Afghan representative to UN urges international respect for national sovereignty after U.S. withdrawal
Afghanistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Zahir Tanin, argued that international respect for his country’s national sovereignty is key to ensuring Afghan stability after the total withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014, in a talk on Tuesday afternoon.
While international organizations like the UN should support Afghanistan through humanitarian and development projects, the country’s national government should strive for independence from external agencies, he said.
Tanin emphasized the role of the UN in maintaining international engagement with Afghanistan throughout his talk and said that the “normalization” of Afghan society through political, economic and social means must take place to strengthen national sovereignty.
Next year’s presidential election will be crucial to Afghanistan’s current and future stability, he said. He explained that the election is also of great symbolic significance, as it is important for the Afghan people to see a peaceful transfer of power.
“We are trying to see how the shift of situation can be managed such that Afghanistan won’t enter into a new wave of conflict,” Tanin said.
In an effort to avoid such conflict, the Afghanistan government is seeking to involve the Taliban in the election preparations, he said.
“The peace talks in the reconciliation process should open the door for the Taliban to become part of the peace process at the local and national levels,” Tanin said.
Aside from upcoming political trials, Afghanistan faces economic challenges which threaten its stability, such as high unemployment. Tanin attributed this in part to the fact that over 60 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 30.
Tanin added that Afghanistan must build a strong national economy by being transparent in the way it distributes aid to struggling economic sectors, as well as sticking to its budget. Economic sustainability, he said, promotes normalcy and thereby sovereignty.
With Afghanistan’s government playing a greater role in the country’s affairs, questions remain about the degree of UN involvement in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond, he said. Tanin said he believed that any UN assistance should act to strengthen Afghan sovereignty and reflect a “more effective, efficient and accountable UN.”
Although Tanin emphasized the importance of the UN’s continued vigilance and responsiveness to Afghanistan’s evolving needs, he disagreed with some Afghans who “would like to see the UN come to pick up the pieces.” The UN’s role, Tanin added, should be primarily to support Afghanistan’s national government.
Ambassador Tanin has been a member of the Afghan delegation to the UN since 2007. He served as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform and has served as a Vice Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People since 2006.
His lecture, "Left Behind: The United Nations in Post-Transition Afghanistan," took place in Robertson Bowl 016 and was cosponsored by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Woodrow Wilson School.
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