Friday, July 25, 2014

Opening Ceremony of Exhibit titled, “Wakhan, an Other Afghanistan” at the United Nations

Talking Points of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Afghanistan to the UN  at the

Opening Ceremony of Exhibit titled, “Wakhan, an Other Afghanistan” at the United Nations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • Welcome, all of you, and thank you for attending this special event.  It is a pleasure to join you here this evening to view for the first time at the United Nations this impressive collection of photos. To all the sponsors that helped make this event possible, I extend my appreciation for your support.
  • I am happy to acknowledge the artists, Fabrice Nadjari and Cedric Houin who photographed their inspirational journey through the Wakhan corridor. Please join me in giving them a round of applause for their impressive work.
  • Fabrice and Cedric went on quite an adventure through parts of Afghanistan that the outside world rarely sees due to its remoteness and geographical isolation.  Through this adventure, they put together these fascinating pictorial images they have brought world-wide attention to one of the most exquisite areas of the country and region.
  • The Wakhan corridor, in the extreme Northeast of Afghanistan, linking Afghanistan and China is where one can see the ultimate beauty of the highest mountains in the world; it is where the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun and Hindu Kush ranges meet. The Wakhan corridor is 220km long, and between 16 and 64km wide, inhabited by some 12,000 people. Here you can see the landscape that represents the natural features of the broader central Asian region. The people of Wakhan share lineage with people from the greater area of central Asia. We see today that this exhibit reflects not only the tangible image of an impressive landscape, but the astonishing resilience of a people that live, where every moment is a struggle against their harsh natural setting.
  • In his masterpiece “The Monuments of Afghanistan,” Warwick Ball says, “The land itself is the natural starting point of any examination of Afghanistan. To the outsider, it is what one first encounters: its Great Plains, its fertile valleys, its mountains are seen as a source of empire by the conqueror, a source of wealth by the merchant, a source of inspiration by the pilgrim. For the people themselves, it is the landscape that has moulded them more than any other single factor: it has inspired their genius, channelled their ideas into certain patterns, and provided a spectacular setting for towns, villages and monuments that are the manifestation of that genius… but it is not the mountains, plains, and deserts alone that give the land its special quality. For the natural landscape are still just a backdrop to the human landscape set in them… the towns, villages, even the fields which adorn the landscapes are as impressive- and massive – as any great monument or work of art.”[1]
  • What Warwick Ball is saying about the landscape and diversity is just what we are seeing in today’s exhibition about Wakhan. When you look around at the faces of people in these images, you can see the simple beauty of their preservation of a traditional way of life.
  • Afghanistan is viewed as a crossroads, a meeting point of different regions, a distinguished place in the Heart of Asia.  In historical terms Afghanistan’s land which “has hosted some of the greatest civilizations… ranged from forming the peripheries of empires centered elsewhere to in turn being the hub of great empires that encompassed lands from Tabriz in the west, the Aral Sea in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south and Benares in the east…no history of China, Persia, India or Russia can be understood without continuing reference to the land locked area at whose centre lie the majestic deserts and sweeping mountain ranges of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has always seemed to be the enigmatic key to the histories and destinies of others.”[2] Due to its unique location, Wakhan exemplifies in its own way a crossroads, and today it can bring regions together, rather than separating them.
  • It is my hope that all diplomats and UN staff, particularly those involved in Afghanistan see these photos.  After long years of war in Afghanistan, as we embark upon a new decade of peace, we look to faces such as these to remind us of the future we are working towards with all our efforts. This exhibit encourages us to continue sharing stories of hope, success, and determination as we strive to preserve Afghanistan’s rich culture.
  • I thank you.

 



[1] Ball, Warwick. “The Monuments of Afghanistan: History, Archaeology and Architecture,” I. B. Tauris (August 19, 2008).

[2] Ibid.

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