Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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 d’ 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


Mr. Chairman,

Members of the Working Group,

Let me thank you for convening today’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 children’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 relevant   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.

Mr. Chairman,

Every child in every country has a dream for a brighter future and as well as a common ambition to achieve their goals. Today’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 – 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 “Free Children from War.”  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.  Additionally, we are a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Mr. Chairman

Nevertheless, despite our efforts to improve security, terrorism remains a serious threat in the daily lives of our people, particularly our younger generation.  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 Afghanistan’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 people’s human rights, including children’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.

Mr Chairman

We are strongly committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of our children and it is our responsibility to provide them opportunities  for education;  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,  through implementing our  Millennium Development Goals; National Development Strategy (ANDS); and our National Priority Programs adopted during Kabul Conference (2010).

Mr. Chairman,

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.  I would like to make the following comments on this report:

My delegation has a well reasoned reservation with the terminology of “all parties to the conflict” 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  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 children’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.  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 “Boy Play ” as an immoral and anti Islamic practice.  We are firmly committed to bringing this practice to an end.  In short, let me state that all forms of sexual violence against children, including paedophilia is considered a crime.  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.  These include a review of tactics and procedures, as well as enhanced coordination with Afghan security forces.

Mr Chairman,

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 children  and the Working Group has the record of strong  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.  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  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 working  closely with the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting to do its part  to implement  and strengthen reporting  mechanism under Security Council resolutions including 1882 (2009) .

Mr. Chairman

I would like to reiterate the Government of Afghanistan’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.

United Nations Security Council Debate on Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Institution Building

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council Debate on Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Institution Building

Mr. President,

Please allow me to begin by congratulating you and your delegation for assuming the presidency of the Council for the month of January. I thank you for convening today’s important meeting on post-conflict peacebuilding and institution building and I wish to express my appreciation for the informative concept paper which you provided on 4 January. Thank you also to the Secretary General for his remarks. I would like to thank His Excellency, Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, who spoke on behalf of G7+ of which Afghanistan is a member. The voices of conflict-affected and fragile states provided a unique and crucial perspective on peacebuilding and institution building. Thank you to His Excellency, Ambassador Peter Wittig for addressing the council on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission.

Mr. President,

Institution building is one of the essential components of establishing a peaceful and sustainable future in any post-conflict situation. The necessary requirements for successful institution building in post-conflict settings include: recognizing unique contexts; steady resourcing; growth of human capital; national, regional, and international cooperation; and strategic patience through the transition period. In Afghanistan we have learned firsthand the importance of each of these requirements.

Mr. President,

In the ubiquitous debate on the current situation in Afghanistan, it is easy to overlook the thirty years of conflict that Afghanistan has overcome in order to reach a point at which, today, we can discuss institution building and post-conflict peacebuilding. Let us not underestimate the time it takes to surpass the challenges of history. An environment such as Afghanistan’s, which has faced complex conflict, power struggles, and ongoing violence for decades cannot be changed overnight. As we engage in each and every discussion about the training of the Afghan army and police, the timeline for military engagement, or international partnerships, we must keep this context in mind.

Mr. President,

In 2001, Afghanistan was considered to be the most failed state in the world. The fall of the Taliban left a weakly governed state with no professional police or army to quell the ongoing fighting around the country. In 2001 Afghanistan lacked state institutions and had a budget of merely $27 million. After having hundreds of thousands of military and nonmilitary government employees in the early 1990s, educated and skilled workers fled the country and its government was left with less than 2,000 employees with higher educations. Many government institutions were nonfunctional because basic staffing and resourcing needs were not met.

Mr. President,

Given the magnitude of destruction, stabilization efforts in Afghanistan have produced impressive results. Despite its uphill climb from the time of Taliban rule, Afghanistan has experienced political transformation and development over the last decade, achieved through the support of the international community. The political process for the continued growth of the country is in place. Nearly 7 million refugees have returned. Women’s roles in politics have steadily increased. Civil society has emerged triumphantly in a more unified and organized manner. There are many areas in the country where we are witnessing governance for the first time in decades. Progress in the area of infrastructure development including building and paving roads and increased access to water, education, and health care has been among the most rapid of any post-conflict nation in decades. Women and girls now have equal educational access.

Security institutions have developed, supporting the emergence of Afghan national ownership. The last year has shown that it is possible to increase the Afghan National Army substantially and simultaneously see its planning and combat abilities improve. Local administrations have increased their involvement in security efforts, particularly through the engagement of Afghan people, especially elders, in defense programs in villages.

Mr. President,

As a measure to end violence and achieve lasting peace, we in Afghanistan have prioritized reintegration and reconciliation. We continue to encourage members of the armed-opposition to put down their weapons, choose the path of peace, and join efforts for stabilization and rehabilitation in the country. Progress continues toward implementing the recommendations of our national consultative peace-jirga, which constitutes the core of our reconciliation efforts. Now that we have come halfway, it is the Taliban’s turn to fulfill its responsibility. If the Taliban wants to join the peace talks, it must end violence and terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IEDs, kidnappings, targeted assassinations and sever ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Mr. President,

We must also anticipate the challenges we will face going forward. The biggest issue is the sustainability of peace, not just for Afghanistan, but for any post-conflict country. The functionality of institutions is necessary; a country must have the resources, the human capital, and capacity to stop the threat of insurgency or avoid relapsing into conflict. Capacity building is essential if state institutions are to operate effectively; empowering state institutions means enabling national government to provide services for its citizens.

Mr. President,

In any post-conflict setting, maintained international engagement in the institution building stages, beyond military involvement, is necessary for the endurance of peacebuilding efforts. In Afghanistan, an additional component of the stabilization process is effective regional cooperation. Progress is at risk of unraveling if these partnerships do not remain strong.

Democratization in post-conflict countries is a multidimensional challenge. We have learned from our experience that the democratization process requires sustained security as well as political, and development support. However, as it has been emphasized time and again “democracy grows from within and external actors can only support it.” The international community and key national stakeholders must work collaboratively, with integrative strategies, to provide effective support for democratization.

Mr. President,

In the coming years, national ownership and leadership with continued international partnerships will be key for Afghanistan. The adoption of the Kabul Process involves more Afghan responsibility for security, development and governance in the country. The significant increase in the amount of international funding channeled through the Afghan Government reflects renewed support for national ownership. The Afghan Government is committed to assuming full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon support to build Afghan security forces’ size, strength and operational capability.

Mr. President,

Building peace through developing institutions can help address the causes of conflict. However, it is necessary to end violence in order to create an environment in which institutions can flourish. Progress can be destroyed when conflict flares up. We must not forget the lessons we have learned in Afghanistan: A school or clinic built in six months can be destroyed in only six minutes by the Taliban or other extremists.

Furthermore, the importance of effective international partnership during post-conflict situations cannot be overestimated. In this regard, adequate resourcing and capacity building are preconditions for ensuring lasting peace.

Thank you.

H.E. Zahir Tanin

H.E. Zahir Tanin at the Security Council Meeting:Women and peace and security. Report of the Secretary-General on Women and peace and security (S/2010/498)|