Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul at the Annual Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the NAM Coordinating Bureau

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the

Annual Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the NAM Coordinating Bureau


Mr. Chairman,

It indeed a great pleasure to join you and other NAM member-states in today’s annual meeting of the Coordinating Bureau.  Before I begin, I want to express our appreciation to the brotherly government of Egypt for its excellent chairmanship of NAM. We also thank the Republic of Cuba for years of able leadership of NAM in previous years.

Over four decades ago, the NAM was founded on a set of noble ideals and principles: ensuring respect of fundamental human rights; upholding the objectives of the UN Charter; promoting peaceful co-existence among states; advancing respect of justice and international obligation. And over these years our movement has passed all kinds of tests and achieved great progress in the preservation of international peace and security.

Afghanistan remains a proud and committed member of this movement. NAM member-states comprise the vast majority of the international community, spanning across various continents, cultures and religions. The principles and ideals of our movement remain as relevant as ever before; and today’s gathering offers another opportunity to enhance cooperation for realizing the goals of our movement.

Mr. Chairman,

Our movement continues to be an effective voice for addressing the defining challenges of the 21st century; defeating terrorism and extremism, promoting social and economic development, reducing poverty, protecting the global environment; addressing discrimination, finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts and encouraging disarmament.

Mr. Chairman,

Forefront among the challenges facing mankind is the vicious phenomenon of international terrorism. This global threat which recognizes no specific nationality, boundary, culture or religion, has taken the lives of innocent men, women and children around the world. This is evident with the attacks in my own country Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan, India, the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Uganda and elsewhere. Defeating terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, will not be possible without a concerted international effort; and we as members of the NAM should do all that we can as part of international efforts to defeat this menace jointly and effectively.

As in the case of Afghanistan, nine years since the beginning of international engagement, and despite enormous sacrifices by Afghans and our international partners, terrorism remains a threat to security in Afghanistan and our region. The enemies of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan continue to orchestrate attacks against our religious and tribal figures, members of government, security forces, teachers, school-children and international friends who have come to Afghanistan to help the plight of Afghans.

Defeating terrorism will not be possible without effective regional and international cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite the continuing security challenge, the overwhelming majority of Afghans are optimistic and confident in realizing a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.  Afghans have exhibited unprecedented patience and fortitude in the face of continuing challenges throughout their history, and will never succumb to the will of a few who want to jeopardize the progress made thus far.  This was evident in the sight of millions of Afghans traveling to the most remote parts of the country to cast their ballot, and partake in our second parliamentary elections.  The elections saw remarkable improvements in terms of transparency and accountability, signifying additional progress in consolidating the rule of law.

Mr. Chairman,

Three months ago, Afghanistan and our international partners gathered at the international Kabul Conference, which culminated in the adoption of the “Kabul Process,” marking the beginning of a new chapter in Afghanistan partnership with the international community.  The conference outcome builds on President Karzai’s national agenda for re-engaging the Afghan people in the effort to improve security; enhance development and consolidate the rule of law.  Consistent with the Kabul Communique, we will work towards increased Afghan security force capability, and assuming primary responsibility for all security operations throughout the country by 2014.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan has experienced unprecedented suffering and hardship for more than three-decades now.  Our people deserve the chance to live in peace, security and prosperity like other peoples around the world. As a measure to ensure long-term security, we are pursuing reconciliation and reintegration to bring back to normal life members of the armed opposition who are willing to give up violence, accept Afghanistan’s constitution and begin a new life as law-abiding citizens.  In this regard, we have begun implementing a number of the recommendations which were adopted at our national consultative peace-jirga. We also urge our international partners to contribute to our “peace and reconciliation trust-fund” to help expedite a successful reconciliation and reintegration process.

Mr. Chairman,

We as NAM members must increase our cooperation to address the many challenges we continue to face.  We must also make best use of our unique position and strength enabled by our diversity, to foster cooperation with the rest of the international community, developed and developing countries alike.

The continuing plight of the Palestinian people remains among the gravest injustices in the history of mankind. The international community must redouble its efforts in pursuit of just, comprehensive and peaceful-settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  We urge the early implementation of relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly on the question of Palestine, and reiterate our call for the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to an independent state, living in peace and co-existence with its neighbors.

Mr. Chairman,

The 21st century sees us living in interdependent world, where many of the threats facing global prosperity affect us all.  These threats are trans-boundary nature and pose a threat to mankind as a whole, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, race, religion and culture.  And in today’s global village, we also share common goals:  enabling our peoples the chance to live in peace and security; and ensuring them with justice, and quality education and health care.

In that regard, to achieve our shared goals, we must strengthen cooperation; cooperation among diverse cultures, religions and communities. We welcome initiatives such as the special NAM Ministerial Meeting on Inter-faith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development, which convened in Manila in March of this year.  We also commend the continued work of the Alliance of Civilizations in bringing us closer together for our common good.

Mr. Chairman,

As one of the founding members of NAM, Afghanistan remains fully committed to the ideals and principles of our movement, which are as relevant as ever before.  And as we look ahead to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, we must fulfill our responsibility for increased cooperation in the interest of a more safe, secure and prosperous world.

I thank you.

Statement of Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan at the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ten years ago member states gathered in this distinguished assembly to take an unprecedented step: through the adoption the Millennium Declaration, we asserted our shared responsibility to humanity, and committed to making tangible progress in improving the lives of human beings around the world. In addition to being a moral imperative, this Declaration also recognized the crucial link between the wellbeing of individuals and the stability and health of societies and of states. Through the Millennium Development Goals, we committed to addressing some of the world’s most difficult and pressing development issues, including poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation, and the promotion of gender equality, education and health. Ten years later, these are still the main challenges facing our people and our countries.

Mr. President,

At the time of the Millennium Declaration’s adoption in 2000, Afghanistan was cut off, isolated from the international community by the abhorrent Taliban regime, which denied Afghan people even the most fundamental human rights and allowed terrorists to use Afghan soil to launch attacks around the world.  In 2001, with the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan slowly began to rebuild its shattered political, economic and social structures, and to regain its rightful place in the community of nations.  Our country undertook a series of policies aimed at a comprehensive reconstruction and stabilization of the political and economic situation both nationally and regionally. These policies centered around the urgent need to bring the Afghan people out of grinding poverty and provide them with the basic human rights, opportunities and services that had been denied them for decades.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has made enormous strides in the past decade, emerging from the ruins of war to build a more functioning government, a more prosperous economy, and a more healthy society.

Just three days ago, Afghanistan held its second parliamentary election. Millions of Afghans from all walks of life braved a challenging security situation, and cast their votes to elect representatives of the National Assembly. The unprecedented number of women candidates, voters and elected representatives is a clear demonstration of how far Afghan women have come in regaining their proactive role in Afghan society.

H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, addresses the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Convened by the General Assembly, the Summit is aimed at spurring action towards achieving internationally agreed goals to reduce hunger, poverty and disease.

These elections reaffirmed the steadfast commitment of the Afghan people to democracy and self-determination. Our leadership will continue to focus on good governance and to introduce institutional reforms that will make us more responsive to the needs and concerns of the vibrant Afghan civil society and population.

Economically, 80% of Afghans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and so along with other agricultural reforms we have undertaken comprehensive efforts to rebuild and repair irrigation systems, and have constructed over 10,000km of roads.  These changes improved productivity in the agricultural and trade sectors, which boosted GDP growth in the country to achieve record highs at 22.5 percent this year (2009/2010).  The average income has quadrupled since 2001. Government revenue this year surpassed a billion dollars for the first time. The recent discovery of enormous mineral resources, combined with the potential trade and transit opportunities with our neighbors, provides a chance to bring the Afghan people out of poverty, and offers a sound basis for future prosperity.

Afghanistan’s health and education sectors have also developed significantly, thanks in large part to the assistance of our international partners, including this Organization. We have established hundreds of clinics and hospitals across the country, expanding basic health coverage from 9% of the population in 2003 to close to 90% this year. Our national immunization campaign is in full swing, reaching out to millions of children under the age of five to protect them against polio and other deadly diseases. We have made substantial improvements in reducing infant and under five mortality rates.  In addition, we have a 71% school enrollment rate of Afghan boys and girls. As part of our national agenda to promote primary, secondary and higher education, we have constructed close to 4,000 school buildings over the past nine years; and we are on track to build an additional 4,900 by end of 2013.

We are also building a complex social safety net, geared towards finding work for those willing and able, and supporting those who are unable to care for themselves.

Mr. President,

We must keep in mind the backdrop of severe fragility and conflict when assessing the success of Afghanistan in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Security is the bedrock for socio-economic development, and in Afghanistan the difficult security situation has challenged our ability to sustain progress. The enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan are still active, orchestrating well-planned attacks against schools, clinics, teachers, doctors, government employees and even young children, particularly school girls. Unfortunately, similar attacks continue against humanitarian aid organizations and their personnel, who are working under difficult conditions to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.  In recognition of the crucial role of security in providing space for development, I would like to emphasize our addition of security on Afghanistan’s list of MDGs.  Improvements in security over the past year include substantial progress in clearing land mines and reducing poppy cultivation.

While we have made significant improvements, Afghanistan remains the lowest income country in the region, with 40% of its population unemployed and 36% living in poverty.  We still face a gender gap in literacy and education.  For such reasons more than ever we realize the importance of our international partners in supporting our country. Our budget for development is entirely financed by aid, and we hope to continue the transition toward streamlining aid more effectively through the government of Afghanistan with a view toward sustainability and capacity building. We have designed an extensive plan for MDG goals and targets over the next decade.

Mr. President,

His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul of Afghanistan addresses the General Assembly

While we know the path ahead is a difficult one, we are determined to forge on with a view toward reaching our commitments for MDGs.  Our number one priority as a government is to bring an end to conflict: the Afghan people are thirsty for peace. The Afghan National Army and Police are being trained and equipped to take responsibility for the Afghan people.  The Afghan government is simultaneously undertaking a broad political outreach initiative to offer a new beginning to former combatants and others willing to lay down arms and embrace a peaceful life.

In addition, in order to focus on the most pressing issues, the Afghan government has recently identified five key areas in the ANDS that will require intense attention.  These include agriculture development and rural rehabilitation; human resources development; economic and infrastructure development, governance and security.

Mr. President,

Our recent Kabul conference was a milestone in greater Afghan leadership, particularly security, governance and development. At the Kabul Conference, we presented our comprehensive development agenda, aimed at implementing tangible improvements in the lives of our citizens. Over the coming years, our government will push for a transition to greater Afghan responsibility and leadership in security, social and economic development, and governance.

Mr. President,
We are aware of the challenges we face. More than three billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day, and far too many are denied access to food, shelter, water and other necessities of life. But Afghanistan is well aware, perhaps more than many, of exactly how much we can accomplish when working together. Our responsibility, as world leaders and as human beings, is to persevere in our quest to improve the lives of our fellows. I am convinced that, with commitment and focus, we will succeed.

I thank you.

Video

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

STATEMENT BY

H.E. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Security Council’s briefing on UNAMA

Madam President,

Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the Council for this month. I am grateful for you for convening this meeting. Afghanistan deeply appreciates the strong support and solidarity of the family of nations in its arduous struggle to stand on its feet after decades of conflicts and suffering.

Specially, we are grateful for the excellent work and efforts of the UNAMA.
Our special thanks go to Ambassador Kai Eide and his able team.

I would like to brief you on our recent presidential and provincial council elections and the way forward. The August elections were important milestones in the processes of democratization and state-building in Afghanistan.

It was a multifaceted undertaking, involving different entities and players.
This includes Afghan national security forces, the Independent Election Commission, the Election Complaint Commission, Afghan media, the UN agencies, Afghan civil society, Afghan political community, the International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan voters.

It was the first time in the history of modern Afghanistan, that Afghans had the opportunity to organize a nationwide election.

What this election made different from other elections, was the degree of security threat. Al Qaheda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups did their utmost to disrupt the election.
Painfully, we lost a number of our security forces, our international partners and Afghan civilians to terrorist attacks prior and during the Election Day.
Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully.

As with any emerging democracy, there were cases of irregularities. But in passing judgment, we should be aware of the context, the process and the full picture, rather than only one aspect or issue.

For the sake of stability and consolidation of our nascent democratic institutions and process, it is imperative by all of us to respect and support the forthcoming decisions by Afghan electoral bodies.
Continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process and our institutions will certainly result in worsening the situation not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community.

Madam President,

Afghanistan is faced with four categories of challenges and needs. These are stabilization, humanitarian, reconstruction and developmental. Only by pursuing a long-term and comprehensive strategy, we can consolidate our fragile achievements and institutions since 2001. Short-term, compartmentalized and partial solutions are doomed to fail.

The objective of such a strategy must be helping create a fully sustained and functioning state. The main pillars of this strategy are security, good governance, economic development, regional cooperation and international solidarity.

A long-term and comprehensive strategy needs adequate and right resources and skills.
To implement such a strategy, there is a need for a clearer division of responsibility between us and the international community. Afghanistan has to shoulder the main responsibility in creating a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic Afghanistan.
The sustained and substantial support of the international community will be crucial in enabling us to attain our national priorities.

We are very pleased with elevating Afghanistan as one of the main priorities of the US by the new administration. We are confident the surge in US military support, coupled with the increase in civilian and developmental assistance is the best way forward.

Madam President,

Afghanistan welcomes the proposal to convene an international conference on situation in Afghanistan. We will be pleased to host it in Kabul. This conference will be an opportunity to renew our partnership and outlaying specific and concert steps and programs.

The conference will be an important forum for identifying effective ways for implementing Afghanistan National Development Strategy.
Furthermore, it will have to discuss our mutual responsibility and commitment for principles of good governance, mutual accountability, transparency, aid efficiency and enhanced coordination.
Madam President,

Allow me to say few words about the strategic issue of good governance. In addressing Afghanistan’s short and long-term needs and challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning state is absolutely essential.

However, it is a reductionist view to reduce all our problems to only one issue. Terrorists are motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatic mindset and ideological ends.
In the context of Afghanistan, we often suffer from weak governance and absence of governance, as well as bad governance.

In many cases, we do not have basic and necessary tools of governance. Rather than bashing and delegitimizing our young state institutions, we have to invest in our national institutions. Furthermore, it is wrong and unethical to ignore bad and malpractices by other agencies, including in the donor community.
Madam President,

Another important issue is the question of re-integration of illegal fighters into civilian life.

From the beginning, it has been our stated policy that Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans. To this end and in the context of Afghanistan Constitution, we have resorted to all means to encourage those Afghans that took arms against their country to participate in the process of reconstruction of their motherland.

In coming weeks and months, we will accelerate our efforts towards this end.

To succeed in this endeavor, our efforts must be consistent with the ends that we are envisioning for Afghanistan and the region.
Secondly, as long as the leadership of the Taliban and other terrorist groups remain protected by external entities, we cannot achieve our goal in dismantling the dynamic of insecurity in Afghanistan.

Any sustainable effort in reintegration must focus on the leadership as well as non-ideological fighters.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another important issue for Afghanistan is regional cooperation. For us, regional cooperation is a pillar of our foreign, security and development policy. We fully believe in the utility of economic peace in our region. Many of our challenges are regional in nature and consequence, particularly, terrorism and drug trafficking. Only by creating cooperative environment in the region, we can collectively address our interrelated challenges.

In this context, our relation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is of utmost importance. Fortunately, in recent months, there has been a cooperative atmosphere between us and the new civilian government in Pakistan.
It is our sincere wish to extend this to other entities in Pakistan. To this end, the international community must ensure that only good behaviors are rewarded.
Madam President,
In addressing all these issues, the UN has and must play a leading role. The UNAMA is well-placed to communicate and bridge the mutual needs and expectations between us and our international partners. Enhancing coordination among and between different stakeholders is another important role for the UNAMA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude by reiterating Afghanistan’s full commitment and readiness to strengthening our partnership with our international partners. I am absolutely confident that with your support and solidarity, Afghanistan will restore its historical role and place as a model of cooperation of different cultures and a crossroads for trade, transit and tourism in the region.

I thank you.