Monday, August 31, 2015

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN at the Security Council Debate

on the Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

I would like to first congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of this Council for the month of January, and thank you for convening this first debate of the New Year.

I would also like to thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your presence in the council and your remarks today, for your latest report on Afghanistan, and in particular for making Afghanistan one of your priorities and the personal attention you have dedicated to Afghanistan in the past months.  Further, especially in the face of the tragedy of 28 October 2009, I would like to thank the UN and all of its entities, including this august body, for the substantial and invaluable aid that has been extended to the Afghan people in the past decades.

In addition, as this is the last appearance of Mr. Eide in this Council in his capacity as SRSG, let me offer him here my own heartfelt thanks, and the sincere gratitude of the people and government of Afghanistan.  He has shown tremendous dedication to the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and displayed ingenuity and persistence under extremely challenging circumstances. He has pushed for a stronger UNAMA and for practical steps towards real progress in Afghanistan.  Perhaps most importantly, he has consistently, and most recently during the elections, worked for closer cooperation and better understanding between all parties in and out of Afghanistan. We thank him.

Mr. President,

With the conclusion of the Presidential elections, an important but difficult milestone, Afghanistan has reached a new beginning defined by a five-year mandate to bring Afghans closer to taking control of their own futures.  In his inaugural address, President Karzai outlined his plan to fulfill this mandate. He committed himself and his administration to peace, to the physical and economic security of the Afghan people, to national participation and reconciliation, to good governance, and to the fight against corruption.

Most importantly, we all share the same ultimate goal: to prepare and empower Afghans to take charge of their own destinies. In the next five years, the central goal of the Afghan government will be preparing for the transition to full Afghan rule by strengthening Afghanistan’s sovereignty and national ownership. We aim to consolidate national authority and improve the government’s capacity and institutions. We call upon the international community to ensure that every action taken in Afghanistan is in support of these efforts.

Mr. President,

The formation of a new Afghan government is an important first step in this new beginning. After the Parliament’s rejection of some of the Ministerial nominees, the President is preparing to introduce new candidates, and he has ordered Parliament to finalize their confirmations before they recess for the winter. We are eager to avoid any delay in the formation of the government and any vacuum of management that could be counterproductive for Afghanistan at such a delicate time.

Next, the Afghan government and the international community must look together at the challenges facing us and forge a compact that clearly identifies our strategies and responsibilities.  On 28 January, a conference will be held in London, chaired jointly by President Karzai, Prime Minister Brown, and the Secretary-General. This conference will be followed closely by a second in Kabul. The London conference will prepare a roadmap for future efforts that will be transformed into a detailed action plan in Kabul, possibly in March. In London, focus will be directed towards security and the Afghanization of security and defense, social and economic development, good governance, and international and regional cooperation.  For each of these areas, we will need to clearly define the respective roles of the Afghan government and the international community.

Mr. President,

Afghans are ready to take responsibility for securing our people and defending ourselves against our enemies. In three years’ time, the Afghan National Security Forces will assume responsibility for security and defense in conflict areas in the South and East of Afghanistan.  In five years, with the necessary training, equipment and long-term resources from the international community, we will assume full responsibility for security and defense across the entire country. The international forces will be able to transition simultaneously to a role focused on training and enabling local forces.

However, there is a general consensus that peace and stability in Afghanistan cannot be reached through purely military means.  As a result, the government of Afghanistan has always been, and remains, committed to reconciliation and the integration of former combatants into all levels of Afghanistan’s civilian and security structures. Afghanistan’s government has opened its doors to all Afghans willing to participate in the stabilization and reconstruction of their country, in line with the Afghan Constitution and with respect for human rights.

But while reconciliation is an Afghan-led effort, it cannot be achieved by the Afghan government alone.  Mr. President, we ask this Council to conduct a review of the Consolidated List established under Resolution 1267 with a view to the possibility for elements of the Taliban willing to renounce violence and join the peace process to be removed from the sanctions list upon request by the Afghan Government.

Mr. President,

Afghans continue to face crippling poverty and widespread unemployment, and their trust is wearing thin. Social and economic development and good governance remain important priorities for Afghanistan. However, it cannot sustain these efforts without the continued assistance of its international partners.  The London conference will be an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan and its international friends to coordinate their development and capacity-building efforts so that Afghanistan may eventually mobilize its resources, generate income and jobs for its people, and begin to support its institutions.

Mr. President,

As the Secretary-General concluded in his report, reinforced efforts toward coordination of donor aid and civilian and military strategies are vital for our efforts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan supports the central coordinating role of UNAMA, as mandated by this Council. We should discuss further what shape any additional mechanisms might take and how they would relate to the relevant actors. Crucially, any focus on coordination must strengthen Afghan institutions and encourage Afghan national ownership, rather than promoting parallel governance structures.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is fast approaching its Parliamentary elections, which will occur at the end of May as required by the Constitution.  We must ensure a credible process; in this, the lessons learned from last year’s elections will be important. We feel that any suggestion to postpone the elections ignores the Constitutional requirements and will damage the integrity of the process. Rule of law must be maintained, even as that law evolves to reflect lessons learned.

In conclusion, Mr. President,

A true partnership between Afghanistan and the international community is important for success in Afghanistan. This partnership will require realism – about timing, about resources, about abilities – and a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities. Most importantly, this partnership should be based on supporting and encouraging strong Afghan national ownership, particularly as we seek to transfer security and defense responsibilities. Afghanization, and the promotion of Afghan capacity and leadership, must be the ultimate aim of all of our activities and the central consideration during discussions going forward.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) High-Level Conference

Statement by Mr. Enayet Madani, Counsellor,
Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) High-Level Conference
Mr. President,
It is a matter of great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
in this important humanitarian High-level Conference in support of OCHA and CERF. My delegation believes that the Central Emergency Response Fund is playing a pivotal role in providing urgent humanitarian relief assistance to the most vulnerable people around the world. The CERF has proven to be an efficient component of the United Nations which allows calculated aid to reach the neediest populations when immediate action is required.

This year alone, CERF has played a critical role in supporting Afghanistan in demanding humanitarian situations. In response to drought and dramatically increased food prices, in March 2009, the amount of $ 1.5 million humanitarian relief assistance was provided to farmers through the support of initiatives by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Furthermore, the CERF provided $ 2.7 million humanitarian assistance to help Afghans survive the extreme winter through health and water-related relief efforts in February 2009.

Mr. President,
Afghanistan supports the Report of Secretary General on Central Emergency Response Fund and strongly convinced that the CERF has demonstrated as a valuable financing mechanism and remains a steady source of assistance when gaps in funds or unforeseen disaster occur.

We would like to commend the work CERF does under the wise and able leadership of Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr. John Holmes. We hope that pledges made recognize the unprecedented importance of this fund in supporting impoverished and vulnerable communities around the world.

My Government would like to make a symbolic contribution of Afs 75,000 to the CERF as a token of appreciation for the dedicated work of OCHA in Afghanistan. I would encourage all those member states, especially those that have benefited directly to the CERF, to also “give such to the CERF, however symbolically as a strong statement of support.
Thank you.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN

At the Security Council

Open debate

On the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of this Council for the month of November. I would also like to thank you for convening and chairing this meeting. In particular, I would like to thank Foreign Minister Spindelegger, for making this issue such a priority and for his presence here today. I would also like to thank His Excellency the Secretary-General and Under Secretary-General Mr. Holmes for their statements.

Mr. President,

This week Europe and America remember the ends of two World Wars, which were international conflicts conducted between states and empires. Since then, the nature of conflict has evolved. Where sixty years ago state actors were the central players in international war, today asymmetric warfare with non-state actors is increasingly common.

Now, children walk into markets with bombs strapped to their chests. Girls become targets just for trying to go to school. Aid workers are threatened specifically because they do so much good. The protection of civilians is an issue of growing importance for us all.

Mr. President,

The Geneva Conventions, signed sixty years ago, remain central to our understanding of our responsibilities in conflict, but in Afghanistan, our enemies do not respect even these most basic rules of war. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups show complete disregard for human life. More, they deliberately target anyone, civilian or military, who does not embrace their extremist philosophy. They target those with no conceivable military connection: teachers, healthcare workers, students on the way to school. It is estimated that more than five thousand people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2008 alone as a result of terrorist activity.

These groups cannot hope to defeat the world’s greatest armies with their military strength. Rather, their strength lies in their brutality and viciousness, which they use  to lend an atmosphere of control and inevitability to their fight. The Taliban will never be able to provide security, governance or development. Their goal is not to build an alternative state; their goal is to prevent any state from being built.

Mr. President,

Civilian casualties, in this fight, are both a human and a political tragedy.

The human tragedy is obvious.

From January to August 2009, UNAMA recorded 1500 civilians deaths in Afghanistan, an increase of 24% over the same period in 2008. 68% of these attacks can be attributed to the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. This percentage has been increasing steadily as the terrorists rely increasingly on bombs and indiscriminate attacks. And although the proportion of deaths attributed to the international and to some extent Afghan military forces has decreased over previous years, they still account for 23% of civilian deaths. 300 died as a result of airstrikes.

Mr. President,

The political cost is more subtle, though equally damaging.

The Taliban’s main tactic is to encourage the alienation of the international community from the Afghan people. The people of Afghanistan know from past experience exactly how brutal and repressive the Taliban are, and show consistent resistance to them.  However, they have higher expectations from the international community.

Afghans want to see their government and our international partners be their protectors. When we fail to protect and respect the Afghans, the Taliban and their allies use the people’s disappointed expectations to strain the partnerships that are so central to this fight, and damage our ability to earn the trust and engagement we need to succeed.

Mr. President,

Concern for the lives of civilians is therefore not only an important moral and humanitarian issue. It is also crucial to our political, military and economic goals in Afghanistan, and the region.

We should adopt a strategy that values the protection of people, respects their lives, rights and property, and enables positive and constructive interactions with local communities. We fully support the new NATO strategy which emphasizes the protection of civilians and introduces important follow-up mechanisms to ensure accountability. We appreciate the increased sensitivity that has been shown in response to concerns about the conduct of searches and arrests. And we support other strategic changes that have been proposed to improve the protection of civilians.

Further, we stress the need for increased emphasis on training the Afghan National Security Forces. Afghans are eager to take increasing responsibility for the security of their country and the protection of their people. Unfortunately, lack of capacity and resources continues to hobble our progress, and we hope to address this with the international community in the coming years.

Mr. President,

We appreciate the steadfast condemnation voiced by the Security Council in response to terrorist attacks across the world, and in particular your strong and unwavering support for UNAMA following the appalling attacks in Kabul on the 28th of October. Groups that deliberately target civilian populations should continue to be strongly condemned in these halls, and their unwillingness to obey even the most basic rules of combat should strip them of any legitimacy in our eyes.

Mr. President,

The blood of Afghans has been continuously spilled amidst thirty years of local, regional, and global power struggles. In 2001, we undertook to rebuild this shattered country and ensure that it could never again be used as a launch-pad for regional or international terror. As I mentioned Monday in the General Assembly, eight years ago we were debating how to build what did not exist; today we are debating how to take what we have built and make it better. This is a substantial achievement. Nevertheless, violence still threatens the lives of Afghan civilians. International military forces should take all necessary measures to ensure protection of civilians. And we have a shared responsibility to condemn with the utmost severity any attacks by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies that target civilians or result in civilian death. We must enforce the rules of war that bind us all, and make it clear to our enemies that targeting civilians will only alienate them further from the international community and from the populations they seek to control.

I thank you, Mr. President.