Saturday, October 25, 2014

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.

Press release – UN Seminar on Assistance to Palestinian People (Helsinki, 28-29 April 2011)

The UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Helsinki was held on 28 and 29 April 2011. The Seminar was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, aiming to review the progress of and garner further support for the Programme of the Palestinian Authority in their pursuit and aspiration to end the occupation and establish the State of Palestine. H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, participated and chaired meetings as Vice Chair of the Committee.

The focus of discussions was on the current socio-economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, highlighting the urgent need for relief and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.  The sessions considered approaches to advancing the Palestinian State-building programme, including ways to address political challenges.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized in his message, delivered by Rima Khalef, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN-ESCWA, the urgency of a firm re-launch of negotiations between Israel and Palestine.  He said, “time is of the essence (…) the institutional achievements of the Palestinian state-building programme are approaching their limits within the political and physical space currently available.” The Secretary-General encouraged the parties to persist in their goal of resolving all final status issues so that a two-State-solution can be implemented. “In this regard, Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem is unacceptable” the Secretary General pointed out.

On Friday, 29 April 2011 H.E. Dr. Tanin chaired the first session, Plenary II on “Looking ahead: Developing sovereign institutions and creating a sustainable Palestinian economy”.  The aim of this meeting was to discuss the extent to which the accountability and efficiency of the public sector within the Occupied Palestinian Territory has improved; whether an enabling environment for robust private sector-led growth has been created; what role women in socio-economic development are playing; the importance of investing in youth through education; and the role of the donor community.

In addition to the official seminar meetings, Ambassador Tanin met with the Director General of the Department for the Americas and Asia, Ms. Elina, Kalkku; the Director General of the Political Department, Mr. Teemu Tanner; and the Director General for the Department for Africa and Middle East, H.E. Ms. Kirsti Kauppi.

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Hosts Ambassadorial Conversation on “Afghanistan and its Neighborhood” at Fairleigh Dickenson University


On 6 April, the Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck Campus, co-organized an event with the United Nations Ambassador’s Club entitled, “Afghanistan and its Neighborhood.”  H. E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations was a guest speaker. The founder and CEO of the foundation, Ambassador Ahmad Kamal requested Ambassador Tanin’s presence to shed light on important topics concerning Afghanistan and the region. The esteemed former Ambassador of Pakistan, Ambassador Kamal had not only organised the event but also chaired the session. During an ‘informal conversation’ setting, Ambassador Kamal and Ambassador Tanin discussed a broad range of topics including Afghan history, its relationship with the region, particularly Pakistan, and the future direction of the country. The event was well attended by an audience of 110 diplomats, students and faculty staff and was followed by a formal dinner in honor of Ambassador Tanin.

A common theme from the discussions was the emphasis that despite their many differences, Afghans and Pakistanis have much shared culture and language.  Ambassador Tanin described the historical divisions during the time of the Cold War, the political context that led to the rise of the Taliban, and the further strategic divide between the two countries.  However, he mentioned the importance of realizing the potential for cooperation throughout the region.

Questions from audience members focused on the role of the US in Afghanistan.  Ambassador Tanin spoke with certainty, “we’d like to see an America that helps us stand on our own feet.”  He acknowledged that the US and Afghanistan hold dialogue in order to further develop and improve their strategic partnership, and that this communication is both “frank and friendly.” When asked about how Afghans view the American presence there, Ambassador Tanin pointed out that there are a range of views within the country, and that many Afghans want international involvement in the country, but also that “any action, whether by the Afghan government or international forces” can have an effect on public opinion.

In response to further audience questions, Ambassador Tanin argued that women’s education is of crucial importance, and that corruption must be addressed, but that the war has been an obstacle in overcoming this issue. He emphasized the need to work for a lasting peace in Afghanistan and responded to questions about the negotiation process. “We need to end this war,” he said, “it cannot be done in only a military way.  A reconciliation is needed.”

During the formal dinner following the conversation, the Provost gave a warm welcome to Ambassador Tanin.  An Afghan student from the university gave thanks on behalf of the student body, describing that he had listened to Ambassador Tanin as a former BBC journalist in Afghanistan many years ago.