Photo: Astana, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, architect Norman Foster. CC BY-SA 2.0 - Photo: 2018

Astana’s 20th Anniversary Highlights Kazakh Achievements as Security Council Member

By Jaya Ramachandran

NEW YORK (IDN) – Since Astana was established as the capital city of Kazakhstan twenty years ago, it has become a symbol of international peace and security. Its 20th anniversary has come to highlight the Central Asian republic’s achievements as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2017-2018.

It was befitting therefore that the heads of United Nations agencies and entities, of New York based offices of international organisations and NGOs affiliated to the UN and representatives of member states of the world body, experts and journalists joined celebrations at Kazakhstan’s Permanent Mission to the UN to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Astana, the capital of the Central Asian country.

Kazakhstan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Kairat Umarov, spoke about the history of Astana, highlighting its modern development and its significant role on the world stage. He noted that being one of the youngest capitals of the world, Astana over the past 20 years, has become a modern metropolis with highly advanced strides and accomplishments in the fields of science, education, culture, art, and state-of-the art innovate architecture.

The capital city has also become the centre of landmark international events, and the seat of important negotiations and global initiatives of the UN and several regional organizations.

“The priorities of promoting peace and security in Kazakhstan’s Foreign Policy are reflected in Kazakhstan’s activities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Our capital is always glad to see you and is open for cooperation with all Member States of the United Nations,” Ambassador Umarov said on July 5, 2018.

Ms. Fekitamoeloa Utoikamanu, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, offered her congratulations on this historic occasion in the annals of the Kazakh capital. In her remarks, she traced the progress that Astana had made as a capital of the largest landlocked country in the world and been a bridge between Asia and Europe.

A film titled Astana: The City of Peace was screened to give a vivid portrayal of the capital. An anniversary photo album, A Day in Astana, prepared in honour of the 20th Anniversary of the capital city was presented during the event. “It was a lively evening with many expressing admiration for what Astana had achieved in two decades, and the desire to visit the capital someday,” said a participant in the anniversary celebrations.

Observers also noted that since its election as non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2017-2018, the Kazakh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York has been engaged promoting multiple aspects of the UN Charter. Kazakhstan is not only the first country in Central Asia to be a member of the Security Council but also was the first country to chair the Security Council in January 2018.

Kazakhstan elicited praise for highlighting Afghanistan and Central Asia during its presidency. An end-of-the-month “wrap-up” session in January also reflected appreciation for putting spotlight on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and confidence building measures.

A ministerial debate on ‘building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a model to link security and development’ was “among the signature events of a January packed with meetings and discussions,” Ambassador Umarov pointed out. It helped to balance the Council’s global agenda with priorities in the region.

Through a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, Umarov added, Kazakhstan had sought to foster new dynamism, pursuing a strategy to strengthen:  the security-development nexus; a regional approach to transnational threats faced by countries in conflict; and streamlining United Nations effectiveness.

Speaking on behalf of Côte D’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia’s Mahlet Hailu Guadey said the Council’s visit to Kabul – during the Kazakh presidency – had allowed members to better understand regional dynamics. 

She described as notable also the meetings on enhanced coordination among the UN, African Union, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Southern African Development Community (SADC) in support of the December 31, 2016 political agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the briefing on the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and the related presidential statement, in support of national and local actors.

The U.S. representative Amy Noel Tachco welcomed the emphasis on promoting peace in Afghanistan, and potential partnerships between Afghanistan and other countries in the region, stressing that Afghanistan was a top priority for the United States. Discussions on the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), and the press statement supporting the work of its Head, Natalia Gherman, marked “the first time we have come to consensus on that topic in several years”, she noted.

Peru’s Gustavo Meza-Cuadra emphasised the importance of constructive actions aimed at conflict-prevention. While the 15-member UN’s influential organ had stood together in support of the peace process in Afghanistan, it was struggling to reach consensus on the issue of impunity related to chemical weapons use in Syria, Peru’s representative noted.

Sweden’s Olof Skoog expressed appreciation for the “timely” briefing on January 18 by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on non-proliferation, and in particular, the role of confidence building measures.

French representative Samer Melki welcomed the January 9 meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and adoption of the press statement, which recalled the importance of the Saint-Sylvestre agreement, respect of electoral timeline and participation of all in respect of fundamental rights.

“This was very important for the partners of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” At the January 23 meeting on Mali, the Council sent a unanimous message reflecting impatience on the implementation of peace agreements, while the renewal of sanctions on the Central African Republic on January 30 was another sign of its attention to the need for sustainable peace.

Lise Huberta Johanna Gregoire Van Haaren of the Netherlands said the Council’s continued support to Afghanistan was evident: in the last week of January alone it had issued three press statements on terrorist attacks. These strengthened its resolve to stand with the Afghan people.

Russia’s Alexander A. Polyanskiy said non-proliferation required a quest to overcome disagreement, especially when considering new mechanisms. On cooperation in Central Asia and Afghanistan, he expressed hope that the positive experience of the “Moscow format” would be taken into account, adding that external players must not try to drag regional countries into a game or present false choices. It was important to find mutual understanding, and discussions must continue in the broader framework of the UN General Assembly. He also welcomed that the Council agreed on a press statement on the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia for the first time in three years.

China’s Zhang Dianbin said the Council’s visit to Kabul, along with the January 19 ministerial meeting on Afghanistan and Central Asia, allowed members explore ways to resolve Afghan issues from a regional perspective. The open debate on the question of Palestine underscored the urgency of resolving the issues and sent a clear message on the need to resume peace talks.

Joanna Wronecka of Poland referred to two high-level events in January, along with the Council’s visit to Afghanistan, noting that the press statement on the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia was the first since 2015. The presidential statement on UNOWAS would be a useful tool for maintaining stability in that region. She underscored the need to maintain unity, stressing: “We will need this level of unity in the upcoming months.”

Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz of Bolivia stressed that cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asia was vital for creating stability as well as fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime, citing four recent terrorist attacks in that country. He also highlighted United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and work to support the political process.

UK’s Stephen Hickey said the Council must draw the consequences for those violating the cessation of hostilities in South Sudan and undermining the revitalization forum. He called for an arms embargo equally on all parties. In Syria, while the Council had agreed to set aside differences on the political situation to tackle humanitarian issues, “we haven’t seen any progress.  Neither have the people in eastern Ghouta,” where children awaited the regime’s approval for medical evacuation.  The Council must express itself clearly on the matter.

Kuwait’s Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Alotaibi said his country and Sweden, as co-penholders on the humanitarian situation in Syria, were ready to take the lead in reaching a unified Council position on expanding assistance to reach Idlib, eastern Ghouta and Aleppo, and providing civilian protection. As Chair of the Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, and as Council President for February, Kuwait would hold an open debate on increasing transparency and performance.

These were, according to UN observers tributes to the dynamism shown by Kazakhstan in furthering international peace and security as highlighted by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in his address to the Security Council on January 18: “Either success or failure to update the global security system relies on our ability to overcome militaristic anachronisms: we shall leave behind the division into military blocs that became both provocative and meaningless.”

He called for the international community setting a deadline for establishing mutual confidence and bringing about denuclearization by the 100th anniversary of the UN in October 2045. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 July 2018]

Photo: Astana, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, architect Norman Foster. CC BY-SA 2.0

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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