioned that true reform for women’s participation in peace and security should be generated within the context of the particular country. International involvement should be motivated by the needs of the women within  the particular country. There should be no external imposition of standards; there should be no external political agendas.

b) International troops should assist national efforts to protect women. For better protection of women’s participation in peace and security, gender sensitivity training should be mandatory for troops from all countries. In addition, their assistance is important in facilitating women’s mobility to access water, healthcare and markets, and in creating the conditions for women’s safe

participation in the public and political life of the country. For example, in Afghanistan, international forces continue to protect roads on which women and families frequently travel to access government services.

2. Importance of regional collaboration. The Secretary-General’s advocacy of regional action plans and regional organizations to support national commitment is fully supported by our government. As infringements on women’s rights are often cross-boundary issues, such as the spillage of women refugees from conflict situations, solutions should also be cross-boundary.

3. Importance of a cohesive approach. A successful approach to advance women’s participation in peace and security must address women’s role in all major sectors of society. In Afghanistan, women’s advancement must be addressed by quelling terrorism, eradicating poverty and addressing ignorance through education.

4. Involvement of women in reconciliation processes. Talks to consolidate peace in post- conflict settings should involve women at every stage. Such talks cannot compromise women’s rights in any way and must strongly adhere to the principles of true democracy and women’s political participation.

5. The need for action, not words. Steps forward must move women’s rights beyond slogans and good intentions. The gender advisor to the Afghan Ministry of the Interior has found that “organizational inertia” is perhaps the main cause of problems associated with gender inequity in the government ministries. We need the political will and the genuine commitment that will transform words into action. And as the Paris Conference recently reminded us, international donors must fulfill their pledged aid so that efforts to improve women’s standing can be sustained.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, to advance the protection of women in war and peace, the promotion of women’s rights and the participation of women in peace processes, Afghanistan would like to emphasize the importance of addressing the threats of insecurity. Security is the first concern of post-conflict countries that hope to make progress in women’s rights. After security is addressed, the following lessons are important: recognition of the importance of international involvement, the importance of regional collaboration, the inclusion of women in reconciliation processes, and the need to move beyond words towards action.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Debate on Item 53 (Eradication of Poverty) in the Second Committee

Statement by Mr. Mohammad Wali NaeemiCounselor, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Debate on Item 53 (Eradication of Poverty) in the Second Committee

Madam Chair,

Thank you for giving me the floor on a very important agenda item: poverty eradication.

Madam Chair,

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the G77 and China, and the statement delivered by the Bangladesh on behalf of the Least Developed Countries.

Let me express my gratitude to the Secretary General for the inclusive and comprehensive reports of the United Nations’ accomplishments and further activities on eradication of poverty and hunger at the global level. Afghanistan offers its support and commitment on the beginning of the second United Nations Decade for the eradication of poverty, 2008-2017.

We strongly believe that with the political will, commitment and rigorous action of the world community, poverty will be eradicated pervasively at the global, regional and national level, by the end of the second decade.

The panel discussion held on the Second United Nations Decade for Poverty Eradication recently at the UN, will substantially contribute to the discussion in the second committee on this very important agenda item.

Madam Chair,

The Second Decade has a clear focus; special attention is given to countries in unusual situations and needs, particularly Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries. This decade should be modeled as a promoter of fairness in development in a highly globalized world. Poverty is a critical problem and raises global concern, thus eradication of poverty should be addressed from a committed, comprehensive and strong position.

The current economic crisis we face adds to the challenge of poverty and increases the potential inability of countries to meet the MDGs. Apart from the current crisis, other elements are contributing to the deterioration of poverty such as:

1. Fragile security, weak infrastructure, inaccessibility to advance technology and energy.

2. The decline in relative terms in agriculture.

3. Increase in oil prices and uncertainty in the exchange rate,

4. Growing energy demands,

5. Factors that limit international financial assistance and cooperation on capacity-building, and the rural development sector.

Given the importance of all factors above, agricultural development is crucial in responding to the food crisis and crucial in controlling poverty globally. Agriculture is the backbone of a developing country’s economy.  Therefore, critical steps must be taken in all areas mentioned, including the agriculture sector at the global, regional and national level to help with the eradication of extreme poverty.

These steps are essential for countries with special needs in particular post-conflict countries. Most countries in special situations like Afghanistan are experiencing numerous challenges such as insecurity, sharp rises in food prices and high commodities prices. The continuation of this food crisis will force millions of people to starvation and spark widespread instability. Consequently, global efforts are needed to address the current crisis in such countries standing at the edge of absolute poverty. We have the hope that the international community in the upcoming decade will seriously consider the critical situation of some countries and create an inclusive policy to address these critical conditions.

Madam Chair,

Eradication of poverty in the world is a collective responsibility based on the understanding that poverty is a threat to peace, security, and prosperity everywhere. The root causes of increasing poverty at the global level are well known. What is absent, is the political will and concrete action on the commitments made by world leaders.

I thank you.

Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 60: Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children

Statement by Ms. Mariamme Nadjaf First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 60: Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, I would like to commend the Secretary General for his comprehensive report under agenda item 60, Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children. I also wish to thank Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General for her insightful briefing yesterday and for her visit to Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan is still making efforts to rebuild its country, devastated by 30 years of war which dramatically affected the lives of our children, particularly girls. The major victims of the war in Afghanistan are our children; years of conflict in our country have destroyed basic necessities of life such as adequate shelter, water and food, access to schools and healthcare, and have disrupted family relationships. It has also created social stigma and post traumatic distress.

Afghanistan is strongly committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of children. We seek to accomplish this noble goal by providing them with healthy lives and a good education, by combating violence, exploitation and abuse and by ensuring that those who commit crimes against children are prosecuted. As a country which has suffered from decades of armed-conflict, we remain committed to addressing the plight of our children by implementing our Millennium Development Goals and a World Fit for Children Action Plan, through the Afghanistan Compact and National Development Strategy (ANDS).

Mr. Chairman,

Since the fall of the Taliban, despite facing many challenges, the Government of Afghanistan has made substantial progress in promoting and safeguarding the rights of children. Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols in 2002, and included dispositions in domestic law aimed to protect the rights of children. Improving the lives of children and providing them with a better and brighter future stands high among our policy objectives. The establishment of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) based on the Security Council resolution 1612, following the visit Mrs. Coomaraswamy in Afghanistan in July 2008 and was supported by President Karzai. This initiative will further contribute to implementing our National Strategy on Children at Risk, which lays out specific activities to prevent violence and exploitation of children.

Mr. Chairman,

In the area of education, close to 6 million children have returned to schools – 35% of them are girls. However a great number of children, particularly those living in rural areas, continue to face difficulty in accessing schools. To date, approximately 1.2 million primary school age girls remain at home, due to a variety of factors including a lack of security and dire socio-economic conditions.

We call on our international partners to support the implementation of our National Strategic Plan for Education, whose objectives include the development of community-based schools that are close to home.

Mr. Chairman,

In the area of health, the level of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by 85,000 and 40,000 annually. Over 5 million children were immunized against polio. As a result of the distribution of the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS), 81% of the population now receives health care, improved from only 9% in 2003. These services include assistance in the form of maternal and neonatal health, child health and immunization, public nutrition, and communicable disease control of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. However, recent estimates indicate that the rates of child and maternal mortality in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world. Close to 600 children under the age of 5 die daily. More than 50 women die every day from pregnancy-related complications.

We count on the support of international partners to reverse this trend by continuing to help us enhance the capacity of our health centers throughout the country.

Finally Mr. Chairman,

Terrorism constitutes a major threat and drastically affects the daily lives of our people, particularly children. Children remain the prime victim of terrorism in Afghanistan. As part of their intimidation campaign, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have resorted to brutal acts and new tactics such as recruiting, training and exploiting children as combatants and sending them to operate as suicide bombers.

Barbaric Talibans are also attacking female teachers, girl students and burning schools. In the first nine months of 2008 a total of 199 school attacks have taken place resulting in 37 deaths and 33 injured.

We are deeply concerned about the large and rising number of children killed and injured by the Taliban and their attempts in reversing the gains made during the last seven years in promoting education and empowering women.

I would like to reiterate the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of children, girls as well as boys, but also take this opportunity to underline that we will only be able to ensure the protection and security of our children if we succeed in combating the physical threat posed by the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In addition, the extremist and discriminatory beliefs promoted by the Taliban pose an ideological threat to the youth in Afghanistan and the future of our nation.