Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Please check against delivery

At the outset, I would like to thank the Republic of Chad for its leadership of the Council this month and for convening this debate. I thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report on the Situation in Afghanistan. I also welcome the statement of Mr. Haysom, Special Representative to the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and congratulate him on his recent appointment. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, for his presence here today and for his briefing. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Ambassador Quinlan and the Permanent Mission of Australia for their support and great efforts as Afghanistan’s penholder on the Council for the past two years.

Mr. President,

The international military combat mission in Afghanistan, authorised under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter 13 years ago, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, will officially end in 14 days. Just a few days ago, this august Council adopted a resolution reaffirming the completion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s mandate and welcoming the Resolute Support Mission, aimed at training, advising and assisting Afghan National Security and Defence Forces (ANDSF) on the basis of agreements between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States. This is an historic step towards a new beginning in Afghanistan and a key marker of the country’s transition to a new chapter in its relations with the international community.

Mr. President,

This monumental achievement comes at the heels of another significant moment in the history of Afghanistan, and another major victory for the transition agenda: presidential elections. While complex and challenging, the elections culminated in the first peaceful transfer of power from one elected leader to another in the country. The agreement of Afghanistan’s leaders to put the country’s successful future ahead of political divisions and establish a national unity government fostered an environment of hopefulness, inclusivity and political consensus, and cemented the foundation for lasting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

While the people and leadership of Afghanistan are confident that the country is moving in a positive direction, the challenges Afghanistan faces are formidable. Insecurity remains the main impediment to progress across the country. In the past several months, terrorists and insurgent groups have intensified attacks in an attempt to deplete national confidence in the new government and to intimidate the Afghan people. As they commit acts of violence and brutality against innocent men, women and children, extremist armed groups should know that the courageous Afghan security forces stand ready to fight for the future of Afghan democracy, peace and security. Their resilience, particularly during the election period and throughout the past year, demonstrates their commitment to protect the lives of Afghans and the future of the country.

In the months and years ahead, the sustained support of the international community, including through the NATO-Afghanistan enduring partnership and the Resolute Support Mission as well as the commitments made at the Bonn conference, the Chicago, Lisbon and Wales summits and the recent NATO Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, will continue to be essential to enhancing the capacity and capabilities of the Afghan forces in the years ahead. At the same time, the government of Afghanistan recognizes that a political solution is essential to stopping the violence and the continuing terror campaign. To this end, an extensive a reconciliation process with the armed opposition is high on the agenda of the government.

As Afghanistan takes steps to overcome security threats, the country faces immediate economic challenges including a looming fiscal crisis. The protracted election process triggered uncertainty and negatively impacted revenue collection, donor confidence and economic growth, making it difficult for the government to mobilize adequate revenue to meet its financing priorities. We call on our international partners to fulfil their commitments to support the country so that the government can close the long-running fiscal gap and deliver on its reform promises.

Mr. President,

The government of national unity has devised a comprehensive reform agenda aimed at addressing both the immediate and the long term challenges Afghanistan faces and at enabling the country to make progress towards self-reliance, sustainable growth, peace and stability. Today I will highlight a few key aspects of the new agenda, which the leadership of Afghanistan presented in full to international partners at the London conference on Afghanistan earlier this month:

1.     Fighting corruption. Recognizing the corrosive effects of corruption, the government of Afghanistan has already taken steps to tackle this endemic scourge and its underlying drivers. In its first days in office, the new administration reopened the Kabul Bank case and made plans to reform a number of key oversight bodies.

2.     Advancing good governance. The government is committed to strengthening democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law, enhancing human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls, and undertaking comprehensive reforms of electoral laws and institutions.

3.     Promoting economic and fiscal stability. Afghanistan is committed to enhancing productivity, mobilizing domestic revenue, and expanding private sector investment, growth and employment opportunities with the ultimate aim of reducing Afghanistan’s dependence on donor support and achieving long term sustainability and prosperity in the country. The illicit drug economy is a grave concern, and to this end the government is committed to a comprehensive response to combat this menace, in collaboration with our regional and international partners.

4.     Strengthening regional cooperation. This will set Afghanistan firmly on the path towards peace and security and will enhance growth, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan and across the region. President Ghani’s state visits to China, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and engagement with other neighbouring countries as well as his attendance at key regional meetings, such as the 17th SAARC summit in Kathmandu and the Fourth Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in China, indicate the priority that the new government gives to regional integration. The government has also taken steps to increase transit, trade, investment and energy and power projects such as CASA 1000 and TAPI and to utilize Afghanistan’s geographical advantage as a hub connecting Central, South, West and East Asia.

5.     Enhancing the development partnership. The government of Afghanistan is committed to delivering upon its commitments as set out in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. At the same time, it is crucial that donors reaffirm mutual commitments to aid effectiveness principles, including the importance of building Afghan capabilities, delivering more aid on budget, and aligning development initiatives with Afghan national priorities. We look forward to deepening these mutual commitments at the Senior Officials Meeting in 2015 in Kabul and the next Ministerial Meeting in 2016.

Mr. President,

The national unity government has already taken significant, positive steps to advance its reform agenda and to lay the foundation for lasting peace and stability in the country. Its decisive actions in the areas of governance, security, economic and social development, regional and international relations and human rights and its successful achievement of key milestones in the transition process have sent a powerful message to the people of Afghanistan and the international community that, as President Ghani has said, a successful Afghanistan is entirely within our reach. At the same time, we recognize that a great deal of hard work lies ahead of us including the formation of a merit based cabinet, which the leadership of Afghanistan aims to accomplish in the coming weeks. Moving forward, the government is dedicated to sustaining the optimism of the Afghan people and to building a successful future.

Mr. President,

At this critical juncture in the country’s history, the national unity government is determined to build upon the enthusiasm of the Afghan people, and the successes of the past 13 years, to take bold steps towards self-sufficiency, peace and prosperity for all Afghans. As it does so, the enduring support of the international community is essential to the success of the government’s comprehensive reform agenda, to the country’s efforts to achieve the objectives of the Transformation decade and to enduring peace, stability and prosperity in the years ahead.

Thank you.

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations Adoption of the Resolution on the Resolute Support Mission

 

December 12, 2014
Thank you Mr. President.

 

At the outset, I would like to thank the Republic of Chad for its leadership of the Council this month. I would also like to thank Council members for the adoption of this resolution, which is of vital importance to ongoing stabilization efforts and the future of Afghanistan. To Ambassador Quinlan and his team at the Permanent Mission of Australia, thank you for your hard work, your able facilitation of this resolution, and your dedication as Afghanistan’s penholder.

 

Mr. President,

 

This resolution is adopted as the ISAF mission ends and a new phase in Afghanistan’s history begins. In just 19 days, Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will assume full responsibility for the security of the country as the transition process comes to a close on December 31 of this year. The adoption of this resolution is a clear indication of the continuing support of the Council and the international community for the efforts of the Afghan people and the government of Afghanistan to bring peace, stability, democracy and prosperity to the country throughout the transformation decade.

 

At this crucial juncture in our history, this resolution signifies the necessity of enduring and long term support for Afghanistan. As the Transformation decade begins, we are grateful to our NATO and international partners for their commitment to train, advise and assist the ANDSF after the completion of the ISAF mission. No doubt, there are challenges ahead; al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to launch brutal terror attacks. Just yesterday, a suicide bomber attacked a French school in Kabul, killing civilians and injuring 15. A few weeks ago, a suicide bomber attacked a crowd watching a volleyball match in Paktika province, killing over 50 people and wounding more than 60 others. These are but a few examples of a series of horrific attacks on civilians in Kabul and around the country.

 

In the face of these challenges, the new President and the national unity government of Afghanistan look forward to strengthening cooperation with our NATO, regional and international partners. We understand that peace and stability cannot be achieved through security measures alone, and to this end the government of Afghanistan is embarking upon an ambitious reform agenda aimed at bringing peace and prosperity to the country.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to express the government of Afghanistan’s profound gratitude to the NATO and partner countries and their international forces, who have sacrificed their blood and treasure to support Afghanistan in its fight to advance peace and security in the country. With the ongoing support of our international partners, including through the Resolute Support Mission, and the vigorous work of the new government of Afghanistan, their efforts will not have been in vain.

 

I thank you.

 

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the General Assembly Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

 

Thank you, Mr. President. As we come together to adopt this year’s General Assembly Resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan, I would like to thank all Member States that participated in the negotiation of the resolution. I would also like to thank Ambassador Braun, Ambassador Thoms and their teams, particularly Daniel Schemske, at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations for their hard work facilitating the negotiations.

 

Mr. President,

 

At the end of this year, the government of Afghanistan will take full responsibility for the security of the country. The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, is set to expire on December 31st and Afghanistan will move towards a more normalized international status as a sovereign nation. We have been striving for this moment for the last decade. It is a major accomplishment and an important step towards achieving a peaceful, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.

 

While the NATO combat role will end, Afghanistan and NATO remain committed to a long-term strategic partnership. NATO will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) beyond 2014 through the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) on the basis of the NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the United States of America-Afghanistan Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement (BSA). We welcome the General Assembly’s message of support for the new mission. I also would like to take this opportunity to express my government’s profound gratitude to all those international civilian and military men and women who served shoulder to shoulder with their Afghan partners towards a better future for the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan people will always remember and honor their sacrifice and dedication.

 

Mr. President,

 

Afghanistan has emerged from an historic election that marked the first democratic transfer of power from one president to the next, an important milestone in Afghanistan’s multifaceted transition. While the challenges that arose in the election period tested our resolve, the wisdom of the country’s leadership and the support of its friends and partners allowed us to overcome the difficulties and move towards a unified, peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. The establishment of a government of national unity has generated an atmosphere of broader political inclusivity and participation; it will enable Afghans from all walks of life to contribute to the economic and social development of the country, the sustainability of the Afghan state and its security forces and the peace and security of Afghanistan and the wider region.

 

The newly elected President of Afghanistan, His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, and the national unity government are vigorously pursuing a comprehensive reform program to deliver on their campaign promises and to promote peace, stability and prosperity across the country. I would like to highlight three key components of this comprehensive reform agenda:

 

1. Eliminating corruption. Corruption corrodes state effectiveness, security, public faith in government and progress towards peace and prosperity. It feeds insurgency, patronage and illegal interests. Tackling corruption is paramount to the government’s reform agenda. In his inaugural address, President Ghani stressed his zero-tolerance policy in regards to corruption, and as soon as he assumed the Presidency, he ordered the Supreme Court to reopen an inquiry into the Kabul Bank fraud case. Since then, the court has sentenced the bank’s executives to 15 years in prison, ordered the payment of substantial fines, and froze the assets of those accused of corruption. Other suspects will now be investigated for their involvement in the $900 million embezzlement scandal. This courageous step demonstrates the government’s firm commitment to eradicate corruption and end impunity.

 

2. Enhancing democratic accountability, governance and rule of law. Afghanistan’s leadership is in the process of establishing a functional, merit-based cabinet as part of its wider commitment to build effective governance at every level. In addition, we will reform electoral institutions, electoral processes and relevant laws as well as necessary amendments of the constitution. The government will also focus on reforming the judiciary and all law enforcement institutions, including by taking concrete actions to expand access to justice and uphold the rights of all Afghan citizens, particularly women and girls. I would like to call attention to the government’s recent adoption of the Afghanistan National Action Plan for women, peace and security, which represents an important step in this regard.

 

3. Promoting economic growth and social development. The national unity government is committed to economic reforms that stimulate growth and tackle poverty, inequality, and unemployment. These include strengthening cooperation between the government and the private sector, removing obstacles to investment and trade, promoting sustainable livelihoods, reinvigorating counter-narcotics efforts, and using aid effectively to reinforce development and stability. Continuing implementation of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework remains central to these efforts and we look forward to the next ministerial meeting on Afghanistan to be held in London next month. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United Kingdom for hosting this important meeting.

 

Mr. President,

 

The Afghan people have been victims of terrorism and violence for almost 40 years. The violence perpetrated by terrorists, extremists and illegal armed groups continues to have daily, devastating impacts on all civilians, particularly women and children and poses the greatest obstacle to political, economic, and social progress in Afghanistan. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) continue to demonstrate professionalism and courage in protecting the Afghan people. Moving forward, the national unity government will work tirelessly to continue to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to uphold the security of the nation, and to preserve the achievements of the last decade. The continuing support of our international partners, namely through the new NATO mission, is crucial to the success of these efforts.

 

But Mr. President, the country will not achieve peace through military efforts alone. President Ghani has called on all armed opponents of the government to enter political talks and play their part in building a strong and successful Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan is working to establish a wider inclusive political framework for lasting peace including a new outreach to the armed opposition and national reconciliation. This is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, but at the same time we recognize the important role of regional and neighboring countries, particularly the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in contributing to our efforts to end the conflict. President Ghani initiated serious efforts to further a political settlement during his recent visits to Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan and his meetings and conversations with the leaders of neighboring, regional and partner countries.

 

Mr. President,

 

Regional cooperation is not only key to peace and security but also to prosperity in Afghanistan and the wider region. In this connection, the government of Afghanistan is committed to deepening cooperation with its neighbors and regional partners. Last week President Ghani paid an historic visit to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where the leaders of the two countries opened a friendly, forward-looking dialogue and made concrete agreements related to improving bilateral economic, trade and investment relations. The visit generated an unprecedented surge of optimism and set the groundwork for long-term cooperation between the two nations.

 

In October, President Ghani conducted another historic state visit to the People’s Republic of China, where bold steps were taken towards increasing cooperation in economic development and stabilization efforts. The visit coincided with the annual Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference on 31 October, which reaffirmed commitments to strengthen regional security and cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan. We are grateful to the government of China for its leadership and for hosting the meeting and thank the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for hosting the next Ministerial Meeting of the Istanbul Process in 2015. The president of Afghanistan looks forward to furthering regional engagement by attending the upcoming South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit at the end of this month in Kathmandu.

 

Deepening regional cooperation will open the doors to a flourishing continental economy in the heart of Asia. Afghanistan has great potential to enhance the development and prosperity of the entire region by unlocking the country’s capacity to serve as a hub for connectivity and trade across Asia. This will entail key energy and power projects such as the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan– Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) and the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000) as well as the building of a wide regional transport network including railways and highways. All regional partners can play a role through working together and engaging chambers of commerce and business communities for a joint and coordinated action to turn potential into reality.

 

Mr. President,

 

As the new government focuses on a renewed regional cooperation, our long-term partnerships with the wider international community remain the backbone of our efforts for peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. The support of the international community has allowed us to build a new Afghanistan and will continue to be crucial in the transformation decade ahead. The President’s upcoming visit to the London conference and his upcoming visit to the United States will be an important step in furthering our mutual cooperation and partnership with the international community.

 

Mr. President,

 

The past 13 years have seen the international community’s unprecedented engagement in supporting the government of Afghanistan in its efforts to build peace and stability. While the goals set over a decade ago have not been fully realized, Afghanistan is determined to bring sustainable peace, security and prosperity to the country with the support of our international partners. The government of Afghanistan’s ambitious agenda of reform, the collaboration of all Afghan political forces, and the support of the Afghan people will enable us to put an end to the destructive narrative of toxic extremism and reach the beginning of an era of peace. In doing so, we will change the course of history in the heart of Asia, to the great benefit of our people, our neighbors, the wider region, and the international community.

 

Thank you.