Monday, April 21, 2014

Intervention BY H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations 12th Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, my delegation appreciates the theme for this year’s Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Landlocked Developing Countries: “Building Genuine Partnerships for Overcoming Impacts of Landlockedeness in the context of Sustainable Development”. We believe that overcoming the challenge of landlockedness is very much reliant on the spirit of partnership and cooperation, in particular between landlocked and transit developing countries, which are crucial to the achievement of our sustainable development objectives.

Towards building and enhancing genuine partnerships for overcoming the impacts of landlockness, regional cooperation is essential and provides opportunities to optimally utilize the resources of the region for the benefit of all the countries and will bring down all barriers and create borders with human face. Afghanistan is part of many regional and sub-regional initiatives, programs and processes and has the potential to contribute more in better connectivity of the entire region.

The “Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan” launched on 2 November 2011 to enhance stability and regional cooperation between Afghanistan and 15 participating countries, among them 5 are Landlocked Developing Countries. There are 21 confidence-building measures (CBMs) under the Istanbul process that are economic in nature (for example, trade, transport infrastructure, energy, water management, agriculture, and private investment). For each of these priority CBMs, a participating country has the leading role.

Afghanistan, by availing its unique geographic position, is now transforming from a landlocked to a land-linked country by connecting energy rich Central Asia to the energy deficient South Asia. Improved transportation links via the development of road corridors to the south and energy exports from landlocked Central Asian countries to the South Asia via Afghanistan would offer alternative means of trade flows and benefit the entire region.

There are a number of sub-regional transit, transport and energy projects under development via Afghanistan, such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, CASA 1000 for electricity supply from Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan and more recently, a trilateral agreement on railway project between Tajikistan-Afghanistan and Turkmenistan has been signed between the three neighboring countries.

In addition to the geographical handicaps and remoteness to world markets, high transport costs affect the competitiveness margin of landlocked developing countries, in particular least developed countries among them and thereby affect trade volume. There is a clear connection between distance and transport costs. As per the World Bank’s data, Afghanistan faces highest cost of exporting at $3545 per container in 2012 compared to $2230 for Bhutan and $1960 for Nepal. In this context, lowering of trade and transit costs and time among the landlocked countries would enhance the pace of economic development; significantly increase incomes, employment and consumption in the region leading to reduction of incidence of poverty levels that will help LLDCs to diminish their disadvantage, and remain better connected to the world.

Foreign trade between Afghanistan and its neighbors is very important and can contribute to economic growth and jobs creation even if long distance trade transiting through Afghanistan and neighbors takes longer to develop. Despite signing the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit-Trade Agreement (APTTA) in July 2010, Afghanistan seeks alternative transit routes to have access to seaports, inter alia through Chabahar in Iran.  Membership of Afghanistan to the Transport Corridor of Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) is one of our priorities that require support of all participating countries.

Mr. Chairman,

After decades, the reactivation of Afghanistan in TIR convention has recently been completed and TIR system was officially launched in Afghanistan on 4th September 2013. On the other hand, our membership to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UN-CLOS) is under consideration within the government, aiming to benefit from the fundamental rights, including freedom of transit under the framework of the convention.

Substantial progress has been achieved in the accession process of Afghanistan to the World Trade Organization and the government of Afghanistan is willing to conclude this process by the end of 2014.

Afghanistan fully supports the commitment of the landlocked countries to accelerate the implementation of the Almaty Program of Action envisaged in the Vientiane Consensus through effective and genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit countries and their development partners, as well as between the public and private sectors at national, regional and global levels.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
 Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for this month.  We are very grateful for the role Australia is playing as the penholder on Afghanistan under your leadership, Mr. President, and for its capable work in the Security Council.  I thank my good friend Special Representative Kubis for his very comprehensive briefing, and more broadly, for his effective leadership of UNAMA in Afghanistan.Also, let me express a warm welcome to my new colleagues, Ambassadors from the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. President,

We are now at the beginning of the 68th GA at the United Nations, which has turned this city into the epicentre of world dialogue.  Today’s debate is convened ahead of a number of events with a broader focus on Afghanistan- the International Contact Group, the Senior Officials Meeting of the Istanbul Process, a number of ministerial meetings, and the opportunity for the Afghan delegation to meet with our friends and partners at a high level.  Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the campaigns for the third Presidential elections are about to begin.  At the same time, we are envisioning the end of the International Security Assistance Force’s mandate by the end of 2014, a mission that started 12 years ago and which then became the backbone of international stabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

On 18 June this year, the final phase of security transition, the 5th tranche, began in Afghanistan.  In the past several months, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have been at the forefront of difficult combat.  They have largely proved themselves capable of defending the country and providing security. The transition will take us into a new decade- the decade of transformation- characterized by strengthening sovereignty and normalization of the situation.  It is a leap in the right direction, and a proud new chapter in our history.

But Mr. President, while this is a new chapter, it is also remarkably familiar: throughout our long history, our country has consistently risen up from the ashes, defiant after tragedies, and has re-emerged from war, conflict and destruction.   Today, backed by the collective efforts of the international community, we take responsibility for our security and our defence, as we have done time and again, and we meet this challenge with confidence, courage, and responsibility.

Mr. President,

At the beginning of his second term, President Karzai outlined a new vision for Afghanistan’s future.  He called for full Afghan responsibility for security, a move towards a self-reliant economy, and a political solution to end the war.  Since 2010, Afghanistan and its partners have solidified these commitments through constructive conferences in London, Lisbon, Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago, and Tokyo.

Mr. President,

In Lisbon and then in Chicago, the international community committed itself to long-term support after 2014 to train, advise and support the ANSF.  Our international partners pledged financial support and equipment necessary for our armed forces to function independently, a goal furthered through strategic partnerships signed with a number of countries including the United States. We signed the Enduring Partnership Agreement with NATO, which will be realized through its post-2014 role, Operation Resolute Support.  We are also in the final phases of negotiating the Bilateral Security, Defence and Cooperation Agreement with the United States. Other countries outside NATO have also committed to provide long-term support to Afghan forces.

These agreements are not aimed at fighting wars, but rather at ensuring the security of our country, protecting its people, and safeguarding the democratic order we created so painstakingly over the past 12 years.

Mr. President,

In addition to progress in security, the transformation decade aims to move Afghanistan’s economy from aid-dependency to self-sufficiency.  In Tokyo, international donors pledged $16 billion to support Afghanistan’s economic transition through 2017 by adopting the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF).  This links aid directly to Afghan commitments in sectors such as human rights and governance, and commits donors to strengthen aid efficiency and sustainability, channelling their commitments through Afghanistan’s core budget.   The Senior Officials Meeting of the Tokyo Conference looked critically into these obligations this past July in Kabul.

Mr. President,

Our neighbours are vital to Afghanistan’s future prosperity and peace.  Yet, as President Karzai explained at the Shanghai Summit last week, our vision is not simply to better Afghanistan’s future, but also enable us to be a constructive, friendly and dependable partner to our neighbours and to countries in the region.

To this end, we are now part of many regional cooperative frameworks.  We are at the centre of the Istanbul Process initiative.  We hope that this process will become an important forum for all countries in the region to build more trust, counter shared threats to stability and peace, and focus on steps needed for the prosperity of all countries in the region. We are very happy to see that our brotherly country the People’s Republic of China is going to lead the ministerial conference next year.

Mr. President,

We are preparing for our 3rd ever Presidential elections, an accomplishment that demonstrates the increased maturity of Afghanistan’s emerging democracy. The last decades were characterized by decisions made with violence, problems solved through war, and power solidified with weapons rather than votes. Electing a new President is an important symbol that bloody struggle for power in our country belongs to the past.

Our enemies want to derail the process, as made evident by the assassination of the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) office in Kunduz province.  But let it be known, no such acts will prevent a successful electoral process from taking place.

Mr. President,

The coming elections are seen by all as crucial to the success of the transformation decade, the trust of Afghans, and the continuing support of the international community.  Afghans know this deeply, and this is why Afghans from all walks of life are actively engaged in the process and debate before the elections.  A robust electoral framework has been established: new members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) have been appointed, a chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has been elected, a national security strategy for elections has been arranged, and two new pieces of legislation have been signed into law.


Mr. President,

As Afghanistan looks towards a brighter future, the enemies of Afghanistan- the enemies of peace- continue their violent campaigns against civilians, soldiers, civil servants, men, women, children and foreign forces. If they see brutality as the measure of their power, they are wrong; it is a measure of their weakness.

It is not brave to kill a police officer, particularly if she is a woman protecting and serving her country.  It is time for the Taliban to stop the killing, renounce the violence, and heed the call to peace.

The first attempts at peace negotiations were undermined by the Taliban’s determination to take Afghanistan back to the past.   But the Afghan people do not want to return to the past.  They want the violence to end. This is why, despite the atrocities, Afghanistan’s leadership has not lost faith in a political solution.


Mr. President,

Countries in the region, particularly Pakistan, play an important role in supporting this process. We are encouraged by the outcome of President Karzai’s recent visit to Islamabad, and reassured by the new government of Pakistan guarantees of support for the process. We look forward to working together towards enhanced cooperation.

Mr. President,

As we approach the transformation decade, we must secure the gains made in the last 12 years, despite the difficulties, vulnerabilities and risks.   In the years ahead, we must build upon our achievements, and enable Afghanistan to stand on its feet, with a strong voice, as a full partner of the international community.  In this period of change, we will go into the elections in search of a solution, in a spirit of national unity and coherence, together with our international partners, to further our struggle for democracy, prosperity and peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

Statement by  H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin  Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Open-Ended Informal Consultations on the Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

I would like to profoundly thank all the Member States for the nomination as Chair-designate of the “Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects,” tentatively scheduled for 16–20 June 2014. I am grateful for your trust, and I look forward to playing this role to the best of my abilities.

Around the world, small arms and light weapons are fueling conflict, instability, and creating obstacles to development, peace, and security.   The human cost is massive, and their impact fueling violence by terrorists, drug cartels, criminal gangs, and insurgents is extreme.

Since the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001, the world has witnessed a great deal of progress in dealing with illicit arms circulation. Member states have made major achievements in terms of establishing national laws and commissions, enhancing capacities of institutions, increasing the security of their arms depots and ammunitions, and preventing the diversion of these weapons to non-state actors.

The outcome document on the implementation of the Program of Action to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, which was adopted by consensus during the 2nd review conference from the 27th of August to the 7th September last year in New York, represented considerable progress.   We consider this document a major success of the international community on the implementation of the Programme of Action.

Still, much work has to be done. Cooperation among states in tracking illicit arms remains a challenge. Many countries lack the capacity to exercise effective control over unregulated weapons within their borders.  Others have weak national reporting mechanisms. State budgets are still invested in weapons at the expense of investment in development programs.

Curbing the devastating scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons is of prime importance for countries like my country, Afghanistan.   Afghanistan has been a major victim of this scourge; more than 1.5 million Afghans have been killed by these weapons.  The atrocities are ongoing- one of the biggest killers is the IED used by the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

As Chair-designate, I would like to reassure you that I will do my utmost to have an open, inclusive, and balanced process in dealing with this issue. I will listen carefully, and pay close attention to your views and suggestions.

The upcoming First Committee will be an excellent and timely opportunity to consult with you on your priorities for BMS5. Therefore, I intend to organize our first open-ended consultations in October to discuss priority issues and topics of relevance to be addressed during the BMS5, as well as problems and opportunities arising from the implementation of the Programme of Action.

Moving ahead, I am open to your suggestions, comments and concerns. Thank you and I look forward to your cooperation.