Tuesday, July 29, 2014

United Nations Security Council Debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council Debate on The Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

At the outset, I congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of the Council. I also wish to thank the Secretary General for his report on the Situation in Afghanistan, and extend a warm welcome back to the Council to my good friend, Special Representative Staffan de Mistura.

I also take this opportunity to express deepest sympathies, on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, to the people and Government of Japan, for the tragic loss of life and destruction from the earthquake and Tsunami this past week.  We stand beside the friendly peoples of Japan as they recover from that tragedy.

Mr. President,

As we come together today to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the country embarks on transition to full Afghan sovereignty, national ownership and leadership in an effort to realize the noble vision of a secure, democratic, and prosperous nation – one that is able to meet the needs of its citizens independently. We in Afghanistan know that transition is no easy task, but achievable with our determination and unity, and the sincere support and commitment of the international community.

The logic of transition will guide the way forward over the next four years. During this time, Afghanistan is determined to assume full responsibility at all levels, in order to provide Afghans with security, opportunities for social and economic progress, and the benefits of a society governed by the rule of law.

Mr. President,

The role of the international community in supporting the transition will remain essential for our success.  In London, Kabul and Lisbon, the international community endorsed, and committed to supporting the transition towards Afghan ownership and leadership. Over the next four years, the international community’s role in Afghanistan will revolve around the needs and requirements of the transition process.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting comes on the eve of the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate.  As the lead international civilian coordinator, the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan over the transition period and beyond will remain crucial. We convey our appreciation for the resolute commitment of all UN staff working under difficult conditions to help meet the aspirations of the Afghan people. As we prepare to officially commence the transition process on the 21st of March, we look to the UN as a key partner in the way forward.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan cannot stand on its own feet if its state institutions remain weak and undermined by various parallel structures, and if its capacity is not strengthened. So, Mr. President, securing Afghanistan is first and foremost about Afghan ownership and leadership; about taking responsibility; and about operating effectively to achieve sustainable progress. This is our ultimate goal to which we are firmly committed.

In the past weeks, we have been engaged in discussions about how UNAMA’s mandate should evolve, in light of transition.  In that regard, on the First of March, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul sent a letter to the Secretary General on behalf of the Afghan Government, in which he underscored three main requests:

First, a comprehensive review of the UNAMA mandate and the role of the UN in Afghanistan, to be conducted, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, within the next six months.  In subsequent weeks we have agreed that such a review will be done before the Bonn Conference at the end of 2011.

Second, greater coherence, coordination, and efficiency in the work of UN funds, programs, and agencies operating in Afghanistan towards “One United Nations.” Such an approach, bringing each of the UN’s entities together in synergy, is necessary for an efficient and successful transition in the country.

And third, a reshaping of this year’s UNAMA mandate around the transition. To this end, Mr. President, the Government of Afghanistan proposed the following adjustments to the mandate:

1. Transition must be the Central Focus of UNAMA.  A UN mandate that is centered on transition objectives would facilitate a smooth shift to Afghan ownership and leadership. The underlying imperative to transition full responsibility for security, governance, and development to Afghan leadership by the end of 2014 should guide the work of UNAMA and the SRSG.

2. Emphasis must be placed on UNAMA’s responsibility as the co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) to promote coherence in the international community’s support for the Afghan-defined and Afghan-led development strategy.

3. We stress the need to increasingly channel aid through the Afghan budget, and align it with our Afghan National Priority Programs.  We are convinced that this will lead to more effective and efficient utilization of development assistance.

4. UNAMA plays a crucial role in improving civil military coordination with ISAF. This role, however, should be recalibrated to reflect the aim of the transition process in order to support Afghan-led stabilization efforts.

5. National ownership of the reintegration and reconciliation process is necessary. We are reaching out to all Afghans who are willing to renounce violence and join the peace process. The peace and reconciliation process is Afghan-led and could benefit from support and good offices of UNAMA if requested by the Afghan government.

6. The Afghan government must have ownership of the election process, based on the clear requirements of the Afghan constitution and principle of Afghan sovereignty. In line with the Kabul and London Communiqués, the Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to electoral reform as a measure to ensure sustainability for the democratic process, one which is national in nature and should be addressed by the citizens of Afghanistan. We welcome the availability of UNAMA in helping with capacity building and technical assistance for electoral law if requested by the Government of Afghanistan. Last year’s elections in Afghanistan cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a cost which is not sustainable for an Afghan-led democratic process over time. The election process in Afghanistan must be effective and sustainable; this is only possible through Afghan ownership.

7. A reassessment of UNAMA’s work throughout the country is necessary. While the presence of UNAMA’s offices in eight regional zones remains important, the number, location and TOR of UNAMA’s offices in other provinces should be looked at within the comprehensive mandate review.  This will help encourage Afghan institutions to end the culture of dependence; avoid unnecessary security risks for the UNAMA staff; and streamline funding for the relevant UN agencies in the country.

8. UNAMA’s role in supporting the efforts to enhance governance and rule of law would be achieved best through strengthening the effort of the government of Afghanistan, in accordance with the Kabul Process. This is why we request that all efforts be made toward strengthening the Afghan government’s capacity.

9. The coordinating role of UNAMA in delivering humanitarian assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles is crucial. However, in the way forward, the focus must be on strengthening the central coordinating role of the government of Afghanistan, consistent with the goal of Afghan ownership.

Mr. President,

The realization of our requests, will not only facilitate a more efficient UN in years to come, but also a government functioning with greater confidence in its ability to become self reliant.

Ten years after the Bonn Conference, Afghanistan is adamant in its decision to take responsibility for its country and people. This is a process that will not happen overnight, but over time. Throughout the four-year transition to Afghan leadership and ownership, and beyond, the enduring partnership between Afghanistan and the international community, the UN and other partners will remain crucial. The transition is not an end to the relationship between Afghanistan and the international community, but the beginning of a new chapter in an evolving partnership.

Mr. President,

We must end the war and violence in Afghanistan. The time has come to ensure that Afghans have the chance to live in peace – free from the threat of violence and sufferings endured for many years. The war against terrorism will not be won without the confidence and support of the Afghan people. While most of the civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, incidences of loss of innocent life during military operations have increased. However, our moral obligations place a heavy burden on us to make the protection of civilian lives priority number one. Civilian casualties must end and additional measures must be taken to prevent harm to civilians.

We all have come to realize that war and violence cannot be ended through military means alone. That is why we continue to reach out to all those who want to join the peace process. The support of the international community and our enduring partnership is essential for this process and for success in Afghanistan. Afghans are determined to work toward their own destiny. Let us renew our efforts to achieve peace and prosperity in the country through the transition and beyond.

I thank you.

Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

at the Security Council

on “Briefing by Chairmen of Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council.”

Mr. President,
As this is the first time that I am taking the floor during this month, permit me, at the outset, to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the Council during November. And we thank you for holding today’s debate on the work of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council dealing with terrorism.

My delegation is thankful to Ambassador Harting of Austria, Ambassador Apagan of Turkey and Ambassador Heller of Mexico for their comprehensive briefings on the work of the counter-terrorism committees, established pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004).

Mr. President,

Afghanistan remains the number one victim of international terrorism.  Nearly a decade ago, Afghanistan and the international community joined hands to end the rule of terrorists and extremists, who used the country as a base for international terrorism. And today, notwithstanding important progress in the political, social and economic fronts, the terrorist campaign of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups continues to be the main challenge to Afghanistan’s security, reconstruction and development. Terrorists have killed or maimed thousands of innocent men, women and children; and they seek to take Afghanistan back to the days when tyranny and oppression were seen as the rule of law.

Mr. President,

As we have echoed time and again in this very Council, terrorism in Afghanistan and our part of the world is a growing threat to international peace and security. The enemy we face is part of a complex and sophisticated network with safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region from which terrorists still enjoy support. Afghanistan remains alarmed at the presence of these support centers, and reiterates that unless they are addressed, the terrorism which has been raging like wildfire will regrettably continue.

Mr. President,

As the front-line state in combating terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of loss of human life, and the destruction of our economy and infrastructure. Afghans have made enormous sacrifices in this struggle.  As we speak, our national army and police are engaged in fierce combat against enemy forces in joint military operations with international forces. We have taken the fight to terrorists, and prevented their ability to carry out large-scale conventional attacks. That is why they resort to desperate tactics – suicide bombings, assassinations and abductions.

Further, as we get ready to begin the transition process, we have given new focus on building the size and strength of our national army and police. The detailed plan of the transition strategy will be presented at the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon later this week. We are confident that a stronger and more efficient security force will lead to further progress in the fight against terrorism, and to improvement in the security situation.

Mr. President,
As long as terrorism remains a threat, the fight against it will continue. By the same token, it is widely recognized that military efforts alone are not the solution to Afghanistan’s security problem. Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants with no links to terrorist organizations is critical for achieving lasting peace and security.  In this regard, I want to state clearly that our reintegration and reconciliation initiative will be pursued in conformity with the provisions of the Afghan constitution. Additionally, we give full assurance that the democratic process and respect for human rights, the rights of women in particular, will remain a priority during reconciliation.

Mr. President

Afghanistan commends the Security Council for the able manner in which it is leading international efforts in combating terrorism. In that regard, we highlight the importance of counter-terrorism committees 1267, 1373 and 1540.

Mr. President,

The 1267 Committee remains one of the important instruments of the Security Council in countering terrorism. Consistent with resolution 1904, the Committee has taken a number of important steps to increase transparency and effectiveness in its work. In July of this year, the Committee revised its working guidelines. Another important achievement is the publication of narrative summaries for enlisting. This new practice provides member-states with concise information, such as date and reason for listing. Moreover, in August, the Committee concluded its review of all individuals on the consolidated list, which led to the delisting of additional names.

Mr. President,

We join other speakers in underscoring the importance of a periodic review of the list, so as to ensure its accuracy. In this connection, Afghanistan welcomes the de-listing of 10 former Taliban members during the course of the year. Such measures will benefit Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation initiative. Having said that, we urge the Committee to also give due consideration to Afghanistan’s additional de-listing requests, and look forward to Monitoring Team’s visit to Kabul at the end of this month.

In regards to the 1373 Committee, we underscore its important work, and welcome the continued efforts of the Committee and its Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for increased collaboration with member-states.

Mr. President,

Terrorists have proven their readiness to terrorize peoples, societies, and countries as a demonstration of their strength. They will no spare no effort to go to all lengths, including resorting to nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism. In this connection, we commend the ongoing efforts of the 1540 Committee in preventing non-state actors from participating in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is actively engaged in implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on terrorism, on which we have presented national reports. Needless to say, Afghanistan is party to all 13 conventions on terrorism. Moreover, Afghanistan’s relevant national institutions, the security and judicial sectors in particular, are working diligently to further strengthen our counter-terrorism efforts.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I should like to state that the fight against terrorism is a key component of our partnership with the international community. We look forward to strengthening this partnership in the coming years.  And let me reiterate that the people of Afghanistan are as resolute as ever before to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Thank you Mr. President.

Understanding Afghanistan through the Prism of History

A Glimpse into Afghanistan Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow at Stony Brook University

On 4 November, just hours after the debate on the Situation in Afghanistan in the United Nations General Assembly, Stony Brook University hosted a crucial discussion on “Afghanistan: The Current Situation through a Historic Lens.”  Introductory remarks were given by Professors Said  Amir Arjomand and Paul Zimansky to welcome a full crowd of students and community members at the Center for Global and Local History.

The theme of the discussion was that in order to understand what is happening in present day Afghanistan, it is essential to recognize the history behind the conflict.  H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Nations  gave an enlightening presentation at the event.  While seeking to debunk the common misconception that Afghanistan has always been at war through pointing out a century of relative calm and peace in the nation prior to the 1980s, the focus of the discussion was on the torrential period of conflict from the last three decades.

As Ambassador Tanin outlined, three foreign interventions or invasions, and three civil wars have taken place in the past thirty years.  First was the Soviet invasion of 1979, then the war of resistance against that invasion, followed by the invasion of Afghanistan by al-Qaeda and foreign Mujahideen with the support of Pakistan in 1994, accompanied by the Mujahideen fighting the Taliban in the 1990s.  Interventions by international forces led by the US began in 2001 which led to fighting between Taliban and the international and Afghan forces.  Dramatic regime or ideological shifts have characterized recent history in Afghanistan.  “Each change you see here is a bloody change,” Ambassador Tanin reminded the audience, as he pointed to the timeline of the last three decades.  The millions of deaths, major destruction of economy, and disintegration of state from this complex history have reversed much of Afghanistan’s progress over the previous century, he said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Tanin expressed optimism about the progress of the country and its future, starting with a new beginning in 2001 which involved increased international support.  He described key human rights successes which include dramatically improved access to health care, advancements in women’s rights particularly in the area of political participation, a rising number of female students, 71% enrollment rates in schools, and the building of 4,000 new school buildings in the last decade.   He also expressed some of the former challenges, particularly in the coordination and adequacy of troops and funding.  Despite ongoing struggles, Ambassador Tanin has hope that with the second term of President Karzai, the strong commitment of the Afghan government to the national agenda, and the sustained role of the international community for a successful transition to Afghan-led ownership and responsibility, peace and progress can be achieved.  However, as Ambassador Tanin expressed, with this optimism comes the burden of hard work, and diligent follow through ahead.