Saturday, October 25, 2014

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin At the Security Council debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

STATEMENT BY H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Security Council debate

on The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

At the outset allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of July. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to my good friend, SRSG Staffan De Mistura, back to the Council. I thank him for his kind remarks, for his comprehensive briefing, and for his introduction of the Secretary General’s report.

As the world has entered into a post-Bin Laden era, Afghanistan, the greatest victim of terrorism, is today at a critical juncture in its quest for peace and stability. Consistent with the outcome of the Lisbon Conference, we have begun the Transition process. In the coming days we will implement the first stage of this process in seven Afghan provinces: Kabul, Panjshir, Bamyian, and the municipalities of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province, Mehtar Lamn in Laghman province, and Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

Security Council Meeting: The situation in Afghanistan Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (S/2011/381)

Transition is a rousing call for Afghans to take the lead, for national ownership and leadership and for the government of Afghanistan to assume its sovereign responsibilities. From our point of view, transition is a carefully-formulated, comprehensive strategy which presupposes not only a gradual transfer of security responsibilities until the end of 2014 to Afghan authorities, but also a conscientious drawdown of international forces, the accelerated training of the Afghan army and police, the strengthening of governance, a new regional agenda for a multifaceted cooperation, and the prospect of securing a renewed strategic partnership with the US and NATO.

The Afghan Government continues its crucial efforts to ensure that the process is smooth and viable.  However, there should be no doubt, for the transition process to sustain and succeed, certain pre-conditions must be met. First and foremost, we look to our international partners to expedite the training and equipping of our security forces, and to provide them with necessary enablers.

Mr. President,

Last month, President Obama announced the gradual drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan. We welcome the decision, and consider it to be in accordance with the recent emerging consensus between Afghanistan and the international community to move from a primarily military engagement to a more solid and enduring partnership beyond 2014. President Obama’s announcement is testament to, firstly, the steady ability of Afghan security forces, and secondly, the changed momentum of the war, despite the recent vicious attacks by the Taliban.

Contrary to some interpretations, we do not see the drawdown of international forces as an “endgame,” or as some put it, the beginning of international disengagement in Afghanistan. In the last ten years, much blood and sweat have been shed and many sacrifices made, in order to realize our common objective – lasting peace and security in the country and region.

Mr. President,

The recent display of a “promo-psychodrama” of so-called sophisticated attacks, such as the one carried out last week in Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel or the slaughter of a dozen civilians in a hospital in Logar province, is 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. Moreover, the recent campaign seeks to sabotage the future of peace talks, and undermine the prospect of reconciliation. Those who provide terrorists and extremists with money, arms and strategic guidance are equally responsible for the continued killing and brutal butchery of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is imperative to underline the necessity of ending the sanctuaries that continue to produce and prepare the ruthless killers and agents of unending destruction of Afghanistan.

However, Mr. President, acts of terror will not shake our determination for securing peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are pleased to see that an environment conducive for constructive outreach and dialogue with members of the armed opposition is now in place.  The reconciliation process will be pursued as a matter of priority, consistent with the understanding that there is no purely military solution, and that transition requires an inclusive settlement.  Reconciliation is aimed at bringing peace, prosperity, and unity to the country. It is not about ceding any territorial control or accommodating any representation outside of the authority of the Afghan Government. The High Peace Council (HPC) is engaged in discussions with the Taliban, and the key actors in the region to end the violence and achieve a lasting peace.  It is an effort in which all segments of society, including women, are involved.

In addition, we are beginning to equally focus on regional dimensions of the reconciliation process.  We underscore again the significant role of Pakistan for a reconciliation and peace, and emphasize, in this context, the importance of constructive collaboration. Yet, for such collaboration, we need to utilize necessary confidence building measures. The recent armed violations of Afghanistan’s eastern border, through hundreds of shelling and artillery fire in Kunar and Nangahar provinces, killing dozens of people, including women and children, have caused serious alarm and concern for the people and Government of Afghanistan and run the risk of undermining the spirit of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We urge immediate cessation of such attacks.

Mr. President,

The Security Council’s recent decision to separate the Taliban sanctions regime from that of Al-Qaeda was an astute move in support of our peace and reconciliation initiative. It provides new impetus to our Afghan-led reconciliation process. We also appreciate the Council’s decision to meet our de-listing requests, and we urge further focus for acceding to our additional requests which remain unmet.

Mr. President,

The recently held 11th Meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Afghanistan in Kabul, with broad participation from more than 50 countries, and international and regional organizations; focused on reconciliation, regional cooperation, transition to Afghan leadership and ownership, and international support beyond 2014. This meeting was held in the lead up to the upcoming conference in Istanbul, aimed at creating a “stability compact,” and the International Conference in Bonn later this year, which will review progress against the goals of transition, looking into the long-term support of the international community, and advancing the political process, including reconciliation and regional partnerships.

Mr. President,

A decade of international and regional interactions in Afghanistan is leading to the emergence of a “new silk road,” defining the shared benefits of the regional cooperation. This year we have engaged in an increasingly palpable collaboration with our neighbors and region, expanding the horizon of understanding and the scope of joint efforts.

With Pakistan, during last month’s visit of President Karzai to Islamabad, a promising outlook for close cooperation and realization of common vision not only for development but also peace was envisaged. The visit was followed by an extensive discussion within the trilateral framework of the “Core Group” between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US which recently held its third meeting in Kabul.

During the latest visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India extended its support for Afghan-led reconciliation efforts and announced a significant increase of assistance to Afghanistan.

We also continue to have numerous exchanges with Iran, Russia, China, Central and South Asian countries, and the Arab world.  The opportunities that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan can offer for the prosperity and security in the region, are ever-more evident.  We will continue our constructive engagement with regional partners to realize our common goals.

Mr. President,

Securing Afghanistan and its future is about empowering the country, and enabling it to stand on its own feet, and to take charge of its own destiny.  In this regard, we look forward to the up-coming review of UNAMA’s mandate as essential for aligning the UN’s role with the evolving needs of transition. We are convinced that a more harmonized, streamlined and coordinated UN, based on One UN approach, is vital for furthering the efficiency, and effectiveness of the UN in Afghanistan. We look forward to lasting partnership with the UN during transition and beyond.

Mr. President,

The government of Afghanistan will continue to improve governance, enhance its fight against corruption, and strengthen transparency and accountability in our national institutions.  To this end, we will build on existing measures, to make sure that anyone involved in illegal activities will be held accountable. The Afghan government’s recent apprehension of two senior executives of Kabul Bank implicated for financial mismanagement is testimony to our firm commitment to accountability and rule of law. We have presented the Attorney General’s office with a list of all accused individuals. A comprehensive investigation of the Kabul Bank fiasco is underway, which should lead to restoration of debts and bringing all culprits involved in the case to justice. We are convinced that the final outcome of the investigations will meet both the concerns of the Afghan people, and our international partners.

Mr. President,

Ongoing consultations are underway to resolve the dispute which arose from irregularities during our parliamentary elections. The Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to resolving the issue within the framework of a legal and political solution.

Mr. President,

Far too many innocent Afghans have lost their lives as a result of prolonged violence, insecurity and fighting. Civilian casualties are not just about figures or numbers; it is about the loss of innocent life of men, women, children, village elders, health workers, teachers, and aid workers. The Taliban have primarily been responsible for such killings and display a total lack of conscience when pulling the trigger against innocent civilians or those who protect local people. However, the number of casualties caused by NATO forces, despite their own repeated calls for commitment to protect civilians, remains significant. We reiterate our call for an immediate end to civilian casualties.

Mr. President,

As we move forward, we must think beyond ending the war, towards ensuring sustainable progress across all sectors, security, governance and development. Our goal remains the vision of a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. For this to be achieved, we must build on the gains of the past, and forge a feasible frame work of cooperation with the region and a long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.   The coming years will be crucial for our joint success. Together will we be able to accomplish the task we began ten years ago.

Thank You Mr. President.

United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process in Brussels

On 28-29 June, the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process was held in Brussels, under the auspices of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Ambassador Zahir Tanin attended the conference as Vice-Chair of the Committee.

The meetings focused on the role of Europe in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The opening session set the tone, with statements from H.E. Mr. Michael Goffin, Representative of the host nation Belgium, and others calling for a rapid and lasting resolution to the conflict. CEIRPP Chairman H.E. Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo reiterated this need, emphasising the importance of the European voice in the work of the diplomatic Quartet.

Ambassador Tanin chaired the second plenary session, on “The urgency of realising a two-State solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the resumption of direct negotiations or multilateral mechanisms. Other plenary sessions examined the last twenty years of European involvement in the process, from the Madrid conference to the Oslo peace accords, as well as the European Union’s continuing role in the future of the peace process. The Committee is also holding meetings with Mr. Prosinias de Rossa, Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the PLC, Maghreb and Mashreq countries, as well as other MEPs.

In addition to CEIRPP representatives, speakers included political and academic representatives from Israel, Palestine, the European Parliament and elsewhere. The Meeting was closed on 29 June by H.E. Mr. Saviour F. Borg, Rapporteur of CEIRPP, H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., and Chairman H.E. Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo.

Global Governance and Security Council Reform Conference in Rome

On Monday 16 May the Italian Foreign Ministry held a conference on Global Governance and Security Council Reform with 123 countries represented by ministers and representatives to share their views. The aim of the conference is the backdrop of a quickly changing world and a need to adapt the United Nations Security Council accordingly in the name of good global governance.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, H.E. Franco Frattini, chaired the Forum in Rome, and gave remarks in which he pointed out the motivation of the meeting, noting that, “dialogue and a spirit of compromise are the only way to arrive at a reform.” He then presented the three issues of the conference: Regional Dimension, Methods and Procedures, and Principles for Representation.

President of the General Assembly, H.E. Joseph Deiss gave introductory remarks about the urgent need for reform, describing the key concepts that in his view should underlie the process as, “Broadest possible support, Respect for the fundamental values of the UN, Simplicity, Efficiency, and Flexibility.”

“I am not pleading for a specific solution,” President Deiss said “…the decision to forge a solution lies with you. But be assured…I am determined that progress on this issue can be made during my presidency.”

H.E. Frattini then asked H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, to share his views.  Ambassador Tanin spoke about the Security Council reform process and its current developments as well as the necessary principles to guide the way forward.

In its 6th round, the intergovernmental negotiations, which began in 2009 have been the forum for developing a text, “a well-assorted ensemble of positions,” that has become the basis for negotiations. “This is in itself a historic achievement,” said Ambassador Tanin, and “can be a jumping off point for bigger things.” He reiterated his position as chair, “impartial to any position but partial to progress,” and explained the guiding principles on the way forward and for maintaining the integrity of the process, “Flexibility, Compromise, Courage and Transparency.”  While he recognized that early reform is the noble objective for all, he noted that rushing the process would be a mistake and that it is the will of member states that will drive the process. “We are operating on the heart of the organization,” he said, “One slip of the hand and we will attenuate the patient.”

Others spoke generally giving their countries’ positions on the process and reform.

Just days earlier, on the Margins of the Doha Forum in Qatar, the Foreign Ministry of Qatar hosted a workshop on Security Council Reform on 12-13 May. Nearly 40 diplomats as well as experts from academia and NGOs participated. H.E. Mr. Muhammad A.M. Al-Rumaihi, Assistant Foreign Minister of Qatar gave opening remarks in which he highlighted the importance of Security Council Reform for international stability. He then gave the floor to H.E. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN, who highlighted the purpose of the day and a half long workshop, to be an informal exchange of ideas between different positions on Security Council Reform and the way forward. Ambassador Tanin shared his perspective before chairing the meeting. He recognized that the meeting was unique in that there was a combination of representatives from Missions and capitals as well as members of NGOs and Academia.  In that regard, he expressed optimism about the open-minded nature of the debate that would ensue.

Throughout the course of the next day and a half, participants shared their perspectives.  It was repeatedly expressed by diplomats that it was refreshing to hear the perspectives of “outsiders” from NGOs and academia, who were able to speak candidly about their views without the limitations of diplomacy. Several workshop participants also expressed that the event allowed them to better understand each others’ views.

“It was important for the diplomats involved in the process in the formal track of the Security Council Reform to have a very informal and friendly forum to brainstorm, to take a breath, and create a friendly atmosphere to discover some of the gaps and commonalities in order to inform their work going forward,” said Tariq Al-Ansari, Counselor of the Qatar Mission to the UN, and the coordinator of the workshop.

Both events represented Member State efforts to discuss the reform process, but it was overtly recognized at both that the only forum in which real negotiations about Security Council Reform and in which decisions can be made on the issue remains in the General Assembly.