Report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan At the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Statement by Mr. Mohammad Erfani Ayoob
Deputy Permanent Representative,Charge dâ€™ Affaires of Afghanistan to the United Nations
On the report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan
At the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Members of the Working Group,
Let me thank you for convening todayâ€™s meeting and inviting my delegation to discuss the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan.
I thank the Secretary General and the Security Council Working Group, for their efforts to report cases of violations of childrenâ€™s rights and to monitor the implementation of Resolution 1612 in countries affected by conflict.
We strongly believe in the vital role of the Security Council in protecting the rights of Children during armed conflict. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to implement all relevantÂ Â Security Council Resolutions concerning the protection of children, including 1612.
I welcome Mrs. Radhika Coomaraswamy the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict who is among us, and thank her for her insightful briefing on her recent visit to Afghanistan.
Every child in every country has a dream for a brighter future and as well as a common ambition to achieve their goals. Todayâ€™s children are our future generation and they deserve our best care and protection. Unfortunately, the 3 decade old war and conflict in Afghanistan destroyed our infrastructure, damaged our values and deprived our people from their basic rights including: education, health, and social â€“ economic wellbeing. As a result, our children have become the primary victims of these conflicts.
For the last 10 years, despite facing many challenges, the Government of Afghanistan with its partners in the International community, has made significant progress in promoting and safeguarding the rights of children in all areas, including education, health and other key areas
Afghanistan is proud to have ratified human rights related conventions and protocols including, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols; adopted the National Strategy on Children at Risk to prevent violence and exploitation of children; participated in Paris process â€œFree Children from War.â€Â Further, we support the establishment of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) based on the Security Council resolution 1612, and have joined the Convention on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour of the ILO.Â Additionally, we are a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Nevertheless, despite our efforts to improve security, terrorism remains a serious threat in the daily lives of our people, particularly our younger generation.Â Children remain the prime victims of terrorism in Afghanistan.
As part of their intimidation campaign, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their allies, commit crimes through recruiting and training children across Afghanistanâ€™s border and exploiting them as combatants in our country . They urge children to operate as suicide bombers, attack female teachers and girl students, burn schools, attack civilians and international workers. Their very presence creates an environment where humanitarian aid is unable to access those who most desperately need it.
It is the Taliban and other terrorists groups that remain the main violators of our peopleâ€™s human rights, including childrenâ€™s rights in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is our duty to concentrate our common efforts in finding ways and means to protect Afghan children from the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.
Additionally, for a successful implementation of 1612 in Afghanistan, it is essential to recognize and address the overriding socio-economic and political challenges in Afghanistan and in the region.
We are strongly committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of our children and it is our responsibility to provide them opportunitiesÂ for education;Â combating violence, prosecute those who commit crimes against children and guarantee economic and social opportunities .The Government of Afghanistan with the continued support by our international partners will spare no effort to improve the plight of our children, Â through implementing ourÂ Millennium Development Goals; National Development Strategy (ANDS); and our National Priority Programs adopted during Kabul Conference (2010).
My delegation appreciates the efforts lent to the publication of the Secretary General on the issue of Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan and have studied it closely.
This second country-specific report on Afghanistan is a comprehensive one which illustrates great improvement since the first report. However it also highlights that, unfortunately due to continued terrorist attacks by Taliban, Al Qaeda and other anti government elements, the grave violence against children and civilian casualties have increased during reporting period.
We appreciate the concerns of International Community toward the plight of Afghan Children and welcome the recommendation contained at the end of this report.Â I would like to make the following comments on this report:
My delegation has a well reasoned reservation with the terminology of â€œall parties to the conflictâ€ by the use of this terminology it has unjustly placed the ANSF on the same line with terrorist groups. We stress to all present today that there needs to be a clear differentiation between the Government of Afghanistan and International security forces Â from the terrorist and Anti-governmental elements.
We hold concerns that the report should not rely on isolated cases. Isolated cases cannot constitute a solid basis and must not identify the Government of Afghanistan as a violator of childrenâ€™s rights.
Afghanistan has taken numerous measures to prevent child recruitment in our national security forces, and punish those who commit sexual violence against children. According to existing laws, recruitment of any solider under the age of 18 is illegal.Â Moreover, any form of sexual violence against children is a crime punishable by law.
Since Taliban , Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups use children to conduct military operations and terrorist activates in Afghanistan , subsequently some of those children has been obtained by Afghan authorities . These children are kept in the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres and treated in the line of Afghan Law for Juvenile Justice .
Let me also reiterate that the Government of Afghanistan is taking necessary steps to bring to justice perpetrators of the practice of Baccha Baazi, or â€œBoy Play â€ as an immoral and anti Islamic practice. Â We are firmly committed to bringing this practice to an end.Â In short, let me state that all forms of sexual violence against children, including paedophilia is considered a crime.Â At the same time, I would like to make clear that there exists no law in Afghanistan which will grant immunity to perpetrators of sexual violence.
Afghanistan looks forward to working closely with the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting to ensure the successful implementation of Security Council Resolution 1612. In the context of the overall efforts of the UN improve the plight of Afghan children; we urge the relevant agencies, including the UNDP and UNICEF to give special focus on addressing the broader socio-economic, governance and security issues. Doing so will offer an important contribution in the effort to safeguard and empower our children.
Collateral damage during international military operations has also negatively affected the well-being of our children. In this regard, we welcome recent measures by international partners to prevent such harm to all our citizens, including our children.Â These include a review of tactics and procedures, as well as enhanced coordination with Afghan security forces.
In April 2010 , the ANP was listed in the 9th report of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of childrenÂ and the Working Group has the record of strongÂ rejection by the Government of Afghanistan on this listing . The ANSF, which have been extensively trained by the international community and scarifying their lives to fight the enemies of Afghan people , should not be included on this list of shame, along with terrorist organizations , because of some isolated incidents.
In October 2009, the Government of Afghanistan appointed a high-level focal point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work closely with the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting.
On 24th of April 2010, the Ministry of Interior issued an executive order for the prevention of recruitment of children into the Afghan National Police. This prohibits children from being recruited or employed within the Afghan National Police; requires children found within the Afghan National Police to be separated in 30 days.Â It also calls for measures aimed at reintegration, and investigations and disciplinary action against those found to be recruiting or employing children.
Acting upon the conclusion and recommendation of SC working Group on Children and Armed Conflict , the Government of Afghanistan established the Inter Ministerial Â Steering Committee on the 18th of July 2010, to finalize an Action Plan to prevent the recruitment of children in our national security forces.
On the 30th of January 2011, the Action Plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children in Afghan National Security Forces, and the annexes to the Plan on the prevention of sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children was signed by H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rasul , MoFA of Afghanistan , SRSF Steffan DeMistura, and Mrs. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of SG for Children and Armed Conflict and officially was launched for implementation .
The Government of Afghanistan is workingÂ closely with the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting to do its partÂ to implementÂ and strengthen reportingÂ mechanism under Security Council resolutions including 1882 (2009) .
I would like to reiterate the Government of Afghanistanâ€™s commitment to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of children in Afghanistan, and express our readiness to fully cooperate with the SC Working Group and relevant UN bodies to implement the Action Plan.
I Thank You.
Recognizing the role that forests play in everything from mitigating climate change to providing wood, medicines and livelihoods for people worldwide, the United Nations today kicked off a year-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of this important resource.
â€œForests for Peopleâ€ is the main theme of the International Year of Forests, which was launched at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York attended by world leaders, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and forest experts.
The General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, on which at least 1.6 billion people depend for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs. Forests are also home to over 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, who reside in forests.
â€œBy declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests â€“ and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them,â€ noted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Todayâ€™s launch ceremony, presided over by General Assembly President Joseph Deiss, is part of the high-level segment of the UN Forum on Forests, an intergovernmental policy forum dealing with forest-related issues. â€œEvery one of us, all seven billion people on earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to the health of our forest ecosystems,â€ noted Jan McAlpine, the Director of the Forumâ€™s Secretariat. â€œThroughout 2011, we will celebrate this intricate, interdependent relationship between forests and people,â€ she said.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), also noted that forests represent many things to many people including spiritual, aesthetic and cultural dimensions that are, in many ways, priceless. â€œBut they are also cornerstones of our economies, whose real value has all too often been invisible in national accounts of profit and loss,â€ he added.
Forests cover about 31 per cent of total land area, amounting to just under 4 billion hectares, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which today released its â€œState of the Worldâ€™s Forestsâ€ report.
The report, which is published every two years, stresses that the forest industry forms an important part of a â€œgreenerâ€ economy and wood products have environmental attributes that would appeal to people.
The industry is responding to numerous environmental and social concerns by improving sustainability of resource use, using more waste materials to make products, increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. For example, 37 per cent of total forest production in 2010 came from recovered paper, wood waste and non-wood fibres, a figure that is likely to grow to up to 45 per cent in 2030, with much of that growth from China and India.
â€œWhat we need during the International Year of Forests is to emphasize the connection between people and forests, and the benefits that can accrue when forests are managed by local people in sustainable and innovative ways,â€ said Eduardo Rojas, FAOâ€™s Forestry Director.
Ms. Maathai noted in her address at the launch, as well as in a briefing to reporters, that the value of the International Year is the opportunity to â€œexplore the value of the trees, the forests and the environment, as well as the value of the environmental services that these resources give us.â€
She added that too often forests and the services they provide are taken for granted and seen as resources that are unlimited. â€œBut we all know now that we are facing situations where these forests are disappearing,â€ she told reporters.
As part of the launch, international filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand will premiere his short film â€œFOREST.â€ The ceremony also featured clips from winning films from the International Forest Film Festival which was organised by the UN Forum on Forest Secretariat in collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
On Behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ambassador Zahir Tanin spoke at a round table session on â€œForests for People.â€Â He described the dramatic changes in the Afghan forest coverage over the last thirty years.Â â€œAs a result of the absence of forest management and poor agricultural practices amongst other contributing factors due to decades of conflict and instability,â€ he said, â€œforests cover less than 3% of total land area in Afghanistan today.â€ Ambassador Tanin explained the necessity of preserving forests in order to serve as a primary energy source as well as for their non-timber products.
According to Ambassador Tanin, â€œUN Environmental Protection experts predict that at the current rate of deforestation, Afghanistanâ€™s forests will disappear within 30 years if collective action is not taken to reverse the destruction.â€Â The government of Afghanistan, he explained, is working to address the issue through the adoption of a national plan to improve policies in relation to forests.