Sunday, August 2, 2015

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.

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

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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.