Friday, November 27, 2015

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Land Locked Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Land Locked Developing Countries

Meeting of Foreign Ministers Delivered by Mr. Daud Yaar

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset let me express my sincere appreciation to Paraguay for its successful leadership of the Group of Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs).

Mr. Chairman,

The landlocked developing countries are commonly among the poorest of the developing countries and 16 of us, including my own country are classified as least developed countries with the weakest growth rates, and critically dependent on a very limited number of commodities for our export income.

There is a clear connection between distance and the transport costs. High transport costs affect the competitiveness margin of landlocked developing countries and trade volume.

Lack of territorial access to the sea, distance and isolation from world markets and high transit costs continue to impose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development of our countries. In addition to numerous global crises, such as widespread poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, the threat of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages are among many challenges which developing countries, particularly land locked developing countries are facing.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan’s export and import have been adversely affected by long distance, difficult terrain, bad condition of roads, non-existence of railway system in the country, volatile security, threat of terrorism and relations with neighbouring countries and inefficiency of transit transport.  As well our export and import depend on transit through other countries. Additional border crossings and long distance from the market considerably increase our total expenses for the transport services. Not only the above challenges, but also sensitive relation with neighbouring countries all the time impose extra pressure and cost on our poor economy. Afghanistan is a commodity exporter country. We pay almost two times more of our export earnings for the payment of transport and insurance services. All of these challenges have had enormous harmful effects on the implementation and realization of our MDGs.

The three decades of war has enormously damaged our economy and our political and social infrastructure, including our roads and transport system. During the past 10 years we managed to built and rehabilitate much of our roads and transport system, however, for adequate development and maintenance of transport infrastructure, establishing a better transit transport system and enhanced technical assistance, capacity building for the formulation of trade policies, investment into infrastructure for transport, communication and etc. we need much support of our development partners and regional cooperation.

Afghanistan fully supports the commitment  of the landlocked countries to accelerate the implementation of Almaty Programme of Action through effective and genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit countries and their development partners as well as between public and private sector  at national , regional and global level.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I reiterate our commitment to work closely with you all to advance our common interests.

I thank you.

Afghanistan and the International Community Discuss Reintegration After Afghan Leader’s Assassination

On 22 September, The Working Group on Reintegration, established under the International Contact Group (ICG) met in New York in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly week. The meeting was chaired by Afghan Ambassador Dr Tanin and co-chaired by UK SRAP Sedwill and Japanese SRAP Yamamoto. Representatives from 19 countries and of the UN and OIC participated in the session.

The group held one minute’s silence to commemorate the life of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, the Chairman of the Afghanistan Peace Council, and the valuable contribution that he had made to the pursuit of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. The group condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack which had resulted in his death. The group expressed their deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims and to their families, as well as to the people and Government of Afghanistan. The group also extended their support and best wishes for a speedy recovery to Mr Stanekzai, the Head of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, who was injured in the attack.

The group reaffirmed their commitment to work together in support of the goals for which Professor Rabbani had worked tirelessly. The important work of the High Peace Council in helping bring peace and reconciliation to Afghanistan will continue. Desperate acts of terrorism will not stop the Afghan people from working towards a peaceful future. At this time, it is important that all of Afghanistan’s leaders stand together in solidarity in the face of such attacks and demonstrate their resolve to work in support of peace, reconciliation and national unity. The group reaffirmed their commitment to the Afghan government’s programmes to reintegrate all those insurgents who are verifiably willing to renounce violence and terrorism and respect the Afghan Constitution, noting the need to support to their families in order to facilitate this.

The group welcomed the progress in the first year of APRP in reintegrating insurgents under the leadership of the High Peace Council and the Government of Afghanistan, noting the importance of political outreach and conflict resolution to extending the impact of the programme throughout the country and to resolving the plight of refugees. The group underlined the importance of close coordination between local civilian officials, the local security forces and PRTs. The group emphasized the need to secure sustainable and flexible funding for the programme.

The Afghan Government and the ICG Working Group welcomed the OIC’s initiative to convene a conference of ulema (religious scholars), as Professor Rabbani had supported. The group highlighted the importance of discussing all these issues further at the Istanbul, Astana and Bonn Conferences, and renewed their commitments to the reintegration process and the long-term stability and development of Afghanistan.

UN Security Council Addresses Children and Armed Conflict

On 12 July the UN Security Council convened an open debate on Children and Armed Conflict. Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon opened the meeting, followed by remarks by Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  The meeting was presided over by the Foreign Minister of Germany, H.E. Mr. Guido Westerwelle.

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, contrasted ongoing improvements in the living conditions of children in Afghanistan with the alarming recent escalation in violence against civilians and children in particular. He pointed out that terrorist attacks indiscriminately targeting women and children, such as recent school and hospital bombings. Ambassador Tanin condemned such “deplorable” and “heinous” attacks, particularly those involving child suicide bombers.

“A child’s vulnerability, from knowing nothing outside of a war-torn existence, is not up for exploitation in war;” he stated, “a child’s innocence is not fair game for fighting strategy; and most importantly, a child’s body is not a weapon for war, by the standards of the constitution of Afghanistan or by international law.”

On the other hand, while many Afghan children are living in poverty, Ambassador Tanin explained, many more – especially girls – are going to school for the first time ever, and almost all have access to basic healthcare services.

Ambassador Tanin reiterated the Afghan Government’s commitment to protecting children through their National Action Plan and other measures. He went on to assert that children in Afghanistan need and deserve “an environment free of indiscriminate violence to pursue their full potentials,” and according to Ambassador Tanin, the Afghan Government and the international community are responsible for ensuring one.

Other speakers in the debate echoed this unwavering support for the protection of children’s lives and rights. These speakers included Foreign Minister of Columbia, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Minister of Justice of South Africa, and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Portugal. Other Council Members and Non-Council Members also expressed their concerns about children in armed conflict, violations of children’s rights, child soldiers, and attacks on schools and hospitals.