Monday, November 24, 2014

Opening Remarks H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Chair –Designate of the Fifth 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 (BMS 5) First Informal consultations


Distinguished delegates,

I’d like to offer a warm welcome to all of you in my capacity as Chair-designate to this first informal consultation on the preparations for the Fifth 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, also known as “BMS5”, to be held in New York from 16 to 20 June 2014.

I would like to thank you for the trust you have bestowed upon me earlier this year, by endorsing my nomination as Chair-designate for BMS5. I look forward to taking on this role and to working with all of you as we move forward.

Please be assured that I will work closely with Member States to ensure the success of BMS5. Moreover, I am committed to an inclusive and fully transparent process from beginning to end, leading into the meeting next year.

The Programme of Action remains an important instrument at our disposal to tackle the complex issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which continues to wreck havoc in many regions and impede socio-economic development.

The Biennial Meetings of States, which are aimed at considering the national, regional and global implementation of the Programme of Action, are an important opportunity to take stock of our efforts, and identify how to improve our collective approach in the fight against the illicit trade in and uncontrolled proliferation of these weapons. Next year’s BMS5 is significant in this regard, and offers us the chance to move forward with the goals of the PoA especially in light of last year’s successful Review Conference.

Today, I look forward to hearing your input on the possible agenda, outcome, and other substantive and organizational aspects of BMS5.  I am committed to fully hearing your views and concerns throughout our consultations.

As indicated in my letter to you of 10 October, BMS5 will include a separate segment on the International Tracing Instrument, also known as “the ITI”. This is in line with past practice and with the mandate of the ITI, which was adopted by consensus in 2005. It is my intention, also in accordance with past practice, to appoint a moderator for the ITI segment of BMS5.

In regards to our working methods for BMS5: I intend to use the same working methods which were successfully used during previous Programme of Action meetings. This includes an early circulation of a ‘zero-draft’ outcome document, leaving ample possibility for open, transparent consultations in the lead-up to the meeting itself.

Furthermore, as in the past, I would suggest that the BMS5, due to time constraints, have again no general debate nor a high-level segment, but moves directly into the thematic debate.  I hope this will allow us to make effective progress on substantive issues so that we ensure a successful outcome of June’s meeting.

In regards to our discussions today on the BMS5 agenda, Member States will recall that I put forward some very initial proposals, based on what States agreed to in the last Review Conference, including:

  1. Stockpile management;
  2. Marking, record-keeping and tracing: the International Tracing Instrument;
  3. International cooperation and assistance;
  4. Other issues.

Of course, these are only very tentative, preliminary proposals.  I will work hard to listen to you so that the final agenda is fully representative of all your ideas and interests, and to this end, I look forward to your comments today.  It would be my intention to reach an informal agreement on an agenda for BMS5 by December.

I would also like to remind you of the importance of the timely submission of your national reports on the implementation of the PoA and the ITI.  The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs circulated a Note Verbale on 20 September, calling on Member States to submit their national reports before 31 December this year. UNODA can assist you with obtaining a password to log into the online reporting page in order to submit your report.

Also, you will recall that in the 2012 Review Conference outcome, States requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on “implications of recent technological developments in small arms for marking, record-keeping and tracing”, which will be considered at BMS5. States agreed that they would provide information on this in their national reports. In this regard, I would encourage you to make use of your national reports to submit this information, since I envisage that this Secretary-General’s report will be considered at BMS5 under the ITI section. In this regard, I ask the Secretariat to ensure that the Secretary-General’s report is issued in a timely manner so that we can all study it well in advance of our meeting next year.

Regarding the next steps of the BMS5 process, I intend to hold at least four rounds of open, informal consultations with Member States, in New York and possibly in Geneva, before the start of BMS5.

I would like now to open the floor for comments.

I give the floor to the delegate from…




[Member States take the floor…]


Are there any other issues Member States may wish to bring up?


Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the First Committee

Mr. Chairman,

To begin, I congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the First Committee. We wish you and the members of the Bureau every success leading the work of our Committee, and assure you of our full support and cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). I wish to make the following observations in my national capacity:

Afghanistan reiterates its full commitment to multilateral diplomacy, an important principle for advancing disarmament, international security, and nonproliferation. We believe the global goal on arms control, arms reduction, and the full eradication of weapons of mass destruction will only be realized with strong, collective political will.

Since 2001, we witnessed a number of developments that provide the foundation for effective arms-control, arms reduction, and non-proliferation. Twelve years ago, the General Assembly adopted the UN Program of Action on small arms and light weapons (POA). In 2005, the GA adopted the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), an important development to the curtailment of illegal weapons munitions. And most recently, the GA adopted the Arms-Trade Treaty (ATT) to regulate international trade in conventional arms.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan welcomes the outcome of the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament on the 26th September. That landmark event was an affirmation of the international community’s collective desire to achieve a world free of any type of nuclear weapons.

Afghanistan supports, unequivocally, all initiatives in the sphere of nuclear disarmament.  Consistent with a core pillar of our foreign policy, we are fully committed to realizing a nuclear weapons free zone in Asia, and other parts of the world. In this regard, we are party to several treaties and conventions dealing with nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. These include the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). And we are in the process of strengthening our non-proliferation and disarmament legal framework.

Mr. Chairman,

Since the fall of the Taliban regime, the government of Afghanistan initiated several measures at the national level to combat the production and trafficking of substances that may be used to make chemical and biological weapons, based on our international commitments.  In 2010 President Karzai issued a decree which prohibited the import, export and transport of ammonium nitrate.  It is important that Afghanistan is supported at the regional and international level for its efforts in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan fully supports the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.  The adoption of the outcome document at the conclusion of the 2nd Review Conference last year presents an effective framework for concrete action to implement the Program of Action.

Looking forward, more work remains, particularly in the area of illegal arms tracing.  Greater cooperation and collaboration is necessary. Many states lack sufficient capacity to exert effective control of illicit arms within their borders.  Speaking from our experience, we can attest that terrorists’ access to illegal small arms and light weapons has fueled the cycle of violence in Afghanistan and our region.

Having experienced close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of small arms and light weapons. During this period, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory.  Such weapons are responsible for killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

Mr. Chairman,

Over the past twelve years, Afghanistan registered important progress in the area of disarmament. We implemented our security sector reform (SSR), which focused on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants (DDR), and the disbandment of illegal armed groups (DIAG). Through this initiative, we collected thousands of small arms and light weapons, and millions of munitions, which were deposited with the security institutions of our country.

Mr. Chairman,

No state has been as affected by the use of landmines as Afghanistan during the past three-decades. Over a million people lost their lives or were disabled as a result of landmines, and this widespread destruction and loss of life continues today. Moreover, at present, armed militant groups still use mines to threaten stability, safety, and development in Afghanistan. In 2012 and the first six months of 2013, approximately 3000 people were killed or injured by landmines. The continued use of these weapons by the Taliban is very serious and concerning, and threatens the development and prosperity in the lives of Afghans.

We are working to achieve our Mine Action Program, and have made important progress in this regard.  We are striving to become mine-free by 2023.  That said, we face financial constraints in implementing our Mine Action Program. The government of Afghanistan appeals to the international community to pledge financial assistance to help us achieve our goal of a mine free Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

During the last 5 years, the IEDs used by the Taliban and other armed anti-government groups have posed a major threat to the security and stability of our country.  They have caused an overwhelming loss of life of ordinary civilians, as well as Afghan and international security forces. Much of the precursors, substances and materials used for these bombs are trafficked into Afghanistan. This must be stopped, and we call on our international and regional partners to support us in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan is fully committed to the eradication of cluster munitions, and ratified the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions in September of 2011. With the destruction of 546 different munitions in 2012, Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpile. We are fully committed to the provisions of the convention on cluster munitions.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.





Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the Third Committee

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, allow me to thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is a helpful prelude to this important debate.

Today’s debate is particularly relevant to my country, Afghanistan.  Just 12 years ago, women in Afghanistan were prohibited from going to school, they were confined to their homes, and they were not allowed a voice in the public sphere.  Yet since 2001, the government has been fully committed to enabling women to regain their historic roles as proactive citizens in Afghan society.

Mr. Chairman,

We have made tremendous progress since the collapse of the Taliban. In 2001, 5000 girls were enrolled in school in Afghanistan.  Now around 3 million girls are enrolled in schools across the country. Since 2001, the number of female lecturers in Afghanistan’s universities has increased by 15 percent; the number of female teachers in schools has increased 31 percent; and women’s presence in different levels of government offices has increased up to 25 percent.

Equality of men and women is enshrined in our constitution, and the advancement of women is marked as the responsibility of the state.   Afghanistan is in the top 30 countries of the world with the highest representation of women in the Parliament. These developments towards greater empowerment of women are among our proudest achievements of the past 12 years.

Mr. Chairman,

My government is committed to gender equality and the empowerment of all Afghan women. Their role and participation in the country’s development and political institutions is essential to Afghanistan’s future.  Our national policies exemplify this commitment: gender is a central component of Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy (ANDS), which affirms equality in all aspects for women.  The ANDS includes specific benchmarks for advancing gender equality including increased participation of women in state and non-state activities and the provision of legal privileges for women.

The National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan (NAPWA) is the main vehicle for government implementation of gender commitments in the Afghan National Development Strategy, the Constitution, the MDGs, the Afghanistan compact and other national and international policy instruments on women.  Through my country’s transformation decade (2015-2025), NAPWA will pursue a number of ambitious objectives including promoting women’s participation in government entities, reducing illiteracy, ensuring equal pay for equal work, lowering maternal mortality, and providing greater economic opportunities to women.

In addition, Afghanistan is pursuing the vigorous implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to ensure that women are meaningfully represented in peace, security, and conflict resolution efforts.  In this regard, women continue to play a role in Afghan peace talks, including through participation in the High Peace Council.  Women are also among the ranks of security and police forces in the country.

I gratefully note the International Community’s tremendous support of women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, and of our plans towards women’s advancement.  This support has been consistent over the past twelve years, and is clearly demonstrated by the outcome document of the Tokyo Conference of July 2012, bilateral and multilateral agreements, and support through various programs and donor agencies.

Mr. Chairman,

The challenges we face in our endeavours towards the advancement of women in the country are towering.  Numerous realities of our country prevent women from realizing full equality including poverty, low levels of education, and unfamiliarity with related laws in remote and rural areas. Most significantly, women are amongst the most vulnerable as a result of three decades of war and insecurity.

We note with profound regret the killings and brutality against many women and girls including women activists, NGO workers, police officers and even a member of the Parliament.  Anti-government elements target these brave women who are working towards the betterment of my country.  Let me emphasize that violence against women is an intolerable breach of human rights, and our government condemns it absolutely. For this reason, peace and reconciliation is crucial for Afghan women and girls to further consolidate achievements made for their rights over the past several years.

Mr. Chairman,

In the lead up to presidential and provincial elections, women are playing important roles in the political life of the country, in parliament, in civil society, and in the upcoming elections.

Last week an Independent Election Commission spokesman noted that 237 women had submitted their names for provincial elections.  There are currently 8 female vice presidential candidates and one presidential candidate.

In closing, I want to emphasize how far my country has come since the dark days of the 1990s, and how many rights we’ve won for women since.  We must see our progress in this perspective.  We thank the international community for their continued support of our efforts for the women of our country and their rights. For our part, we remain fundamentally committed to the advancement of women’s rights, and we will work to ensure the full empowerment of women.


Thank you.