Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

 Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan  to the United Nations

 At the United Nations Security Council debate on

The Situation in Afghanistan

Check Against Delivery

 Mr. President,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of this month’s Presidency of the Council. I would like to express a warm welcome to our good friend, Special Representative Jan Kubiš, who spoke for the first time in the Security Council today. In a short period of time, the SRSG has gained much confidence and admiration of the Afghan people, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation. I also take the opportunity to thank H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for his comprehensive report on Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

We meet today at a critical juncture in Afghanistan’s history. It is a time in which the culmination of the efforts of my country and the nations involved in the stabilization process in the last ten years has reached a moment of truth. Today’s debate falls within a line-up of important events that will shape the contours of the international community’s work during the transition and beyond: from the Bonn conference in December, to the Tokyo Ministerial Conference this July. After a decade, we are also looking today into a new framework of the UN’s mandate and work in a situation characterized by transition, followed by the transformation decade.

Mr. President,

The transition process, which started with the transfer of responsibilities to Afghan security forces a year ago, is continuing apace. With the second tranche completed, we are nearing the launch of the third phase of transition, at the conclusion of which, the majority of Afghan territory will come under full Afghan security control. By end of transition by 2014, Afghanistan will assume full responsibility of security as well as the ownership and leadership of governance and development. A shift of paradigm is underway, the aim is sovereignty – empowering Afghanistan to take charge of its own destiny and turning the direct military and civilian function of the international community into a support and enabling role.

A successful transition, Mr. President, requires renewed parameters of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, with the guaranteed commitment of the continuation of military, political and financial support during the transition and the decade of transformation from 2015 – 2024. This is what we, Afghanistan and the international community, set out to do last December in Bonn. This commitment will be supported concretely in July in Tokyo.

Mr. President,

At this stage, we hope the assistance of the international community as manifested in the commitments of the Kabul conference in 2010 and Bonn in 2011, will help to meet the requisite needs of our security forces. This is crucial for the building-up, training and equipping of our national security forces, who have proven themselves in recent weeks to be increasingly capable in protecting their fellow Afghans. Furthermore, the transition dividend, channeled into Afghanistan’s political stability, economic growth and social advancement, will have a direct effect on fostering sustainable peace in the country, and bring about real change in the lives of people.

In the long term, what matters is the establishment and strengthening of enduring strategic partnerships that will provide us with a solid base of mutual cooperation. Thus far, we have already signed and are negotiating long-term, strategic partnerships with our international partners, including those in the region. In this connection, Afghanistan and the United States are working to finalize all parts of the strategic partnership agreement, which will ensure our combined commitment to the future of a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. On 9 March we signed a memorandum of understanding with the US on the handover of control of the Parwan detention facility to the Afghan Government and we are working to finalize another memorandum relating to special operations in the very near future.

Mr. President,

An effective transition is also contingent upon the successful outcome of an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, outreach and reintegration process. The dynamics of the peace talks shifted with the announcement of the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar, which we believe will provide fresh impetus to our peace efforts. We welcome recent measures taken by the 1988 Committee of the Security Council, which have enhanced confidence building, and will help expedite our reconciliation efforts.

On a national level, outreach and reintegration efforts remain essential to bringing back members of the armed opposition to mainstream society. Nearly 3,500 anti-government elements are enrolled in the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), and in the coming months, we expect to see many more, joining the program and returning to normal life.

At the same time, we will continue to work with all relevant regional and international partners to move the peace process forward, including the UN, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. We are pleased that the peace process has garnered the support it needs from all countries in the region. Our desire for multi-faceted cooperation is embodied through the Istanbul Process that began in November 2011. It is a visionary step forward to achieving a benevolent regional order, characterized by cooperation, collaboration and shared goals. We look forward to furthering our progress at the follow-up to the Istanbul Process this June in Kabul.

Mr. President,

For the success of transition we must redouble our efforts toward a more effective, accountable, transparent Government that is ready to deliver services and safeguard national interests as set out in the Kabul Process. Afghanistan continues its fight to strengthen good governance, end corruption, promote human rights including gender equality, combat illegal narcotics and foster greater economic opportunities.

For Afghans, Mr. President, a successful transition is the key for peace and stability. We are well aware of the challenges, but the bitter memories of war and conflict only further our determination to work together to secure a peaceful future. However, our confidence needs to be deepened by real cooperation, trust, and mutual respect between Afghanistan and the international community. The recent incidents such as the brutal killing of 16 innocent civilians, mostly children and women, in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, the burning of the Holy Quran north of Kabul, and similar atrocities could undermine our trust and cooperation, by inciting deep sorrow, anger and frustration among Afghan people. It is imperative that these incidents are ended immediately and the perpetrators be held accountable.

Mr. President,

The UN over the last ten years has been in the forefront of helping the Afghan people. The UN has supported the efforts of the Afghan Government for building a more peaceful future for the country. While Afghanistan continues transition, it will still largely benefit from the support of the UN. We are thankful to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive review of UNAMA’s mandated activities and the UN’s support in Afghanistan and for the work of the review team. The Afghan Government fully agrees with the report of the Secretary-General’s findings that UNAMA should use its good offices to continue to support Afghan-led political processes and capacity building for Afghan institutions. We appreciate the report’s emphasis on the UN’s work for human rights of all Afghans; and we share the report’s assertion that aid coherence in support of Afghanistan’s development agenda is crucial.

We are satisfied with the work of the comprehensive review. And, of course, plenty of work for us all lies on the road ahead. The size and configuration of UN presence is to be considered in the coming months as well as the application of a One-UN approach for streamlining UN activities, based on the evolving realities on the ground and needs of transition. The Government of Afghanistan is looking forward to close cooperation in this regard.

A long-term, strategic view into the renewed posture of the UN in Afghanistan will be needed to answer some of the bigger questions about the organization’s political role, the necessary steps towards reinforcing integration and delivery as one, and questions about bringing more transparency and accountability in managing resources and coordination of aid during the transition and transformation decade. I am confident that with our strong, ongoing partnership, Afghanistan and the UN are well-equipped to address all future challenges.

Mr. President,

In the last ten years, Afghanistan and the international community were together in fighting terrorism and working to bring stability and peace to the country. This fight is not yet finished.  We still have a long way to go, and we continue to struggle to normalize the situation in the country. This is the aim of transition. But the transition we agreed upon must be a responsible, unhurried, and coordinated process. Afghanistan and its people count on both the conscience and commitment of the international community to remain steadfast to the countless and long reiterated assurances for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.

 

 

United Nations’ Security Council debate on Women and Peace and Security

STATEMENT BY H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations   At the Security Council debate

on

Women and Peace and Security

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to congratulate you for assuming the presidency this month and thank you for convening this important meeting. I also welcome the report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence that informs our discussion today and the helpful briefing of Ms. Wallström. The report and meeting are timely and necessary, as sexual violence remains a major threat in the lives of women, men and children, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Mr. President,

Central to today’s debate is the relationship between conflict and sexual violence. In order to better understand this connection, I wish to highlight three main elements:

First, the importance of the focus of the international community: with the end of World War II in 1945, and with the creation of the United Nations, humanity was saved from another World War, but it was not spared the effects of war and atrocities. Over twenty million people were killed in the 265 wars and conflicts from 1945 to 1990, and in the 186 wars and conflicts that erupted from 1990 to present.

In the 1990s, after the Cold War, we increasingly faced a new form of wars with a decrease in the number of inter-state conflicts, and an increase in the prevalence of intra-state tension and violent non-state actors, which brought new waves of atrocious horrors, including in my country, Afghanistan.

The atrocities emerging from the conflicts of the 1990s, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity raised a tenacious challenge for the international community and subsequently fuelled the prompt application of international laws and norms in response. The shift in focus of the international community was significant, as illustrated by the establishment of vital bodies such as the ICTR in 1994 and the office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2010.

Second, the interconnectedness of sexual violence and other atrocities: while sexual violence is embedded within the definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the international community should take a holistic approach to these atrocities, as they cannot be separated from one another. Furthermore, every atrocity is spawned from the all-encompassing destruction of society caused by war; we cannot truly stop atrocities such as sexual violence without ending the violence, wars and conflict, which breed them.

Third, the breakdown of cultural values: war is pervasive. It tears down common understandings of decency and respect for human rights. It kills morals. It breaks down social contracts. It erodes solidarity and trust. As I saw in my own country, war and conflict resulted in a corrupting prevalence of a militant-culture, countering the society’s values that were based on tolerance and respect. War and violence, during more than thirty years of conflict, led to not only a broken society and state, but also sometimes to the unsettling of cultural norms, and the moral tenet of society.

What emerged was, in fact, a militant anti-culture, caused by war. Crimes against Afghan people were committed, and human rights violations were extensive, especially violence against women. The war-culture is about disrespecting women, by using atrocities to achieve its aim, disregarding the traditional values in which women were respected as the centre of family and lifeblood of the society. We saw what had never before been seen in the history of Afghan women – a sequence of killing, maiming, and violence.

Mr. President,

As noted by the Secretary-General’s report, there is often a breakdown in the rule of law and the capacity of civilian and military justice systems to address widespread sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict countries. These fragile states are not only hindered by the weakness of rule of law or the physical destruction of homes and infrastructure, but the erosion of the very fabric of society. Tragically, Afghanistan is all too familiar with this scenario.

However, Mr. President, in the last ten years, after the fall of the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan with the support of the international community has worked to put an end to violence in the country, essential for security and protecting rights of women, men and children.

Afghanistan has adopted the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law which has provided the government with stronger judicial means through which we can combat sexual violence more effectively. After its adoption, about 600 cases were opened by prosecutors throughout the country. That is real progress towards breaking the silence with regard to violence and sexual violence, and we are confident that in the years to come, our efforts will bear more results and women will be more safe and respected and will receive the justice they deserve.

The President of Afghanistan also established the Commission on Elimination of Sexual Abuse of Children and Women, which is comprised of the ministers of Interior Affairs and Justice, as well as a member of the Supreme Court.  This Commission advises relevant organisations on how to fight against women’s and children’s sexual abuse and encourages relevant reporting to the Commission.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to restoring the integrity of Afghan women on the fundamental principal that there can be no democratisation, and no true promotion and protection of women’s rights without the participation of women. We believe that the provisions made for female political power in our constitution are helping to guide us towards achieving inclusivity and ensuring a real voice for women in the public discourse on Afghanistan’s future.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan acknowledges that the accomplishments we have outlined are only first steps towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment; the Afghan Government will therefore continue to dedicate itself to the elimination of sexual violence and to the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment. In that regard, the Government of Afghanistan welcomes SCR 1325, 1880 and 1889, which include the combat of sexual violence as a matter of peace and security.

Mr. President,

The international community has an essential role to play in supporting the ongoing efforts in conflict affected and post-conflict countries to end sexual violence and violence against women, combat impunity, and offer assistance to victims of sexual violence. But we not only need the support of the International Community, but its consciousness not to forget about the violence that affected the lives of women, men and children. We must work together to ensure that such atrocities will never happen again.

I thank you.

 

H.E. Zahir Tanin

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and Vice President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. at the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Cairo.