Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doha Forum Addresses UN Security Council Reform and International Stability

The Doha Forum in tandem with “Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference” are currently underway in Doha, Qatar. On 10 May, the second day of the three day event, the session entitled “International Stability,” featured panelists from Foreign Ministries and Government, academics and experts from around the globe including Afghanistan, France, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, the UK, and the US. The panelists discussed the future of peace in the Middle East including recent revolutions in the region and their strategic implications. Other topics included the escalation of Islamophobia in Europe, the development of the G20, the growing role of regional powers, and the reform of the United Nations Security Council.

His Excellency Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, spoke on the panel, delivering a statement entitled “ The Call for Reform: The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World.” In his discussion he gave a rich analysis of historical and current shifts in the global landscape that have led to the need for reform for the United Nations Security Council.  “International bodies, such as the United Nations, must adapt… in order to remain effective, efficient, and relevant in our dynamic world,” he said. He expressed optimism about the potential of facing the challenge of change, saying “although adjusting to change is a constant challenge, it is also a chance to progress.”

Ambassador Tanin traced the historical context of the United Nations from its founding in 1945 through the Cold War era, the Post-Cold War era, the post 9-11 era, and what he referred to as “the Post-Bin Laded time.”  He explains that in this current period, “we are witnessing new countries being born, and we are seeing a blossoming movement towards democracy – in the Arab world and elsewhere. What I think we are all witness to is a general reshaping of global alliances and new international constellations.”

Pointing out that it a time of increasing expectancy for the Council to reaffirm itself as a leader of enforcing peace and security on the global stage, Ambassador Tanin recognized that, “with no reform we risk losing the legitimacy of the Security Council.”

Other panelists addressed a range of issues related to international stability including: the Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Professor at UC Berkeley and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs in the US, a French researcher at CNRS, a former Delegate Minister for Equal Opportunities of France, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Romania, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mexico, and a Shadow Secretary of State of Transport from the UK.

Later in the day Ambassador Tanin led a workshop on the topic of Security Council Reform in which he gave a more in depth perspective on the historical and current context for Security Council Reform.  Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations who will be President of the General Assembly in the 66th Session beginning in September, also spoke at the workshop.  He talked about the importance of the issue of Security Council Reform for the next General Assembly Session and welcomed the day’s “gathering of ideas” which he believes will be useful for the process.  He also showed support for the current process, saying “I am confident in the wisdom of Ambassador Tanin as we face this challenge.”

A lively question and answer session with the diplomats and experts in the room followed in which questions ranged from discussing the stances of various nation states to speculations about how positions will progress to analysis of the UN’s increased role in today’s global climate to inquiring about the legitimacy of the Security Council.  Ambassador Tanin responded with a final argument for reform of the Council, pointing out that the Security Council “is working for the people.”  “In the streets,” he said, “there’s very little belief in the legitimacy of its decisions if the Security Council is not more inclusive, more representative, more democratic. We have to listen to the streets.”

On 12-13 May, on the margins of the Doha Forum, there will be an informal and in depth two day workshop of diplomats and experts discussing the issue of Security Council Reform.  Ambassador Al-Nasser and Ambassador Tanin will speak at the event as well.

The Call for Reform The UN and the Security Council in a Changing World by Ambassador Zahir Tanin

Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict meeting

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict meeting

Mr. Chairman,

Please allow me to begin by thanking you for convening today’s meeting on children in armed conflict and for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan.  I wish to further extend appreciation for the great efforts of the working group in developing conclusions on the basis of the Secretary General’s report on the situation of children in Afghanistan and for taking into account our concerns.

The Government of Afghanistan views the role of the Security Council as important in protecting the rights of children during armed conflict. We are committed to implementing all relevant Security Council Resolutions concerning the protection of children, including 1612 and to taking all measures to ensure the protection of Afghan children.

Mr. Chairman,

As the working group gathers to formally adopt its conclusions, I have the honor of reflecting upon its findings and recommendations.  The Afghan Government shares the sentiment of the Working Group in responding favorably to the Secretary General’s report.  We have begun to implement the Action Plan signed by the Afghan Government and the UN Country Task Force on monitoring and reporting regarding Children Associated with National Security Forces in Afghanistan on 30 January 2011.  The Afghan Government is currently providing training to the relevant Ministry focal points which conduct periodic field visits throughout the country.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan, in close cooperation with NATO and ISAF, is working fervently to review and eliminate isolated incidences of recruitment of young people which took place mistakenly and in violation of our national law.

Furthermore, Shura Ulema, the Religious Council of Afghanistan, has issued a Fatwa, or religious decree, declaring the sexual abuse of young boys by adults reflected in terms of Bacha Baazi as well as recruitment of children under the age of 18 to be against Islamic values.  Any misuse of children or form of sexual violence against children is considered a crime punishable by law.  The Government has taken necessary steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of Bacha Baazi and to implement serious punishments.  This practice has been sensationalized widely by media sources who are hungry for attention-grabbing stories.  While the tragedy of sexual abuse of children is not limited to Afghanistan, in our country it is an unfortunate effect of the protracted absence of law enforcement institutions.  We are firmly committed to ending this immoral and anti-Islamic practice.

Mr. Chairman,

We share the conviction of the Working Group that it is necessary to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. However, we wish to emphasize, in this regard, the need to differentiate between the various actors involved, in line with our response to the use of the terminology, “all parties to the conflict,” in the Secretary General’s Report. The Government of Afghanistan, as well as NATO and ISAF have all reaffirmed their commitments to international humanitarian law. On the other hand, terrorist groups in Afghanistan and the region have continually and brutally disregarded such international norms and should not be categorized with international nor Government actors.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan shares the deep concern expressed by the Working Group about the continued violations and abuses of Afghan children in the context of terrorist and non-State armed groups using children in suicide attacks and as human shields, as well as about the growing number of school children attacked directly by the Taliban and other groups. Just yesterday, a 12 year old boy who had been brainwashed by the Taliban was tragically used in a suicide attack to kill four civilians.  We, the Afghan Government and International Community, must redouble our efforts to ensure that these horrendous acts against the children of Afghanistan come to an end.

We recognize the concern of the Working Group in relation to children detained by the Afghan Government. However, I wish to emphasize that those children who have been detained due to their association with armed groups are detained separately from adults.  The Afghan Juvenile Rehabilitation Center is a separate facility and therefore detainees are not meant to undergo the same procedures as adults.

Following the fall of the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan has taken numerous key steps to protect the rights of Afghan children, including the reform of the juvenile justice system. In order to guarantee the best interests of the children, as well as to comply with ratified international standards, a new Juvenile Code with eight chapters and sixty-six articles was promulgated. Decree No. 46 endorsed and enacted the Juvenile Code of Afghanistan. According to the new Juvenile Code, the minimum age of criminal responsibility was changed from 7 to 13 years of age. Afghanistan adopted the Juvenile Code – Procedural Law for Dealing with Children in Conflict with the Law in March 2005 incorporating the basic principles of juvenile justice as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the efforts of the Working Group and appreciates the concerns of International Community toward the plight of Afghan children.  We look forward to further cooperation with the Working Group and relevant UN bodies in our implementation of the Action Plan. The children of Afghanistan need all of our efforts and cooperation in order to provide an environment that every child deserves, one in which they are safe to thrive in pursuit of their dreams.

I thank you.

Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan

UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan meeting 2nd May 2011

The UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict met on the 2nd of May 2011 to present the draft conclusions on Children and armed conflict in Afghanistan. The meeting followed the report of The Special Representative of Secretary-General for the Children and Armed Conflict on Afghanistan which was released on the 25th of February 2011. The draft conclusion was the product of several rounds of consultations with the working group and representatives of Afghanistan.

The draft conclusion highlighted the situation in Afghanistan and, “expressed grave concern about the persistence of widespread violations and abuses committed against children in the context of armed conflict in Afghanistan”. The report noted the reservations of the Afghan government over the term “all parties to the conflict” used in the Secretary-General’s report which unjustly placed the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) alongside terrorist and insurgent groups who are responsible for committing violations and abuses against children. The report further made several recommendations to the government of Afghanistan, the Secretary-General, the Security Council, the International Security Assistance Force as well as the World Bank and other donors on measures which need to be implemented in Afghanistan to better protect children in the context of armed conflict.

In a statement to the working group His Excellency Ambassador Tanin expressed sincere gratitude for the efforts of the working group, in particular that of Ms. Coomaraswamy for promoting the rights of Afghan children. He highlighted the implementation of the Action Plan by the Afghan Government and the UN Country Task Force on monitoring and reporting regarding Children Associated with National Security Forces in Afghanistan as one example of progress being made in the country.

Ambassador Tanin also shed light on several key issues such as detention of children and the reported systemic sexual abuse of young boys. He stated, “while the tragedy of sexual abuse is not limited to Afghanistan, in our country it is the unfortunate effect of protracted absence of law enforcement institutions”. Alongside this, Dr. Tanin highlighted the ratification of several declarations, passing of new laws and other measures as examples of the Afghan government’s commitment to the pursuit of protection of children in armed conflict.

The draft conclusion on Children and armed conflict in Afghanistan was adopted with no objections.