Friday, April 18, 2014

United Nations’ Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement 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

Mr. President,

Firstly, let me congratulate you and your delegation on the assumption of the Presidency of the Council for December. My delegation assures you of our full support as you steer the activities of the Council to a successful conclusion.  We are also thankful to our good friend Ambassador Puri of India, and his team, for their excellent leadership of the Council during November.

We welcome the Secretary-General’s report on Afghanistan; and I wish to thank Special Representative Kubis for honoring us with his presence here today. We are grateful to him for his insightful briefing, and able leadership of the UN’s activities in the country.

Mr. President,

Eleven years ago, following the fall of the Taliban regime, the Bonn Agreement was signed, creating a concrete road-map which paved the way for a new era in Afghanistan’s history. The agreement was about an integrated national movement, aimed at establishing the foundations for peace, stability and democracy, with the help of the international community.  An interim administration was established, led by President Hamid Karzai. The inauguration ceremony which took place on 22 December 2001 was atmospheric, filled with unprecedented enthusiasm, with the end of a dark period of conflict and strife.   I was there, and remember very clearly how the representatives of the Afghan people, coming from all walks of life, had come together, expressing their shared feelings about the difficult past, and hope for a better future.

Eleven years ago, we were weak.  Conflict and consecutive foreign intervention led us to become a failed state and a broken society. In fact, we were on the verge of collapse. It was impossible to change it alone. This is why the international community was placed in the center of our efforts for peace and stability. In that historical decade, the international community and Afghanistan struggled together, worked together, and joined hands for the noble objective of peace and a better future for the Afghan people. It was one of the most significant international engagements in our time, with more than fifty countries providing military and civilian support. Our shared achievements are monumental.

Early this morning I arrived from Kabul, a city which I found to be vibrant, and full of life, in contrast to a city that appeared dead eleven years ago. The situation in the country has substantially improved. It is a great source of pride and honor that millions of Afghan girls and boys are going to schools, millions of people have access to health services, and millions of people are emerging from poverty and destitution. But the most important success is that eleven years later the Government of Afghanistan with the help of the international community is starting to take full responsibility for nation-building and for normalizing of the situation through the process of transition and transformation. It is imperative that during transition, and beyond, we and the international community are together.

Mr. President,

 

As we approach 2014, when the international combat forces leave Afghanistan, transition is gaining momentum. In the next two years a successful security transition and most importantly an efficient political preparation will enable us to embark on the decade of transformation, in which we will stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Steady implementation of security transition is but one example of the many gains made thus far. With the first three of the five stage transition process nearly complete, the overwhelming majority of Afghanistan’s population now resides in areas where Afghan security forces have lead security responsibility. And I’m pleased to say that security has improved in areas where lead security responsibility has been transitioned to Afghan forces.  The Afghan national army and police are operating with greater confidence and capability.  The launch of stage four of security transition will be officially announced in the coming days.

 

As transition proceeds, we see it imperative that the sustainability of Afghanistan’s security forces remain a priority. The Chicago NATO Summit last May was a milestone in that regard; and we appreciate the commitments pledged by NATO and other partners for long term support to our army and police.  We also look forward to the development of a new NATO mission in 2014, which will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan national security forces.
Mr. President,

 

Transition is not about security alone. To normalize and stabilize the situation in the country, we need to put in place a comprehensive political framework that will provide the country and the international community with a new agenda, at the end of the military phase and the beginning a new transformative period. This framework will comprise of, at least, three main elements:

 

1 – National Consensus, National Reconciliation

 

Afghan people and political forces are preparing for a new beginning in the country. The absolute majority of Afghans see their future as linked with the continuation of the democratic system that we established over the last ten years. There is a concern shared by all Afghan people: not to lose what we have achieved, and not to go backward, but to continue moving forward. Once again, as it happened in Bonn eleven years ago we see the prospect of an emerging unity of understanding between different political forces that can lead to the unity of purpose and a constructive national dialogue aimed at saving the future.

 

In the centre of this dialogue is our grand strategy of national reconciliation. The peace process has gained momentum following the visit of the High Peace Council (HPC) led by H. E. Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani to Islamabad last month. The peace process Road Map which was presented to the Government of Pakistan during the visit provides a concise framework for effective action, focusing on the release of some Taliban detainees in Pakistan’s custody, establishing direct contacts with influential Taliban leaders, provision of safe passage for Taliban negotiators, and sustaining peace talks with the armed opposition groups, which include but are not limited to the Taliban. And just two weeks ago, H. E. Foreign Minister Rassoul paid a visit to Islamabad, where he held extensive discussions on bilateral cooperation, and ways to achieve the goals set out in the peace process Road Map.

 

As the Afghan-led reconciliation process forges ahead, we will continue to rely on the support of the international community as a whole, and the United Nations in particular. We look to this Council to help us expedite our efforts by meeting our delisting and travel ban exemption requests for concerned individuals. We recognize and welcome, with appreciation, that the successor resolution to SC resolution 1988 adequately incorporates the ideas and recommendations of the Afghan Government to help advance our peace and reconciliation efforts. Special thanks go to our colleagues at the United States Mission for their efforts in drafting the resolution, and to the Council as a whole for the constructive spirit of compromise and cooperation during negotiations.

 

2  – Elections:

 

In April 2014, Afghanistan will choose its new leadership, just a few months before the NATO combat forces leave the country. With the elections and the end of the military phase of international support, a new chapter in Afghanistan is unfolding; one characterized by sovereignty, self-reliance, and normalization of the situation. The preparations underway are Afghan-led and Afghan-managed. The international community, and in particular the United Nations, is assisting us in these important elections. The Afghan Independent Elections Commission with the support of the government of Afghanistan has responsibly began the preparations for the elections through announcing the elections calendar, and by focusing on all aspects of the preparation process, political, technical and financial, well in advance. Our diligent planning may help to bring more certainty to the Afghan people about the political transition. The draft electoral law is now under the consideration of Parliament. As noted by the Secretary-General in his report, elections will be the cornerstone of political transition. Elections have the potential to become a new venue for national consensus and unity; a reflection of our shared vision for a stable and peaceful country. It will be an opportunity to put to test our unfaltering efforts for human rights, including the rights of women.

 

3 - International and Regional Cooperation:

 

Key aspects of the outcomes of the Chicago and Tokyo conferences were not only about security, but political guarantees for the future. The international community and Afghans came together to build partnerships and ensure success in achieving our shared goals. The ISAF and General Assembly resolutions on Afghanistan reiterated global consensus for supporting transition and assisting Afghanistan in the long haul. We hope that this affirmation of international support will remain. As part of our long term partnership with the international community, we have entered into a number of bilateral and strategic partnership agreements. With the United States we are discussing the details of our security cooperation in line with our strategic partnership. Similar discussions are ongoing with our NATO partners on the scope and shape of a new training, advising and assistance mission. Early next month, President Hamid Karzai will visit the US at the invitation of President Obama. We look forward to the visit, which will go a long way toward addressing key issues of our long term partnership.

At the same time we see visible progress in relations with our neighbors and expanding the scope of and strengthening regional cooperation. Relations with Pakistan have taken a new form, characterized by confidence building. In recent months, contacts at high levels have helped us concentrate on concrete areas of cooperation including counterterrorism efforts, and strengthening the peace process.

We are also giving special focus to relations with other partners in the region. Regional cooperation is a crucial element of Afghanistan’s future peace and security, and is taking new shape as the Istanbul Process is swiftly moving forward. The Heart of Asia Kabul Ministerial Conference this past June marked the beginning of the implementation phase of the process. The conference emphasized the three key issues of political consultation, confidence-building, and the role of regional organizations for making progress towards a peaceful and prosperous region, characterized by joint cooperation. Seven confidence-building measures were identified, covering a wide array of fields, and a number of action plans have been developed for CBM implementation. We look forward to the next Ministerial Meeting of the Istanbul Process, to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan this coming April.

Mr. President,

Afghans see the Transition as an opportunity for an end to war, and a means for ensuring that stability and prosperity are realized. Transition is also about continuing our partnership with the international community, and fulfilling our commitment to a safer, more secure and prosperous future for the Afghan people. The Bonn and Tokyo Conferences were milestones in that regard, mapping out, and defining the nature of the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community for the way forward. On the basis of the Mutual Accountability Framework, we will work to address remaining challenges though a more result-oriented cooperation, and with special focus on ensuring that mutual expectations are met.

In conclusion, we have come a long way in our joint endeavor. Eleven years later, Afghanistan is on its path to a new era, reasserting its status as a fully stable, prosperous and self-reliant country, able to meet the needs of Afghan citizens in all sectors. Afghanistan’s full realization of ownership and leadership is a shared goal between Afghanistan and its international partners, one which we must work towards jointly during the Transformation Decade.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank my good friend, Ambassador Peter Wittig and his team at the German Mission for the able manner in which they led the Council’s work on Afghanistan over the past two years.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

UN 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,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council. I would also like to welcome your focus for this debate on the specific role played by women’s civil society organizations in conflict prevention, resolution and recovery. Thanks must also be extended Ms. Bachelet, and Mr. Ladsous for the expertise they provided through their briefings earlier today. I also thank the Secretary-General for his report on Women Peace and Security.

Mr. President,

Through its twelve years of existence, Security Council resolution 1325 and the subsequent related resolutions have been helpful tools, to not only bring to the attention of the international community the importance of the women, peace and security agenda but to strengthen women’s participation rather than simply branding them as victims. The Afghan Government remains committed to implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 in Afghanistan and its promotion worldwide.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is designing a comprehensive plan toward implementing resolution 1325 through its National Action Plan for 1325 (NAP). The Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to implementing NAP, which will be a four-year plan focused on women, peace and security. We appreciate the generous support of the Government Finland for the drafting process.

We have established a steering committee comprised of seven line ministries, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and members of civil society, which meet under the chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to effectively coordinate the implementation of NAP. In addition, we have established a technical working group at the Director General level from those line ministries and an advisory committee, which includes the UN offices in Kabul and international staff. The inclusion of UN partners has been invaluable in bringing together knowledge and expertise from post conflict countries to enable Afghan movement towards the greater implementation of NAP. We are looking forward to the support of UN Women for assisting the Afghan Government in the implementation of NAP for 1325.

Cooperation on the bilateral level has also played a significant role in ensuring that our architecture to implement 1325 is firmly in place through the provision of technical and financial support and we look forward to engaging with our bilateral partners through transition and beyond.

Mr. President,

The Secretary-General expressed concern in his report in regards to the slow global progress in women’s participation and representation in peace talks. The Afghan Government recognises the vital role that women have in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and remains committed to including women’s rights throughout the peace process. Women are playing an important role in regards to the Afghan-led reconciliation, including through participation in the High Peace Council.

Mr. President,

We see a marked improvement in the position of women through a pronounced presence of women in political and social life. Currently, there are 69 female members of parliament, making up more than a quarter of the total number of parliamentarians. There are also encouraging signs for the future of women’s social participation. In 2001, 5,000 girls were enrolled in school in Afghanistan; now, according to figures from 2011, there are 2.7 million girls enrolled in schools across the country. Continued participation of young women in education will ensure not only a brighter future for them but also for Afghanistan as they become the police officers, government officials and leaders of the next generation.

Mr. President,

Additionally, we have ensured there are strong links between women in government and civil society groups to coordinate activities for more involvement of women at all levels. Our civil society has been vital helping Afghanistan rebuild itself from decades of conflict. Women’s civil society groups have been particularly crucial in acting as a united voice for Afghan women. An informal advisory group with the Afghan Government, women Parliamentarians, and Civil society members meet directly with President Karzai on a regular basis to discuss issues of women’s security, women in leadership, women’s rights, and cases of violence against women. The civil society organizations played a championing role in the drafting of the Elimination of Violence Against Women law enacted in 2009 and continuing support for the National Action Plan. Currently, a strong coalition of civil society groups have been focused on providing training on the legal and civil rights of women as well as the relevance of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 to both men and women in provincial districts.

Mr. President,

Violent attacks against innocent Afghans – women, men, girls and boys -  in some parts of the country remains a threat to the overall peace and security of Afghanistan. Violence against women and girls in the country is unacceptable. The Government of Afghanistan and the international community must continue to address ongoing violence to bring much needed lasting peace to Afghanistan to provide a stable situation in which the human rights of all Afghans can be fully respected. To this end, with a focus on training and equipping the army, we have seen an encouraging growth in the number and capabilities of our security forces. This has included the participation of women in the Afghan National Army where they are serving in a variety of different capacities including highly technical roles such as pilots.

Women are also continuing to join the Afghan National Police despite receiving threats against their lives and discouragement, at time even from their own families. Having women participate in these capacities ensures that women in the community have trusted mentors within the ANA and ANP.

Mr. President,

The Government of Afghanistan looks forward to continued cooperation with the international community, to honour and implement resolution 1325 within Afghanistan and worldwide. Through resolution 1325 the international community made a commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, one that still requires our full attention and dedication.

I thank you

 

General Assembly debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the General Assembly debate on  agenda item 38  The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Today we adopt a resolution, which reaffirms this body’s commitment to Afghanistan’s peace, stability, and prosperity.

I wish to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to those who contributed to the resolution, especially the German delegation headed by H.E. Ambassador Peter Wittig, for their dedication and leadership throughout the process. We extend a special thanks to Daniel Schemske for his role in facilitating the negotiations.

Mr. President,

In 2001, after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan was a broken state with an economy in shambles, a shattered infrastructure, and a society wearied by years of conflict. Virtually no aspect of life in our country had been untouched by war. Since then, Afghanistan has come a long way, and yet, we still have far to go. Our path to lasting peace and sustainable development has not been without its challenges. On the way forward, the supporting role of the international community will be important, and will have a considerable effect on how successful the Afghan Government’s efforts can be.

Afghanistan is approaching the end of a period, with the end of the existing framework of international military engagement and with all focus on transition to Afghan led security, governance and development. Transition in Afghanistan did not start in a vacuum. It took us 11 years to reach this point. International involvement began over a decade ago seeking to eliminate the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its regional terrorist allies to global and regional peace and security. After long years of conflict and war, a broad international coalition engaged with a commitment to see Afghanistan through on its path to peace and stability. It was not only a military effort though; the most important thing for Afghans was to rebuild the state effectively. Afghanistan started its journey a decade ago, in regaining an internal and international legitimate, peaceful role, not only in the region but also worldwide. Since 2001, significant achievements have been made from the building of schools and roads, to advancement of women to continuing economic growth and strengthening of our security forces. Today, women are playing a vital role across all sectors of Afghan society and are offered more economic opportunities, millions of Afghan boys and girls are enrolled in schools, and increasing numbers of Afghan people now have access to basic health services.

Afghanistan is in a fundamentally different place from where we were in 2001, a time in which the control of provinces changed hands constantly, human rights were routinely violated, violence prevailed, and the central authority lost its relevance and power under the pressure of internal confrontations. Eleven years later, Afghanistan is looking with hope into the future, to stand on its feet and move towards normalization.

Mr. President,

In April 2014, Afghanistan will hold its third Presidential elections to choose its new leadership, and by the end of 2014 the last foreign combat forces will leave the country. With the election and the end of the military phase of international support, a new chapter in Afghanistan is unfolding; one characterized by consolidated national sovereignty, self-reliance, and stabilization of the situation. These simultaneous events represent the beginning of a sustainability decade, involving mainly a number of vital, interconnected elements in the short and long term: withdrawal of tens of thousands of combat forces; the transfer of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Army and Police; the new arrangement of the post-2014 international military engagement; the organization of free and fair elections; reconciliation aimed at ending the violence and bringing the armed opposition into the peace process, and; capacity-building for a sustainable and functioning state able to maintain peace, stability and democracy in the country for the years to come.

Therefore, Mr. President, the transition framework is the only path for long-term stability in Afghanistan, putting the Afghan people in the centre of the management of security, governance and development of the country. For the success of this transition we need the strong, long-term support, and delivery of the international community.

In the last two years, the transition process, was buttressed by establishing new partnerships with the international community and attempts for turning negative potential into positive through seeking new forms of cooperation in our neighborhood and greater region. Afghanistan has worked with international partners over the last two years to forge agreements on strategies to face the evolving situation in the country, and address all necessary elements of a successful transition. From Lisbon to Chicago, we worked to map out the security transition. It is about enabling Afghan forces until and after 2014, sustaining logistical and financial support, and also providing Afghanistan the necessary assistance for forces to work under the pressures of circumstances. These plans are now in motion. The security transition is on track in its third tranche during which 75% of the country will be under control of Afghan Security Forces. Afghan forces are ready to take full control as planned before the withdrawal of international forces in 2014.

We see the decision at the Chicago NATO Summit concerning the shifting role of the international military to training, advising and assisting mission, as an important indication of enduring support for the Afghan people. Although there are more details that are yet to be determined, it is important for Afghanistan to have the necessary guarantee for continuing military support, as it assumes full responsibility for security in the country. The post-2014 international military engagement in Afghanistan is part of the security agreement that we have recently begun to discuss with the United States in light of our strategic partnership. Based on our national interests, we would like to see this negotiation take us to an agreement that ensures long-term peace and stability in the country. The importance of national sovereignty remains at the heart of the Afghan perspective in any talks about future engagement between Afghanistan and its international partners.

Mr. President,

A successful transition is about successful elections. The government of Afghanistan is committed to the organizing of fair, free and democratic elections that can regenerate new energies for consolidating peace and stability. We would like to see the international community continue to support the upcoming election process. We are certain that the election process will help to bring more certainty to the Afghan people about the political transition. Furthermore, the broader participation of the Afghan people – inclusive of women and men from all walks of life, and with the engagement of civil society –  will help the next elections become a new venue for national consensus and unity; a reflection of our shared vision for building a better future.

The elections should be seen in connection with the ongoing major effort aimed at bringing stability and an end to violence, that of a search for a political solution. We have witnessed visible progress in the peace process with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups. Serious steps are being taken to prepare the ground responsibly for peace talks and a possible breakthrough in the reconciliation process. Let there be no doubt, our peace process will not continue at the expense of the hard won progress of the past decade, including human rights, in particular the rights of women. It is important to note that there is now a consensus about the necessity of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peaceful solution and the peace process is increasingly seen as a crosscutting issue, required for the success of transition. We are encouraged by the increasing positive thinking among a growing number of the armed opposition and support of other main actors for the peace process. The recent visit of the delegation of the High Peace Council to Islamabad, and the release of a number of Taliban prisoners by the government of Pakistan are important developments for creating an atmosphere conducive to a political solution.

The efforts here at the UN have also been essential steps towards building the necessary trust and confidence in the peace and reconciliation process. We are happy to see the continuing focus of the Security Council and the greater role the Afghan Government now plays in the listing and delisting efforts of the 1988 sanctions committee. The commitment by the Security Council has been clearly displayed this week as the Chairman of the High Peace Council was asked to brief the 1988 committee and the members of the Security Council on the progress made in the reconciliation process. This is an opportunity to represent Afghanistan’s intention to have a greater role with regard to the committee’s work.

Mr. President,

A successful transition will allay concerns about the possible vacuum created by the end of the military phase. In that sense, what is essential in the long-term is the economic sustainability of the Afghan state. Afghanistan assisted by its international partners is working to ensure that the Afghan state can function effectively, moving from a primarily aid economy, to a self-sustaining one during the transition and transformation period. The Tokyo Conference in July has made significant steps toward addressing this issue by a clear expression of long-term financial commitment and presenting a shared vision in the mutual accountability framework that addresses the need of our Government for core funding and the need of our development partners to know that the money will be spent well. In Tokyo the international community committed to continued engagement in Afghanistan, while the Afghan Government committed to being financially responsible and focusing on good governance.

Ending corruption and ensuring a transparent and efficient administration which enjoys the full trust of the Afghan people remains a high priority. In this regard, the Afghan Government has redoubled its commitment to rule of law and good governance. H.E. President Karzai’s decree of 21 July presents a comprehensive approach instructing all Ministries, agencies and independent departments to implement measures and reforms to eliminate corruption and improve transparency.

Mr. President,

Global engagement in the last decade has brought an unprecedented level of regional and international interaction in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become a meeting place of dozens of global and regional powers and organizations. The international community has been linked to the stabilization and reconstruction efforts in the country, a fact that is reflected in the level of troop contributions, financial support, and institution building. As we complete the transition, the current form of involvement will be replaced by a multitude of bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the Afghan state and its global and regional partners. On this basis we have begun developing various mechanisms for how to bring the greater region together for political economic, and security cooperation. At the center of this effort is the Istanbul Process.

Over the course of this year we have seen the Istanbul Process gain noteworthy momentum in its efforts to unite the Heart of Asia countries towards the shared goal of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, its region, and beyond. The Istanbul Process is turning into a central forum for regional cooperation that will enhance and bring coherence to regional initiatives through the confidence-building measures and various mechanisms for cooperation to which we committed. With effective regional cooperation, Afghanistan is reclaiming its historic role in the region, with the potential to serve as a trade and transport hub as well as a catalyst for broader collaboration.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan’s future is about sustainability. It is about consolidating our successes and not losing what we have worked to achieve over the past decade. For the remainder of transition, we must not fall behind in our efforts, for even a moment. The next two years are vital for the country. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to working each day to help the Afghan people by developing infrastructure, protecting human rights, enhancing good governance, and improving delivery of services as outlined in the resolution we pass here today.

However, Mr. President, the continuation of a violent campaign by the enemies of peace, stability and prosperity remains the greatest challenge to Afghanistan’s progress. The irresponsible, vicious attacks against innocent Afghans, by the Taliban and other extremist armed groups, are aiming to undermine our hard-earned achievements. But the Afghan people will not be deterred from their struggle to bring peace and security in the country and eliminate sources of destabilization. It is important that this struggle is supported by all who want to see an end to terrorism and extremism. That is why close cooperation in the region including with Pakistan, is essential. As H.E. President Karzai emphasized in his letter to Pakistani leaders on 13 October, there is need for both countries take a coordinated, collaborative, and serious action with strong determination against terrorism and extremism.

Mr. President,

The last decade in Afghanistan has seen historical strides. There are some who talk about a coming disaster as the international forces leave. We do not subscribe to such negative interpretations, but of course, the future of Afghanistan hangs on many “ifs.” We are realistic in recognizing the variables in the coming years, but it is our responsibility, together with the international community to reduce uncertainties. We do not see transition as a cliff that could be fallen from with just one false step. The transition is more than an idea; it is a concrete concept, with real resources and deliberate plans; plans that can shape realities. Afghanistan looks forward to working with the international community in the coming years to achieve the noble objective of bringing a lasting peace, stability and prosperity to the country.

I thank you.