Thursday, September 3, 2015

General Assembly Votes in Support of Stronger Recognition of European Union in UN In Debate Chaired by Ambassador Tanin

On 3 May, as acting President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin chaired the 88th GA plenary meeting which included both agenda items “Culture of Peace” and “Strengthening the United Nations System.”

After 8 months of debates on a stronger recognition of the European Union at the United Nations, draft resolution A/65/L.64/Rev.1 sponsored by the members of the European Union was adopted by the terms of the resolution with 180 in favour to none against, and 2 abstentions. This historic decision was made with the inclusion of oral amendments to the written proposal announced during the meeting and was met with several serious reservations by countries such as Nauru, Iran, and Zimbabwe who expressed concern about the significance of such a resolution. In the end, the European Union was able to garner the overwhelming support of Member States in order to adopt the resolution.

“The resolution will in the future enable EU representatives to present and promote the EU’s positions in the UN as agreed by its Member States” and will further “take account of the institutional changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty,” as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton stated.

Subsequent to the adoption of the resolution, the EU and its Member States are able to be inscribed on the list of speakers among representatives of major groups as well as be invited to participate in the Assembly’s general debates.  In accordance with the rules of procedures of the GA, the EU now has the right to raise points of order and can exercise the right of reply “regarding positions of the European Union.”

The resolution was welcomed by a number of delegates from regional groups.

The Assembly Secretary reported that under operative paragraph 2 of the resolution, additional financial requirements amounting to $10,000 would be required for the installation of the necessary delegate units.

The meeting also included the adoption of the draft resolution A/65/L75 in which delegates in the General Assembly designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship as a part of the agenda item “Culture of Peace.”

Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan

UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan meeting 2nd May 2011

The UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict met on the 2nd of May 2011 to present the draft conclusions on Children and armed conflict in Afghanistan. The meeting followed the report of The Special Representative of Secretary-General for the Children and Armed Conflict on Afghanistan which was released on the 25th of February 2011. The draft conclusion was the product of several rounds of consultations with the working group and representatives of Afghanistan.

The draft conclusion highlighted the situation in Afghanistan and, “expressed grave concern about the persistence of widespread violations and abuses committed against children in the context of armed conflict in Afghanistan”. The report noted the reservations of the Afghan government over the term “all parties to the conflict” used in the Secretary-General’s report which unjustly placed the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) alongside terrorist and insurgent groups who are responsible for committing violations and abuses against children. The report further made several recommendations to the government of Afghanistan, the Secretary-General, the Security Council, the International Security Assistance Force as well as the World Bank and other donors on measures which need to be implemented in Afghanistan to better protect children in the context of armed conflict.

In a statement to the working group His Excellency Ambassador Tanin expressed sincere gratitude for the efforts of the working group, in particular that of Ms. Coomaraswamy for promoting the rights of Afghan children. He highlighted the implementation of the Action Plan by the Afghan Government and the UN Country Task Force on monitoring and reporting regarding Children Associated with National Security Forces in Afghanistan as one example of progress being made in the country.

Ambassador Tanin also shed light on several key issues such as detention of children and the reported systemic sexual abuse of young boys. He stated, “while the tragedy of sexual abuse is not limited to Afghanistan, in our country it is the unfortunate effect of protracted absence of law enforcement institutions”. Alongside this, Dr. Tanin highlighted the ratification of several declarations, passing of new laws and other measures as examples of the Afghan government’s commitment to the pursuit of protection of children in armed conflict.

The draft conclusion on Children and armed conflict in Afghanistan was adopted with no objections.

Hosts Ambassadorial Conversation on “Afghanistan and its Neighborhood” at Fairleigh Dickenson University

On 6 April, the Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck Campus, co-organized an event with the United Nations Ambassador’s Club entitled, “Afghanistan and its Neighborhood.”  H. E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations was a guest speaker. The founder and CEO of the foundation, Ambassador Ahmad Kamal requested Ambassador Tanin’s presence to shed light on important topics concerning Afghanistan and the region. The esteemed former Ambassador of Pakistan, Ambassador Kamal had not only organised the event but also chaired the session. During an ‘informal conversation’ setting, Ambassador Kamal and Ambassador Tanin discussed a broad range of topics including Afghan history, its relationship with the region, particularly Pakistan, and the future direction of the country. The event was well attended by an audience of 110 diplomats, students and faculty staff and was followed by a formal dinner in honor of Ambassador Tanin.

A common theme from the discussions was the emphasis that despite their many differences, Afghans and Pakistanis have much shared culture and language.  Ambassador Tanin described the historical divisions during the time of the Cold War, the political context that led to the rise of the Taliban, and the further strategic divide between the two countries.  However, he mentioned the importance of realizing the potential for cooperation throughout the region.

Questions from audience members focused on the role of the US in Afghanistan.  Ambassador Tanin spoke with certainty, “we’d like to see an America that helps us stand on our own feet.”  He acknowledged that the US and Afghanistan hold dialogue in order to further develop and improve their strategic partnership, and that this communication is both “frank and friendly.” When asked about how Afghans view the American presence there, Ambassador Tanin pointed out that there are a range of views within the country, and that many Afghans want international involvement in the country, but also that “any action, whether by the Afghan government or international forces” can have an effect on public opinion.

In response to further audience questions, Ambassador Tanin argued that women’s education is of crucial importance, and that corruption must be addressed, but that the war has been an obstacle in overcoming this issue. He emphasized the need to work for a lasting peace in Afghanistan and responded to questions about the negotiation process. “We need to end this war,” he said, “it cannot be done in only a military way.  A reconciliation is needed.”

During the formal dinner following the conversation, the Provost gave a warm welcome to Ambassador Tanin.  An Afghan student from the university gave thanks on behalf of the student body, describing that he had listened to Ambassador Tanin as a former BBC journalist in Afghanistan many years ago.