Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Successful Transition to Afghan Leadership Through a Comprehensive Approach

The Situation in Afghanistan Reviewed at Japan’s Symposium on Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding

This week Japan hosted a Public Symposium entitled, “A better path to peace: dynamic collaboration between Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding.” The event was opened by Japanese Foreign Minister, H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, followed by keynote speaker, the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Ms. Sadako Ogata,

As a part of the review panel of the United Nations discussions on peacekeeping and peacebuilding H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, spoke on a panel with Mr. Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Mr. Baso Sangqu, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations.  Ambassador Tanin delivered a statement about peacebuilding in Afghanistan.  He pointed out that in post-conflict societies, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and reconstruction are crucial for preventing relapse.  The collaboration between NATO and the UN in Afghanistan is unique in that it is one of only two NATO missions mandated by the UN Security Council.

Ambassador Tanin defined two phases of peacebuilding in Afghanistan, first from 2001-2006 under the Bonn Agreement, and from 2006-2010 under the London Compact.  While progress made through these two events was tremendous, Ambassador Tanin acknowledged that important opportunities to eliminate terrorism, properly resource and reinforce efforts, and empower Afghans “to shoulder the responsibility of their own destinies” were missed.

The Kabul Conference in January 2010 crafted the Kabul Process, which Ambassador Tanin describes, serves as the basis of “change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan government.”  He went on to explain that the process formed a compact between the Afghan government, Afghan people, and international community.

Ambassador Tanin stressed the need for a comprehensive, state-building approach for future stabilization efforts.  Beyond military strategies, he explains, “the peace process necessitates national reconciliation, outreach to the people, and sustainable partnerships with the region and international community.”  He expressed that the recent NATO summit in Lisbon have solidified the Afghan government’s commitment to Afghan forces assuming full responsibility of national security by 2014. Through its new Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon, NATO has affirmed its commitment to Afghanistan as well as collective security. With the support of NATO and the international community, Ambassador Tanin expressed the belief that a “gradual transition to Afghan leadership will be realized sooner than later.”

Throughout the symposium, Ambassador Tanin met with members of the Foreign Ministry and key Japanese Foreign Policy leaders including Mr. Nobukatsu Kanehara, Deputy Director General for Foreign Policies, Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of Afghanistan and Pakistan Assistance Coordination, and H.E. Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, former Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations.  He also met with Mr. Koki Tsuruoka, Deputy Vice Minister for Foreign Policy, Mr. Koro Bessho, Deputy Foreign Minister, and Mr. Kenzo Oshima Deputy Director General of  the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

A better path to peace dynamic collaboration between Peacekeeping and Peaceduilding

Public Symposium

A better path to peace: dynamic collaboration between Peacekeeping and Peaceduilding

First Session: Review of UN Discussion on Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

1st December 2010


By H.E. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, Mr. Tsuruga, for your introduction as well as for chairing this discussion panel.  I am certainly honored to be speaking among such distinguished colleagues as Mr. Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Mr. Baso Sangqu, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations.

At the outset, please let me also take the opportunity to convey my sincere gratitude and that of my country to the government of Japan and in particular to the Foreign Ministry.  Japan has been an important and gracious international partner of Afghanistan in the past and present, and we are looking forward to continuing our enduring partnership in the future.

Peacekeeping as a Tool to Prevent Relapse

In the aftermath of the Cold War, peacebuilding has become increasingly essential in order to confront the adverse new realities of our times.  Such has been the case in post Cold War conflicts in states such as Iraq, the Balkans and my own country, as well as in less widely-known wars in just about every part of the world.  The international community has come to the imperative realization that the reconstruction of a post-conflict society is as intrinsically linked to global peace and security as the conventional and broadly established combination of peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. The price for failure is high: some nations emerge glaringly from destructive conflicts only to slide right back into violence. Success obliges unrelenting international support for nationally set priorities.

Initial Peacebuilding Process in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the process of peacebuilding was taken up instantaneously after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 with the United Nations being placed at the very heart of the operation.  The task at hand was a complicated one but the overarching goal that would restore decency to the lives of our citizens, was the establishment of enduring peace and stability.  There are two key international actors involved in this complex endeavor: the UN and NATO.  In itself, this collaboration is quite unique as it is one of only two NATO missions that had been mandated by the UN Security Council.  Furthermore, the peacebuilding process in Afghanistan constitutes, to date, one of the largest involvements of the UN as a leading international civilian coordinator as well as NATO’s first stabilization operation outside of Europe in its over 60 years of history.

Particularities in the Afghan Peacebuilding Process

The history of Afghanistan during the past three decades provides the backdrop for the rather unique peacebuilding efforts. Thirty years ago, in December of 1979, Soviet forces entered Afghanistan. Since then, Afghanistan has been a perpetual victim of war, violence and conflict. Constant upheaval has torn the country from a peaceful, progressive path and thrust it into the global spotlight. What was once a stable, modernizing country, a role model for other states in the region, became a disintegrated state, a broken society, a devastated economy and a vast wasteland of shattered lives. A hundred years of social, political and economic progress were destroyed. And even worse, two million people were killed. Ten million more fled for their own safety. The prolonged conflict divided Afghans by ideology, ethnic or political loyalties, and at different times, each group has fought against each other. Today, it is merely impossible to find a place in Afghanistan that did not see bloodshed, scorched earth and where the machinery of war is unfamiliar.

The conflict in Afghanistan was not about one war, a single intervention or a lone protagonist. It brought about three foreign interventions, three main civil wars, the fall of five regimes and an end to the rule of nine heads of state:

– In the 1980s, Afghanistan was plunged into a conflict built around the 1978 Coup and following the Soviet occupation in December 1979.  The two rivaling super powers of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, engaged in the last major battle of the Cold War in the midst of the vast Afghan lands, facilitated through the US supported Mujahedeen and the Soviet backed regime in Kabul.

– In the 1990s a new wave of civil war, between Mujahedeen groups and eventually between the Taliban and the Mujahedeen, pushed Afghanistan into one of its bloodiest havocs. Supported by Pakistan and powerful extremist networks in the Arab world, the Taliban emerged triumphantly, pushing Afghanistan into becoming a launch pad for the Al-Qaeda terrorist operations worldwide, threatening regional and international peace and security.

– Eventually, in 2001, the US led intervention brought about the fall of the Taliban and it appeared that the turmoil had met its end.  However, the emerging Taliban from the sanctuaries in the region, embarked on a new murderous campaign, which was aimed at disrupting the peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts.

Two Phases of Peacbuilding Process

Since 2001, the peacebuilding process in Afghanistan has undergone two different phases in which visible progress had been attained while many obstacles continued to challenge success: (1) 2001-2006 under the Bonn Agreement, (2) 2006-2010 with the London Compact:

A – The Bonn Agreement

The focus of the international community promptly shifted to Afghanistan after 9/11 terrorist attack of Al-Qaida against the US.  While the peacemaking process was initiated in late 2001, herculean efforts were quickly exerted in order to satisfy the strapping need for a complex peacebuilding process. The Bonn agreement represented the only viable path toward establishing a stable Afghanistan as it envisaged a political process, the construction of political institutions, security sector reform, and the establishment of rule of law.  Presidential as well as parliamentary elections embodied a big accomplishment stepping stone in granting the Afghan people their well-deserved input in the future of their homeland.  A complex reintegration process was required in order to facilitate lasting peace; thus, a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) strategy was undertaken as well as an eventual shift toward Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG).  In this regard, our most invested Asian partner, Japan, has put forth remarkable efforts.

The period between 2001 and 2005 represents the first time in three decades during which Afghanistan is generally at peace and moving gradually toward reconstruction.

B – The London Conference

At the end of the five-year implementation period of the Bonn Process there was a need for a renewed commitment between Afghanistan and the international community.  The London conference was held in 2006 to further sustain the stabilization process in three main areas of security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development. Once more, the subsequent five years were determined to be the focal point of all efforts. The London conference initiated a new agreement, the London Compact, focusing on security and capacity building. The implementation of the London Compact has been overshadowed by the return of a violent new Taliban campaign since the end of 2005. Increased terrorist activity and expanding insecurity endangered peacebuilding efforts and posed new challenges for maintaining peace and stability in some parts of the country.

Missed Opportunities

Despite the tremendous progress which was made between 2001 and 2006 and between 2006 -2010, as I stated in a number of occasions previously, we allowed three crucial opportunities to slip through our fingers:

First, we missed the chance to wipe out the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. After their initial defeat, we permitted them to rearm and regroup in sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan. As a result, they returned to threaten us in 2006 and the security situation has deteriorated markedly.

Second, we missed the chance to properly resource and reinforce our efforts. The international forces put in place in 2001 to assist Afghanistan consisted of only 4,500 troops with a limited scope of operation. It took years to increase the forces (ISAF) following the gradual deterioration of the security situation. In term of financial assistance, Afghanistan was treated as a cheap project. The $4.5bil commitment made at the Tokyo donor conference in 2002 did not reflect the true needs of Afghanistan. The same pattern was followed in Berlin in 2005, London 2006, and Paris 2008. In Berlin the assessed need was $21bil, the actual pledge was $8.5bil, in London the assessed need was $30bil -including Berlin- the pledge was a total of $10bil ($2bil) and in Paris the assessed need was $30bil, the actual pledge was $20bil. Afghanistan has been starved for resources, starved for attention, and starved for troops. The responses have been reactive, ex-post-facto, and fragmented.

Third, we missed the chance to rapidly empower and enable Afghans to shoulder the responsibility for their own destiny. The government and civil society lacked capacity, experience and resources.

New Focus: The Kabul Process

An emboldened Taliban and Al-Qaeda has increasingly turned into a greater threat for fragile peace and security, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and the region. It became increasingly imperative to stop the momentum of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The alarming situation prompted the needs for a “strategic shaking” and a comprehensive new focus on peacebuilding and stabilizations efforts.

2009 and 2010 turned out to be rather difficult years for Afghanistan.  Afghan partners, and above all the US, began refocusing on Afghanistan through employing more military and civilian resources. At the beginning of his new term, President Hamid Karzai introduced a new national agenda aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability and ending the enduring suffering of Afghan people.

In that spirit, both the London conference and the Kabul conference were held respectively in January and July of 2010. The latter crafted the Kabul Process, which serves as a new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan government.  It also developed a new compact between the Afghan government, the Afghan people, and the international community. The Kabul Process also had a major focus on regional relationships, encouraging improved cooperation between all regional parties. Security comprises the core of the transition strategy envisaged by the Kabul Process. We are committed to taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full responsibility for security efforts, with the support of the international community, by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon the full support of our friends and partners in helping to build the size, strength and operational capability of Afghan security forces.

We hope that at the end of this transition period, the Afghan army and police will be able to take full responsibility within Afghanistan as intended. The number of National Security Forces has significantly increased. With the help of our partners, we now have approximately 130,000 soldiers and 106,000 police. We plan to increase that number to 171,000 soldiers and 134,000 police by October 2011.

The need for a comprehensive approach

Military strategies alone are not sufficient for the success of stabilization efforts. The peace process necessitates national reconciliation, outreach to the people, and sustainable partnerships with the region and international community.

First, Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country. It is a reasonable and a responsible policy to open the door for reconciling those who would like to join the peace process. We are not only committed to such a policy, but have embraced it through our actions.  Outreach to the armed opposition has led to their inclusion in peace talks, as an effort for achieving peace and security, while our government and international partners continue to put an end to all armed activities of the enemies of peace and progress.

Secondly, outreach to the Afghan people is more than a communication strategy. Afghans from all segments of society should be more actively involved in the political arena, and play a role in promoting security, defense and development.  We must ensure an environment in which all Afghan people feel that they are the masters of their own destinies.  This will enable them to participate in the improvement of Afghan society.

Thirdly, regional cooperation is vital for peace and security in the country. In order to address terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking, we must have meaningful cooperation and conduct sincere and effective dialogue with our neighbors. Eliminating sanctuaries, where terrorists continue to receive training, financial, and logistical support in the region, is a necessary element for eliminating terrorism.  Additionally, Afghanistan is firmly committed to enhancing economic cooperation in the region.  Afghanistan is a connecting bridge between Central and South Asia and all could benefit from economic cooperation, trade, and investment.  This role can be enhanced within the new frameworks of regional cooperation based on mutual commitments made in various forms.

Fourthly, essential to our efforts is the continued support of our friends and allies.  We aim to work actively together to move beyond today’s military activities and gear our joined energy toward establishing stability and long-term cooperation. The strength of our partnership with the international community is crucial for the stability of our people and people around the globe.

From Kabul to Lisbon

The recently held NATO summit in Lisbon and its outcomes, concerning Afghanistan, built heavily on the commitment of the government of Afghanistan for taking over full responsibility of national security by 2014. We believe that the Afghan security forces, with continuing help of our partners, will increasingly be able to take the lead for security operations across the country, thus, a gradual transition to Afghan leadership will be realized sooner than later.  In the course of the NATO summit in Lisbon, a new Strategic Concept was adopted which will serve as the Alliance’s roadmap for the coming ten years, reiterating the commitment to Afghanistan as well as collective security.  I do not intend to beat around the bush; the challenges of peacebuilding in Afghanistan are numerous and multifaceted.  Peace can only endure if it has a solid foundation to grasp on to and peacebuilding enables just that.  Peacebuilding, in combination with peacekeeping, involves the citizens and allows for sustainable peace by fostering reconciliation, building up strong and accountable institutions and promoting security sector reform.  Thus, only a comprehensive state-building approach, that entails long-term commitments by international partners, can even begin to attend to the needs of post-conflict societies, such as my own.

Futher Steps Needed to Safeguard the Lives and Rights of Afghan Civilians

Ambassador Tanin Addresses UN Security Council on

“Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”

Mr. President,


Ladies and gentlemen,

First, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, a topic of particular importance in Afghanistan.  I would also like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos for her briefing and welcome the recent report of the Secretary General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

Mr. President,

Nine years ago, the Afghan people overwhelmingly supported the US–led intervention and joined the US and coalition forces in the fight against terrorism. They saw the international military campaign as crucial for security in the country and the region and for bringing an end to their suffering. From 2001 to 2006, the trust and cooperation between the Afghan people and the international community helped the country to become increasingly stable. However, with the re-emergence in 2006 of the Taliban from sanctuaries in the region and their attempts to attack national and international forces, parts of the country began to slide back into conflict. Violence and insecurity, particularly in the last two years, largely affected the security of people and thousands of civilians lost their lives. The increase in the number of civilian casualties has negatively affected the people’s trust in the prospect of peace security and development in the country.

Mr. President,

Afghans are the first to feel the tragic effects of conflict in their country.  Civilian casualties are caused mainly by intentional acts of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups. Terrorists and extremists have recently expanded the scope of their activities, attacking all segments of Afghan society. By resorting to new and brutal tactics including suicide bombings, abductions, targeted assassinations, and indiscriminate use of IEDs they show complete disregard for human life. Further, terrorists and extremists continue to conduct attacks from densely populated areas and use civilians as human shields. Nevertheless there are also a number of unfortunate, unintended casualties resulting from the military operations and activities of international forces as well as joint military operations of both International and Afghan forces.

Mr. President,

As shown in UNAMA’s 2010 midyear report, the number of civilian casualties due to violence in my country has increased. In the first six months of 2010 there were 3,268 civilian casualties including 1,271 deaths as a result of armed conflict or an average of over 18 civilian casualties a day. It shows a 31% increase from the same period last year. 76% of the incidents were the result of the activities of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups. 6,000 civilian casualties occurred in 2009.

Mr. President,

In discussing civilian casualties, let us remember that we are referring to people, the loss of human life and all too often the lives of innocent women, children, and elders.  Such deaths may not be looked at as merely “the consequences of ongoing violence” and “co-lateral damage.”  Each death in Afghanistan represents a life lost, a family left behind, and an entire future denied its potential.

Mr. President,

Protection of civilians during military operations is our shared responsibility and an international obligation. Increased coordination between international and Afghan forces during military operations and a greater cooperation between the international community and the Afghan government is necessary for ensuring safety and security of civilian populations. This is an important issue which has long been a crucial point of discussion with Afghanistan’s international partners. My government has called upon international forces to take necessary measures to minimize and eliminate civilian casualties. We appreciate the NATO commanders’ commitment of giving a central place to the protection of civilians in their new military strategy. We hope that further necessary steps will be taken in this regard so as to safeguard the lives and rights of Afghan civilians, particularly in the areas affected by conflict.

Mr. President,

To protect the lives of civilians, Afghanistan must work with the international community to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country. The protection of civilians must be placed in the context of the emerging transition in which Afghan national forces will begin to assume full responsibility by 2014.

Just this weekend in Lisbon at the NATO Summit, we embarked on the transition from an international guided process to an Afghan led process.  Security is at the core of this transition.  It is essential for NATO and international partners to enhance trainings for Afghan security forces in order to ensure enduring security and consequently the elimination of civilian casualties. This transition is happening while the enemy is attempting to disrupt the government’s activities and continue their attacks against the Afghan people, government, and international forces.  As the Afghan government seeks to prepare itself to take on responsibility for leading security efforts, the continuing support of the Afghan people for our shared efforts and their active participation in stabilization of the country are crucial for success.

Mr. President,

Protection and promotion of the rights of civilians should be among the top priorities of international engagement in Afghanistan.  In his address to Heads of State at the NATO Summit in Lisbon, H.E. President Karzai said, “we are in dialogue with ISAF on issues of serious concern to the Afghan people, in particular: civilian causalities, detentions, lawless behavior by some security companies and, at times, the NATO’s posture.  We need the space to discuss these issues and resolve them in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork. The sustainable solution to these issues will, of course, come from the realization of our common objective of replacing international forces with Afghan security forces.”

Mr. President,

We are of the conviction that civilian protection is not confined to only preventing civilian casualties. An end to civilian loss requires establishing lasting peace and stability. The recent Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board’s Progress Report on the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, covering the first 100 Days after the Kabul Conference, rightly points out that we have achieved more successes in improving security.  Afghanistan has completed 89% of planned activities in the area of security and exceeded expectations in the growth of the National Army and National Police.

In addition to military operations, the Afghan government is engaged in a comprehensive outreach initiative to achieve lasting peace and security. The Afghan led peace process calls upon the Taliban to lay down their arms and join the peace and reconciliation efforts.  Engaging the armed opposition in peace Talks and the creation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and selection of 60 members are significant steps towards strengthening the peace and reconciliation process.

Our national reconciliation plan is based on our growing responsibility to promote human rights, build trust, and continue outreach to the people of Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Going forward, the issue of civilian protection in armed conflict will continue to be central to our national strategies. Today’s meeting reminds us of the importance of civilians in the overall work of the United Nations and of the international community.  We look forward to further collaboration with our international partners for achieving our ultimate objective, which is ending violence and achieving lasting peace. The success of our partnership is the best way to ensure civilian protection.

Thank you Mr. President.