Friday, April 18, 2014

UN Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

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

Mr. President,

Let me begin by first congratulating you on taking the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of June.  Thank you for holding today’s debate on Afghanistan.  I welcome the presence of my good friend, Special Representative Kubis, among us here today. We thank you for your comprehensive briefing, and steadfast support for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. As foreign forces prepare to withdraw next year, Afghan national security forces are assuming full responsibility for the security and defense of their country. Two days ago in Kabul, a milestone was reached; the official launch of the 5th and final stage of security transition. This is a remarkable achievement; a source of pride for the Afghan people. Our security forces are handling complex security situations with increased confidence and fortitude. We stand ready to consolidate our gains, stand on our feet, defend ourselves, and secure lasting peace.

Mr. President,

Transition, in its entirety, aims to bring enduring peace and stability to Afghanistan. To ensure the security and defense of our country, it is essential to bring all Afghans together through a national dialogue, in a spirit of national unity, to achieve a political solution that is embraced by all.

Over recent months, Afghanistan has been extensively involved with various stakeholders, the United States of America in particular, to start direct negotiations with the Taliban as part of the peace process. In that regard, an agreement was reached with the United States on the opening of a Taliban Office in Doha, Qatar, under assurances that peace talks would be conducted in accordance with the following concrete set of principles:

-        The sole purpose of the office would be to serve as a venue for direct negotiations between the Taliban and the High Peace Council;

-        The office would not serve as an official representation of the Taliban in the form of a “Government,” “Embassy,” “Emirate,” or “sovereign”;

-        The office would not engage in, or support any activity related to terrorism and acts of violence, inconsistent with international law, and consistent with provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1988/2082;

Yet, just two days ago, on the 18th of June, in a rather theatrical sequence of events, the Taliban office was inaugurated in a manner that contradicted the very principles to which I just referred. Furthermore, the public statement by the Taliban representatives in Doha not only lacked any clear commitment to peace talks with the Afghan High Peace Council – the sole body mandated to conduct peace talks – but also made an explicit reference to the continuation of violence. Again, this goes against the very spirit of peace.  Given the concerns that have arisen, emanating from the obvious contradictions pertaining to our peace process, the Government of Afghanistan decided firstly: that the HPC would not engage in peace talks under the circumstances that the Taliban office was opened; and secondly: to suspend negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.  Afghanistan naturally expects its international partners to stand against any threat to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.  In fact, all of Afghanistan’s partnership agreements are made in light of Afghanistan’s national interests, and aimed at promoting the country’s peace, security and stability.

Mr. President,

While Afghanistan is committed to a peace process and reconciliation that ensures a permanent end to the conflict, pursuing a process that will undermine the hard won gains of the past twelve years- our constitution, the rights of all citizens, particularly women, and our democratic order- will, by no means, be acceptable to the Afghan people.

Afghanistan does not recognize such a thing as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Raising the Taliban flag on Tuesday in Doha was just a reminder of a dark and bloody past from which our country still struggles to emerge. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sole sovereign and legitimate authority chosen by Afghan people and recognized and supported by the international community.

Further, Afghanistan’s ownership of the peace and reconciliation process is indispensible, and it will not be compromised. Any successful outcome to the reconciliation process requires preserving the Afghan-led and Afghan-managed character of negotiations. This is an issue that has been recognized and endorsed, both in Afghanistan, and by the international community as a whole, including this distinguished Council.

Mr. President,

Taking this opportunity, I wish to also make clear to the international community, all member-states, and international and regional organizations, that the Taliban Office was established for one clear objective: peace talks that strictly observe agreed principles, as mentioned. Any other activity or function undertaken by or with the Taliban office outside the Afghan-led peace talks’ purposes is unacceptable.

Mr. President,

The continuing campaign of fear and terror, violence and brutality endanger the prospect of a peace process. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in acts of violence, affecting all citizens – men, women and children – as well as international personnel. We condemn all heinous acts of terror, including the recent attacks on the IOM, ICRC, Kabul airport, and the Supreme Court. Children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the conflict. Last month in Kandahar, terrorists beheaded two children, as they were scrapping for food next to a local police checkpoint to take home to their families. Days earlier, in Paktika province, children died in a suicide bombing near their school.

We also note with regret, continued civilian casualties caused by counter-terrorism operations. The loss of one innocent life is one too many. We condemn all incidents of civilian casualties, and call for their immediate end.

Mr. President,

Despite all the challenges we face, Afghanistan is confidently advancing forward towards another milestone: next year’s presidential and provincial council elections. President Karzai has embarked on a broad consultative process with relevant stakeholders, including civil society and political parties, with a clear aim to have the polls take place in a spirit of national unity, and with consensus on core-electoral issues. Afghans see successful elections as a new and important benchmark for progress, which will allow the country to embrace the needs of the post-2014 transformation decade. Preparations for the polls are well underway with voter registration and security preparations already started. The electoral law and draft Independent Electoral Commission law were adopted by the lower house of parliament, and are now under consideration by the upper house. We welcome the readiness of the United Nations and other partners to support Afghan-led elections, and we are confident that the elections will unify Afghans around a common objective.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has always seen regional cooperation as an important pillar of stability and prosperity in our part of the world. A new regional order is emerging, increasing the prospects for a more peaceful and stable region.  The Istanbul Process has become a catalyst for result-oriented cooperation in our wider region. We are encouraged by the strong commitment shown by all regional and international partners to this historic initiative. This was further exemplified by the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia Countries this past April in Almaty. We also thank the Government of China for its generosity in hosting the next Ministerial Meeting of the Process next year.

Afghanistan is committed to expanding relations with all of our neighbors.  We applaud our brothers and sisters in the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran for their recent successful elections.

The Government of Afghanistan looks forward to working with the new government of Pakistan, and hopes that Pakistan will sincerely support peace and stability in our country. Afghanistan desires friendly relations with Pakistan, characterized by mutual respect and observing each other’s national sovereignty. This is crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to prosperity and cooperation in the region.

Without any doubt, Mr. President, terrorism constitutes a serious threat to Afghanistan’s peace and stability, and that of the region.  The people of Afghanistan are still the main victims of this heinous, continuous terrorist campaign. The fact remains: so long as terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist in Pakistan’s soil and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, peace will not prevail, neither in Afghanistan, nor in the region. We also are very concerned with ongoing border shelling; this constitutes a serious threat to Afghan sovereignty and the prospect of friendly relations between our two countries.

We should not forget: Afghanistan and Pakistan, as two brotherly countries, have a shared stake in a successful fight against terrorism, and the prospect of peace and stability in Afghanistan and our region.

Mr. President,

We in Afghanistan know that long-term peace and prosperity is interlinked with development, good governance and human rights. The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework forms the basis for a revitalized partnership between Afghanistan and our international partners, addressing these key issues.  Aid coherence, in partnership with the international community, is critical to our sustainable development.  Mutual commitments made in Tokyo will be solidified during the transformation decade.  We look forward, in this regard, to the July 3rd Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul.

By the same token, empowerment of women as proactive members of Afghan society – as parliamentarians, as peace-builders, as government officials, and as the most vibrant members of civil society is among our proudest achievements. While obstacles to the full realization of this goal remain, we are working to protect and promote the human rights of all Afghans, women in particular. Afghanistan condemns, in the strongest terms, all incidents of violence against women. The fight against impunity is central to our human rights efforts. This is evidenced by the prosecution of an increasing number of perpetrators in various parts of the country.

Mr. President,

This moment marks an important page in Afghanistan’s history- the security transition and the upcoming elections will mark major achievements for the future of our country.  These achievements are the result of the diligent efforts that we have made over the past 12 years.  We have come this far together, on a joint journey, founded on a shared commitment to the betterment of our country and for the benefit of current and future generations.  Our mission is unfinished, but well on its way.  Afghanistan has come a long way to even consider falling short of fulfilling the goals we set out in 2001.  We have been, and we remain, steadfastly committed to building a peaceful, stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President.

United Nations Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

Statement by  H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

Mr. President,
I would like to start by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of April. We wish you every success in leading the work of the Council during your Presidency and thank you for convening today’s debate on an issue of crucial importance.

We are thankful to the Secretary-General, H.E Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, as well as to his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, for the presentations they gave this morning. Taking this opportunity, we congratulate Ms. Bangura on her appointment, and commend the strong determination with which she is carrying out her task.

Mr. President,

Armed conflicts leave a devastating effect on societies around the world. Violence breeds more violence. Undoubtedly, women often bear the brunt of the many destructive consequences of war and strife. In that regard, sexual violence in the context of armed conflicts remains pervasive; a devastating reality that has yet to be resolved, requiring steadfast efforts at all levels.

 

In adopting resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1960 (2010), the Security Council sent the clear message that sexual violence will not be tolerated, and that ending sexual violence is essential for maintaining international peace and security. All States have the moral and legal responsibility to uphold the rights of women, and all citizens, and to protect them from sexual violence.

Mr. President,

Protecting and promoting the rights of the Afghan people has been the cornerstone of all our efforts to build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Central to these efforts is enabling women to regain their historic role as proactive citizens in Afghan society. Afghanistan is pursuing the vigorous implementation of SC resolution 1325 through our National Priority Program. We launched the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) as a ten-year blue print, which contains specific and time-bound benchmarks for progress in various areas. As the implementation of the Action Plan continues apace, we are confident that we will realize our vision to see Afghan women thrive, empowered in all sectors of society: social, political and economic.

Afghanistan is fully committed to preventing any form of violence against women, including sexual violence.  In this regard, we enacted in 2009 the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, providing stronger judicial means through which we can combat violence. Throughout the country, where committed, perpetrators of such crimes are increasingly being held accountable, and prosecuted before the law.

Mr. President,

In reference to an observation made in the Secretary-General’s report, we wish to state, with full confidence, the Government of Afghanistan and its people do not, and will not tolerate impunity against any form of human rights violations. Together with our judicial authorities, the Afghan national security forces are working diligently to uphold law and order in all areas of the country.  On the way forward, we are confident our efforts will continue to bear fruit, and women will be further empowered.

We also wish to highlight the following: Afghanistan is fully committed to upholding human rights in Afghan detention centers. In this respect, a number of concrete measures have been taken by the National Directorate for Security (NDS), including establishment of a human right division to monitor and investigate human rights situations as well as capacity building, and human rights awareness workshops for personnel. Following UNAMA’s report of January 20, 2013 on alleged cases of prisoner mistreatment, President Karzai issued a decree, which established an Independent Commission to investigate said cases that were reflected in UNAMA’s report. Since then, greater focus is being given to ensuring full adherence to human rights standards in Afghan detention centers.

Mr. President,

As the security transition proceeds, Afghanistan is also adamant on a successful outcome to its peace and reconciliation process, aimed at ending the current conflict and strife. By ending the conflict, we will eliminate the very conditions that were conducive to challenges in the area of human rights. As members of the High Peace Council (HPC), and as members of civil society, women are playing a central role in the peace process. The results of our peace and reconciliation efforts will in no way jeopardize the hard won gains of the past 11 years, especially those relating to human rights, the rights of women in particular.

Mr. President,

Before concluding, the international community has a crucial role to play to support continuous efforts in conflict affected, and post-conflict countries to end all forms of violence against women, including sexual violence. For our part, Afghanistan stands firmly committed to do its part in ensuring full protection of women’s rights around the world, and to preventing sexual violence, and all other forms of violations of human rights.

I Thank You.

 

United Nations’ Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statment by H.E. Dr Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Security Council debate on the  Situation in Afghanistan

Statement

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s important meeting, which includes the extension of UNAMA’s mandate. I also wish to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency for the month of March. We convey our gratitude to the Secretary-General for his remarks and presentation of his report, which provides a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground. I extend my appreciation to Special Representative Kubiš for joining us today. I wish to thank Foreign Minister Carr for honouring us with his presence and participation.

I would like to seize this opportunity to thank the members of the Council for the spirit of cooperation and openness shown during the course of negotiations. A special thanks goes to Ambassador Quinlan, and his team at the Australian Mission, for the able manner in which they led the process.

Mr. President,

In just two days, the Afghan New Year will begin, a year in which transition to full Afghan responsibility is central to our efforts, a year that will take us to the next elections, a year to bring an end to war, and a year of building confidence and resilience.

Since the adoption of UNAMA’s mandate last year, Afghanistan and the international community undertook a new focus on the needs of the transition period, which involves strengthening peace and security and the realization of national priorities. Together with the international community, we developed the parameters of future cooperation to ensure building a peaceful, stable, prosperous Afghanistan that is able to stand on its own feet. We did this through continuing dialogue with our partners, and agreements made in Chicago last May, at the Heart of Asia conference in Kabul in June and in Tokyo in July. More will need to be done to crystallize all aspects of cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community, including the shaping of our relations with the region.

Mr. President,

A successful and orderly transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is about a continuous focus on five priority areas:

First, strengthening Afghan national sovereignty and national ownership and leadership are central to transition. After more than a decade of shared efforts, strengthening of sovereignty entails normalization through security, political and economic transition. For the Afghan people, national sovereignty means taking full responsibility for their destiny.

With the announcement of the 4th tranche of transition this past December, assumption of full security responsibility by Afghan forces is more tangible than ever. By the end of this stage, eighty-seven percent of the Afghan population will be living in areas where Afghan security forces are in charge of security.

The Afghan people are keenly focused on a successful political transition, and all eyes are on the election next spring. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to fair, democratic, transparent and inclusive elections, in which the men and women of Afghanistan will again shape their political future. Preparations for elections are well underway. There is overwhelming consensus that a successful and credible election will be necessary for stability and lasting peace.

At the same time, peace talks and reconciliation with the armed opposition are essential for a successful election. The Afghan Government is doing its utmost to ensure the success of the reconciliation process. The High Peace Council has recently taken necessary steps to galvanize the reconciliation efforts. The support of the international community and in particular some countries in the region are important for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process. As we work to move the peace process forward, the role of the Security Council will remain imperative; and we welcome the adoption of SC resolution 2082, which refined the Taliban sanctions regime in view of Afghanistan’s leadership of the reconciliation process.

Second, during transition and the decade of transformation to follow, the relationship between Afghanistan and our international partners will evolve. Strategic partnership agreements, such as those we finalized in the last two years, are key for shaping long-term relationships and for stability during transition and beyond. Afghanistan has established bilateral strategic partnerships with a number of countries including the agreement between Afghanistan and the US signed in May, which was followed by recognition of Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally. Talks are ongoing to conclude the security agreement between the two countries, which will be finalized in due course. Just last month, we signed a strategic partnership with Norway. We are now defining parameters of similar partnerships with Denmark and Finland. With the transition, Afghanistan is entering a new era of relations with international partners, and we are committed to basing our strategic cooperation on bilateral frameworks, an important step toward normalization of the situation.

Our close partnership with NATO has been a significant source of progress for stabilization efforts. We look forward to furthering our partnership into the transformation decade ahead. In this context, we welcome the important discussions which took place at the NATO Defence Ministers’ Meetings in Brussels on 21-22 February, where NATO took concrete steps toward planning improved capabilities and reinforced their commitment to NATO’s post-2014 role of training, advising and assisting Afghan National Security Forces. Such strategic cooperation will ensure the future sustainability of Afghan National Security Forces.

Third, economic transition and aid delivery will be crucial for the sustainability of transition. This requires the commitment of the international community for supporting our self-reliance strategy through the transformation decade. The Tokyo conference last July was about not letting the drawdown of international combat forces affect Afghanistan’s strides toward stability and prosperity. It will be important to see how realization of the mutual commitments made in Tokyo will help us to address humanitarian and development challenges essential for not only stability but sustainability in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is committed to upholding the agreements made in Tokyo, which include commitments in the areas of equitable elections, good governance and rule of law, human right including women’s rights, and inclusive and sustainable development. We look forward to continuing to work with our international partners on the basis of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

The economic transition is also about improving aid effectiveness, ensuring alignment with national priorities, and accountability and transparency of aid spending. Aid delivery and efficiency are particularly important at a time in which we not only face economic instability as a result of conflict, but unemployment and poverty remain significant problems. Capacity building for Afghan institutions to address the challenges ahead will be essential. It is crucial that the international community’s support is in line with national priorities and is channeled through the Afghan budget as agreed at the 2010 Kabul Conference. It is also important that aid delivery is based on emerging needs on the ground, and is directed to areas where need is greatest. Afghanistan is ready to be held accountable for any penny it spends, and we believe the commitments made in Tokyo will facilitate a sustainable economic future for Afghanistan.

Fourth, relations with Afghanistan’s neighbours and countries in our greater region are critical for stability and progress. Afghanistan is developing its bilateral and multilateral relations in all areas with countries in the region. We are in the centre of the Heart of Asia process, and see this cooperation as essential for peace and stability. Our partnerships with all countries in the region can be mutually beneficial; Afghanistan can serve as an economic bridge in an increasingly globalized region that is seeking progress and prosperity. At the Heart of Asia meeting in Kabul in June 2012, participating countries agreed upon a series of confidence building measures (CBMs) regarding a range of issues, a number of which were endorsed in February in Baku. We look forward to the next ministerial meeting in Almaty in April.

We are engaged with a number of countries on our path to normalization, which includes helping our reconciliation process. Most recently we have continued trilateral discussions with Pakistan and the UK as well as other forums to help cooperation. We are hopeful about the outcome that will result from our joint efforts.

Fifth, successful transition will require effective partnership with the UN. Since 2001, the UN has been at the centre of the coordination of international efforts in Afghanistan. We appreciate the important role it has played. More recently, we have seen how the UN is adjusting its role to meet the needs of transition. In this regard, the UN underwent a comprehensive review of its activities in Afghanistan in 2011; and in his recent report, the Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of realigning the relationship between the international community and Government of Afghanistan, and reflection on the UN’s role beyond transition.

As we complete transition, and transfer full responsibility to the Afghan Government, we can envisage normalization of the UN’s activities in the years to come. Aid coherence, One UN, and greater accountability are important for Afghanistan, the UN itself, and donor countries. Afghanistan looks forward to close cooperation with UNAMA in the coming year as it continues its efforts toward the priority areas of good offices in support of Afghan-led political processes, human rights, development coherence, and coordination of humanitarian assistance. In this regard, we welcome the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate, which has continually evolved to reflect and reinforce the principles of Afghan ownership and leadership.

Mr. President,

The end of transition will signal the beginning of a new chapter, one marked by national resilience and the strategic goal of self-reliance. While the nature of the international community’s engagement with Afghanistan is evolving, their continued support will be vital. Full realization of sovereignty and self-reliance will make Afghanistan a more effective partner for the world, but achieving this requires the trust, confidence and long-term commitment of international community. Afghanistan looks forward to lasting cooperation with our international partners toward enduring peace, stability, and prosperity in the country.

I thank you.

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