Monday, November 24, 2014

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.

United Nations At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement  by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

 

Mr. President,

It is truly a pleasure to be among the Members of the Security Council today, at this critical juncture on Afghanistan’s path to peace and prosperity. I congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of September, and convey our appreciation for Germany’s continual support and assistance for Afghanistan during its tenure on the Council. Let me also convey a warm welcome to my good friend and colleague the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Jan Kubis. We thank him for his clear presentation of the Secretary General’s comprehensive report.

Mr. President,

We meet at an important time, when Afghanistan is transitioning confidently into a vibrant, self-reliant and sovereign nation; a nation that is increasingly taking full charge of its destiny. The Afghan people are inspired by the prospect of a future free from violence and war. And thanks to our joint efforts, important progress towards that endeavor continues.

As we speak, Afghanistan has surpassed the halfway point on our transition to full security responsibility. With the commencement of the third tranche of security transition in May, 75% of the country will be under Afghan security responsibility by the end of November.  Our progress is on track to complete security transition by the end of 2013. The Afghan army and police are showing more resilience and effectiveness, as they take on more responsibility in meeting the country’s security needs.

Needless to say, sustainability of the ANSF is inextricably linked to the international community’s long-term support.  The outcome of the recent Chicago NATO Summit was a clear manifestation of our international partners’ resolute commitment to a strong and effective Afghan national security force. We also welcome NATO’s decision to develop a new “training, advising and assistance” role, which will take effect in 2014, and look forward to working with our relevant partners on the scope and mandate of the new mission.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people are encouraged by the international community’s assurance to helping them secure peace and prosperity throughout transition, and the Transformation decade (2015-2024). In this regard, commitments made at the Bonn Conference last year, the NATO Summit this past May, and more recently, at the Tokyo Conference in July are crucial for our long-term success.

The Tokyo Conference marked the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and our international friends; one based on a result oriented cooperation, to be conducted within the “mutual accountability framework.” We expect the international community to meet its commitment in channeling assistance through our core-budget, and aligning its aid with the Afghan National Priority Programme. Combating corruption, strengthening governance, and consolidating the rule of law will remain key priorities for us. President Karzai’s decree of July of this year is a significant step forward in our counter-corruption efforts. And it will be implemented by clear and time-bound measures by all Government Ministries, agencies and departments towards full accountability and transparency.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is regaining its legitimate place in the region and the world, through playing an active role within the neighborhood and international community. Our multilateral agreements and strategic partnerships involve long-term commitments between Afghanistan and our international partners. The partnerships we have formed, both within our neighborhood and beyond, are essential to preserving the historic achievements of Afghanistan’s young democracy and securing the future peace and stability of the country. Thus far, we have concluded strategic, long-term partnership agreements with United States of America, India, China, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Australia. We see these partnerships as the key for our collective fight against the twin menaces of terrorism and extremism and for our future peace and stability through supporting our evolving national ownership.

Mr. President,

As we continue our transition, with bold steps toward strengthening Afghan sovereignty and national ownership, the enemies of Afghanistan continue to make desperate attempts to undermine our progress towards a brighter future. Terrorist attacks have been increasingly inflicted on families and innocent Afghan men, women and children in many parts of the country, putting a brutal and tragic halt to their peaceful lives.

Undoubtedly, the unremitting violence plaguing Afghanistan is the result of the continued military, financial and ideological support enjoyed by terrorists, and the presence of sanctuaries and safe-havens outside our borders.

Mr. President,

While the fight against terrorism will continue, the next few years of the political and security transition are vital for a stable future for Afghanistan. We are working diligently to ensure a fruitful result of peace and reconciliation efforts underway. Our inclusive peace and reconciliation process seeks to build trust and confidence among all Afghans. We are determined to bring to the folds of society those elements of the armed opposition willing to renounce violence, cut ties with terrorist groups, and accept the Afghan constitution. The High Peace Council has revitalized its approach to reconciliation efforts. The international community and our region have an important part to play. The role of the UN Security Council will be imperative to this process. We thank the Council for its support of our reconciliation efforts by meeting delisting requests, which we have presented. By the same token, we hope the new mandate of the Taliban sanctions committee will entail required adjustments, in recognition of the importance of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process – so that the sanctions regime is more responsive and flexible and used in an even more effective, positive way to encourage those willing to join this process. Therefore, we look forward to working closely with the Council members to amend the resolution in a way that further benefits and accelerates the Afghan peace process.

Mr. President,

The violence in Afghanistan has had a drastic effect on the security and well-being of our citizens. We express our serious concern about the growing number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan – the majority of which are caused by the Taliban and other extremist groups.

Meanwhile, loss of innocent life and harm to populations has also occurred in the course of NATO operations. The loss of even one innocent life is one too many. We underscore, yet again, the need to exert all measures necessary to protect civilian populations.

Mr. President,

The greatest challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan, such as terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drugs, are shared regionally and internationally. Our common threats require cooperative solutions. We are working with regional countries, and other partners for a comprehensive response to these menaces. Launched in November of last year, the Istanbul Process is gaining momentum. The process was further crystallized at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June, with the prioritization of key confidence-building measures. We look forward to coming together with our Heart of Asia partners in less than a week from now at the next Senior Officials Meeting in this city.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to a matter of deep and serious concern to my Government and the Afghan people. The shelling of areas of Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan from across the Durand Line, has led to unprecedented anger and frustration among Afghans from all walks of life. We reiterate our call for an immediate and complete end to these acts, which have taken the lives of dozens of Afghans, mainly civilians, while leaving many more wounded. We remain in close contact with the Government of Pakistan to address this issue, holistically and resolutely.

Failure to end such attacks risks jeopardizing Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral relations, with potential negative consequences for necessary bilateral cooperation for peace, security and economic development in our two countries and the wider region. Afghanistan desires close and fruitful relations with Pakistan, a neighbour with whom we share historical, cultural and traditional ties.

Mr. President,

As we work to tackle the challenges on the road ahead, let us not lose sight of the historic, transformative successes made thus far. Significant advances in social and economic development are clearly evident. Millions of students, boys and girls, men and women are enrolled in primary and higher education. The majority of Afghans now have access to basic health services; and Afghans are increasingly taking part in the democratic processes, exercising their right to shape their own destiny. While we have seen such changes unfolding throughout the last decade, we can be proud that today the initiatives underway in regards to development are increasingly Afghan-driven and Afghan-led, with support from the international community.  This characteristic is crucial for the sustainability of development efforts and for helping Afghanistan realize its full potential.

Mr. President,

With the next Presidential elections fast approaching, we are fully committed to ensuring a transparent election process, free of any external interference.

Mr. President,

After over three decades of struggle and suffering, we are moving ahead with Afghanistan’s recovery and renewed strength. Afghans recognize the important indications of our sovereignty. We are determined to further our efforts toward national ownership across the board, as the most effective way to ensure lasting peace and security to our country.

Before concluding, allow me to register the Afghan Government’s strong condemnation of the recent senselessly provocative acts of insult to Islam and Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him). While acknowledging our fellow Muslims’ right to peacefully protesting these insults, we deplore any violence resulting from such protests, especially against diplomatic representations anywhere in the world.

The key for Afghanistan’s future success is cooperation, both for our transition and the Transformation Decade to follow. Building trust and confidence with the international community is the basis for our path to security and prosperity. We are pleased that the Security Council is continuing to follow the situation closely, and we are thankful for their support and the support of the United Nations, including on revising UNAMA’s mandate in line with the demands of Afghan sovereignty. With long-term cooperation and partnership in the center of our efforts, we are confident that together we can build a more peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President!

 

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Heart of Asia Ministerial – Kabul

Kabul, 14 June 2012 — DRAFT

Your Excellency President Karzai,

My Esteemed Co-Chair, Your Excellency Foreign Minister Davotuglu,

Excellencies foreign ministers and heads of delegation from the Heart of Asia countries and the supporting countries to the Istanbul Process,

Distinguished delegates, dear guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At the outset, let me once again extend my personal and the Afghan foreign government’s collective warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to everyone of you for travelling from near and far to attend today’s historic Heart of Asia Conference in Kabul. It is my sincere hope that your stay in Kabul is both fruitful and enjoyable and that you will take home with you a positive outcome for our deliberations here today and some nice memories from your visit. We are truly privildged to be able to bring together such an august company of leaders in a spirit of friendship, openness and cooperation to discuss the crucial need for sincere, result-oriented cooperation in this critical region, at this critical juncture.

I also wanted to reiterate the gratitude of the Afghan government to the Turkish government and to my brother Foreign Minister Davotuglu personally for Turkey’s leading role in the Istanbul Process and for an exemplary hosting of the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia of November 2, 2011, the first conference in the Istanbul Process, an effort we regard with hope and a sense of renewed promise for a future of real peace, security, stability and prosperity in this region.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A quick glance back at the past few months since our gathering in Istanbul makes it abundantly clear that this process has been more successful, more productive and enjoyed much stronger ownership and support by the participating countries than just about anybody expected, especially those outside our region. In our view, the Istanbul Process is one of the most meaningful, the most concrete and the most promising effort at realizing the vision of sincere, result-oriented cooperation among countries of the Heart of Asia region at least over the past one decade!

There are several characteristics to this unprecedented success of the Istanbul Process. I’ll enumrate only some of the more salient of these characteristics that we’ve observed over the past several months of preparations for today’s conference.

First, and as reflected by His Excellency President Karzai a few minutes ago, there is a more intimate, far greater and far clearer understanding of the intertwined nature of both the challenges and problems but also the great potential and opportunities in our region. It is today impossible to compartmentalize our notions of peace and security for our individual countries – to think, for example, that terrorist sanctuaries in one country or terrorist attacks in another country will not affect both the short- and long-term peace, security and stability of the entire region. It is also equally inconceivable to expect that we in Afghanistan will be able to single-handedly tackle the scourge of narcotics because there are key factors and actors beyond our borders that play a central role in the continued existence of this shared menace.

It is also evident that if allowed to unleash, this region’s truly tremendous potential in human and natural resources; trade, transit and investment; services and other fields can not only tranform the lives of the peoples of this region for the better but significantly contribute to security and prosperity in the broader world.

Second, the Istanbul Process fo far has made clear that if we can muster the will and the commitment, the countries in this region are more than capable of finding workable, consensus-driven solutions for the region’s common challenges and problems.

 

For the first time in ten years, we have agreed to a set of concrete confidence building measures that will take us from rhetoric to action. The seven confidence building measures proposed for adoption in this Conference’s final declaration – agreed to through several high-level preparatory meetings among senior officials from the Heart of Asia countries – cover such areas of cooperation as counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, disaster management, strengthening links among national chambers of commerce, educational and cultural cooperation.

Third, there is strong consensus-driven support from all Heart of Asia countries for our collective decision to follow-up our deliberations and discsusions first in Istanbul and now here through regular consultations among our senior officials and at least once a year at the level of foreign ministers. This in our view is another clear demonstration of our real commitment to making tangible, concrete progress on the confidence building measures we’ve agreed to implement.

Fourth, just as there is strong consensus on the ownership of this process by the participating countries, there is broad and firm support among us for the role of the supporting countries and organizations, represented around this table. The high-level presence of the diverse group of supporters of the Istanbul Process today is a clear sign of the importance and significance of this effort. The presence of supporters underscores the interconnectedness of our world and how security and stability and development in one region, especially in the Heart of Asia region, directly affects security and development worldwide.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Another key element of the Istanbul Process is creating ever closer linkages, coordination and synergy in the Afghanistan-related efforts of regional organizations. Afghanistan is a member of most of these organizations. We believe each one of these organizations have a critical role to play and we’re very happy to have them on board. In this connection, let me reiterate the Afghan government’s satisfaction with our new status as observer country at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and underline our deep gratitude to all SCO member states for their support and welcome.

The participation of the United Nations has been a key pillar of the Istanbul Process.

We the participating countries are all members of the UN and I believe it’s role gives the process greater legitimacy and effectiveness. In particular, we are grateful for the contributions of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) so far, which have been significant and constructive.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me repeat myself one more time: we’re more hopeful and more optimistic about making tangible progress on regional cooperation with this Istanbul Process than any other effort so far over the past ten years. Any step we take towards implementing our shared vision within the Istanbul Process will not only be good for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan; real progress on regional cooperation is essential for peace and security in our region.

We in Afghanitan are also determined to reclaim our rightful place in this region – not as an issue, a topic or a problem. Rather, we want to play the role of a regional convenor, connector and mediator in improving confidence and cooperation in the Heart of Asia. We’ve been first in suffering the consequences of a lack of confidence and fragmentation in this region, which has in turn had a direct bearing on peace and security in the region. So, dear friends, Afghanistan’s sincere and real commitment to the Istanbul Process comes from self-interest that is tied to the interests of the region around us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We all realize that patience is a virture in this collective effort, especially in a region grappling with the legacy and present reality of some real challenges and problems. But we’ll be judged – and I think fairly so – by the steady, concrete progress of our work on taking this crucial process forward one step at a time. We will be watched and judeged by each other, by those supporting us and others. It is, therefore, our fervent hope that we’ll all maintain the perserverance, patience but also farsightedness in moving this process forward.

I thank you all very much for your attention and wish us all a successful conference!