Saturday, April 19, 2014

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.

Nowruz Celebration

STATEMENT BY

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the General Assembly

Nowruz Celebration

New York

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

Today we come together from many nations to celebrate Nowruz, an official international day. Last year, the representatives of Azerbaijan, Albania, Macedonia, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan co-sponsored the General Assembly resolution that took Nowruz beyond our national and regional boundaries and brought it here to the heart of the international community. With this, we created a new piece of history for our age-old cultural tradition.  I am honored and humbled to have been among my colleagues as part of that major achievement. As we celebrate Nowruz, the beginning of our New Year from the Balkans to China in the East and to the Himalayas in the South, we join with other colleagues here today in celebrating the beginning of spring for the entire Northern hemisphere.

Nowruz is about a new beginning. It is a rebirth, which comes in the season in which nature plays out the metaphor of renewal in its budding, blossoming return to green.  After months of cold, snow, and perhaps even hibernation, we emerge from our winter slumber across nations and regions to our spring awakening.

The celebration of spring and the vernal equinox is embraced by many cultures and religions. In Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and many other religions and civilizations, this seasonal change is marked with unique traditions all stemming from the same feeling of reinvigoration at the much-anticipated arrival of spring.

This time of renewal also has the potential to become a means of internal and natural reconstruction.  It is a time for personal growth and rebirth of the self.

Nowruz belongs to all of us, an estimated 300 million people who have celebrated this event for more than three thousand years. It came to us as an old and most natural of all festivities, through myths, stories, and history.  The tradition spanned through generations and continues in our time, not as a tradition of an empire or state, but a tradition that goes beyond all boundaries that divide us and reminds us of the common ground that unites us.  This is a tradition that many of our individual cultures enjoy, defining us within the context of a larger, shared culture. While we live within our national boundaries, our cultural landscape has always been greater than the political ones to which we belong.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

In today’s deeply interconnected world, globalization has had a transformative effect, necessitating cooperation between countries and regions.  It has been first the political or economic interests that underpin this cooperation. However, globalization is only successful when it is rooted in the realization of cultural common ground.  Political and economic cooperation and integration, as shown by the European Union for example, can only be sustained when it is based on a strong cultural foundation. For us, history, including historical traditions like Nowruz, is a part of that common cultural identity.

We are thrilled to celebrate Nowruz with our friends from around the world, and to join with millions of people to honor this time of joyous festivity and renewed hope for a new year, a new season of life. Here in the United Nations, we are not only part of a co-sponsorship of this international day but we all work together for the realization of the noble objectives of peace and cooperation between our nations.  I hope that in celebrating together today we can play a role in bringing about a natural new beginning to our work here in this building by the East River, and reinvigorate our collective efforts for peace around the globe.