Afghanistan Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Zahir Tanin, Addresses UN General Assembly on the Situation in Afghanistan
November 4, 2010 – The United Nations General Assembly today convened to adopt its annual resolution on the â€œSituation in Afghanistan.â€ The adoption of the resolution signifies the GAâ€™s continued support and commitment for lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
During his statement, Ambassador Tanin outlined the many important developments which took place over the course of the year. Among them include President Karzai national agenda, announced in November of last year, which prioritized reintegration and reconciliation, security, governance, development and regional cooperation for the coming years. He also highlighted Afghanistanâ€™s national consultative peace-jirga; the outcome of the London and Kabul Conferences, and the holding of recent Afghan parliamentary elections.
In the area of socio-economic development, he said that â€œthe average income had nearly quadrupled since 2001â€, while â€œgovernment revenue surpassed one billion dollars for the time,â€ in Afghanistanâ€™s history. In the areas of education and health, he referred to the â€œ71% student enrollment rate, construction of 4,000 schools over the past nine years, and increased accessibility to health-care, including immunization for children, which has led to a decrease in the under-five and infant mortality rates. With regard to empowerment of women, he said Afghan women would make up more than quarter of the Afghan national assembly. Further, he stated that the percentage of female government employees had increased to 18 percent and number of females serving in Afghanistanâ€™s national security forces (ANSF) exceeded 1,000.
Turning to the recent parliamentary elections, he noted that the recent polls were the first which were led by Afghans, and highlighted the broad participation of all segments of society in the elections. â€œThis recent election included 2,556 candidates, 406 of whom were women.Â Millions of Afghans cast their ballot to choose 249 members of parliament, shaping our nationâ€™s future by strengthening Afghan institutions and building momentum for stabilization,â€ said Ambassador Tanin.
Ambassador Tanin alluded to continued efforts of the Afghan government to strengthen bilateral cooperation and collaboration with neighboring and regional partners. In that regard, he referred to President Karzaiâ€™s visits to China in March, India in April, Japan in June and Pakistan in September. He also underscored President Karzaiâ€™s participation in various regional forums, including the South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Bhutan in April, as well as the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey Trilateral in January; Afghanistan-Iran and Tajikistan Trilateral in Tehran; Afghanistan-Iran-Tajikistan Trilateral in Tehran, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Tajikistan-Russian Federation Trilateral in SOCHI.
On security, Ambassador Tanin noted that terrorists and extremists continued their efforts to expand the scope of their attacks. â€œThe Taliban and its allies continue their attempts to increase insecurity and spread violence to new parts of the country.Â The violent campaigns of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children,â€ he said. He however affirmed that Afghanistan and its international partners continued progress in the fight against terrorism by disrupting and defeating the activities of extremist groups.
In addition, he underscored â€œeffective regional cooperationâ€ as â€œvital for peace and security in the country,â€ while stressing the need for meaningful and sincere cooperation at the regional level. In that regard, he emphasized increased focus on â€œending sanctuaries where terrorists continue to receive training, financial and logistical support in the region.â€
Moreover, Ambassador Tanin highlighted Afghanistanâ€™s transition strategy, which is aimed at Afghan ownership and leadership in meeting the security needs of the country.Â He highlighted the up-coming NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, at which Afghanistan and its international partners would â€œestablish steps needed for a long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan that will endure beyond the completion of NATOâ€™s combat mission.â€
He also stated that Afghanistanâ€™s transition strategy would be among the important issues to be discussed at the NATO Summit.
Ambassador Tanin reiterated Afghanistanâ€™s commitment in building the size and strength of its national army and police so as to â€œtake the lead in combat operation in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full security responsibility by 2014.Â He noted that the transition process would be a â€œgradual and conditions-based process,â€ which required the sustained support of the international community for increased Afghan security force capability.
He also said that achieving peace and security would not be possible by military means alone.Â He noted that â€œreconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country.â€ He referred to Afghanistanâ€™s peace and reconciliation initiative, aimed at â€œreconciling those who would like to join the peace process.â€Â In that regard he emphasized that â€œhuman rights, including the rights of women would remain a priority,â€ throughout the reconciliation process.
Ambassador Tanin reiterated the sincere thanks and appreciation of the Afghan people and government for the continued support and commitment of the United Nations, and the international community for lasting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Third Committee
Of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
On agenda item 61
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
2 November 2010
At the outset, please allow me to thank Mr. Antonio Gutrress, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for his comprehensive report under agenda item 61 and his insightful briefing this morning.
I further wish to take this opportunity to express my delegationâ€™s gratitude to the High Commissioner and dedicated staff of UNHCR for their commitment and tireless efforts to the plight of the worldâ€™s refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in particular their special attention to the refugees and IDPs of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has suffered from the consequences of over thirty years of conflict.Â During the 1980s and 1990s, millions of Afghan people tried to escape the calamity of war by leaving their relatives and belongings behind and seeking refuge in neighbouring states, particularly Pakistan and Iran.Â Regrettably, due to reoccurring instability and violence, one of the greatest numbers of refugee countries of origin in the world is Afghanistan.Â In this regard, the challenge of refugees and IDPs is not an issue we have encountered recently but much rather one that has affected the Afghan people for decades.
More than 5.5 million Afghans have found their ways back to their homeland since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, which constitutes one of the largest and most successful voluntary repatriation programs in recent decades. However, this number translates into a population increase of 20 percent within the past eight years, an adjustment with which any country would struggle, let alone a state that has found itself in turmoil and instability for the past three decades. Returnee settlementsâ€™ main concerns are often very basic: infrastructure, water, and shelter, as well as the lack of possibilities to support livelihoods.Â The majority of Afghan refugees have been living in exile since the late 1980s, and in many cases have spent their entire lives outside of their homeland.Â This fateful reality further complicates any reintegration process.Â Thus far, the overwhelming majority of refugees have returned from the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran.Â Nevertheless, 2.7 million registered Afghan refugees still remain in both countries.
The Afghan government places among its top priorities the voluntary, gradual, and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees. Â My government is particularly aware of the importance of providing stability within our borders and leading a functioning reintegration process in order to provide refugees and IDPs with incentive to return as well as to keep them from entering this vicious cycle again.Â During this year alone, the number of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan already exceeds 100,000. Guiding a sustainable repatriation which prioritizes reintegration will continue to be the focus of our discussions with the Governments of Iran and Pakistan during our respective Tripartite Commission meetings in cooperation with the UNHCR. We will carry on utilizing these reunions as opportunities to exchange best practices and advance our collaboration. The Pakistani government and the government of Afghanistan have been working vigorously throughout and renewed commitments earlier this year.Â Furthermore, the recent recommencement of Tripartite consultations with the Government of Iran signifies a tremendous step in the right direction on both ends.Â Last month, we had fruitful discussions about how to improve reintegration prospects in the future.
Much progress has been made over the past nine years; still, much remains to be accomplished. Relative to previous years, recently repatriation has stalled substantially.Â This is undoubtedly, intrinsically linked to the twin threats of terrorism and insecurity as well as the growing challenges of the humanitarian situation. The number of IDPs remains high, particularly for displaced people coming from provinces that have seen the highest levels of unrest and terrorist activity.
Regrettably, this year we have yet again witnessed deterioration of security in parts of Afghanistan. Over the last twelve months, the circumstances contributed to a rise in internal displacement of over 100,000 persons, mostly in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Throughout these trying times, the international humanitarian agencies have been indispensable and both our government and people are tremendously appreciative for the assistance in the emergency response in dealing with these situations.
The successful homecoming of our people abroad remains a main concern of the Afghan government. In order to facilitate this immense voluntary repatriation, we intend to sustain efforts to fully implement our comprehensive sector strategy concerning refugees, returnees and IDPs, as outlined in the 7th Pillar of our National Development Strategy. Increasing our absorption capacity in order to better be able to administer and assist sustainable reintegration will be crucial and must therefore be a centre piece to our efforts. In that regard, we will endeavour to improve capacity in relevant Ministries dealing with repatriation, foster greater inter-Ministerial coordination, and mobilize additional resources with support from our international partners.
Afghan refugees, returnees and IDPs are faced with numerous challenges due to poverty and, undoubtedly, decades of conflict. In recognizing the intricacy of this essential undertaking at hand, we are conscious that a positive outcome will entail patience, resources, and above all, the unrelenting commitment of our international partners. Nevertheless, we are confident in the outcome of our joint efforts.
Let me conclude by expressing the appreciation of the Afghan government and its people to the brotherly peoples and governments of the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran for hosting Afghan refugees over the past three decades. Furthermore, we are wholehearted in extending our sincere gratitude to UNHCR and all other relevant international organizations for lending a hand during these trying times. Certainly, if it were not for their generous support for this grand scale voluntary repatriation in Afghanistan, our advancements would not have been attainable.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.