Monday, May 25, 2015

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations High Level General Assembly Thematic Debate in Support of the Process Towards the 2016 Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem

Thank you very much. It is a great honor to speak at this High-Level General Assembly Thematic Debate and to speak alongside such distinguished panelists.

 

It is difficult to overstate the threat of drugs in Afghanistan. Fueled by almost 40 years of instability, war, conflict and violence, the drug problem is only exacerbated today by the interrelated challenges of terrorism, armed activities, criminality, insecurity, corruption, and poverty. The scourge of illicit drugs in Afghanistan impoverishes thousands of farmers who become indebted to drug traffickers, moneylenders and criminals. It ruins lives and livelihoods of more than 1.5 million young men and women who become addicts and destroys the communities around them. Unless we eradicate the cultivation, production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs in our country, our hard-fought efforts for the consolidation of peace, security and development will be in vain.

 

In 2003, Afghanistan established its counter-narcotics strategy, which aimed to stop cultivation and production, disrupt the drug trade by targeting traffickers and their backers, strengthen rural livelihoods and reduce the demand for illicit drugs. It was embedded in the framework of our national development strategy and related to efforts to strengthen governance and rule of law. Afghanistan benefited in this endeavor from the strong support of the United States, the United Kingdom, UNODC and other international partners.

 

We have achieved major successes since the strategy was established 12 years ago. The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministry of Interior have established alternative livelihood programmes focusing on areas as diverse as cotton and saffron farming, handicrafts, land stabilization and watershed development. Law enforcement authorities are conducting ever-increasing numbers of operations with larger amounts of drugs seized and high-value targets arrested, prosecuted and convicted. The number of provinces engaged in drug production has declined dramatically.

 

Despite these achievements, last year Afghanistan saw an increase in the consumption and production of illicit drugs, concentrate mainly in four south-west provinces with high security challenges. The increase coincides with the completion of the transition process, the end of the international combat mission and the assumption of full responsibility of Afghan national security forces. As Afghanistan arrives at a new beginning, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups have renewed their brutal campaigns to disrupt the stability and security of the country. The nexus of terrorism and criminality, funded by the narcotics industry, has emboldened extremists to strengthen their violent campaigns. Now groups like ISIS are aiming to control the counter-narcotics market in order to gain a foothold in Afghanistan and to finance their borderless, brutal campaigns.

 

The government of Afghanistan has prioritized its counter-narcotics efforts as a crosscutting element of its reform agenda. From his first days in office, President Ashraf Ghani pledged to implement strict effective counter-narcotics measures that will increase the costs of operating in the sector, with a particular focus on poppy-eradication and financial tracking. In addition, the government of Afghanistan will complement enforcement with programs that provide licit alternatives for rural livelihoods. The President’s commitment to fighting corruption and strengthening rule of law are essential to these efforts.

 

Our counter narcotics efforts are not limited to addressing production, cultivation and trafficking inside Afghanistan. Regional and international cooperation are essential to the fight against narcotics, particularly at a time when narco-trafficking is more pernicious, sophisticated and widespread than ever before. To this end, the government of Afghanistan’s emphasis on regional cooperation and connectivity is paramount to Afghanistan’s, the region’s and the international community’s efforts to mitigate the interrelated challenges of terrorism, criminality, extremism and illicit drugs.

 

Finally, eliminating the threat of drugs requires genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies to implement both drug-supply reduction, and crucially, drug-demand measures. We will only be successful if we focus on all three ends of the drug industry: production, trafficking and consumption. With the continued support of the international community on this issue, I firmly believe that we can continue to work constructively together to make tangible gains that make Afghanistan, the region and the world safer, more peaceful and more prosperous.

 

Thank you.

 

Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security

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

 

Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Jordan for convening this important debate, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura and Ms. Hamsatu Allamin for their briefings this morning, and the Secretary-General for his recent report on conflict-related sexual violence.

 

Madam President,

 

Today we have heard in depth about the horrific prevalence of sexual violence in conflict all over the world. Ms. Allamin and others’ heart wrenching accounts have demonstrated the crippling effect of sexual violence on women’s ability to lead healthy and productive lives, on their psychological, emotional and physical well-being, and on their families and communities. It is alarming, as the Secretary-General noted in his report, that violence against women has become a systematic pattern in conflict zones, and to see the suffering of women everywhere multiplied by the unprecedented increase in violence and a new wave extremism around the world.

 

In Afghanistan, almost 40 years of war, terrorism and violent extremism created deep fissures in the very fabric of our society, shredded human relationships, restricted access to services and justice, and undermined the state’s capacity to protect its citizens. Women have been the biggest victims of the conflict, and their suffering has been compounded by a culture of discrimination against women. Today, the Taliban and other extremists continue to use sexual violence as a tool not only to pursue their destructive ends and their campaign of terror and fear but also to weaken communities, the rule of law and long-established traditional values.

 

Madam President,

 

We recognize the need to hold all perpetrators of violence against women to account no matter where they come from or with what group they are affiliated. A few weeks ago my country was appalled to see young men commit egregious violence against an innocent woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten and then burned in one of the most brutal and inhuman killings in our history. Farkhunda’s name has become a powerful symbol of the plight of the Afghan women, and her story has moved the whole society to demand an end to violence against women once and for all.

 

The national unity government of Afghanistan is committed to ensuring the elimination of violence against women by strengthening our justice system and reinforcing and implementing legal frameworks that guarantee human, religious and constitutional rights for all Afghan citizens. As President Ashraf Ghani, has said, “There is no point talking about how much we respect women’s honor if we let rape go unpunished or allow harassment in our streets.”

 

Afghanistan is party to global conventions to end violence against women and has launched a Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan. Since 2009, the government has worked to implement the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law, which criminalizes 22 types of violence against women and establishes specific punitive measures for perpetrators. The government of Afghanistan has also drafted national regulation on the prevention of sexual harassment and in November 2014 launched the first-ever gender-based violence treatment protocol for the health sector in Afghanistan.

 

These steps are important, but ultimately combating sexual violence in Afghanistan requires a paradigm shift in the way that our society treats women. In this regard, President Ghani has called for a mental and cultural revolution across Afghan society. This requires women to play an active role in the social, economic and political life of the country, as well as commitments to educate Afghan girls. Civil society, particularly Ulema and human rights and women’s rights activists, are central to efforts to raise awareness of women’s rights and to build a foundation of collective action against the evils of violence, terror and extremism.

 

Madam President,

 

This debate today compels us not only to bear witness to the societies that suffer from violence and conflict, and to the women who have survived the horrors of sexual violence, it compels us to work together, as an international community representing the conscience of the world to ensure that even when the flames of war are still burning, women and men and all citizens can live in dignity and peace.

 

Thank you.

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

Thank you Mr. President.

 

I would like to thank France for its leadership of the Council this month and for convening this debate. I would also like to thank my esteemed friend Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for his remarks, and the Secretary-General for his report on the Situation in Afghanistan. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Ambassador Oyarzun and his team at the Permanent Mission of Spain for their hard work facilitating the resolution on UNAMA’s mandate and for their dedication as Afghanistan’s penholders on the Security Council.

 

Mr. President,

 

When the Security Council established UNAMA in 2002 to assist the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the country, Afghanistan was in a fundamentally different situation than it is in today. At that time, the state was unable to function. The government could barely provide services to the Afghan people. The country was almost bankrupt. Its national and international legitimacy had been eroded. Its institutions and its civil society were almost completely destroyed. Millions of Afghans had fled the country, and Afghanistan had lost most of its human capital.

 

The United Nations was instrumental to efforts to establish the Afghanistan we know today. From forging the Bonn agreement in 2001 in the aftermath of the Taliban regime, to coordinating international civilian assistance over the last ten years, to supporting presidential and parliamentary elections, the United Nations has supported Afghanistan’s move from a prolonged period of internecine fighting and bloody civil wars to a new era of democracy and national unity.

 

As a result of our joint efforts, we have created new institutions and critical infrastructure, made unprecedented economic progress, built a capable and well-trained army and seen the flag of Afghanistan rise in the most remote parts of the country. Millions of refugees have returned home and a new generation of educated Afghans has emerged to lead Afghanistan towards a brighter future.

 

This last year, in particular, has seen tremendous progress and change. Afghanistan has completed its political and security transition in line with the goals set out at the Kabul, Bonn and Tokyo conferences and is embarking upon the transformation decade. This summer, millions of Afghan women and men cast their votes in historic presidential elections, which marked the first ever transition from one democratically elected President to another. At the end of last year, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s mission ended and a new NATO mission, Operation Resolute Support, was established to provide training, advice and assistance to Afghanistan’s National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). The ANDSF are now fully responsible for the security of the country.

 

Mr. President,

 

As we welcome the renewal of the mandate of UNAMA, it is important to note that today’s Afghanistan is not comparable with the Afghanistan that UNAMA was established to support in 2002. It is even different from the situation upon which last year’s mandate extension was based.

 

Afghanistan is gearing up to become a full partner to the community of democratic nations, and as it does so, it is essential that the United Nations’ support to Afghanistan is consistent with the new realities on the ground and the goals of the transformation decade. It must fully reflect the principles of Afghan national sovereignty, national leadership and national ownership, the successful completion of the transition process, and the initiation of the transformation decade; it must align precisely with the government’s national priorities; it must be effective, accountable and coherent; and it must reflect the fact that the government of Afghanistan is ready to fully assume the leading, managing and coordinating role of all assistance and development programs, as well as the international community’s efforts, in Afghanistan.

 

To this end, we welcome the Security Council’s request “that the Secretary-General initiate a process to conduct within six months of the renewal of this mandate, a full examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan, in full consultation and engagement with the Government of Afghanistan and key stakeholders, including the donor community, in light of the completion of transition and the beginning of the Transformation Decade and in accordance with the principles of Afghan national sovereignty, national leadership and national ownership.”

 

While an initial review of the role and activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan took place at the request of the government of Afghanistan in 2011, the process put forward in today’s resolution will allow us to fully engage all stakeholders over the next six months through a new, thorough, and extensive mechanism which will refine the framework of our partnership and our relations with the United Nations in a new era.

 

Mr. President,

 

The government of Afghanistan is determined to do its part to build an Afghanistan that is ready to stand on its own feet, take full responsibility of its own affairs and assume its rightful place as a full and equal partner of the international community. To realize this vision, President Ashraf Ghani devised an agenda for reform entitled “Realizing Self-Reliance” that was presented to the international community in London in December 2014. At the core of this agenda is a compact of stability and prosperity at the national, regional and international levels.

 

Mr. President,

 

At the national level, the government of Afghanistan is committed to enhancing our focus on the well-being of the citizen through concrete commitments including eliminating corruption, tackling poverty, strengthening good governance and rule of law, promoting human rights including women’s rights, and restoring fiscal stability and economic growth.

 

At the regional level, the government of Afghanistan has embarked upon a new phase of engagement with our neighbors, the wider region, and the Islamic world based on trust, cooperation and shared interests. Increased cooperation is essential not only to achieving lasting peace and stability in the country and the region, but also to enabling Afghanistan to become a hub for regional trade and integration and a land-bridge of prosperity for all. To this end, the leadership of the country has engaged in a series of consultations and dialogues with neighbors and countries in the region to develop new, and to deepen existing, trade, transit and energy links and enhance cooperation and confidence building measures.

 

At the international level, the new government has reinvigorated its international partnerships, as evidenced by the early signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States and the Enduring Partnership Agreement with NATO. The upcoming visit of the high-level delegation of Afghanistan, led by H.E. President Ashraf Ghani, to the United States offers an important opportunity to deepen these commitments. In addition, the government has set a new tone in its dialogue with the international community including by expanding its partnerships with many countries that have supported Afghanistan in the last decade. These renewed commitments are votes of confidence in a peaceful, stable Afghanistan and in the belief that peace and security in Afghanistan is essential to regional and global stability.

 

Mr. President,

 

Lasting peace and security is critical to building a prosperous and stable Afghanistan and to ending the vicious cycle of fragility in the country. This is particularly true at a time when violence affects increasing numbers of civilians and when the crippling triple threat of terrorism, extremism, and criminality threatens to undermine the future of the Afghan people and the wider region. This is why the peace and reconciliation process is the first priority of the government of Afghanistan. Afghans from all walks of life are united in their urgent call for peace, and their active involvement is crucial to the success of the reconciliation process. As President Ashraf Ghani has said, “the peace process is not a monopoly of the government; all our nation should take part in it.” It is time for those still engaged in fighting to heed the widespread call for peace, and to play their part in building the country’s future.

 

We welcome the new phase of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan towards the shared goal of peace and reconciliation. It is essential to the success of the peace process and heralds a new era of relations between our two brother nations. We also welcome the support of all our partners, particularly in the region and the Islamic world, and would like to express our appreciation to the People’s Republic of China for its help facilitating the peace process.

 

Mr. President,

 

The renewal of UNAMA’s mandate is a testament to the continuing partnership between Afghanistan, the United Nations and the international community and this Council’s call for an examination of the United Nations’ mandate sends a clear message of dedication to long-term, effective support to Afghanistan. All of our collective efforts over the last 13 years, the blood spilled and lives lost, have been aimed at enabling Afghanistan to become a full member of the international community as a stable, peaceful, and democratic country. The time for Afghanistan to take full responsibility as a sovereign nation has come, and with the support of the international community, now and in the future, we can achieve this critical goal. Thank you.