Friday, October 31, 2014

Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
At the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement
April 29, 2009
Havana, Cuba

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Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation would like to thank the Republic of Cuba for its leadership of Non-Aligned Movement since September 2006, and express our appreciation for their warm hospitality in this colorful city of Havana. We trust that under your leadership, this meeting will prove a success, and we will be well prepared for the upcoming Fifteen Summit in Egypt in July 2009.

Mr. Chairman,
The world has changed significantly since April 1955, when Afghanistan joined 24 of our brother countries in founding this Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Today, the Cold War has ended and there is a new global order: we no longer see through a bipolar prism, we see through a multi-polar one. And inter-state war has become overshadowed by terrorist attacks by state and non-state actors.

However, NAM’s founding principles are as relevant today as they have ever been. In 1983, at our movement’s seventh summit, we described ourselves as “history’s biggest peace movement.” Today the call of peace has great resonance against the violence of terrorism and the conflicts that still plague our world. Other founding principles of NAM – respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and the recognition of the equality of nations- are important, too, in addressing today’s challenges of our evolving political and economic world order.
Thus our meeting today is important. Today our discussion centers on how NAM’s voice can be most effective in answering the many challenges we face.

Mr. Chairman,
My country offers a unique perspective to this discussion. As a land-locked, least-developed country that is still a victim of terrorism, Afghanistan is deeply concerned with the challenges we face with many of our Southern brothers.
We join with you in remaining committed to a just solution for the suffering of the people of Palestine, the creation of two states and a harmonious Middle East. Afghanistan once again urges the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Road Map. We are hopeful for a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear program in our brother country of the Islamic Republic of Iran. My delegation also is encouraged by the increasing stability in Iraq and we congratulate our Iraqi brothers and sisters on coming together to forge a more stable and peaceful situation.

In addition, Afghanistan sees the necessity and potential of North-South collaboration, as well as cooperation between countries in the South, because we have an active and crucial partnership with the international community and with our regional neighbors.
Perhaps most importantly, Afghanistan can offer a unique perspective because our key challenges today are also the two key challenges that all NAM countries face, and which we should work to address.

Mr. Chairman,
The two main crises today are that of terrorism and an economic depression. These crises are related.
Terrorism is Afghanistan’s primary concern and the world’s primary challenge. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies find their sanctuaries in the area bordering our country. We feel first-hand the costs of terrorism: the death of thousands of our innocent citizens, the burnings and destruction of schools, health clinics, hospitals, and roads.
But terrorism has a global reach. From New York to London, from Mumbai to Madrid, and from Kabul to Karachi, terrorist attacks have cast their shadows on both the North and South.

The second main crisis is that of the global financial collapse which exacerbates the already severe crises of energy, environment and food that particularly threaten the developing countries of the South. Already poor countries threaten to become even more mired in poverty. Afghans have felt this firsthand, as the rising wheat prices created the threat of a deadly food shortage this past winter. Thus, this financial crisis deepens the great gulf that already exists between the wealth of rich countries and the poverty of struggling nations.
My country also offers a clear example of the political implications of this divide. Poverty breeds desperation. Thus, weak states breed terrorists, organized crime and dangerous extremist elements that threaten the safety and wealth of rich countries. Again, both the North and South are affected.

Mr. Chairman,
Afghanistan is on the front lines of these two key challenges, and today I would like to underline the importance of cooperation in our work for physical and economic security.

Afghans have seen how regional and international assistance is imperative to fighting our war on terror and providing stable economic futures for our citizens. Our greatest steps forward: the constitution, the elections, combating narcotics, improvements in the Afghan National Army, infrastructure, education and health, were ones we took together with international and regional partners. International cooperation has enabled Afghanistan to establish representative political institutions, encourage free media, the paving of roads, and the building of thousands of schools, clinics, and hospitals around the country. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections will prove an important test of this progress. We look for the support of the international community in our commitment to ensuring credible and transparent elections.
Because we have seen the fruits of cooperation with our own eyes, we stress that the global threats of terrorism and economic insecurity are challenges that can be met effectively only with cooperation: South with South, North with South, North with North.

Mr. Chairman,
Cooperation can best be accomplished through improving the operations of international and regional institutions, supporting international and regional cooperation, and increasing the effectiveness of international and regional efforts in the recipient countries.

First, to improve the operations of existing international and regional operations, Afghanistan is fully committed to NAM’s stated goal of improving the United Nations’ responsiveness and effectiveness. In chairing the intergovernmental negotiations on UN Security Council reform on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, I have the honor to see the dedicated work our countries are making to forward comprehensive, transparent, and balanced reform. I am making every effort to ensure that the reform continues in this spirit, and am hopeful for the prospects of this reform, as well as the processes focused on the revitalization of the GA and on system-wide coherence.
Afghanistan also fully supports the UN Secretary General’s call for a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) review conference in 2010. We commend the work of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development on the Implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus last December, and look forward to the High-Level Meeting planned for June. This conference reminds us of the need to maintain aid commitments despite global uncertainty. Afghanistan also supports the conference’s agreement to strengthen ECOSOC as a principal body for promotion of international economic cooperation, coordination, policy review and policy dialogue.

Second, Afghanistan is dedicated to finding more opportunities for international and regional cooperation as well as supporting the existing cooperative institutions such as ECO and SAARC. With our immediate neighbors, Afghanistan continues to work bilaterally and trilaterally to promote stability, security and strengthen economic cooperation. We are committed to working through the trilateral mechanisms including Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States, Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey and Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran. We are also looking forward to the Presidential-level meeting of the trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States contact group that is planned for May in Washington. The third regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan will be held in Islamabad soon. We hope such forms of cooperation will lead to concrete actions to ending the terrorist sanctuaries and addressing the increasing activities of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
Third, Afghanistan encourages the ongoing international efforts to find more areas of cooperation and coordination in the recipient countries themselves. With fewer economic resources, we must be smarter about how we use these resources. Afghanistan is thankful for the Paris conference last June, the recent Hague Conference, and the SCO meeting in Moscow in March-all conferences that have emphasized exactly this need for more consistent and effective delivery of aid.

Mr. Chairman,
The struggle for economic and political security in Afghanistan also shows the potential of a world that has met these challenges. A safe and secure Afghanistan will be able to offer innumerable benefits for the region and the world. Afghanistan can, and should, play a crucial role as a land bridge and economic hub for the region, a role that has historically placed us at the centre of Eurasian trade routes. Let this potential be one example of the light we work towards today.

Mr. Chairman,
Our discussion should recognize that NAM has an important voice in today’s world. Our founding principles of NAM are just as important today; these principles must stand strong against the main challenges of terrorism and economic instability.
But we stand strongest when we stand together. Afghanistan expresses its gratitude to the commitment of all our international partners, including the NAM member countries, to aiding in our efforts and success in building a secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. In turn, Afghanistan is fully committed to work together as a part of NAM to forward a more peaceful, secure world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Debate of the Security Council On Children in Armed Conflict

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
To the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On Children in Armed Conflict
April 29, 2009
Delivered by : Mr. Mohammad Erfani Ayoob,
Minister Counselor , Charge d’Affaires,ai

HE Amb. Zahir Tanin, PR of Afghanistan to the UN is in Havana to lead the Afghan delegation to the NAM Ministerial meeting. On his behalf and on behalf of the delegation of Afghanistan I have the honor to participate and deliver this statement on the subject under consideration by SC which is highly important for my country.
Madam President,

Please accept our congratulations, Madam President, for your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for this month. We thank you for convening today’s important debate to discuss the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict and for your chairing of the Working Group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. Your Excellency’s presence here today reflects the level of the commitment and effectiveness of your delegation on this issue.
We would also like to thank Mrs. Radikha Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General, for her insightful briefing this morning, commend the Department of Children and Armed Conflict for its continuing efforts to protect children affected by armed conflict and welcome the recent establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.

My delegation welcomes this report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict. In November 2008, the Secretary General’s country-specific report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan provided us with an initial opportunity to carry out fruitful discussion with our partners in the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on ways and means to better implement Resolution 1612 in the challenging environment of Afghanistan. We are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the Working Group’s conclusions on Afghanistan when they are finalized next month.

Madam President,

For this debate to continue effectively, we must recognize two facts: that one, the chief threat to children in Afghanistan is terrorism, and that two, to overcome this threat, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan must work together.

First, terrorism drastically affects the daily lives of our people, particularly children. The deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is the product of the surge of terrorist activities carried out by Al Qaida, Taliban and other associated armed groups. It is the Taliban and other terrorists groups that are and remain the main violator of human rights, including children’s rights, in Afghanistan, and these violations will continue as long as the security situation does not improve.

Terrorists have increased attacks in our territory, using barbaric methods imported from outside Afghanistan including the use of car bombs, suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices. These attacks deliberately target densely populated areas where children are the prime victims. Terrorists are recruiting, training, and exploiting children as combatants and sending them to operate as suicide bombers. The intensification of the Taliban intimidation campaign, accomplished through burnings of schools and clinics, attacking of female teachers and school-children, has created an atmosphere of terror which prevents our children from accessing basic government services. The recent acid attack on a group of schoolgirls was a horrific demonstration of the particular vulnerability of girls.

Madam President,

Our debate must concentrate our common efforts in defeating terrorism, and in finding ways and means to protect Afghan children and end the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban and other extremist and terrorist groups. The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the suggestions of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including proposals to exert pressure on the Taliban and other armed groups to stop recruiting children. However, these measures will be counterproductive if they offer recognition or legitimization to terrorist groups.

Madam President,

The reported cases of alleged recruitment, detention and sexual violence by individuals in the Afghan government or National Army and Police are disturbing, but isolated cases. For its part, the Government of Afghanistan is deeply committed to fully implementing Resolution 1612 and protecting the rights of children through all possible means and mechanisms.

Afghanistan has developed domestic laws relating to children, established juvenile judicial institutions and ratified most of the international human rights treaties including, in 2002, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. Our penal code prohibits sexual violence against children, and prohibits the recruitment of persons below 18 in our national police and 22 in our national army.

According to our juvenile code the legal age of criminal responsibility for a child is 12 to 18 years of age and they can be prosecuted and sentenced only by a juvenile court and can be confined only in a juvenile detention center. The Afghan national legislation, particularly a recent law on combating terrorist offenses, strictly prohibits the detention of children in adult prisons even if the child is accused of terrorism or threats to national security.

We recognize the importance of governance and rule of law to improve and better implement all these legal provisions. We are making necessary efforts on this direction and all of these efforts need sustained international involvement.

In conclusion, Madam President, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the international community for the military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan that are assisting us in ensuring security and enabling the implementation of rule of law, good governance and human rights, including children rights. We are grateful for their sacrifices in our common endeavor to preserve peace and security, their efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan people, and their recent efforts to address, with us, the issue of civilian casualties. We must continue to move together to stop terrorism’s menace to civilians and children.

Madam President,

Afghanistan has made substantial progress in ensuring the rights of children through legal frameworks and other mechanisms. However, terrorism continues to threaten our goals. It is our hope that, with the continuing help and focus of the international community and the ongoing determination of the Afghan government, we can improve the implementation of Resolution 1612 and protect our children, as the hope for our future, to the best of our ability.

I thank you.

President Obama’s New Strategy – what’s new, will it work?

Keynote Speech by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
to the United Nations
On President Obama’s New Strategy – what’s new, will it work?
Princeton University

Ambassador Vendrell ,
Professor Danspeckgruber,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here today to share my thoughts with you.

President Obama once wrote of himself, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” The new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is something of a blank screen as well. It contains components for success, and addresses the concerns of a wide variety of interests. However, it is open to interpretation, and the Administration’s level of commitment and resolve has yet to be tested. Today, I will offer an Afghan understanding of the strategy, as spelled out in policy documents and in President Obama’s own statement on March 27. I will also highlight some of the concerns that exist, and where its priorities should lie. Finally, I will outline a few areas where America cannot afford to minimize objectives.

How can we describe this new strategy?

While individual components of the American strategy are not entirely new, the strategy does combine them in a coherent, focused and fresh way. It puts increased attention on attainable short- and medium-term objectives, on a regional approach and on recognition of the centrality of the threat in Pakistan. Perhaps most importantly, it provides a clean break with the Bush years by giving President Obama ownership of the Afghan strategy, and marks a fresh beginning with a reinvigorated commitment, reflected in the troop increases and civilian surge.

The new American strategy was created to address the confluence of two factors: first, the increasingly precarious situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and second, the need to deal with possible domestic and international fatigue towards the continuing engagement, break with Bush’s policies and put new attention on a “forgotten war.”

Despite a generally welcoming reaction from Afghanistan, there is some ongoing concern among Afghans that the American plan aims to limit objectives, distance itself from important state-building goals and create space for an early exit strategy. The strategy is driven by a sense of urgency, since the new US Administration faces fatigue in some quarters both at home and abroad, and there are defeatists world-wide who seek to paint the fight in Afghanistan as hopeless or unnecessary.

However, President Obama himself laid out the central security interest that every country has in guaranteeing a stable, moderate and better-functioning Afghanistan. It must be apparent to the Obama Administration that any immediate efforts must be accompanied by sustained commitment; one without the other will only provide short-term disappointment leading to long-term failure.

The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands an urgent but long-term response. In Afghanistan, despite major achievements in the course of the last seven years, a sustainable situation is not yet on the horizon. The Taliban have taken advantage of international inattention to mount more frequent violent attacks on the international community and on Afghan civilians. Although there is not yet any serious danger of their returning to power, their role in disrupting stabilization efforts remains serious.

In Pakistan, the Taliban’s violent militarism is spreading out from sanctuaries along the border and beginning to penetrate to the heart of a once peaceful society. In addition, some in Pakistan are in denial about the severity of the threat. This threat is two-fold; first, we risk the spread of extremism and the choking of freedom in the region. Second, we risk these violent armed groups gaining increasing influence over a nuclear-armed state. It is important that Pakistan and the international community find a way to address the threat posed by the Taliban to the Pakistani state and the region.

The core objective of the new strategy is one that President Obama states clearly: “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” As the Obama Administration has acknowledged, success is significantly more complicated than just finding and capturing bin Laden. Al-Qaeda has had years to develop broad cooperative networks and stronghold in the region, and the effects of violence and extremism are now threats in their own right. To address all of this, the Obama Administration has taken a promising comprehensive view of the problem.

There are two integral components of President Obama’s core goal of defeating al-Qaeda: we must secure Afghanistan and stabilize Pakistan. The new strategy is correct in recognizing that the two countries face a common threat that needs to be addressed jointly in both countries. However, the creation of an imaginary “Af-Pak” entity for the purposes of practicality should not lead to oversimplification. Each country has its own context and its own problems. The many challenges in the region require a multifaceted and complicated response, not only by the US and the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan but also through a regional approach.

How can we secure Afghanistan?

Securing Afghanistan is a process that began in 2001, but has not yet succeeded in creating sustainable progress. Our reinvigorated efforts in Afghanistan need to be focused in three interconnected areas:

First, it is vital to halt and reverse the advances of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban cannot be allowed to regain control over the country; in addition to the reign of terror they imposed on Afghans, they also encouraged our territory to be used by al-Qaeda for the planning and execution of September 11th and other terrorist activities. Defeating the Taliban insurgency will require sustained and committed military involvement, but also political involvement through reconciliation and outreach to all Afghans, and economic development and job creation.

Second, strengthening the government, and rule of law, is essential, so that the Afghans can defend themselves and progress can be sustainable. Afghanistan is ready to take responsibility for its future. We need an improved framework where the government is empowered to fight corruption, dispense justice, provide basic services, and is held accountable to its citizens. Thus the elections planned for August will prove an important turning point; at stake are the legitimacy of national institutions and the strengthening of the democratic process.

And third, the Afghan people must be actively involved and invested in the stabilization process. Recent debates over civilian casualties and the growing perception among Afghans that their international allies are not truly committed to their security, now risk the alienation of the population. Winning the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan would be the most important strategic asset for success.

Nevertheless, as Richard Holbrooke recently said, and I quote, “If Afghanistan had the best government on earth, a drug-free culture and no corruption; it would still be unstable if the situation in Pakistan remained as today. That is an undisputable fact.”

How can we stabilize Pakistan?

Although international military operations are concentrated in Afghanistan, the insurgency trains and regroups in Pakistan. Stabilizing Pakistan will thus require us to, first and foremost, eliminate these terrorist sanctuaries. This can be accomplished by a more coordinated military and non-military efforts by the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This requires the wholehearted cooperation of the Pakistani military, intelligence and civilian powers. The Obama strategy recognizes the critical threat posed to the Pakistani state and the region by militant elements. Pakistan must be helped to recognize this as well, and all Pakistani entities must be ready to fully dedicate themselves to the fight against these elements.

As the new US strategy indicates, in addition to these steps to be taken in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States will have to actively encourage the involvement of all stakeholders towards a coordinated international response. The security of Afghanistan and the stability of Pakistan depend on the two countries cooperating with each other and with the region to face a common threat. This cooperation will be impossible without the direct and pro-active role of the United States, NATO and all countries fighting terrorism in the region. In addition, the security of the wider region – including India, Iran, Central Asian states, China, Russia and other countries – is also tightly interwoven with the defeat of Al-Qaeda, the establishment of a secure Afghanistan and stable Pakistan, and the creation of a new basis for cooperation towards a collective security system.

A regional approach, such as that spelled out in the new US strategy, must change the negative and disruptive patterns of the region into positive and cooperative ones. It will then be possible for the United States to facilitate a longer-term exchange between Afghan neighbors to identify shared economic interests, to engage a new diplomatic push, and to implement confidence-building measures to address legitimate security concerns in the region.

Can the strategy succeed?

The strategy provides a solid basis for progress, but its success will depend on a number of factors. As a start, the United States and its allies must be willing to commit the resources, attention and time necessary to achieve sustainable progress. It will take time to build a strong, self-sufficient Afghan state, which is the strongest hope of defeating al-Qaeda. Many of the necessary measures in the coming years, such as the expansion of the Afghan National Army and Police, will be financially untenable without the assistance of the international community. In addition, the strategy must use the suggested benchmarks to measure progress both in the short and the longer term, and be flexible enough to adapt when targets are not reached. Thirdly, It is important that President Obama truly engage the governments and publics of NATO nations and of our region in order to coordinate the efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Most importantly, the United States must truly address and combat negative perceptions by demonstrating a sustained commitment to success in Afghanistan. Public opinion in the US, in Europe and in Afghanistan and the wider region will be key to the strategy’s success or failure. The Obama white paper alludes to the “diplomatic push” that will be necessary to create national, international and regional cooperation and to collectively address the security and development challenges in the region. This diplomatic push is a crucial part of the strategy.

We must all have a good understanding of the key role played by public perception in the success or failure of our joint work. The strategy for Afghanistan’s success must be sustainable, and this will require the trust and support of the Afghan people. Thus, the Obama administration and the international community at large must maintain and demonstrate an unambiguous commitment to Afghanistan, even in the face of some domestic and international pressures to seek a short-sighted exit. If the Taliban are given any indication that the resolve of the international community is weakening, they will assume they can out-wait the West as the Mujahidin out-lasted the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The Afghan people must be confident in the continuing support of the international community before they will be willing to trust us with their futures.

The international community and the United States already have a large commitment to Afghanistan through the Bonn process and Afghanistan and the region are becoming increasingly important on the world stage. It is the focus of the increasing global multilateralism, and it is the center of the international fight against terrorism. From Russia to India, from China to the doors of Europe, we are in the center of a region where the geopolitics of the future world are in play. In a global fight against terrorism centered in our region we will need the patience of the “Cold War” if we are determined to succeed. President Obama’s strategy opens the door for success; now we must see whether America and the international community will walk through it.