Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Statement By H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Least Developing Countries Meeting of Foreign Ministers


Mr. Chairman,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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.

Thank you.

President Karzai Meets with Secretary-General

President Karzai Meets with Secretary-General Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with H.E. Hâmid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Istanbul.

Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai on the LDCs

Statement By His Excellency Hamid Karzai

President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

At the

4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Istanbul, Turkey

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman;

Honorable Delegates;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Before I begin my statement, it is an honor for Afghanistan to have been elected as a deputy to this conference and to the Least Developed Countries’ Secretariat. We are thankful and grateful.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am pleased to be among you today to renew our commitment to the fight against poverty and address the needs and aspirations of the Least Developed Countries. I join previous speakers in thanking His Excellency President Abdullah Gul, and the government and the people of Turkey for the excellent organization and warm hospitality accorded to all of us today. I also thank His Excellency the Secretary General and the Office of High Representative for LDC’s for their leadership of the consultative process that has resulted in the comprehensive report on the Least Developed Countries. My thanks also go to all organizations and individuals who have contributed to this noble task.

Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Forty years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly recognized the status of LDCs by adopting Resolution 2768. Over this period, the ranks of LDCs have swelled to 48 from the initial 24. Today, close to a billion people in the world face hunger, disease, and illiteracy. This reality shows that our goals have remained unmet, and our commitments have been insufficient.

We hope that the Istanbul Program of Action will represent a new phase in global partnerships to effectively respond to the continuing and emerging challenges facing the Least Developed Countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In Afghanistan, three decades of foreign interference and conflict have inflicted deep suffering on the Afghan people. We have been left with a complex set of challenges, including terrorism, transnational organized crime, socio-economic deprivation, drug production and trafficking, deteriorating ecology, and weak state institutions and infrastructure. These challenges continue to slow down the normalization of life, and inhibit economic growth in our country.

Excellencies:

In spite of these constraints and vulnerabilities, Afghanistan has registered important progress. We have adopted a constitution that preserves the equal rights of our citizens, irrespective of differences in gender, social status, and beliefs. We have an active civil society and free press, and a thriving private sector.  Our health and education sectors are operating with increased coverage and capacity. Almost 8.3 million children go to school today, while ten years ago, this numbers stood only to about seven hundred thousand students, out of whom, 35% are girls; over 75,000 students are enrolled in to the universities; over 80% of the population is receiving some form of basic health services; millions of children across the country are getting vaccinated against polio and other diseases. In 2004, we joined the international community in committing to a series of time-bound development goals. And in 2008 we finalized our National Development Strategy as the main instrument to promote stability, economic prosperity and a healthy society.

Of course, all of this would not have been possible without the generous contribution of our partners in the international community. With eighty percent of our population living in rural areas, we have invested in the establishment of an extensive network of community development councils through our National Solidarity Program. This program, already implemented in more than seventy percent of our 393 districts, has mobilized over 26,000 communities for local decision-making, ownership, and implementation of small-scale development projects.

To decrease, and eventually eliminate, our dependency on external resources, we are strengthening our agricultural base. We have rebuilt our infrastructure to connect markets and enhance economic activity both nationally and internationally. Our efforts are aimed at creating a favorable economic environment, a strong revenue base, and a sustainable set of government programs. We are rebuilding and repairing our irrigation and water systems, revitalizing under-utilized land, and improving agricultural technology. Further, we have expanded our national highway system, paving the way for enhanced movement of goods, raw materials, and people in the region and beyond.

We have made regional economic cooperation the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s economic growth and sustainable development. Our trade with our neighbors in the past ten years has increased many, many folds. Today the volume of trade between us and our neighbors stands at 2.5 billion dollars a year;   We have joined all regional economic forums and committed ourselves to important regional energy projects. Our national highways and rail- roads, once completed, will connect three key regions of the world, namely, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Connectivity among these regions, passing through Afghanistan, will create a unified space of over 4 billion consumers and producers.

The National Priority Programs presented at the 2010 Kabul Conference, guide our efforts in transitioning to Afghan ownership and leadership for security, governance and socio-economic development. While recognizing that achieving our national development priorities is our responsibility, it will also depend, to a large extent, on the support we receive in the form financial resources, technical assistance, and building of our capacity. An important lesson learnt over the past decade is that “borrowed capacity” is not a viable guarantee for continuous progress and development. Effective mobilization and utilization of development assistance, geared to the needs, priorities, and conditions of our local communities will be essential for successfully taking our people out of the crunching poverty. To ensure that our achievements so far are preserved and serve as a foundation for our future progress, we have made peace-building and reconciliation cornerstones of our development efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The adoption of the Istanbul Program of Action represents a renewed and resilient commitment in addressing the challenges of the LDCs. As the report of the UN Secretary General indicates, even-though the pace of development in LDC’s improved somewhat during the previous decade, the overall goals of the Brussels Program of Action have not been met.

It is a welcome step that the Istanbul Program of Action recognizes the importance of productivity enhancement in LDCs. Without enhancing productivity, long-term and sustainable development will not be possible.

The experiences of the past decade clearly show that pledges and promises alone do not lead to sustainable progress. The commendable goals of the Istanbul Program of Action will only be realized through effective and genuine cooperation among all stakeholders. We must be able to incorporate the Istanbul Program of Action in our national development strategies as we deem effective. While development projects can and should be implemented through various organizations and entities, aid should be disbursed and accounted for through state budget to ensure transparency, accountability, and efficiency. Technical assistance to development should be demand-driven and consistent with the needs of its recipients.

Mr. Chairman; Ladies and Gentlemen:

The past years have seen an insufficient flow of South-to-South trade. South-South cooperation, complementing North-South cooperation, can be an important contributing factor in enabling LDC’s to integrate into global markets and achieve social and economic development. Land-locked developing countries face serious impediments to trade, owing to physical and non-physical hurdles, including tariff- and non-tariff barriers. Reducing tariffs and promoting South-South Foreign Direct Investment are crucial instruments for enhancing South-South Cooperation.

And with this done, ladies and gentlemen, the LDCs will definitely have a better opportunity in enhancing their economic ability and productivity. With this, I thank once again the government of Turkey, President Abdullah Gul and Mr. Chairman for this grand opportunity given to us and for the kind hospitality and I hope we can get where we all want to “which is LDCs becoming Developing Countries” and thank you very much.

Video of the Statement By H.E. Hamid Karzai on the LDCs