Friday, July 3, 2015

Welcome Address: Roundtable on Afghan Narco-trafficking H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN East West Institute – New York

5 March 2015

–         Thank you Vice President David Firestein for your generous introduction, and thank you to East West Institute for organizing this important event and for providing a forum for cooperation on issues of common interest. I would like to welcome the distinguished diplomats, experts and colleagues here today to discuss an issue of profound importance to my country. I am pleased to see my Afghan colleagues who have travelled from far away to be here today.

–         The narcotics threat in Afghanistan is a result of decades of conflict, war and violence. It has both fueled and been fueled by the interrelated problems of crime, insecurity, terrorism, and corruption. Indeed, the Taliban tap into the narco-trafficking supply chain at each stage of the narcotics trade, with major consequences for the social, political, economic and security arenas in the country. It is a problem that seriously threatens Afghanistan’s stability and weakens the Afghan state.

–         The societal impact of drugs in Afghanistan is profound and painful. Drug dependency, particularly among the most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, has become a major challenge for us and has increasingly threatened the health and stability of our society and drained communities of economic and human resources.

–         At the same time it is crucial to note, as East West Institute’s Post-2014 Scenarios report points out, drug control is ultimately a global issue; drug production in Afghanistan would not continue without the persistent problems of trafficking and consumption.

The only way to truly address these issues is through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies to implement both drug-demand and drug-supply reduction measures.

–         The Joint US-Russia Working Group on Afghan Narco-trafficking is an important platform for the international community in general and the US, Russia, Afghanistan and countries in the region in particular to combat the narcotics and narco-trafficking threats in a comprehensive manner.

–         These discussions come at a most timely moment- my government, under the leadership of President Dr. Ashraf Ghani, has prioritized this issue as a crosscutting element of its reform agenda. The government has pledged to intensify efforts to control narcotic production and sale by adopting a broad approach targeting both the production base as well as the handling and refining of narcotics. As the President has noted, strict effective counter-narcotics measures will increase the costs of operating in the sector, with a particular focus on poppy-eradication and financial tracking.

In addition, the government will complement enforcement with programs that provide licit alternatives for rural livelihoods.

–         It is essential that we tackle the pernicious menace of narcotics and narco-trafficking in Afghanistan and the region in order for the county to achieve lasting stability, peace and development.  Moreover, noting that Afghan security is essential to regional and global stability, I would like to say that all our genuine cooperation on this issue, as well as our commitment to work constructively together to find solutions rather than point fingers, will contribute not only to a more stable country, but also a more peaceful and prosperous world.

–         Thank you very much for being here and again to East West Institute for leading this initiative. I would like to give the floor back to David. Thank you very much.

Intergovernmental negotiations on the on post-2015 development agenda

Statement at the Informal Meeting of the Plenary on the Process of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

BY

H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

18 February 2015

 

 

NEW YORK

 

Thank you Mr. Co-facilitator,

 

At the outset, I would like to align my statement to the statements delivered yesterday by South Africa on behalf of the group of 77 and China, Benin on behalf of the group of LDCs, and Zambia on behalf of the group of LLDCs.

 

Distinguished Co-facilitators,

 

I wish to make the following statement in my national capacity.

 

Firstly, I wish to commend you both as co-facilitators for preparing the “Elements Paper” as a basis for guiding our discussions on the declaration. The proposed framework in the paper is well-articulated and incorporates most of the major issues that we have all emphasized in one way or another in our discussions for the last 4 years in the context of the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

Co-facilitators,

As I continue to attentively listen to my colleagues’ statements, I notice we are all almost on the same page.  I also found it interesting that on the one hand, we all emphasize how this declaration should be visionary, ambitious, actionable, communicable and- most importantly- concise. On the other hand, however, this wish list is very long, which I believe makes your task to properly reflect and balance the draft very challenging.  This declaration is highly important as it reflects the essence of our common efforts to craft the Post-2015 Development Agenda for next 15 years.

On substance: considering the time constraints I would like to briefly highlight the following issues to be incorporated in the declaration:

–       The declaration should recognize the outcome of the major internationally agreed documents and should build on their progress;

–       The declaration should reiterate poverty eradication as our overarching goal while underscoring the reduction of social inequalities and bridging of gaps between the developing and developed countries as central to our success;

–       Also it should reiterate the view that the success of the Post-2015 Development Agenda relies on robust means of implementation and in this regard it should recognize the outcome of the 3rd FFD Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa;

–       The declaration should recognize the special development needs and challenges of countries in special situations such as LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS, Africa, as well as countries in conflict and post conflict situations, and it should highlight the relationship between peace and security and sustainable development;

–       The declaration should stress the integration of Vienna Program of Action for LLDCs and its six priority areas in the post 2015 development agenda, as well as the Istanbul Program of Action for LDCs;

–       The declaration should also emphasize the parallel progress of the three dimensions of sustainable development and it should strongly reflect the fact that no one should be left behind;

–       It should also respect the national priorities and policies of developing countries and it should mirror the concessional and preferential treatment of countries in special situations;

–       It should take note of the six elements of the Secretary-General’s synthesis report;

–       It should stress the importance of renewed global partnership;

–       And most importantly it should echo the political will for implementation of the post-2015 goals;

–       The declaration should endorse the SDGs report and its 17 goals and 169 targets;

–       The declaration should recognize the challenge of climate change and natural disasters. In this regard, the declaration should also recognize the importance of the outcomes of the Paris conference and the Sendai Conference accordingly;

–       The declaration should also reaffirm the common values including respect for all human rights, freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance and gender equality;

–       Last but not least the declaration should set up a comprehensive follow up and review mechanism to effectively monitor the progress of our commitments.

 

Co-facilitators,

To conclude, Afghanistan would like to reiterate its commitment to this negotiation process and its faith in you as Co-facilitators to lead us to a strong final text our leaders will be proud of in September.

I thank you.

 

United Nations’ Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

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

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important debate. I would also like to thank the representative of OCHA, ICRC and Ms. Ilwad Elman for their briefings.

The protection of civilians is a pressing priority for the Government of Afghanistan. The Afghan people have suffered for over 30 years as a result of war and conflict, and continue to suffer today; this past year was the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Taliban and other extremist armed groups are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. They directly target civilians with their brutal violent campaigns and utter disregard for human life. They carry out heinous acts of terror on mosques, markets, schools, homes and critical infrastructure and threaten communities by planting improvised explosive devises (IED’s) and launching suicide and complex attacks in public places. They target men, women, children, clergy, tribal elders, government officials, and justice sector employees alike.

 Let me be clear, attacks on civilians are a sign of weakness; they are not a sign of strength. They are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and breach the basic tenets of Islam.

 Mr. President,

The women of Afghanistan have borne the brunt of conflict for over 30 years of war. They have been the biggest victims of violence. This past year in Afghanistan was particularly deadly for women, with 12 percent more women killed and injured than the previous year. Women in Afghanistan, including women in public roles and girls seeking education, are often targeted for all forms of gender-based violence. Even when their lives are not directly at risk, women’s livelihoods are impacted by the negative consequences of violent conflict. When husbands, parents, siblings or guardians die or become handicapped, women are often left as the sole breadwinners in the family. Many lack access to paid work and financial resources, and this impedes their ability to provide for themselves and their families and makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Women displaced by conflict are also economically vulnerable and at heightened risk of exploitation and discrimination.

Mitigating the specific impact of conflict on women is a priority for the government of Afghanistan. In this regard, the government is implementing Security Council resolution 1325 and its subsequent resolutions through Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on 1325 for Women, Peace and Security, which was signed in October 2014 and Afghanistan’s National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). Moreover, the government recognizes the importance of women’s active participation in ending conflict, and is committed to ensuring that women’s voices are represented in peace, reconciliation and developments efforts in the country.

Mr. President,

 As armed extremists of Afghanistan launch increasing attacks on civilians around the country, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are engaged in large-scale counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts. It is tragic that Afghan civilians, including women and children, are caught in the crossfire of security operations. However, I would like to emphasize that the Afghan forces are doing their utmost to ensure that the safety of civilians is central to their campaigns and taking all necessary measures to prevent Afghan civilian loss of life. Thousands of Afghan security forces lost their lives fighting armed insurgents; their bravery and sacrifice is a testament to the government’s strong commitment to protect civilians and bring peace and security to the country. In addition, the government is pursing the vigorous implementation of our national counter-IED strategy and facilitating on-going training of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces to conduct counter-IED operations and disposal.

Unfortunately, a number of civilian casualties occur as a result of explosive remnants of war (ERWs). ERWs pose a serious threat to Afghan civilians, particularly children. Indeed, the majority of the casualties caused by ERW have been children. With the sharp rise in kinetic engagements in 2014 and the conclusion of the ISAF mission, the associated risk of ERW to civilian life is at the highest level.  In this regard, I would like to highlight the importance of robust efforts to fully support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to mark hazardous areas, ensure clearance of ERW from the battlefield and continue awareness raising programs that educate civilians -particularly children- of the deadly dangers of ERWs.

Mr. President,

The cycle of violence that has interrupted the lives of innocent Afghans for over thirty years must stop. To this end, my government is vigorously pursuing a reconciliation agenda with the armed opposition and engagement with countries in the region to move the process forward. With the support of the international community and our neighbors, peace and security can be realized in Afghanistan and all Afghan civilians can live with honor and dignity in a country free from violence.

 Thank you.