Friday, August 1, 2014

Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict

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: Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict

Mr. President,

At the outset I would like to thank the United States for organizing this open debate on a very important protection gap, namely sexual and gender based violence in armed conflict and post conflict situations.

Mr. President,

In situations of armed conflict and periods of instability, armed groups often use violence against civilians, especially women, as a deliberate tactic of war. In Afghanistan, the devastating impacts of three decades of armed conflict have particularly affected the most vulnerable part of our population, namely women and children. During this period, the basic rights of Afghan women have been undermined, even denied due to the vicious cycle of violence which allowed groups with power to act with impunity in the face of women’s vulnerability. Under the Taliban’s regime, Afghanistan was a graveyard for human and women’s rights where barbaric atrocities against women constantly occurred. No one can forget the images of the innocent Afghan women being slaughtered in Kabul’s stadium and those images of the inhuman Taliban bludgeoning women in the streets for so called un-virtuous behavior.

Today the results of widespread violence during years of conflict are still affecting private and public spheres of women’s life in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

In several armed conflict situations, acts of sexual and gender based violence were used to humiliate, and forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group. In Afghanistan, sexual violence was not a predominant method employed by armed groups in conflict, due to the strong cultural bounds of the society, however the use of sexual violence was used by some individuals and groups as an instrument of war.

Afghanistan recognizes that sexual and gender based violence is a threat to international peace and security and condemns all sexual and gender based violence committed against civilians in conflict affected situations. We would also like to underscore the necessity of acknowledging that in armed and post conflict countries, the dimension of violence used against women has multiple aspects that extend beyond a sexual nature.

Mr. President,

It has been eight years since the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 and about seven years since the fall of the barbaric regime of the Taliban and the beginning of the peace process, democratization, and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Our vision is a peaceful and progressive nation where women and men enjoy security, equal rights, and opportunities in all spheres of life.

The Government of Afghanistan has made considerable achievements in protecting women from violence and assuring a secure environment where their rights are protected, and their participation in decisions making bodies and in the peace building process is guaranteed.

Afghanistan has undertaken several initiatives in addressing violence against women as embodied in the Constitution, the MDGs, the Afghanistan Compact, the ANDS – recently launched in Paris – and the international treaties. The Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs is leading our efforts in achieving this goal and is chairing the Ministerial Task Force created in 2005 to eliminate all forms of violence against women. We would like to seize this opportunity to express our gratitude to all organizations including UN agencies, especially UNIFEM as well as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), for assisting us in advancing the status of Afghan women.

Mr. President,

Progress in the process of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants and disbanding armed groups has contributed to minimizing violence against civilian particularly women and children. However, the successful completion of the process will help to create an environment where women will be empowered to exercise their rights.

The Afghan Government recognizes the security sector reform as crucial to strengthen the rule of law, to ensure the protection of women’s rights, to improve law enforcement bodies and to end the culture of impunity. But at the same time, we would like to underscore the need for women to participate in the security sector reform process. In this regard initial steps have been taken by the Ministry of Interior to increase the recruitment of female law-enforcement officers, and to provide gender-sensitivity training in the police academy. Police Family Response Units are staffed by women who are trained to deal with domestic violence and to respond to female victims of crime.

Mr. President,

The escalation of violence and insecurity in some parts of the country as a result of the terrorist activities carried out by the Taliban and Al Qaeda, hinders the implementation of the rule of law and consequently makes women vulnerable to all forms of violence.

Different methods of violence against women are used by the Taliban and Al Qaeda to intimidate, terrorize, and force Afghan women to retreat from public activities and limit their access to health care, education, justice and economic and social endeavors, especially in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan.

The terrorist campaign of the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s has particularly affected girl’s school enrollment and attendance, schools are burned and female teachers and students are attacked and threatened.

The legacy of the long conflict including access to weapons, difficulty in stabilization efforts and the rampant poverty is reflected in self immolation, forced marriage, domestic and other forms of violence in some parts of the country. In order to be successful in our efforts to eliminate these practices, we request the international community to continue their assistance to strengthening our national capacities in ensuring a secure environment, improving economic and social conditions and implementing human rights and the rule of law in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Protection of civilians, including women, is highlighted as an inherent part of the ISAF – NATO led mission operating in Afghanistan, we would like to emphasize on the need to integrate specific strategies for the better

protection of women from all forms of violence including sexual violence. We also encourage peacekeeping forces to receive gender sensitivity pre-deployment training.

Mr. President,

Sustainable peace in Afghanistan can’t be achieved without the participation of half of its population, namely Afghan women. Afghanistan recognizes the importance of women’s positive contribution to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and the promotion of peace and security. As Secretary General Ban Ki Moon justly stated this morning the most effective way to combat violence against women is to make women messengers of peace instead of victims of violence and this reflects our vision for Afghan Women.

Thank you for your attention.

Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment

Informal Consultations on United Nations System – wide Coherence:
Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment
Statement made by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.N

Mrs. Deputy Secretary General,

Distinguished co-chairs,
I would like to thank you for organizing this important second round of consultations on the Gender aspects of Coherence and I would also like to express my gratitude to the Deputy Secretary General for having submitted the comprehensive “Note on the United Nations System Support to Member States on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”.
Distinguished co-chairs,
An important precondition for the success of Afghanistan’s development goals is the reversal of women’s historical disadvantage in Afghan society. The Government’s vision is a peaceful and progressive nation where women and men enjoy security, equal rights, and opportunities in all spheres of life. The Government is committed to fulfilling its obligation to women’s development as embodied in the Constitution, the MDGs, the Afghanistan Compact, and international treaties.
The Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) that has been recently launched during the International Conference in support of Afghanistan which was held in Paris on June 12, provides a framework for mainstreaming gender interventions across sectors so as to address women’s position in the society, their socio-economic condition, and access to development opportunities. The Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, as the lead agency for women’s advancement, takes on the role of coordinating and monitoring the outcomes of Government interventions.
Distinguished co-chairs,
We share a common commitment to strengthen our collective efforts to achieve gender equality and promote and ensure the rights of girls and women. The implementation of this strategy is a shared responsibility among Afghan government entities at the national and sub-national levels. Its effective implementation requires the continuing assistance of the international community including the United Nations Agencies operating in Afghanistan.

Distinguished co-chairs,
Afghanistan is not among the pilot countries of System -wide Coherence but represents an interesting case of multiple UN agencies and donor countries, present on the ground

to assist the government reaching its development objectives related to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
We are grateful to the donor community and the whole United Nations system, specially UNAMA, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNIFEM for its continuous support of gender equality and women empowerment’s efforts in Afghanistan, however much needs to be improved to ensure that UN’s assistance in the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment reaches its full potential.
Currently about 19 UN agencies are operating in Afghanistan carrying out different mandates. While few development agencies have explicit gender related mandates, number of other agencies that are implicitly deal with the mainstreaming of gender dimension into their specific programmes. This makes the division of labor not always assembled into one coherent mechanism which can produce effective results on a long term basis.
It is undeniable that the UN development agencies carry a unique set of expertise in all fields which have been reflected in their activities in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it has to be ensured that relevant UN agencies carry a complementary mandate and identify actions to align their work in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment results. This will certainly contribute to tackle the issue of duplications, increase cost-effectiveness and improve the quality and level of assistance provided by the UN.
Moreover effective delivery on gender equality and the empowerment of women in Afghanistan requires a strong coordination under the leadership of the Afghan Government and through an integrated UN effort with clear identification of results that the agencies would achieve individually and collectively. This will strengthen the effectiveness, accountability and responsibility for actual implementation on the ground and will ensure that programs carried out adequately focused on the gender benchmarks of Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Distinguished co-chairs,
We would like to take this opportunity to request from the UN agencies operating in Afghanistan to intensify their efforts to coordinate a policy and programmatic framework for:

an integrated gender approach to United Nations policies and programmes in Afghanistan

effective information sharing and monitoring of all UN programmes addressing gender issues

and increased cost-effectiveness, through a reduction of overlapping and duplication
Thank you for your attention.

UNICEF adopts country program for Afghanistan

Statement made by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the occasion of the UNICEF Executive Board Meeting
dedicated to the adoption of the UNICEF Country Programme for Afghanistan

Mr. President,

I want to begin by expressing Afghanistan’s sincere condolences to China and Myanmar on the terrible natural disasters that affected both countries and resulted in death of thousands of people including children.

Mr. President,

Since the beginning of the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan in 2002, the Government of Afghanistan and UNICEF have succeeded to develop a strong partnership aimed to uphold the rights of Afghan children and women. Today, I would like to express my gratitude to UNICEF for its continuous support and constructive activities in Afghanistan in the field of health, education and gender equality, water and environmental sanitation programme as well as child protection.

Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mr. Toole for his very comprehensive presentation of the country programme for Afghanistan. Afghanistan welcomes the proposed one year extension of the Country Programme aimed to align programmes cycles supported by the United Nations with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy Framework. This positive initiative will accelerate the implementation of our common vision which is to create in Afghanistan an environment where the rights of children and women to development, protection and participation are realized.

We are thankful to UNICEF for the allocation of $30, 168,000 from regular resources and $60, 884, 000 in other sources to the country programme for Afghanistan for the year 2009 and we are looking forward to have an increase in the budget allocated for the child protection as the protection of children against violence, exploitation and abuse is a high priority in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is firmly committed to improving the situation of children and women and has achieved remarkable progress in this area as highlighted in the country programme. We are seeing more children going to school as well as an improvement of maternal

health care services, and there are projects around the country to tackle the huge rates of female illiteracy. We’ve been effective in reducing child and maternal mortality rates and polio has significantly declined thanks to the cooperation of UNICEF.
Nevertheless we have a long way to go and formidable challenges remain in all areas. Insecurity caused by the resurgence of terrorist activities by the Taliban and Al-Qaida- especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country – remains the major obstacle in
improving the lives of Afghan children and women. The terrorists continue to burn schools, hospitals, and threaten teachers and children from attending school. Children remain the prime victim of this intimidation campaign as it affects school attendance and girl’s enrollment in particular.

Mr. President,

The global food crisis has also affected the lives of our population and especially our children. We welcome the Executive Director’s attention on this issue and we encourage UNICEF to address the looming food price crisis through strengthening emergency preparedness particularly school feeding.
Mr. President,
In order to translate our political will into coherent actions at a country level, we need from our development partners to coordinate their efforts and create a synergy aiming to improve the impact of aid in the country. I would particularly like to emphasize on the need for the UN development entities operating in Afghanistan to consolidate their activities in order to support our efforts to reach the Millennium Developments Goals and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals.

Thank you for your attention.