Friday, October 9, 2015

Security Council Debates Afghanistan with a Focus on Transition

On 6 July, the United Nations Security Council held a debate on the Situation in Afghanistan. The debate began with a briefing by Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, was given the floor after the SRSG’s remarks.

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Both the SRSG and Ambassador Tanin focused on the “critical juncture,” as Ambassador Tanin put it, of transition to Afghan ownership and leadership of the country’s security. In this transition, according to Ambassador Tanin, continued international support and engagement beyond 2014 is crucial for the future stability of the country, in particular, a “lasting partnership with the UN.” The SRSG pointed out the need to focus beyond security for the transition period and address “social, economic and, frankly, human rights.”

Most participants in the meeting brought up the recent tragedies of the attacks on the hospital in Logar Province and the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Ambassador Tanin referred to the recent campaign as a display of  “promo-psychodrama…a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt by the enemies of Afghanistan, designed to incite fear among people, to hinder the international support for Afghanistan, and to convince a war-weary audience in some countries that the war is unwinnable…However,” he said, “acts of terror will not shake our determination for securing peace and stability in Afghanistan.” The SRSG highlighted the effectiveness of the Afghan military and police in responding to these attacks, praising their strengthened capacity and improved abilities.

Both Ambassador Tanin and the SRSG emphasised the importance of ongoing reconciliation and reintegration efforts aimed at achieving a political solution to the conflict. In these efforts, the SRSG explained, UNAMA is functioning as a confidence-builder, as substantive discussion on these matters is the purview of the Afghan government. In this regard, he praised the Security Council’s ongoing de-listing of ex-Taliban militants from sanctions lists as a move in the right direction.

In addition, the SRSG praised progress on bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation, as well as improvements in the human rights, including women’s rights and the protection of children – though both the SRSG and Ambassador Tanin noted that civilian casualties from Taliban action continue to increase.

The other delegates of the Security Council, along with representatives from the EU, Japan, Pakistan, Canada and Turkey, expressed concern over recent escalations in the level of civilian casualties, and unanimously condemned violence against UN personnel. Nevertheless, they also reaffirmed their faith in the Afghan parliamentary process and pledged continued support of an Afghan-led reconciliation effort.

Photos of the Meeting by U.N.

Video of the meeting by U.N

Statement by Ambassador Tanin at the Global Governance and Security Council Reform

Statement by

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiation on the Security Council Reform

At the meeting on Global Governance and Security Council Reform


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to begin by extending my appreciation to the Honorable Minister Frattini and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting this important meeting on Global Governance and Security Council Reform. I would also like to thank the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Joseph Deiss, for his remarks. I also wish to express my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Cesar Ragaglini and his able staff for arranging our participation in this meeting.

I am pleased to be here among the distinguished participants of today’s meeting in my capacity as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform. This is the second time the Italian Government has initiated an event such as this, and it is testament to the high level of importance Italy places on the issue of Security Council reform.

Mr. Chair,

Since the launch of the intergovernmental negotiations in February 2009, we have come a long way. The walls and roadblocks separating different positions have begun to be dilapidated, bringing member states into an open environment of dialogue in which negotiations can take place.

In the last three years, we have undergone six rounds of negotiations. For the first time, we have developed a negotiation text, a well-assorted ensemble of positions, which became the basis for our negotiations. This is in itself a historic achievement.

Just this year, in the General Assembly, we have together been able to come with a streamlined version of the negotiation text, which sets the stage for a new phase of negotiations that can facilitate the movement towards garnering a solution.

The text can be the jumping off point for bigger things. It can be a framework for further progress, as it gives us a clear picture of Member States’ positions and where they stand. But at this point, we need to ensure that we are all able to actively engage with the next steps.

Mr. Chair,

What we currently witness is a high level of interest by all Member States and stakeholders of the process of reform. We have seen some flexibility across the membership, and a real political will for reform, and that is how we have reached this point. But it is not enough, and that is why we do not have a solution yet.

At this juncture, all Member States must make more effort to understand each other. Everyone dedicated to the reform has a legitimate perspective. I ask Member States to put themselves in the shoes of their counterparts. Make every attempt to understand their concerns, the origins of their positions, and the reasoning behind their words and actions.  Without a deeper, mutual understanding, the process cannot continue to progress.

Now, as we are just months away from the end of the 65th session of the General Assembly, I hope we will be able to make sufficient progress as called for by Member States. I repeat as I have always said, I am impartial to any position, but partial to progress.

Mr. Chair,

There are four guiding principles that are essential to moving the Security Council reform process forward and for maintaining the integrity of the process:  flexibility, compromise, courage and transparency:

  1. Flexibility requires an exceptional level of openness in understanding of others’ positions. And a willingness to accept the “possibles” of today. Flexibility is in fact a byword for realism in our work.
  2. Compromise is, in effect, a real give and take process in negotiations, which is inherent in any negotiation and at the end of the day should ultimately take us to an agreed solution.
  3. Courage is essential, as, in fact, progress depends on brave, bold steps to be taken by Member States, both from Missions and Capitals.  It is important to employ all diplomatic multilateral and bilateral means in order to unearth an agreed model of reform.
  4. Transparency is the key; the process is only successful if it continues to be transparent, inclusive and open. The entire process of negotiations is built upon the trust of all, and this will continue to be our guiding lodestar.

Mr. Chair,

We all committed to an early reform of the Security Council and the negotiation process is urged on by that noble objective. While we cannot rush in, the process cannot wait forever. It is difficult to anticipate the exact timeframe of an outcome, but it is also important that no stone should remain unturned to bridge the gaps. In the end, undoubtedly, it is the political will of Member States that will take us to an agreement with the widest possible support. The reform is up to you. It is up to you to reach across the aisle and forge a solution.

Our process has not hit the wall, however, we have need all hands on deck to move us forward. I am sure we are not short of imagination, but it is the will of Member States that is essential.

Mr. Chair,

We are operating on the heart of the organization. One slip of the hand, and we will attenuate the patient. I am still optimistic, and for as long as I can remain helpful to the process, I will shoulder my part of the responsibility – by creating and maintaining an environment, which facilitates open negotiations on Security Council Reform.

I thank you.

Statement By H.E. Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul at The NATO-ISAF Foreign Ministers Meeting

Secretary General Rasmussen,

Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere appreciations for being invited to attend today’s important meeting.  Thank you Secretary General Rasmussen for this initiative, and for your leadership in driving NATO’s critical mission in Afghanistan.  I also thank my colleague, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, for hosting all of us today in this beautiful city of Berlin.

It is my second time to have the honour of addressing NATO in my capacity as Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, a country where you are all engaged in a truly historical effort to help build a stable and democratic country.  We Afghans value the contributions that NATO, as well as each of its individual member states, have made to this common effort, and we honour the common sacrifices that have been made.  We do realize, as I am sure you do, that together we have been through some hard times and have had to overcome difficult challenges.  However, together we have also achieved tremendous successes, and we in Afghanistan look forward to sustaining and expanding our friendship and collaboration into the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With President Hamid Karzai’s announcement of 22 March 2011, Afghanistan is now officially in the Transition process, a process that is marked by important benchmarks and crucial deadlines.  As per agreements at last year’s Lisbon Summit, as well as principles set out in the Kabul Conference, the Transition process will see the gradual transfer of lead responsibility in the security sector from NATO to Afghan Security Forces starting this summer.  At the heart of the Transition process is an Afghan determination to assume responsibility and leadership, as well as a commitment by our international partners to support this goal.  The Transition agenda is undoubtedly ambitious and it will require extraordinary effort from both Afghans and our partners in the international community to succeed.  However, in the minds of us Afghans, there is absolutely no alternative.  There is a strong, unshakable consensus among all Afghans that we must stand on our own feet and take our destiny in our own hands, and to do so sooner rather than later.

In addition to our mutual moral commitments, the success of the Transition agenda will depend on the implementation of the roadmap we have together prepared.  Thanks to some hard work done by Afghan and international entities concerned in the security effort, under the overall supervision of the Inteqal, or Transition, Commission, seven provinces and districts have been identified for the first handover phase.  These include the provinces of Panjsher, Bamiyan, and Kabul, the cities of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Laskhkar Gah and Mehterlam.  Work is currently underway on putting in place the necessary capacity in these areas in order to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of responsibility in these and other areas.

Allow me to highlight the key steps both Afghans and our international partners must take to ensure the success of the Transition process.  To begin with, we must continue and expedite the building up and expansion of Afghanistan’s security institutions.  We must focus on the qualitative development of these institutions as well as the quantitative aspect.  Equipping these forces with the capabilities that are commensurate to the challenging tasks they will have to face is a crucial necessity.  Our army must be provided with the full range of enablers, including heavy weaponry, air and ground mobility and so on, which will help the institution become a confident, effective and self-reliant force that is capable of defending the country’s sovereignty.  Our police and intelligence services must be trained and equipped not just to counter the paramilitary threats they get to fight in many insecure corners of the country, but also to handle the tasks of civilian policing in general.  We must do all that keeping mind not just the exigencies of the current situation but also the long-term needs of a normal, stable and well functioning state.

However, we cannot succeed in the Transition process, or indeed in the fight against terrorism in general, unless we bring some urgently needed changes to our approach in the ongoing military effort.  We are facing a dangerous situation in Afghanistan and the wider region of heightened sensitivities, pent up frustration and increased radicalization which could seriously jeopardize our common efforts.

In this context, I wish to strongly reiterate the Afghan government’s continued demand for better coordination of all NATO-ISAF operations with the ANSF, as well as for an end to all operations that result in civilian casualties and damage to the lives and property of innocent Afghans. I urge General Petraeus and other NATO military leaders to continue and expand their constructive efforts in this regard.  I also wish to recognize Ambassador Mark Sedwill, the outgoing NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, for the tireless work he has put during his term in Kabul towards improving civilian-military coordination.  I look forward to working with his successor, Ambassador Sir Simon Lawrence Gass.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognising that Transition is not a purely military process, we in Afghanistan appreciate the growing consensus, both within Afghanistan and outside, about the need a political solution to ensure lasting peace.  I thank many of the NATO-ISAF nations that have provided strong and visionary support to an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation programme.  Since the establishment of the High Peace Council (HPC) last year, much tangible progress has taken place and a lot has been achieved both in the area of reconciliation, as well as in integration which includes programme delivery at the community level.  To date, a comprehensive outreach campaign has been launched to engage people in communities, and coordination among state institutions that are involved in the process has significantly improved.  The HPC has also engaged in a successful regional dialogue with some of the key countries in our neighbourhood whose support would be crucial for the peace process.  For this Afghan-ld peace process to succeed, a sincere, principled and sustained cooperation from the international community, including our NATO allies, will be essential.

Furthermore, we must ensure that the governance and economic development elements of our Transition strategy fall equally well into place.  The Afghan Government remains determined to fulfill its commitments under the Kabul Process, including the commitment to improve sub-national governance and improve the delivery of basic services to the populations in all areas of the country.  We are taking our commitment to ensuring transparency and the fight against corruption seriously and have taken a number of steps, since the Kabul Conference, to address these concerns.  The Afghan judiciary and the legal system are taking bolder than ever steps in apprehending corrupt elements.

To help this effort, we will need the understanding and support of our international partners.  We need your support to continue the capacity building of our institutions to be able to deliver basic services to the population.  To help enhance the capacity of government institutions, and increase public confidence, we need your cooperation towards removing the parallel structures that currently pose a challenge to the credibility of these institutions.  The continued presence of structures that may have once served a useful purpose, such as the PRTs, poses a challenge to the growth of genuine Afghan institutions at the district and provincial levels.  We propose a gradual process whereby these structures could be phased out and replaced by fully functioning Afghan institutions.  We also need your cooperation in bringing greater transparency to the contracting processes that are perceived to be a source of corrupt practice in the country.

In the area of economic cooperation, we would like the focus of our international partners over the next few years to shift towards supporting major infrastructure projects and creating real employment for the Afghan people.

You will agree that few things will inspire greater confidence in the success of our strategy than for the people to see solid, sustainable signs of investment and economic growth in their towns and villages.  While, under the Kabul Process, we pursue a comprehensive economic development strategy, we will give particular attention to investment and support in the agriculture, energy, mining and education sectors.  I urge our international partners to ensure that these priorities are taken into consideration as they plan the future economic and development assistance to Afghanistan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Regional cooperation remains as crucial to the vision of stability and progress in Afghanistan as it always did.  Needless to argue, without sincere cooperation in fighting our common threats, and until a vision of economic integration replaces geopolitical rivalries across the region, it will be hard to achieve peace, stability and economic prosperity.  In this context, we are committed to continuing the constructive dialogue we have maintained with Pakistan in the recent years.  We also expect to engage our other neighours and countries of the region more closely in the interest of peace, security and economic cooperation.

Recognising the importance of regional economic cooperation, we are focusing on cooperation in a number of sectors that have significant economic benefit for the region as a whole, such as energy, roads and railway networks that connect Afghanistan with the region. The recent conclusion of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA), and the progress achieved towards the realization of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan–India gas pipeline (TAPI) project are milestones for increased regional cooperation.

Additionally, we have concluded feasibility study for the CASA1000 project for transfer of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  These and other initiatives will contribute greatly to peace, security and stability of the region.

Regional cooperation will also be vital to Afghanistan’s success in the crucial fight against narcotics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends,

The declaration of Afghanistan-NATO Enduring Partnership signed in Lisbon last November solidifies our time-tested friendship and cooperation into a more structured partnership that will stretch beyond the end of the current mission.  We hope this partnership will further contribute to the development of our security and help guarantee the success the success of the Transition process.  From a longer-term perspective, as a young democracy and a developing nation, we look forward to benefiting from the full range of partnership services that the Alliance has to offer.  We are deeply committed to fulfilling our obligations under the Partnership and we look forward to engaging with you on further elaborating its content.

With the Transition process now in full momentum, my country Afghanistan is entering a critical stage in its recovery, stabilization and development.  In the success of the Transition process lie the fruits of our historical partnership over the past decade.  In the success of this process also lie the chances of Afghanistan’s success as a stable and democratic country – that is, the realization of the true and long-held aspirations of the Afghan people.

I am sure you agree that a sovereign Afghanistan that is secure within its borders and at peace with the outside world, an Afghanistan where terrorism will never again be able to find a safe haven, and where the prospects of regional economic integration will ever increasingly grow, will be an achievement well worth your efforts and contributions.

Thank you,