Friday, July 31, 2015

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity & Crisis

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Roundtable Discussion

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity & Crisis

22 Ju

NEW YORK

Ms. Miles, thank you for organizing this roundtable. I would like to thank Save the Children who has been a long partner in promoting children’s rights in Afghanistan and we are very grateful for their efforts. Also I would like to thank Save the Children, Center for American Progress and Saferworld for inviting the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations to co-host today’s roundtable discussion on Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Countries affected by Conflict, Insecurity and Crisis. I welcome all distinguished guests to this important discussion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This discussion is very timely since it coincides with inter-governmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda; hopefully by the end of this month we will have a final document to be endorsed by the Post-2015 Summit in September. The post 2015 development strategies are very important for those countries that are lagging behind in implementations of the Millennium Development goals. This agenda should build on the progress made so far and complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDGs are time bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in multiple dimensions– hunger, disease, and lack of adequate shelter– while promoting gender equality, universal education, and environmental sustainability. At the time of signing of the Millennium Declaration in September 2000, Afghanistan was in the midst of a bloody war. It signed the Millennium Declaration in March 2004, thereby making it a late-entrant to global development efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Afghanistan has faced conflict, foreign interventions, and threats from violent extremist and terrorist groups for decades; since 2001, the country has undergone tremendous changes. In the fourteen years that followed, the Government of Afghanistan, along with its international partners, including NGOs like the ones organizing this roundtable discussion, have made tremendous strides in post-war reconstruction, infrastructure development, and progress across development indicators like education, healthcare, and livelihood. Despite challenges faced from the continuing violent campaign by the Taliban, foreign fighters, and other extremist groups, who have increasingly carried out numerous attacks against the Afghan people as well as critical infrastructure and development projects, one that we witnessed today in northern Afghanistan that led to the killing and injuring of many Afghans, thereby creating an impediment to development and stability, the Government of Afghanistan has not only dealt with these security threats but strengthened the path for development goals to be implemented. Thus Afghanistan’s development process is intrinsically related to its security situation, and faced with numerous complexities our goal is not just to implement the MDGs but transform the country and create a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, one where Afghans can live without the fear of death and destruction while having access to basic necessities like food, clean water, and education.

As a result of the tireless efforts of the Government of Afghanistan in cooperation with our international partners, human development indices across the board have shown improvement—more women have access to pre-natal care, life expectancy has increased, child mortality and malnourishment rates are going down, education for both male and female students have gone up significantly, more people are food secure and have access to clean drinking water and sanitation. However despite the successes, the challenges persist; endemic poverty continues to plague many in Afghanistan, the country still has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality despite the gains in healthcare, and enrolling and preventing drop outs, especially for girl students remains an issue– which is further complicated by worsening security situation in some parts of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015 is a crucial year for my country since Afghanistan is embarking on its transformation decade which would be vital for achieving not only the post-2015 development goals and targets but deal with security challenges to stabilize the country and maintain and improve on existing achievements. Once the post 2015 development goals and targets are adopted, Afghanistan will align its National Priority Programs and National Development Strategy to implement the post 2015 Development agenda. In addition to the Post-2015 Development agenda, the Government of Afghanistan has reaffirmed its commitment to development and build a better future for the country through the Self-Reliance strategy adopted at the London Conference in 2014 which reiterates the Government’s intentions to ensure peace, stability and security in the country; enhance productivity, growth and revenues; improve the welfare and well-being of the people by proving better opportunities, good governance and respect for human rights; and to deepen democracy by taking up electoral reforms, institutional restructuring, and organizing periodic elections.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is also a part of the ongoing collective effort of all nations in achieving sustainable development goals that can guide our efforts for lasting change, not only in Afghanistan but in other conflict affected countries. While reiterating our full support for goal 16 of SDGs which talks about promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, we call on the support of international partners for providing means of implementation for this goal, which is especially important in countries affected by conflict, like Afghanistan. Considering the progress made by the country despite the complexities and challenges, I would like to emphasize the violent destructive campaign of the enemies of Afghanistan will not deter the country from its difficult but determined journey to ensure security and development for its people, as well as protect the environment, vulnerable groups, and promote human rights and good governance.

Thank you.

 

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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

22 June 2015

NEW YORK

Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Malaysia for its leadership of the Council this month, and for organising this important debate. I would also like to thank Mr. Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, for his statement and the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan.

 

Madam President,

 

As we gather today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country has reached a critical moment in its history. The armed enemies of the country have embarked on a new offensive against the Afghan government and its people following the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s combat mission and the transfer of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). Today, the enemies of Afghanistan conducted a heinous attack against the Afghan Parliament in Kabul, wounding dozens of civilians, including children. We strongly condemn this deliberate attack against democracy and the representatives of the people.

 

This new wave of fighting is compounded by an unprecedented convergence of extremist and international terrorist networks on our soil, comprised of Taliban, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremist groups like ISIS. These groups not only target Afghan forces and civilians with suicide bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hostage takings and assassinations, they also seek to take control of districts and even provinces to use as bases for their agendas in Afghanistan and the wider region in South and Central Asia.

 

Afghan security forces have responded to these tremendous challenges with bravery, strength, and determination. In the past months, they have thwarted many attempts to control territory, eliminated thousands of enemy fighters, and foiled plots designed to kill, shock and terrorize the people of Afghanistan. For the first time, Afghan forces have moved from a defensive to an offensive position and have shown more capability, potential and resilience than ever before. They have proved their capacity to protect the security and safety of the Afghan people, and to prevent the enemies of Afghanistan from sending the country down a spiral of chaos and disorder.

 

Madam President,

 

Security is a pressing national priority and is essential to the agenda of H.E. President Ashraf Ghani as Commander in Chief. Our efforts to defend the country do not only serve the interests of the Afghan people; we are fighting on behalf of every one of our neighbours to uphold the safety and security of our greater region. As the national unity government pursues this agenda, we are grateful for the continued support of our international partners and their commitment to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. In the face of the great challenges before us, continued support to Afghan forces including air support and other necessary assistance will remain essential.

 

Madam President,

 

While our counter terrorism and military efforts are fundamental to the security of the country, it is clear that lasting peace requires a political solution. To this end, the national unity government has prioritized the reinvigoration of the peace process. Recent engagements between representatives of the High Peace Council, Afghan civil society including women, and the Taliban have promoted dialogue and mutual understanding and generated momentum towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-managed peace process.

 

The role of our neighbours is crucial to our efforts to secure peace. In this regard, the government of Afghanistan has taken bold steps to open a new page in our relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the last 14 years, an undeclared state of war between our two countries impacted our national security and the security of the wider region. A new dialogue between our two brotherly nations will allow us to move past this history and work together for peace and stability. We highlight the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Kabul as a positive step, and expect that Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability extends to ending sanctuaries and compelling the Taliban to stop their violent campaigns.

 

Madam President,

 

Following last year’s historic elections, the national unity government is dedicated to advancing its agenda for political, economic and social reform. President Ghani has appointed all ministers, and continues to appoint governors and other senior leadership positions within the government. Every Ministry has embarked upon a public 100-day action plan, designed to achieve national objectives as defined by the government’s Realizing Self Reliance agenda.

 

The principles of merit, transparency and accountability lie at the centre of all new appointments and the government’s work. From tackling the Kabul Bank case as one of the administration’s first acts, to establishing a national procurement board – chaired by the President himself – to review every single government contract, the national unity government is committed to combating corruption, ending impunity and strengthening rule of law. A culture of accountability has emerged across the country as a result of our commitment to ensure the establishment of a clean, functioning and effective government.

 

The government’s dedication to accountability encompasses a greater focus on the transparent and effective use of international aid and assistance. Afghanistan is tremendously grateful for the contributions of our international partners that have allowed us to rebuild our country. At the same time, it is clear that development cooperation should evolve so that aid plays a facilitating and enabling role countrywide. We look forward to in-depth discussions on aid efficiency at the upcoming Senior Officials Meeting of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. The government has also requested presentations from major donors, international financial institutions and the United Nations on their development portfolios, and is actively engaged in the upcoming examination of the role, structure and activities of all United Nations entities in Afghanistan as mandated by this noble council.

 

The agenda for reform and transformation is guided by a strong commitment to advance the rights of all Afghan people, particularly the rights of women. There are now four female cabinet ministers, one female governor, and President Ghani has pledged to appoint more women in senior government positions including ambassadorial posts. Last week, President Ghani introduced Afghanistan’s first female Supreme Court nominee. This sets an important precedent, and shows that the government’s commitment to increasing women’s participation is not merely symbolic but part of a systematic policy to include women at the highest levels of decision-making. The national unity government is working closely with our international partners to protect and promote the rights of all Afghan citizens. Last week, the Afghanistan-European Union Human Rights Dialogue was launched in Kabul to provide a forum in which to discuss, coordinate and synergize a full range of human rights issues.

 

The national unity government is also focused on fulfilling its commitment to conduct comprehensive electoral reforms. To this end, in March the government established a Special Commission on Electoral Reform, which includes representatives of civil society and the United Nations, and this month the government announced plans to finalize the election calendar in one month’s time.

 

Madam President,

 

Afghanistan continues to strengthen cooperation with all our neighbours and countries in the region as part of a broader framework for regional cooperation. In the last three months, President Ghani has engaged the leadership of Iran, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and Afghan senior officials have participated at key regional meetings including of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process and other orums. Afghanistan has also signed the draft Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement, and the final pending documents for the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000), which will strengthen Afghanistan’s potential to become the capital of the continental economy, a hub in the Heart of Asia. We look forward to the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in September, which will be an important step towards ensuring further cooperation and connectivity in the region.

 

Madam President,

 

Our international partnerships remain vital to Afghanistan’s long-term development and prosperity. The historic visit of the Afghan High-Level delegation led by President Ghani to the United States in March reaffirmed our commitment to the US-Afghan strategic partnership. During the visit, President Ghani addressed the American people and Congress and held enormously productive discussions with President Obama and the leadership of the United States. Together they announced a New Development Partnership, which will focus up to $800 million in economic assistance for Afghan development and reform priorities. President Ghani concluded his visit in New York, where he underlined the importance of the United Nations-Afghan partnership in meetings with H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leadership of the United Nations.

 

Madam President,

 

At a time when new conflicts and wars plague the world and divert our attention and resources, the continuing cooperation and support of the international community is crucial to Afghanistan’s future. While Afghanistan faces great challenges, the country is steadily realizing the goals of the transformation decade and moving towards a brighter future. As we do so, we know that our on-going partnerships and the support of the international community will be essential to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, the region, and the world.

 

Thank you Madam President.

 

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

“What’s New in the Field of Humanitarian De-mining?”

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,

 

At the outset, I’d like to thank the United Nations Mine Action Service for their organization of today’s event and we are pleased to co-chair this event with the Permanent Mission of Poland.  I am pleased to be here on this panel today with my distinguished colleagues, H.E. Boguslaw Winid, H.E. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, eeand Director Agnes Marcaillou.    I am grateful for their commitment to eliminating mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).  The elimination of thousands of mines in my country has only been possible with the support of donor countries such as those that my fellow panelists represent, as well as the commendable work of the Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) and its 50 national and international entities including NGOs, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, and the Government’s Department of Mine Clearance.

 

My country was mined heavily during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, as well as in the subsequent civil wars of the 1990s, and still today by the Taliban and other illegal armed groups.  Mines have been used strategically to protect supply routes, airfields, frontlines, and military posts.  They have been used to terrify communities and innocent civilians. After three decades of conflict in Afghanistan, tragically, over one million people have lost their lives or have been disabled as a result of landmines.  Afghanistan is today the most landmine and ERW impacted country in the world. Approximately half a million Afghan civilians live within 500 meters of landmine contaminated areas. Since the commencement of MAPA, 80 percent of mine contamination has been addressed. However, 4,266 minefields and battlefields in thousands of villages still need to be cleared.

 

The consequence of landmine and ERW contamination extends beyond the humanitarian space and impedes progress in economics and agriculture as well. Mines and ERWs obstruct access to basic services, facilities and infrastructure.  They render land impossible to use for schools, crops, and other productive activities. The country is still littered with hazardous explosive devices, meaning that even in areas where conflict has ceased, civilians risk death or injury from landmines, ERWs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In December of 2012, Afghanistan submitted a request to the States Parties of the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty to extend the deadline by which all antipersonnel mines would be removed from Afghan territory, by ten years.  As part of the extension request, Afghanistan submitted a 10 year work plan which will bring mine free status to the country by 2023.

 

The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices is another big threat to the lives of civilians. Indiscriminate use of IEDs is a common tactic among the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In 2014 alone, approximately 3,000 civilians were victims of injuries caused by IEDs in Afghanistan.

 

As we approach the year 2023, together with our partners, Afghanistan is confident we will see a mine free nation. This will be a monumental achievement for our country, a result of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of Afghan de-miners who risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure security for their fellow citizens. This past Saturday, 12 de-miners working for HALO trust, a partner of MAPA, were kidnapped from Logar province. On Monday, all but six were safely freed. We must continue working to ensure the safety and security for these brave men and women.

 

As we strive for the day when Afghanistan is completely mine free, the continuing support of the international community along with UNMAS, will ensure de-mining activities are conducted safely, efficiently, and effectively. With the end of the transition period and the beginning of the transformation decade, defined by national ownership and leadership, we are entering into a new phase of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, including the UN. Now, the Government of Afghanistan is engaged in a comprehensive reexamination of the role and activities of all UN entities in our country aimed at strengthening our collaboration and partnerships with the UN. This process will allow the government of Afghanistan to assume its central coordination role in development and humanitarian activities, including de-mining.  We look forward to continuing our close work with UNMAS and other organizations involved in mine clearance. For the success of our de-mining efforts, we call on the international community to continue financial assistance. We also, appreciate the support of member states for the General Assembly Resolution on Assistance in Mine Action, of which we are a co-sponsor. Together, we all seek the noble objective of an Afghanistan free of mines and explosive remnants of war, where our people will live without fear of these senseless weapons.

 

Thank you.