Friday, April 18, 2014

Children and Armed Conflict

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

Children and Armed Conflict

NEW YORK

Madam President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, please allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Council, and thank you for convening this meeting; your Excellency’s presence here today reflects Mexico’s enduring commitment to advancing the international agenda on this issue. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for her briefing this morning.

Madam President,

More than half of Afghanistan’s 30 million people are under the age of 18. This is a half of the country whose earliest memories are violence and war; who have grown up amidst a decimated economy, shattered institutions and broken society. But these children are also the best and only hope for the future of Afghanistan, and my Government is fully committed to protecting them and to developing their potential.

Madam President,

A country of youth poses unique challenges. Thirty years of warfare have left thousands orphaned or disabled. Mines and unexploded remnants of war kill and injure hundreds more every year. Many children are the primary breadwinners for their families. Poverty, unemployment and weak national institutions create unrest and particularly disadvantage children, putting them at risk for diseases and malnutrition, and making them easy victims for crimes and extremist ideology.

But more than this, children in Afghanistan suffer from the terrorism and violence of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their allies. These groups are responsible for heinous acts against civilians – including the recent heartbreaking murder of a 7 year old boy, hanged as a government spy. Their complete disregard for human life is well documented, and they continue to bear the overwhelming responsibility for the danger to children across the country.

Madam President,

The Government of Afghanistan has taken many legal, institutional and practical steps to promote security, development and good governance, and to fulfill its national and international obligations to protect children.

In addition, as part of an ongoing dialogue with the Office of the Special Representative, and in line with the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group, the Government of Afghanistan has taken further steps to address the particular needs of children in armed conflict. Many of them are not fully reflected in the current report. For example:

1. My Government welcomed the recent creation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism in the country, and established an interministerial steering committee to develop a governmental action plan on children and armed conflict.

2. The Government established a Commission to oversee the needs of children and juveniles, and another to ensure the observance of human rights during detention and interrogation, as required by law.

3. The Government is working with civil society and religious leaders to address sexual violence, which is contrary to both Islamic teachings and national law.

4. Because of the threat from the Taliban, the Ministry of Education has instructed that schools will no longer be used as polling stations in elections.

5. The Government is engaged with international forces to improve protection of civilians, and welcomed recent tactical directives in this regard.

6. Focal points for child recruitment have been identified in the Ministries of Interior and Defense, and the Ministry of the Interior has tasked the Unit on Human Rights, Gender and Children to address any allegations of children in the Police, as well as allegations of sexual violence.

7. The recruitment process for both the Army and the Police is increasingly centralized and standardized, including through the introduction of biometric verification procedures, and records are kept of underage applicants who are turned away.

8. The Interior Ministry recently released an executive directive reinforcing the existing legislation by banning recruitment of anyone under 18 to the police, requiring that any children found to be reintegrated into society within thirty days, and mandating disciplinary measures for those responsible.

Madam President,

Given these steps and others we have taken, my Government is disturbed by the decision to list the Afghan National Police Force in the Annex of the present report. As the Special Representative herself has recognized, recruitment policy is clearly designed to prevent children from being involved with the security forces. This decision creates an unacceptable equivalence between the Police and the intentionally abusive practices of the Taliban and their allies, and undermines the efforts of the Afghan Government and the international community to build strong, effective and responsible Security Forces under very challenging circumstances. I have outlined my Government’s concerns more fully in a letter to the Secretary-General on this subject, which will be circulated as an official document of the Security Council. In particular, my Government was not provided with any evidence to support this report’s allegations of child recruitment in the Police, or of mistreatment or torture in government facilities in contravention of national law, and we are not satisfied with the partial and anecdotal nature of the report itself.

However, and despite our reservations, my Government remains ready as always to engage fully with the Office of the Special Representative and with the monitoring and reporting mechanism to ensure the full implementation of Resolutions 1615 and 1882, among others, and to continue to improve our capacity and procedures for the protection of children.

Madam President,

Earlier this week we became aware of vast mineral resources in Afghanistan that have the power to transform the country’s economy; likewise, the millions of children in Afghanistan are an untapped wealth of human potential, who will grow into an economic, political and social force that will remake the future of the country. My Government is fully committed to educating these children, to protecting them, to providing them with a bright and promising future, and to building a country that they can be proud to inherit. This is not just a moral and legal duty; it is also the only way for Afghanistan to fully and finally emerge from conflict.

I thank you.

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Afghanistan and Fiji


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan today established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Fiji through a Joint Communiqué in both English and Dari signed in New York by H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations. The Joint Communiqué expresses the “willingness to promote mutual understanding and strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two States in the political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and scientific areas based upon the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the norms of international law.”

Ambassador Tanin emphasized the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan to work with the Republic of Fiji bilaterally, at the United Nations, and in other international for a, and expressed his hope that this step could be the beginning of fruitful and positive cooperation between the two nations.

For his part, Ambassador Thomson celebrated this occasion as a historic moment for the two countries and reiterated his country’s commitment to friendly and neighborly relations going forward.

The ceremony took place at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations, where the two delegations met and enjoyed light refreshments as the Joint Communiqué was signed.

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Closing Remarks by H.E. Zahir Tanin, Chair of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform

CLOSING REMARKS BY

H.E. ZAHIR TANIN

PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF AFGHANISTAN

TO THE UNITED NATIONS IN NEW YORK

CHAIR OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS

ON THE QUESTION OF EQUITABLE REPRESENTATION AND INCREASE IN THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL AND OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO THE COUNCIL

AT AN INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

3 JUNE 2010

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Check against delivery

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

Let me close this meeting by first and foremost thanking all delegations for their active participation and continuing engagement in this process. Let me also thank all Member States for their kind words of support thus far. I have been deeply heartened by the numerous expressions of good faith, and it is abundantly clear to me today that you, the membership, remain as determined as ever to reform the Security Council.

In this regard, I am pleased to note the membership-wide agreement in this room that the text with its annexes, currently in front of you, is a helpful vehicle to continue to move this process forward in accordance with decisions 62/557 and 63/565. This text, revision 1, is as you know a product of your persistent and unanimous calls for text-based negotiations, and could not have been made without your contributions, as these of course constitute the very foundation of our negotiations. However, with everything we have going for us, in our continual quest for reform, we cannot afford to grow complacent. We must now build on the framework that you so meticulously have put together. This is the sense of the house.

As is customary, and as a logical result of yesterday and today’s deliberations, it is therefore my intention to convene a series of meetings of the informal plenary to allow Member States to focus on the text at hand in an open, transparent, comprehensive and inclusive manner. These meetings will be scheduled in accordance with the five interconnected key issues as laid out by decision 62/557, beginning, this time, in reverse order and as a working necessity, only with a meeting dedicated to the section of the text on the fifth key issue concerning the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council on 11 June. This meeting will of course be followed by individual meetings on the rest of the five key issues. I believe that this structure will allow the text to continue to evolve in a fair, balanced, comprehensive and open membership-driven way.

I would like to stress that Member States are as always welcome to comment on any matter they deem relevant. However, rather than restating known positions at the meetings devoted to the specific key issues, I encourage all of you to look concretely and comprehensively at the text with a view to making specific amendments that would reduce obvious overlaps, address existing differences and combine common elements in the language of the negotiation text. For my part, and as is customary, I will continue to discharge my responsibility as Chair by reflecting all suggested amendments by Member States in coming versions of the text. Amendments will, however, only be applied with the agreement of the Member State, -or States, whose language is affected as is usual practice in this house when we negotiate. On this note, Member States are of course always encouraged to deliberate amongst each other and convey any results thereof to me either during our meetings or through a letter. You are, and will remain, the masters of your own positions, but only if you reach across the aisle in a spirit of compromise and good faith can this process move forward. Don’t just ask what the text can do for you, but also what you can do for the text.

On this note, I urge you to bring the same kind of engagement and determination to the next exchanges as you have shown in the previous rounds. The task at hand deserves it. Let me remind all of you that we continue to meet in an informal setting. This should mean brief interventions rather than prepared statements, and interaction. I will certainly encourage that to the best of my abilities. Let me also clarify, that an individual meeting could go on for longer than one day, so that we do justice to the scope of every single issue.

Again, thank you all for your participation and engagement in this process. I am confident that, together, we will continue to move forward towards a solution that can garner the widest possible acceptance.

Thank you.