Thursday, December 18, 2014

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.

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.

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.

Continue Press Release

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