Friday, April 25, 2014

Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 56: Advancement of Women

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 56: Advancement of Women

Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, I would like to fully align with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. Chairman,

The situation of women in Afghanistan began to attract the international community’s attention when the barbaric regime of the Taliban, in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, implemented its discriminatory and totalitarian policies aimed at excluding women from the political, economical, social and cultural life of Afghanistan. Never in the world’s modern history has a regime been more cruel, repressive and misogynistic than under the Taliban’s rule. Based on a wrong interpretation of Islam, basic rights such as the right to free movement, to education, to work as well as to receive health care were denied to women for five long years. A whole generation of Afghan women has been deprived of the fundamentals of knowledge that would have allowed them to aspire to a better future.

The fall of the regime of the Taliban has contributed to liberating Afghan women from the oppression that they were subjected to and has allowed them to regain their position in Afghan society as equal citizens benefiting from the same rights and having the same duties as their male counterparts. Today, seven years after the beginning of the stabilization, reconstruction and development of the country, significant progress has been achieved in Afghanistan to restore women’s equal participation in all aspects of life and reduce gender disparities.

Mr. Chairman,

The empowerment of Afghan women through the defense and promotion of their rights is a top priority in Afghanistan’s political agenda. A strong policy framework has been established to allow the implementation of this vision. The Afghan constitution, the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the Afghan Millennium Development Goals Report place gender equality as a core objective. Afghanistan has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC) as well as CRC’s two Optional Protocols.

The efforts undertaken by the Government of Afghanistan to advance the status of Afghan women have not been limited to the enshrinement of policy documents. We have made significant progress in political, economic, social and human rights areas; allow me to share some of them with you.

Afghan women are participating more in the political arena. As a matter of fact, Afghan women represent 28% of the National Assembly and account for almost 26% of all civil servants. Moreover, Afghan women are no longer excluded from professional activities and play a significant role in Afghanistan’s economic sector. For instance, they represent 30% of agricultural workers.

Afghan women’s access to health care has improved through the development of the Basic Package of Health Services which includes emergency obstetric care. In addition, the number of health care workers has increased to 15,001 in 2007, of which 49.3% are women.

In the area of education, 40 % of the 6 million children enrolled in school are girls. In universities and other institutes of higher education, about twenty percent of 50,000 students are females. Recently, 58.8% of students enrolling in Teacher Training Institutions in Afghanistan were female.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government has also intensified its efforts to mainstream gender equality and implement the various commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Each Ministry has established a unit to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of the ten year Afghan National Action Plan for Women (NAPWA). Moreover a Gender Budgeting Unit has been established in the Ministry of Finance that focuses on policies and resource allocation to specific programmes for women.

Nevertheless the capacity of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) needs to be significantly enhanced to be able to coordinate this effort, to provide technical assistance and gender training to the various Ministries, and to monitor the overall implementation of NAPWA.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite the intensification of efforts provided by our Government and the progress achieved, the resurgence of extremist ideologies and activities of the Taliban as well as widespread poverty contribute to difficulties Afghan women face today. This reality brings back haunting memories of challenges to Afghan women’s security, economic and social activities and human rights.

Although Afghan women’s lack of access to health services is mainly caused by illiteracy, poverty, lack of roads or transportation, and a limited number of female health professionals, the deterioration of the security situation caused by the Taliban has contributed to further impeding women’s access to health facilities. This constitutes an obstacle to reversing the serious statistic in which an Afghan woman dies every 30 minutes because of pregnancy related complications.

The access to education facilities of Afghan women, especially in rural areas, is limited by the lack of female teachers, the remote location of schools, and the bad roads and transportation. In addition, the terror campaign carried out by the Taliban has particularly affected girls’ enrollment in schools and attendance in provinces located in the south and east of the country. Schools are burned and female teachers and girl students are attacked, threatened or intimidated by the Taliban. According to the Ministry of Education, girls represent less than 15% of the total enrollment in nine provinces in the east and the south of Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan believes that the sustainable reconstruction and development of the country require full and equal participation of Afghan women in socio-economic activities of Afghanistan. However, women in Afghanistan are more unlikely than men to be engaged in economic activities when they are insecure.

Mr. Chairman,

Violence against women is an odious violation of human rights that needs to be tackled with intense efforts. The Government of Afghanistan criminalizes violence against women and is strongly committed to working to address this issue through new initiatives. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has teamed with UNIFEM to develop a comprehensive database of cases concerning violence against women in order to be able to better address reported cases.

Mr. Chairman,

Poverty remains the biggest obstacle in Afghanistan in achieving MDG3. We would like to stress the need for a full partnership and expanded cooperation with the international community in our mutual commitment to attain the MDGs and advance the status of women in the world. In that regard, we highlight the need for a considerable increase in the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for Least Developed Countries, particularly countries emerging from conflict, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Finally Mr. Chairman,

The upcoming elections in Afghanistan are crucial to the future of the Afghan people for many reasons. Not only will we be cementing the achievements we have made in establishing a new democracy, but the people of Afghanistan will once again express their opposition to the perverse treatment of women and the barbaric injustice of the Taliban. However, the Taliban are continuing their intimidation campaign against the Afghan people, and if the international community does not rise to confront this challenge by the supporting the efforts of the democratic Government of Afghanistan, our achievements in the past seven years and all of the gains Afghan women have made will be in jeopardy.

Thank you for your attention.

Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 100: International Drug Control

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 100: International Drug Control

Mr. Chairman,

Since this is the first time my Delegation is taking the floor, I would like to congratulate you on your election to the chairmanship of this committee and the able leadership you have demonstrated since the beginning of our work. I would also like to assure you of the full dedication of my Delegation throughout your chairmanship and during the work of this committee.

Let me also extend my appreciation to Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for his insightful presentation and the continuous assistance UNODC is providing Afghanistan in addressing problems of production and trafficking of drugs.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to begin by reiterating that the Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to preventing the cultivation and smuggling of narcotic drugs. The drug problem still poses a great challenge to the long term security, development and effective governance of Afghanistan. It also represents a significant risk to the stability of the entire region and beyond.

Since last year when we gathered to discuss the international drug control item before this committee, Afghanistan has made major progress in combating drugs. As a result of our efforts in fighting narcotics as well as in implementing Afghanistan’s National Drug Control Strategy, we are witnessing a significant decrease in the cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Opium Survey released in August 2008 reported a 19 per cent decrease in opium cultivation to 157, 000 hectares, compared to the record harvest of 193, 000 in 2007 and also reported that opium production has dropped by 6 per cent from 8,200 tons to 7, 700 tons.

We have come a long way since 2006, when only 6 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces were opium free. According to the report, the number of opium free provinces in Afghanistan has increased by almost 50 per cent since last year, from 13 to 18, making 50% of the country virtually poppy free. The most impressive result is in Nangarhar province which was Afghanistan’s second highest opium producing province in 2007 and is opium free today.

In view of these achievements, we would like to emphasize that this trend is the result of continuous efforts undertaken by the Government of Afghanistan to fight narcotics through a combination of law enforcement and economic measures as well as strong leadership demonstrated by local governors to discourage farmers from planting opium through campaigns against its cultivation, peer pressure, and the promotion of alternative development.

Today, it is imperative to consolidate recent gains by including local authorities and other important local players such as elders, shuras and religious leaders to raise awareness of and to advocate for viable alternatives to opium.

Mr. Chairman,

The production and trafficking of illegal drugs presents a major threat to the security of our country and is directly linked to the financing of terrorist and illegal activities. The distinct geographical overlap between regions of opium production and insecurity demonstrates the inextricable link between drugs and terrorist activities. In fact, 98 per cent of the opium is grown in just seven provinces in the south west of Afghanistan – Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Farah, Nimroz, Daykundi and Zabul – where the Taliban and Al Qaida attempt to continue their campaign of terror.

We would like to stress the need to intensify our efforts in breaking the link between opium production and terrorism in order to create a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

Lack of security, extreme poverty, and pressure from traffickers and local criminal groups are the main causes of expansion of poppy cultivation. H.E. President Karzai in his statement to the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly stated that, and I quote: “Keys to sustaining our success will be ensuring alternative livelihoods for our farmers, greater investment in law enforcement and interdiction and above all, addressing the far greater dimensions of the world’s drug trade that lie outside Afghanistan, such as reduction of demand in foreign markets and stricter border control.”

In this regard, I would like to underline the urgent need for the international community to provide coordinated practical assistance and other resources to ensure the successful implementation of our National Drug Control Strategy especially in the following areas:

Ø drug law enforcement measures

Ø alternative livelihood programmes with a focus on poverty alleviation

Ø regional cooperation initiatives

We would like to take this opportunity to particularly emphasize the need to channel financial resources allocated to counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan through the Afghan Counter Narcotics Trust Fund.

Mr. Chairman,

The impact of rising global food prices combined with drought has significantly increased domestic food prices and created a food crisis in Afghanistan. However, it has made wheat an attractive, licit alternative to opium. The gross income ratio of opium to wheat (per hectare) in 2007 was 10:1 and this year it decreased to 3:1. Nevertheless, as Antonio Maria Costa recently justly warned, “Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the latest food crisis has made farmers even more vulnerable. Opium is a seasonal plant. It may be gone today, but back again tomorrow.” The creation of alternative livelihood is a vital factor in sustaining the voluntary lower cultivation of opium.

Mr. Chairman,

Although the global demand for illicit drugs does not appear to be increasing, there are still 25 million drug users in the world. In this context, we would like to emphasize a crucial point that has also been expressed in the report of the Secretary General A/63/111 and reaffirmed during the work of the fifty-first session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs this year. The world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility that requires an integrated, balanced and sustainable approach through national and international measures. It also necessitates a balanced approach between demand reduction and supply reduction, bearing in mind that successful supply reduction efforts in drug producing regions had been partially offset by the continued demand for drugs in all parts of the world. We would like to remind this esteemed committee that our counter-narcotic efforts are more likely to succeed if supported by demand reduction in drug consuming countries.

Mr. Chairman,

On June 11, 2008, the Security Council Members adopted resolution S/ RES/1817 calling on States to bolster cooperation in counter drug trade matters which undermine the security and development of Afghanistan. This resolution also included recommendations for strengthening the monitoring of international trade in chemical precursors and for preventing attempts to divert the substances from licit international trade for illicit use in Afghanistan. In this regard we stress the need to stop the diversion and smuggling of precursor chemicals that could be used in Afghanistan to process heroin.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Traffickers transport drug consignments from Afghanistan through our neighboring countries and other transit states to European markets. Strong enforcement measures for the control of borders, and mutual cooperation among judicial and law enforcement authorities in these countries would contribute significantly to the fight against narcotics. In fact, increased intelligence sharing and joint operations in 2008 have resulted in major seizures of acetic anhydride in Afghanistan, in neighboring countries, and en route to the region. Preventing these chemicals from reaching Afghanistan will make heroin production a much riskier and more costly business.

In this regard, we would like to underscore the need to implement the trilateral agreement signed by Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan in June 2007, which committed the countries to carry out more joint border operations and increase information sharing.

Finally Mr. Chairman,

We are grateful to the International Community as a whole and especially UNODC for their invaluable support to the Government of Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts.  We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our neighboring countries for their cooperation in fighting drug production and trafficking in the region. We wish to remind our friendly neighboring countries to take into consideration the latest UNODC publications that include, the World Drug Report 2008 and the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008 as well as the UN Secretary General’s report A/63/11, before they make any assessment regarding Afghanistan’ narcotics challenge. As I previously mentioned Afghanistan is making significant progress that has led to a considerable decrease in opium cultivation and production. I firmly believe that these achievements should be

acknowledged and supported in a concerted way by our regional partners. Afghanistan is cognizant that this progress can be reversed if we do not sustain our attention and intensify our joint efforts to make our region free from the scourge of drugs.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

General Debate of the Second Committee

Statement by Mr. Mohammad Wali Naeemi

Counselor, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the General Debate of the Second Committee


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me like others before me, congratulate you and members of the bureau on your election as chair of this committee and we look forward to working on crucially important agenda of the committee during the 63rd Session of the General Assembly.

Afghanistan associates itself with the statement delivered by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf the g77 and China as well as the statement made by Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC group.

Let me also extend my appreciation to the keynote speakers of the opening session of the second committee, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of her incisive remarks regarding consequences of delayed actions in addressing climate changes and current financial crisis, Mr. Sha Zukang Under Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of his comprehensive and comprehensive analysis of the global economic trends and prospects, as well as Professor Ricardo Hausmann’s informative presentation on importance of growth and its linkages.

Madam Chair

At the opening session of the committee many concerns have been raised by many delegates over shortfalls in MDGs, current financial crisis, drastic increase of food costs, and their impacts on LDCs, LLDCs and Post Conflict Countries. These current risen problems pose additional challenges for developing countries, specifically Least Developing and Post-conflict Countries. This crisis reinforces the case for decisive efforts to unleash the latent economic potential of the developing countries. The generation of economic growth in the developing countries will induce further growth and prosperity in the global market, therefore the partnership for development indeed has reciprocal remuneration.

The challenges we face today are complex and daunting. The situation, clearly calls on intensifying our efforts to further highlight the inextricable linkages between security and development. We strongly believe that security and development are interdependent which necessitates sheer attention at the global, regional and sub regional levels.

The UN should take the lead in advancing the pervasive development agenda and promote a genuine and enhanced global partnership for development.

Madam Chair,

As we see, the United Nations has a three dimensional role in the promotion of economic and social development: (1) policy formulation and negotiation of international norms, agreements, goals and commitments; (2) development cooperation to facilitate the realization of the policy goals and commitments; and (3) monitoring the implementation of these commitments. These internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, have been well identified and their achievements can be readily monitored and pursued further.

Today, further analysis and policy formulation is required in at least seven important areas: finance, trade, technology, energy, climate change, food crisis and global economic growth. We need to strengthen the machinery for the monitoring and implementation of the MDGs and the IADGs.

If appropriately developed, the two mechanisms can usefully contribute to monitoring the implementation of the Internationally Agreed Development Goals, including MDGs. We expect that the developed countries will also inform us about progress on their MDGs strategies, particularly on MDG 8, (partnership). It would help us to understand how far their policies are in conformity with the guidelines of aid effectiveness as well as status of implementation of the commitments undertaken under the IADGs, including MDGs.

Madam Chair,

In advancing the global agenda, the international community will also have to be particularly mindful of the special needs and challenges faced by Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the countries emerging from conflict. The international community and the UN should address in a coherent manner the national development plans and strategies of the developing countries.

In conclusion, the international community has long been aware of the specific problems and needs of the LDCs, LLDCs and Post-conflict Countries. However what is lacking is a inductive global response to ameliorate the conditions. Concerted global efforts with a sense of genuine partnership can make a sea-change. We are calling for materialization of such partnership.

I thank you Mr. President.