Monday, July 28, 2014

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin at the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider meeting the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

 1st meeting
 Monday, 16 June 2014
 10 a.m.
(New York, 16-20 June 2014)
 CR.3 (CB)     

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for the trust you have bestowed upon me by electing me today as Chair for BMS5. It is a great honour for Afghanistan. After close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. During the long conflict in my country, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and have been used to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Terrorists’ access to illicit arms has fueled the cycle of violence in my country, prolonging conflict and affecting the lives of all citizens.  As a result of this experience, my Government is highly sensitive to the negative impact of illicit weapons around the world.

 

I will work to the best of my abilities to ensure that BMS5 is a success and that the outcome of the meeting will help address the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a practical and comprehensive manner. Your support and continued active engagement are critical for the attainment of that goal.

 

The Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument remain the cornerstone of our efforts to tackle the complex issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which continues to wreak havoc in many regions and delay efforts aimed at promoting socio-economic development.

 

The Biennial Meetings of States provide us with the opportunity to take stock of our efforts, and identify innovative measures aimed at improving our collective approach in the fight against the illicit trade in, and uncontrolled proliferation of, these weapons.

 

We have five days to consider the three important topics of stockpile management, the International Tracing Instrument and international cooperation and assistance and to agree on a consensual outcome document.

 

Addressing illicit small arms and light weapons has never been more timely.  The success of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda is contingent on the prevention and reduction of armed violence. Effective action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, simultaneously at the national, regional and global levels, is central to achieving any of those goals.  Indeed, people and societies can only fully realize their development goals if their communities are safe and secure.

I am confident that you will keep the larger significance of our work in mind when we work towards a consensually agreed outcome of this week’s meeting.

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.

United Nations Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

Statement by  H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security

Mr. President,
I would like to start by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of April. We wish you every success in leading the work of the Council during your Presidency and thank you for convening today’s debate on an issue of crucial importance.

We are thankful to the Secretary-General, H.E Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, as well as to his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, for the presentations they gave this morning. Taking this opportunity, we congratulate Ms. Bangura on her appointment, and commend the strong determination with which she is carrying out her task.

Mr. President,

Armed conflicts leave a devastating effect on societies around the world. Violence breeds more violence. Undoubtedly, women often bear the brunt of the many destructive consequences of war and strife. In that regard, sexual violence in the context of armed conflicts remains pervasive; a devastating reality that has yet to be resolved, requiring steadfast efforts at all levels.

 

In adopting resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1960 (2010), the Security Council sent the clear message that sexual violence will not be tolerated, and that ending sexual violence is essential for maintaining international peace and security. All States have the moral and legal responsibility to uphold the rights of women, and all citizens, and to protect them from sexual violence.

Mr. President,

Protecting and promoting the rights of the Afghan people has been the cornerstone of all our efforts to build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Central to these efforts is enabling women to regain their historic role as proactive citizens in Afghan society. Afghanistan is pursuing the vigorous implementation of SC resolution 1325 through our National Priority Program. We launched the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) as a ten-year blue print, which contains specific and time-bound benchmarks for progress in various areas. As the implementation of the Action Plan continues apace, we are confident that we will realize our vision to see Afghan women thrive, empowered in all sectors of society: social, political and economic.

Afghanistan is fully committed to preventing any form of violence against women, including sexual violence.  In this regard, we enacted in 2009 the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, providing stronger judicial means through which we can combat violence. Throughout the country, where committed, perpetrators of such crimes are increasingly being held accountable, and prosecuted before the law.

Mr. President,

In reference to an observation made in the Secretary-General’s report, we wish to state, with full confidence, the Government of Afghanistan and its people do not, and will not tolerate impunity against any form of human rights violations. Together with our judicial authorities, the Afghan national security forces are working diligently to uphold law and order in all areas of the country.  On the way forward, we are confident our efforts will continue to bear fruit, and women will be further empowered.

We also wish to highlight the following: Afghanistan is fully committed to upholding human rights in Afghan detention centers. In this respect, a number of concrete measures have been taken by the National Directorate for Security (NDS), including establishment of a human right division to monitor and investigate human rights situations as well as capacity building, and human rights awareness workshops for personnel. Following UNAMA’s report of January 20, 2013 on alleged cases of prisoner mistreatment, President Karzai issued a decree, which established an Independent Commission to investigate said cases that were reflected in UNAMA’s report. Since then, greater focus is being given to ensuring full adherence to human rights standards in Afghan detention centers.

Mr. President,

As the security transition proceeds, Afghanistan is also adamant on a successful outcome to its peace and reconciliation process, aimed at ending the current conflict and strife. By ending the conflict, we will eliminate the very conditions that were conducive to challenges in the area of human rights. As members of the High Peace Council (HPC), and as members of civil society, women are playing a central role in the peace process. The results of our peace and reconciliation efforts will in no way jeopardize the hard won gains of the past 11 years, especially those relating to human rights, the rights of women in particular.

Mr. President,

Before concluding, the international community has a crucial role to play to support continuous efforts in conflict affected, and post-conflict countries to end all forms of violence against women, including sexual violence. For our part, Afghanistan stands firmly committed to do its part in ensuring full protection of women’s rights around the world, and to preventing sexual violence, and all other forms of violations of human rights.

I Thank You.