Saturday, October 25, 2014

commemorative meeting of the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Women

Statement by HE Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Chairman of Asian Group for the month of March

on behalf of Asian Group

to the commemorative meeting of the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Women

Mr. President,

First and foremost, on behalf of the Asian group, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Chile. We wish the Chilean people a speedy recovery and we admire their strength during these tragic times.

Mr. President,

On behalf of Asian Group, it is an honor for me to address this historic gathering commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration.

In September 1995 we gathered in Beijing for the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on women. Today, fifteen years later, we come together again to commemorate the occasion, acknowledge progress made and challenges ahead, and pay tribute to the ideals embodied in the Beijing Platform of Action. In Beijing we unequivocally declared our shared determination to advance the goals of equality, development, and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity; we recognized the persistent inequalities between men and women and the repercussions they have on societies; and we acknowledged that the situation is exacerbated by the abject poverty that affects the lives of many of the worlds people, in particular woman and children. We concluded by dedicating ourselves to addressing these constraints and obstacles, and, perhaps more importantly, we recognized the urgency of this endeavor and the need for collective determination and cooperation for the tasks ahead.

In assessing our progress in implementing the commitments we made to the world’s women in Beijing, we realize much progress has been made, but considerable obstacles remain that hobble and dehumanize women throughout the world.

Women’s rights are progressive and evolving. Since the Beijing conference men and women throughout the world have become ever more aware of the inequities that women endure, and they have spoken up to demand change. It is that demand that has brought about the improving recognition of women’s rights in each country’s legal system and here at the United Nations.

Furthermore, the Beijing Conference cemented the notion that it is unacceptable to differentiate women’s rights from human rights. But still in many countries around the world women are not safe from the threats of domestic violence, continued discrimination, and wide-ranging socio-economic barriers. We must continue our efforts toward the implementation of Beijing Declaration.

But progress has been made through a concerted effort of the international community, national governments, and in part through the action of women and girls themselves. According to the World Bank, women in South Asia now live longer than men for the first time. This improvement in women’s longevity is an indicator of better treatment of women and girls and a valued outcome identified in the Beijing Platform for Action. In addition, high economic growth has led to significant reduction in gender gaps in the labor markets of Asian and Pacific nations.

In the political realm, Asia, where, according to the World Bank, women political leaders are more prevalent than anywhere else, has certainly made progress through the introduction of quota systems to increase women’s representation in political governance structures. For example, in Afghanistan where the misogynistic Taliban once ruled and women were deprived of their very basic human rights, now constitutional law stipulates that 27% of all seats in parliament must be filled by women.

Undoubtedly, because of our actions over the past three decades, women’s issues have gained prominence on the international and national development agendas. Attention has gone not only to the plight of poor and disenfranchised women in developing countries, but also to the unfinished gender agenda in more developed countries, such as addressing women’s representation in higher-paying jobs and management positions and reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence.

We gather here today to commemorate this special occasion, to celebrate a cause, to celebrate progress, but more importantly to realize that our job is not finished – to realize that there are remaining and arising new challenges. We have come a long way since the conference in Beijing; we shall be ruthlessly unyielding in our pursuit to ensure that our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, are treated with equality, respect, and dignity.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Statement of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN

At the Security Council

Open debate

On the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of this Council for the month of November. I would also like to thank you for convening and chairing this meeting. In particular, I would like to thank Foreign Minister Spindelegger, for making this issue such a priority and for his presence here today. I would also like to thank His Excellency the Secretary-General and Under Secretary-General Mr. Holmes for their statements.

Mr. President,

This week Europe and America remember the ends of two World Wars, which were international conflicts conducted between states and empires. Since then, the nature of conflict has evolved. Where sixty years ago state actors were the central players in international war, today asymmetric warfare with non-state actors is increasingly common.

Now, children walk into markets with bombs strapped to their chests. Girls become targets just for trying to go to school. Aid workers are threatened specifically because they do so much good. The protection of civilians is an issue of growing importance for us all.

Mr. President,

The Geneva Conventions, signed sixty years ago, remain central to our understanding of our responsibilities in conflict, but in Afghanistan, our enemies do not respect even these most basic rules of war. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups show complete disregard for human life. More, they deliberately target anyone, civilian or military, who does not embrace their extremist philosophy. They target those with no conceivable military connection: teachers, healthcare workers, students on the way to school. It is estimated that more than five thousand people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2008 alone as a result of terrorist activity.

These groups cannot hope to defeat the world’s greatest armies with their military strength. Rather, their strength lies in their brutality and viciousness, which they use  to lend an atmosphere of control and inevitability to their fight. The Taliban will never be able to provide security, governance or development. Their goal is not to build an alternative state; their goal is to prevent any state from being built.

Mr. President,

Civilian casualties, in this fight, are both a human and a political tragedy.

The human tragedy is obvious.

From January to August 2009, UNAMA recorded 1500 civilians deaths in Afghanistan, an increase of 24% over the same period in 2008. 68% of these attacks can be attributed to the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. This percentage has been increasing steadily as the terrorists rely increasingly on bombs and indiscriminate attacks. And although the proportion of deaths attributed to the international and to some extent Afghan military forces has decreased over previous years, they still account for 23% of civilian deaths. 300 died as a result of airstrikes.

Mr. President,

The political cost is more subtle, though equally damaging.

The Taliban’s main tactic is to encourage the alienation of the international community from the Afghan people. The people of Afghanistan know from past experience exactly how brutal and repressive the Taliban are, and show consistent resistance to them.  However, they have higher expectations from the international community.

Afghans want to see their government and our international partners be their protectors. When we fail to protect and respect the Afghans, the Taliban and their allies use the people’s disappointed expectations to strain the partnerships that are so central to this fight, and damage our ability to earn the trust and engagement we need to succeed.

Mr. President,

Concern for the lives of civilians is therefore not only an important moral and humanitarian issue. It is also crucial to our political, military and economic goals in Afghanistan, and the region.

We should adopt a strategy that values the protection of people, respects their lives, rights and property, and enables positive and constructive interactions with local communities. We fully support the new NATO strategy which emphasizes the protection of civilians and introduces important follow-up mechanisms to ensure accountability. We appreciate the increased sensitivity that has been shown in response to concerns about the conduct of searches and arrests. And we support other strategic changes that have been proposed to improve the protection of civilians.

Further, we stress the need for increased emphasis on training the Afghan National Security Forces. Afghans are eager to take increasing responsibility for the security of their country and the protection of their people. Unfortunately, lack of capacity and resources continues to hobble our progress, and we hope to address this with the international community in the coming years.

Mr. President,

We appreciate the steadfast condemnation voiced by the Security Council in response to terrorist attacks across the world, and in particular your strong and unwavering support for UNAMA following the appalling attacks in Kabul on the 28th of October. Groups that deliberately target civilian populations should continue to be strongly condemned in these halls, and their unwillingness to obey even the most basic rules of combat should strip them of any legitimacy in our eyes.

Mr. President,

The blood of Afghans has been continuously spilled amidst thirty years of local, regional, and global power struggles. In 2001, we undertook to rebuild this shattered country and ensure that it could never again be used as a launch-pad for regional or international terror. As I mentioned Monday in the General Assembly, eight years ago we were debating how to build what did not exist; today we are debating how to take what we have built and make it better. This is a substantial achievement. Nevertheless, violence still threatens the lives of Afghan civilians. International military forces should take all necessary measures to ensure protection of civilians. And we have a shared responsibility to condemn with the utmost severity any attacks by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies that target civilians or result in civilian death. We must enforce the rules of war that bind us all, and make it clear to our enemies that targeting civilians will only alienate them further from the international community and from the populations they seek to control.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

Statement by, Mr. M. Wali Naeemi, Minister Counsellor
Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
On Agenda item 33: comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects
Delivered before the 4th Committee

On Behalf of H. E. Zahir Tanin

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates,
I have the honor of delivering the statement on behalf of Afghanistan during this comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations. We associate ourselves with the statements delivered by the distinguished representative of Morocco on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
At the outset my delegation would like to extend our thanks to you and to the members of the bureau and reiterate our ongoing support for your work.
My delegation particularly thanks Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Alan Le Roy and Under Sectary General for Field Support Ms. Susana Malacora for their compressive statements made on Oct 23rd on this item. We believe that in order to achieve our goals and targets, and to present effective responses to our present challenges, it is necessary in particular to enhance coordination and interaction between stakeholders.
We share the feeling in this room today that 2010 will be a crucial year for UN peacekeepers, particularly in fighting against terrorists, suicide bombers and other criminals. In addition, we reiterate the concerns raised by distinguished delegates during our debate about the importance of protecting civilians and ensuring safety and security for peacekeepers in the increasingly dangerous circumstances we send them into.

Mr. Chairman,
Afghanistan is part of a growing number of hybrid missions worldwide, with DPKO-supported UNAMA dealing with political conciliation and humanitarian efforts, and a parallel military force, ISAF, led by NATO and mandated by the Security Council, overseeing traditional peacekeeping functions and a wider stabilization and reconstruction mandate. The current forces, numbering more than 71,000, include troops from 43 nations, including the 26 NATO member states. The primary responsibility of ISAF, as mandated under chapter VIII of the UN Charter, is to enforce peace throughout the country. In parallel, UNAMA, directed by DPKO, has two primary responsibilities: development/humanitarian issues and political affairs. With a presence in much of the country, UNAMA has been instrumental in monitoring human rights issues, strengthening good governance and the rule of law, assisting local institutions, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid. Such a broad and all encompassing Mission could only be carried out with the assistance and consistent support of the United Nations, in particular DPKO. These unconventional peace operations in Afghanistan have allowed the international community more flexibility in responding to the interlinking challenges of security, governance, development, humanitarian issues, and counternarcotics.

Mr. Chairman,
Peacekeeping is not only vital for international stability but also for regional and national stability, particularly in post conflict countries such as Afghanistan, where peacekeeping can provide support and space for necessary reconstruction efforts. For almost three decades the UN has been promoting peace, stability, and amity in Central Asia. Today, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) the UN, in conjunction with ISAF forces, is actively engaged in stabilizing Afghanistan and fostering sustainable political and economic conditions. Though the situation on the ground presents substantial challenges, tremendous progress has been made by the government and National Security Forces with the support of ISAF and UNAMA. As a result of improved security and governance, 6 million children attended school last year, and studies show that women, who were once banned from public life, came back into the public sphere to play a vital role in rebuilding Afghanistan. In addition, civil and social infrastructure has expanded, and 85% of Afghans now have access to basic healthcare. There are crucial, tangible benefits to our common work, and I thank the United Nations for renewing and supporting UNAMA’s mandate and continuing to support Afghanistan’s journey towards peace and prosperity.
Afghanistan applauds the work the DPKO is doing through UNAMA and supports its continued success.

Mr. Chairman,
The government and the people of Afghanistan express their sincere appreciation to the people and governments of troop contributing countries and those who provide necessary resources and technical support to UNAMA and other UN bodies in Afghanistan. Afghanistan appreciates the role that DPKO and UNAMA play in Afghanistan and fully recognize the grave sacrifices it has suffered. The Government of Afghanistan will do everything in its power to protect those who come to our country to help in reconstruction efforts. In particular, we offer our sincere condolences to the coworkers and families of all those who lost their lives in the attacks in Kabul on Wednesday. We recognize the grave risk undertaken by both civilian and military personnel in difficult security situations, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is our duty here to ensure that their operations are organized and carried out in a way that supports their mandate while minimizing their risk.