Thursday, September 18, 2014

UN Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations  at the
Security Council Debate on  
the Situation in Afghanistan

Mr. President,

Let me begin by first congratulating you on taking the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of June.  Thank you for holding today’s debate on Afghanistan.  I welcome the presence of my good friend, Special Representative Kubis, among us here today. We thank you for your comprehensive briefing, and steadfast support for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. As foreign forces prepare to withdraw next year, Afghan national security forces are assuming full responsibility for the security and defense of their country. Two days ago in Kabul, a milestone was reached; the official launch of the 5th and final stage of security transition. This is a remarkable achievement; a source of pride for the Afghan people. Our security forces are handling complex security situations with increased confidence and fortitude. We stand ready to consolidate our gains, stand on our feet, defend ourselves, and secure lasting peace.

Mr. President,

Transition, in its entirety, aims to bring enduring peace and stability to Afghanistan. To ensure the security and defense of our country, it is essential to bring all Afghans together through a national dialogue, in a spirit of national unity, to achieve a political solution that is embraced by all.

Over recent months, Afghanistan has been extensively involved with various stakeholders, the United States of America in particular, to start direct negotiations with the Taliban as part of the peace process. In that regard, an agreement was reached with the United States on the opening of a Taliban Office in Doha, Qatar, under assurances that peace talks would be conducted in accordance with the following concrete set of principles:

-        The sole purpose of the office would be to serve as a venue for direct negotiations between the Taliban and the High Peace Council;

-        The office would not serve as an official representation of the Taliban in the form of a “Government,” “Embassy,” “Emirate,” or “sovereign”;

-        The office would not engage in, or support any activity related to terrorism and acts of violence, inconsistent with international law, and consistent with provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1988/2082;

Yet, just two days ago, on the 18th of June, in a rather theatrical sequence of events, the Taliban office was inaugurated in a manner that contradicted the very principles to which I just referred. Furthermore, the public statement by the Taliban representatives in Doha not only lacked any clear commitment to peace talks with the Afghan High Peace Council – the sole body mandated to conduct peace talks – but also made an explicit reference to the continuation of violence. Again, this goes against the very spirit of peace.  Given the concerns that have arisen, emanating from the obvious contradictions pertaining to our peace process, the Government of Afghanistan decided firstly: that the HPC would not engage in peace talks under the circumstances that the Taliban office was opened; and secondly: to suspend negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.  Afghanistan naturally expects its international partners to stand against any threat to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.  In fact, all of Afghanistan’s partnership agreements are made in light of Afghanistan’s national interests, and aimed at promoting the country’s peace, security and stability.

Mr. President,

While Afghanistan is committed to a peace process and reconciliation that ensures a permanent end to the conflict, pursuing a process that will undermine the hard won gains of the past twelve years- our constitution, the rights of all citizens, particularly women, and our democratic order- will, by no means, be acceptable to the Afghan people.

Afghanistan does not recognize such a thing as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Raising the Taliban flag on Tuesday in Doha was just a reminder of a dark and bloody past from which our country still struggles to emerge. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sole sovereign and legitimate authority chosen by Afghan people and recognized and supported by the international community.

Further, Afghanistan’s ownership of the peace and reconciliation process is indispensible, and it will not be compromised. Any successful outcome to the reconciliation process requires preserving the Afghan-led and Afghan-managed character of negotiations. This is an issue that has been recognized and endorsed, both in Afghanistan, and by the international community as a whole, including this distinguished Council.

Mr. President,

Taking this opportunity, I wish to also make clear to the international community, all member-states, and international and regional organizations, that the Taliban Office was established for one clear objective: peace talks that strictly observe agreed principles, as mentioned. Any other activity or function undertaken by or with the Taliban office outside the Afghan-led peace talks’ purposes is unacceptable.

Mr. President,

The continuing campaign of fear and terror, violence and brutality endanger the prospect of a peace process. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in acts of violence, affecting all citizens – men, women and children – as well as international personnel. We condemn all heinous acts of terror, including the recent attacks on the IOM, ICRC, Kabul airport, and the Supreme Court. Children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the conflict. Last month in Kandahar, terrorists beheaded two children, as they were scrapping for food next to a local police checkpoint to take home to their families. Days earlier, in Paktika province, children died in a suicide bombing near their school.

We also note with regret, continued civilian casualties caused by counter-terrorism operations. The loss of one innocent life is one too many. We condemn all incidents of civilian casualties, and call for their immediate end.

Mr. President,

Despite all the challenges we face, Afghanistan is confidently advancing forward towards another milestone: next year’s presidential and provincial council elections. President Karzai has embarked on a broad consultative process with relevant stakeholders, including civil society and political parties, with a clear aim to have the polls take place in a spirit of national unity, and with consensus on core-electoral issues. Afghans see successful elections as a new and important benchmark for progress, which will allow the country to embrace the needs of the post-2014 transformation decade. Preparations for the polls are well underway with voter registration and security preparations already started. The electoral law and draft Independent Electoral Commission law were adopted by the lower house of parliament, and are now under consideration by the upper house. We welcome the readiness of the United Nations and other partners to support Afghan-led elections, and we are confident that the elections will unify Afghans around a common objective.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has always seen regional cooperation as an important pillar of stability and prosperity in our part of the world. A new regional order is emerging, increasing the prospects for a more peaceful and stable region.  The Istanbul Process has become a catalyst for result-oriented cooperation in our wider region. We are encouraged by the strong commitment shown by all regional and international partners to this historic initiative. This was further exemplified by the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia Countries this past April in Almaty. We also thank the Government of China for its generosity in hosting the next Ministerial Meeting of the Process next year.

Afghanistan is committed to expanding relations with all of our neighbors.  We applaud our brothers and sisters in the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran for their recent successful elections.

The Government of Afghanistan looks forward to working with the new government of Pakistan, and hopes that Pakistan will sincerely support peace and stability in our country. Afghanistan desires friendly relations with Pakistan, characterized by mutual respect and observing each other’s national sovereignty. This is crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to prosperity and cooperation in the region.

Without any doubt, Mr. President, terrorism constitutes a serious threat to Afghanistan’s peace and stability, and that of the region.  The people of Afghanistan are still the main victims of this heinous, continuous terrorist campaign. The fact remains: so long as terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist in Pakistan’s soil and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, peace will not prevail, neither in Afghanistan, nor in the region. We also are very concerned with ongoing border shelling; this constitutes a serious threat to Afghan sovereignty and the prospect of friendly relations between our two countries.

We should not forget: Afghanistan and Pakistan, as two brotherly countries, have a shared stake in a successful fight against terrorism, and the prospect of peace and stability in Afghanistan and our region.

Mr. President,

We in Afghanistan know that long-term peace and prosperity is interlinked with development, good governance and human rights. The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework forms the basis for a revitalized partnership between Afghanistan and our international partners, addressing these key issues.  Aid coherence, in partnership with the international community, is critical to our sustainable development.  Mutual commitments made in Tokyo will be solidified during the transformation decade.  We look forward, in this regard, to the July 3rd Senior Officials Meeting in Kabul.

By the same token, empowerment of women as proactive members of Afghan society – as parliamentarians, as peace-builders, as government officials, and as the most vibrant members of civil society is among our proudest achievements. While obstacles to the full realization of this goal remain, we are working to protect and promote the human rights of all Afghans, women in particular. Afghanistan condemns, in the strongest terms, all incidents of violence against women. The fight against impunity is central to our human rights efforts. This is evidenced by the prosecution of an increasing number of perpetrators in various parts of the country.

Mr. President,

This moment marks an important page in Afghanistan’s history- the security transition and the upcoming elections will mark major achievements for the future of our country.  These achievements are the result of the diligent efforts that we have made over the past 12 years.  We have come this far together, on a joint journey, founded on a shared commitment to the betterment of our country and for the benefit of current and future generations.  Our mission is unfinished, but well on its way.  Afghanistan has come a long way to even consider falling short of fulfilling the goals we set out in 2001.  We have been, and we remain, steadfastly committed to building a peaceful, stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Council Debates Situation in Afghanistan

Council Debates Situation in Afghanistan
H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN, addresses the Security Council debate on the situation in Afghanistan.
19 March 2013

United Nation’s Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin  Ambassador and Permanent Representative

of Afghanistan to the United Nations

In the Security Council debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting, and we commend your able leadership of the Council this month. We also thank the Secretary-General for his report on Afghanistan, and welcome the presence of Under Secretary-General Ladsous and Under Secretary-General Fedotov among us.

A month ago at the NATO Summit in Chicago, Afghanistan’s friends and partners came together to express their unanimous support for the end of war and beginning of a new phase in our enduring partnership, which was first envisioned in Lisbon in 2010. Our partnership will continue into the Transformation Decade, during which Afghanistan will take full charge of its security, governance and development.

Just weeks before, we inked the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States of America as a guiding framework of our bilateral cooperation for the long-haul, and solidifying mutual commitments, including strengthening Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity in the years to come. Although the specifics of this partnership will continue to be further crystallized, the agreement has been endorsed by both houses of the Afghan parliament – a clear manifestation of the overwhelming support from all corners of the country.

Mr. President,

As part of the new phase of international engagement in support of Afghanistan, we have also established strategic partnerships with Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and most recently Australia. Furthermore, discussions are underway to conclude similar agreements with Turkey, Norway, and the European Union.  And in our region, we signed a strategic partnership with India, a country with whom we have shared historic and traditional ties.  Earlier this month, Afghanistan took an important step forward towards establishing a strategic and cooperative partnership with our other great neighbor, China.

Mr. President,

The launch of the Istanbul Process last November was a milestone in realizing a new regional order, by which Afghanistan and other Heart of Asia Countries joined hands for a common goal and future: peace, stability and prosperity. The Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference held in Kabul less than two weeks ago advanced the objectives of the Istanbul process. As part of the conference outcome, we reaffirmed our solid commitment to implement a wide-range of confidence-building measures (CBMs). I take the opportunity to convey our gratitude to all friends and partners for their participation and support.

Afghanistan has also obtained observer status of the Shanghai Cooperation Council in its recent conference in Beijing. It is an important move. With all these steps, Afghanistan is restoring its historic role as a land-bridge, and its potential to become a catalyst for peace and stability in the entire region.

Mr. President,

We look forward to next month’s Tokyo Ministerial Conference, where we aim to effectively address the areas of Afghanistan’s economic sustainability and development, addressing the fiscal gap, as well as finalizing a mutual accountability agreement between Afghanistan and the international community. In Tokyo, Afghanistan will be presenting a comprehensive action plan on self-reliance, and our national priority programs. The conference will not be another pledging event, but an important venue for a solid commitment of the international community during Transition and the Transformation Decade.  Our thanks go to the friendly Government of Japan for their generosity in hosting the event.

Mr. President,

Transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is our number one strategic priority. In that regard, I am pleased to note that we are making steady progress. The third tranche of security transition has officially commenced, which includes some of the most conflict prone provinces with the highest levels of insecurity.  Needless to say, we are on track to complete the third phase before the end of the year, by which seventy-five percent of the population throughout the country will come under Afghan security force responsibility.  As we strive to complete security transition by 2013, the need for sustained support for training and equipping of our national security forces is inevitable.  NATO and other allies’ undertakings for such support at the Chicago NATO Summit are particularly important.

Another core-priority on the way forward will a strong new focus on establishing a more clean and competent government, strengthening governance, fighting corruption, and enforcing the rule of law. The agenda of reform is in the center of our efforts. At the same time, we are diligently addressing all currents that may pose a threat to national interests, law and order. Such measures will enhance the full trust and confidence of all Afghans for the future.

Mr. President,

A far more challenging task will be implementing the socio-economic component of Transition, which is vital to our state-building efforts. Central to this goal is underscoring support for the Afghan National Priority Programs, which in addition to security and governance, emphasizes development of our agriculture, human resources, infrastructure and private sector, all of which are vital for our economic growth.  Our vision is an Afghanistan that is a self-reliant state, standing on its own feet. Afghanistan will not remain an aid economy; we are working to significantly reduce aid dependency by the end of the Transformation Decade.

Mr. President,

Advancing the peace-process towards a successful outcome is a core-element of our strategy to bring lasting peace to our people and nation.  Pursued on the basis of a national consensus, we are convinced that our reconciliation efforts remain the surest path to ending the conflict and a ensuring a durable peace. Let there be no doubt, our Afghan-led peace process will not ensue at the expense of the hard won democratic gains of the past decade, including human rights, the rights of women in particular.

For achieving a successful outcome to our reconciliation efforts, I wish to underscore the importance of resolute support from our immediate neighbors, and other partners in the region and beyond.  In this connection, I take the opportunity to express gratitude for the support provided by this Council with the framework of the 1988 Committee.

The up-coming elections in 2014 will be another important step towards Afghanistan’s political maturity and the consolidation of democracy. We are taking a number of measures, including electoral reforms, to ensure a smooth political transition, consistent with our constitution.

As we proceed through transition and into the Transformation Decade, international engagement will remain crucial. In that regard, we also look forward to advancing our close cooperation with the United Nations towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

One of the greatest impediments to both development and security in Afghanistan is the illicit drug problem. Despite our challenges, Afghanistan is sparing no effort to rid our society of the menace of illicit drugs. Over the past 5 years, we have significantly reduced poppy cultivation. However, there are a number of various factors that impact the increase and decrease of poppy cultivation from one year to another. And just this year alone, eradication figures have increased three-fold since the previous year. We are tracking down and bringing to justice an increased number of individuals involved in drug trafficking. A long-term solution is not possible without cooperation and coordination in addressing the dominant factors behind the drug problem, such as preventing flow of chemical precursors into Afghanistan, as well as providing Afghan farmers with alternative livelihoods.

Mr. President,

 As we continue our joint journey towards a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, building on the gains of the past, Afghanistan’s enemies are still very much intent on derailing our progress, and preventing our success. This is evident by continued brutal acts of violence and terror by the Taliban and those behind them, the latest of which was the massacre on Spozhmai Hotel just outside Kabul last weekend. It is a continued psychological war, a war of perception. However, Mr. President, no such shameful acts of terror will deter the will of the Afghan people from their ultimate goal of securing peace and prosperity. Afghans have come too far, and endured far too many sacrifices to give up now. With such brutal acts, the Taliban are not threatening the state, they are just disrupting people’s peaceful lives. Let us remain committed as ever before to complete the journey we began a decade ago.

The Afghan people and Government express their gratitude to the international community for their resolute support for Afghanistan.

I thank you Mr. President!