Thursday, June 20, 2013
Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers
Let me begin by conveying, on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, our sincere appreciation to our friends of the Republic of Nepal for their successful leadership of the Least Developing Countries. Your able leadership at a time when the world is confronting various challenges helps us to maintain our unity, expand and strengthen cooperation among the members of our group.
Not long ago, the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries was held in Istanbul, generously hosted by of our brothers the people and government of Turkey, where the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted. This strategic document will remain a roadmap for us to achieve the eradication of poverty and our internationally-agreed development goals. It is imperative that we implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, and integrate its provisions into our national development policies.
Afghanistan also welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.
Afghanistan is concerned over the multiple global crises of extensive poverty, climate change, financial and economic crises, and threats of terrorism, volatile energy prices and food shortages. All of these challenges have had enormous deleterious effects on the implementation and realisation of our MDGs.
As LDCs are heavily reliant on agricultural products, improving and increasing productive capacity and competitiveness with the assistance of our development partners is of significant importance.
Conversely, the disastrous effects of climate change have become one of the greatest obstacles to the prosperity and sustainable development of LDCs. Natural disasters such as flooding, droughts, earthquakes and mudslides are becoming more frequent in our part of the world. None of us can afford to experience the devastating effects of such calamities, on our people, our agriculture, our environment, and our infrastructure. As members of LDCs, we must come together for a strong common position on issues related to climate change and environmental degradation.
In a globalized world, we cannot and should not isolate ourselves from international markets and cooperation with the rest of the world. However, it is only prudent for us to adopt policies to free ourselves from total dependence on international assistance and vulnerability to the shocks of the international market. Afghanistan fully supports the position of the LDCs, in calling upon the G-8 countries to give due consideration to the LDC agenda and take appropriate measures to ensure that the concerns of LDCs are taken fully into account in their decisions.
Afghanistan further supports the LDCs position on the need for strengthening the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries (GSTP), and increasing the volume of development assistance and financial flows, technology transfer, and duty-free, quota-free market access being provided by countries of the South to LDCs. We welcome such initiatives and call for other members in the South to do the same.
Afghanistan has achieved great progress over the past 10 years. However, we still live in a part of the world where trans-national threats such as terrorism, extremism, poverty, organized crime and natural disasters still exist. Terrorism is among the dominant challenges in our region. In terrorism, we all share a common enemy, regardless of our cultural and religious differences. The terrorism threat we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network, responsible for attacks across our region, in defeating terrorism will not be possible without an effective global strategy. We must focus more on addressing terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region, which operate as the life-line for terrorist activity. Unless this is achieved, all our efforts will be in vain.
Widespread poverty and a lack of socio-economic opportunities are another critical challenge which we are confronted with. Afghanistan is pursing regional cooperation as the cornerstone of our overall efforts to secure peace, stability and prosperity. In that regard, we are working with the region and the international community to revive Afghanistan’s central position in promoting and developing regional trade and commerce through the New Silk Road Initiative, to the shared benefit of all involved. In that regard, like other LDCs Afghanistan is looking forward to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil next year. Rio+20 will focus on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. We call upon the international community to seize this opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence between the United Nations system and all other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions to support economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the LDCs.
In conclusion, let me reiterate Afghanistan’s steadfast commitment to advancing the goals of the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action and repeat our assurances of our highest consideration and closest cooperation in working with all of you.
Statement By H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
at the Security Council Debate on Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Institution Building
Please allow me to begin by congratulating you and your delegation for assuming the presidency of the Council for the month of January. I thank you for convening today’s important meeting on post-conflict peacebuilding and institution building and I wish to express my appreciation for the informative concept paper which you provided on 4 January. Thank you also to the Secretary General for his remarks. I would like to thank His Excellency, Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, who spoke on behalf of G7+ of which Afghanistan is a member. The voices of conflict-affected and fragile states provided a unique and crucial perspective on peacebuilding and institution building. Thank you to His Excellency, Ambassador Peter Wittig for addressing the council on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission.
Institution building is one of the essential components of establishing a peaceful and sustainable future in any post-conflict situation. The necessary requirements for successful institution building in post-conflict settings include: recognizing unique contexts; steady resourcing; growth of human capital; national, regional, and international cooperation; and strategic patience through the transition period. In Afghanistan we have learned firsthand the importance of each of these requirements.
In the ubiquitous debate on the current situation in Afghanistan, it is easy to overlook the thirty years of conflict that Afghanistan has overcome in order to reach a point at which, today, we can discuss institution building and post-conflict peacebuilding. Let us not underestimate the time it takes to surpass the challenges of history. An environment such as Afghanistan’s, which has faced complex conflict, power struggles, and ongoing violence for decades cannot be changed overnight. As we engage in each and every discussion about the training of the Afghan army and police, the timeline for military engagement, or international partnerships, we must keep this context in mind.
In 2001, Afghanistan was considered to be the most failed state in the world. The fall of the Taliban left a weakly governed state with no professional police or army to quell the ongoing fighting around the country. In 2001 Afghanistan lacked state institutions and had a budget of merely $27 million. After having hundreds of thousands of military and nonmilitary government employees in the early 1990s, educated and skilled workers fled the country and its government was left with less than 2,000 employees with higher educations. Many government institutions were nonfunctional because basic staffing and resourcing needs were not met.
Given the magnitude of destruction, stabilization efforts in Afghanistan have produced impressive results. Despite its uphill climb from the time of Taliban rule, Afghanistan has experienced political transformation and development over the last decade, achieved through the support of the international community. The political process for the continued growth of the country is in place. Nearly 7 million refugees have returned. Women’s roles in politics have steadily increased. Civil society has emerged triumphantly in a more unified and organized manner. There are many areas in the country where we are witnessing governance for the first time in decades. Progress in the area of infrastructure development including building and paving roads and increased access to water, education, and health care has been among the most rapid of any post-conflict nation in decades. Women and girls now have equal educational access.
Security institutions have developed, supporting the emergence of Afghan national ownership. The last year has shown that it is possible to increase the Afghan National Army substantially and simultaneously see its planning and combat abilities improve. Local administrations have increased their involvement in security efforts, particularly through the engagement of Afghan people, especially elders, in defense programs in villages.
As a measure to end violence and achieve lasting peace, we in Afghanistan have prioritized reintegration and reconciliation. We continue to encourage members of the armed-opposition to put down their weapons, choose the path of peace, and join efforts for stabilization and rehabilitation in the country. Progress continues toward implementing the recommendations of our national consultative peace-jirga, which constitutes the core of our reconciliation efforts. Now that we have come halfway, it is the Taliban’s turn to fulfill its responsibility. If the Taliban wants to join the peace talks, it must end violence and terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IEDs, kidnappings, targeted assassinations and sever ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
We must also anticipate the challenges we will face going forward. The biggest issue is the sustainability of peace, not just for Afghanistan, but for any post-conflict country. The functionality of institutions is necessary; a country must have the resources, the human capital, and capacity to stop the threat of insurgency or avoid relapsing into conflict. Capacity building is essential if state institutions are to operate effectively; empowering state institutions means enabling national government to provide services for its citizens.
In any post-conflict setting, maintained international engagement in the institution building stages, beyond military involvement, is necessary for the endurance of peacebuilding efforts. In Afghanistan, an additional component of the stabilization process is effective regional cooperation. Progress is at risk of unraveling if these partnerships do not remain strong.
Democratization in post-conflict countries is a multidimensional challenge. We have learned from our experience that the democratization process requires sustained security as well as political, and development support. However, as it has been emphasized time and again “democracy grows from within and external actors can only support it.” The international community and key national stakeholders must work collaboratively, with integrative strategies, to provide effective support for democratization.
In the coming years, national ownership and leadership with continued international partnerships will be key for Afghanistan. The adoption of the Kabul Process involves more Afghan responsibility for security, development and governance in the country. The significant increase in the amount of international funding channeled through the Afghan Government reflects renewed support for national ownership. The Afghan Government is committed to assuming full responsibility for security efforts with the support of the international community by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon support to build Afghan security forces’ size, strength and operational capability.
Building peace through developing institutions can help address the causes of conflict. However, it is necessary to end violence in order to create an environment in which institutions can flourish. Progress can be destroyed when conflict flares up. We must not forget the lessons we have learned in Afghanistan: A school or clinic built in six months can be destroyed in only six minutes by the Taliban or other extremists.
Furthermore, the importance of effective international partnership during post-conflict situations cannot be overestimated. In this regard, adequate resourcing and capacity building are preconditions for ensuring lasting peace.
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