Friday, August 22, 2014

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs at the High Level Side Event on New Deal:

Statement by H.E.  Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs  at the High Level Side Event on New Deal:

g7+ Perspectives and Experience

67th United General Assembly

 

Opening Remarks

Excellencies,

On behalf of the Government of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan as the co-host, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the High Level Side Event on The New Deal: g7+ perspectives and experiences. It is a pleasure to see the level of support and the momentum which the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States is gaining after it was endorsed in November 2011 during the 4th High Level forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Bussan last year. This global recognition is indeed a result of the efforts of the g7+ countries and their partners.

Arena setting

Ladies and gentlemen, Afghanistan has received generous support over the past decade for its development and reconstruction. There have been noteworthy achievements in the areas of security and economic development since 2001, when we started our journey towards a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. We started this journey with weak institutions, poor infrastructure and with almost no formal economy. But despite all these hardships and challenges, we are now equipped with trained national security forces; access to basic health care services has improved; national highways and roads have been rebuilt; and telecoms and other hard and soft infrastructure facilities have been established. Of equal importance, our institutional and public sector reforms have advanced. This was indeed possible with the generous financial and technical support of our development partners.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, despite the tremendous achievements we have had, Afghanistan is one of the g7+ member countries which is lagging behind the goal of  materialization of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). Despite sizable development aid invested in governance and capacity building, we continue to depend on external technical assistance. We can only cover some 60% of our operating expenditures through our domestic revenue. Our private sector is yet to realize its potential to become the engine of growth and absorb an emerging workforce. Our security sector needs to be further strengthened to take over the responsibility of protecting our people after 2014. In view of the perceived reduction in development aid during the decade of transformation, we have taken steps to bolster our domestic revenues and provide essential services to our citizens.

 

Longer and sustainable partnership:

Excellencies, sustained international engagement in development of g7+ countries is a necessity. But this engagement shall aim to support nationally owned and nationally led agenda for development. We presented our vision in the “Towards Self Reliance” strategy paper at the International Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in July 2012. To fulfill this vision, we have developed our partnership agenda “The Aid Management Policy” in consultation with our development partners and reaffirmed our commitment to implementing critical reforms and promote accountability and transparency in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.  However, the key milestone of success in our partnership will be the extent to which our partners are willing and able to align their development efforts to our shared strategy. Being mindful of our budding institutional capacity, our partnership needs to be based on mutual trust which could involve sharing the burden of managing development aid and sharing the risks of engagement in fragile and conflict affected environments.  This is the only way to reach our common goals.  There is, therefore, a need for bold and mutual decisions by all our partners.

g7+ countries and post 2015

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

We are on the verge of 2015, when we will be reviewing our millennium development agenda. The progress made so far across the g7+ countries in terms of achievement of the millennium goals should be an important part of our review agenda and will be crucial in formulating our next steps. Since 2000, and despite the investment of nearly 30% of all development aid in conflict affected countries, we still have a long way to go.  These countries are still threatened by conflict, violence and poverty and suffer from humanitarian crises. The next phase of the millennium development agenda should focus more on strengthening the very core of functional foundations which are the pillars of Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. Only then, will we be able to observe the result of our efforts. Drawing upon the context of the g7+ countries, the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding goals should be fabricated in the next phase of our global development agenda.

Excellencies, I would like to conclude by thanking you all for your support for the vision of the g7+ which has been articulated in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. We are confident that with the realization of the New Deal, we can reach a brighter future through our shared efforts.

Thank you

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Meeting

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 I begin by conveying the warm greetings of the people and Government of Afghanistan. We convey our thanks and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Nepal for leading our Group successfully.  We congratulate Mr.  Gyan Chandra Acharya for his recent appointment as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. We are confident that his able leadership will guide us toward achieving our common goals. We also extend our congratulations to the Republic of Benin on its election as the next Chair. Let me assure you of my government’s full support.

Mr. Chairman,

Today’s meeting comes at an important moment, a little over a year since the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA). The landmark event marked a milestone in our joint efforts: ridding from our societies the scourges of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and other ills effecting the well-being and prosperity of our citizens. No one has questioned the challenges associated with implementing the goals of the Istanbul Program of Action. Nevertheless, we are convinced that, with resolute commitment, and determined efforts our success is inevitable.

Mr. Chairman,

 

The Afghanistan of today is one, which has transformed for the better over the past decade. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, and the start of our partnership with our international friends in 2001, we began our state-building efforts, geared towards a vision that sees our citizens living in peace and security, and having what is necessary to lead dignified and prosperous lives.  To realize that vision, we have undertaken enormous measures, within the framework of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), leading to significant achievements in numerous areas, including, but not limited to, the health and education sectors, the growth of our economy, and the strengthening of our infrastructure.

 

For several decades, but particularly in recent years, my Government has sought to advance regional stability and prosperity by restoring Afghanistan’s central role as a land bridge between Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East- for the exchange of commerce, culture, and ideas.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan is making steady progress in the transition process for self-reliance in the security, governance and development fields. In the context of our state-building efforts, Afghanistan will continue to require sustained international support in the long-term.

Two months ago in Tokyo, Afghanistan and the international community came together to re-define the nature of our partnership. In adopting the “Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework” we have put in place a clear structure that will benefit a more result oriented partnership and cooperation. We are particularly pleased with the international community’s expressed readiness to align aid with our National Priority Programs (NPPs), and channel assistance through the Afghan budget.

 

Moving towards Transformation Decade, the new Afghanistan still face many development challenges. It is obvious the achieving peace, stability, and prosperity require a better security environment in our cities, villages, and borders. And, as we all know, achieving the goal of creating a better security environment in highly dependent on economic and human development as well as on good governance. Our strategic vision towards self-reliance Afghanistan for the transformation decade is the result of our commitments to tackle those challenges.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Since late last year, the series of conferences beginning with Istanbul in November, followed by Bonn in December, Dushanbe in March, Chicago in May, and last June’s Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting in Kabul, have demonstrated the region and international community’s unequivocal political and economic support for Afghanistan’s rebirth as a confident, stable, and reliable hub for regional trade and transit at a key interchange in Asia: the world’s most dynamic region.

 

Together, these building blocks have served Afghanistan and its citizens well in terms of facilitating the regional bonds for economic exchange, political cooperation, and cultural understanding.

 

In this regard, the November 2011 initiated “Istanbul Process”, and its 43 regional confidence-building measures, acknowledges the need for a substantive political dialogue to ensure that steps to integrate the national economies of the region are sustained and made durable. Given the long road ahead in the remainder of the “Transition Period” (until 2014) and “Transformation Decade” (2015-2024), the need for mutually reinforcing economic, political, and security-building efforts becomes even more urgent as Afghanistan charts an unequivocally regional future.

 

We perceive regional economic cooperation as a key element of our broader efforts to strengthen relations, mutual respect, and trust between Afghanistan and its many neighbors.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

With three years left for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite our efforts and progress, our group is faced with serious obstacles in meeting our stated goals.  Among the many factors hindering our progress, include multiple global crises of climate change, natural disasters, the global financial and economic crises, as well as food insecurity.  Given our special situation, LDCs require special and particular focus and attention from the international community.  Afghanistan, underscores, in this connection, the necessary increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) by our partners in the developed world to help us realize our national and millennium development goals.

 

In addition, we insist that donors take into consideration the principle of ownership of recipient countries, reducing the allocation of ODA outside of government systems and instead channeling more funds through core budgets and trust funds. Additional measures are required for ensuring the efficiency and transparency of such aid.  This could be achieved through greater coordination among the donor community.

 

A sound and effective agriculture sector is vital for our development and prosperity.  The overwhelming majority of LDCs rely on agricultural productivity, as a key component of a self-sufficient economy.  In this connection, due consideration on the part of our international partners should be accorded.

 

Without any doubt, the effects of climate change are among the dominant threats facing our common development and prosperity.  Too often, natural disasters, whether in the form of mudslides and flooding or drought have devastated our infrastructure, and agriculture. As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan further supports the LDC’s position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Afghanistan welcomes the outcome document of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which was held from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference was a historic event in garnering a renewed commitment for effective strategies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty, advance social equity and protect our environment.

 

We also call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.

 

In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.

 

Thank you.

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the High-Level meeting on the Rule of Law

Mr. President,

Afghanistan welcomes today’s high-level meeting which is a manifestation of our shared conviction that strengthening the rule of law, nationally and internationally, serves our mutual benefit. Over the course of the past six decades, the United Nations has made great progress in securing peace, safe-guarding fundamental freedoms, and assisting countries emerging from conflict.  The rule of law has been a fundamental basis for all these achievements.  In short, we can say that the rule of law is the very bedrock on which peaceful, stable, and harmonious societies flourish.

 

Mr. President,

For Afghanistan, upholding the rule of law is an essential component of our transition from a society ravaged by decades of conflict and war to one where we are working to take on the security, development and justice challenges that remain. Our efforts to rebuild began with state institutions that were either non-existent or severely weak.

Over the past years, we’ve made progress in making our justice sector operate with greater capacity to ensure improved rule of law. This principle is embedded in our National Development Strategy. We have taken wide-ranging measures in support of an independent, more transparent, impartial and credible justice sector, including: the adoption of a Constitution which safeguards the rights of all citizens; conducting an overhaul of our national legal framework; and the development of national action plans to restructure and build capacity in our Ministries.

Mr. President,

Ending impunity is an important step in building public confidence and trust in our justice and security sectors. To this end, the newly drafted Criminal Procedure Code was this year presented to the National Assembly and is expected to be placed on the legislative agenda soon. Several working groups have also been continuing their efforts to revise the Penal Code, to strengthen the protection of all citizens, with particular focus on the rights of women and children. We have made considerable progress in broadening participation in education, and in particular higher education, where the judges and lawyers of tomorrow will be trained. Through these gains and many others we are re-building the necessary tools and institutions to ensure the rule of law as a solid basis on which to build sustainable peace.

Mr. President,

The chance to live in peace and security is a fundamental right of all peoples. The people of Afghanistan desire nothing more than the chance to live in a violence-free environment. In that regard, Afghanistan’s security sector reform, initiated in 2001, has led to the formation of a national army and police whose ranks represent the diversity of the country. Consistent with the transition process, our security forces are taking increased responsibility – back by public confidence in them – to meet the security needs of our peoples, in our villages, towns and provinces.

For the past decade, we have been studiously engaged in combating corruption, an ill that has had a drastic effect on our governance, stability and prosperity – it harms Afghans first and foremost. Defeating the menace of corruption therefore remains a high priority for my Government. We have taken a number of measures to achieve a fully transparent administration, the most recent of which was the issuance of a Presidential Decree this past July – directing all Ministries, agencies and independent directorates to undertake comprehensive reforms and other measures to defeat corruption and strengthen transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is party to a multitude of relevant treaties and conventions which seek to uphold and promote the rule of law in a wide array of spheres. We recognise that signing and ratifying treaties is not enough, and that rights and obligations arising from international instruments must be implemented into national law. It is for this reason that President Karzai has instructed the Ministry of Justice to actively take forward the process of ensuring that our national legislation is in full conformity with our international commitments.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General has named strengthening compliance in the context of the United Nations a priority in the field of the rule of law at the international level. Achieving a reformed Security Council with a view to increasing its representation, transparency and furthering its effectiveness is of utmost importance. Afghanistan has taken a lead role in chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, and we stand ready to ensure that this vital reform of the Security Council strengthens and enhances the United Nations ability to promote and uphold the rule of law at the international level.

 

Mr. President,

We highlight the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in promoting international criminal justice, and addressing the most serious of crimes, as a court of last resort.  As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, we welcome the continuing increase in the number of States joining the Statute. This illustrates that the Court’s work and influence is gaining momentum.

Mr. President,

While this High-Level dialogue is significant in engaging Member States on this important issue, we must ensure that we do not stop at dialogue; our agreed outcomes must be implemented both at the national and international levels. Afghanistan will continue to do its part to help strengthen, as part of the global effort, the rule of law at the national and international levels.

Thank you.