Statement by H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the Third Committee of the 70th Session of the General Assembly

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Mr. Chairman,

Please allow me to join the previous distinguished speakers to express my sincere congratulations to you upon your election as chair of the third committee of the 70th session of the UNGA. Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout the deliberations of issues concerned to this committee.

Mr. Chairman,

Countering opium cultivation, drug trafficking, and consumption have been a serious challenge for the Government of Afghanistan and the international community during the past decade. More than three decades of conflict, war, and violence, originating from foreign aggression and meddling, have severely damaged the physical and economic infrastructure of Afghanistan and have been an impediment to the development process. The link between insecurity and opium cultivation in the country is obvious; according to the 2014 UNODC report, the bulk of opium poppy cultivation – 89% – was concentrated in nine provinces in the southern and western regions of Afghanistan, which includes the insecure provinces in the country. Various international terrorist groups, sent to our country, benefit from the illicit drug trade. Drug production and trafficking are significant sources of asset generation for the Taliban. The connection between criminality and terrorism is fueling the drug trade. The problem of narcotics and its impact on Afghan society mirrors the current challenges of the country; it doesn’t only pose a security threat for the country and the world at large, but also seriously impacts Afghanistan’s social fabric by undermining Afghanistan’s development, stability, and rule of law, thereby posing a serious threat and problem to our society and people.

Mr. Chairman,

The scourge of drug addiction and dependency, particularly among the most vulnerable population in Afghanistan, remains a major challenge for us and has increasingly threatened the health and stability of our people, especially youth, and drained communities of economic and human resources. Significant increase in drug addiction in Afghanistan is affecting our men, women, and children, both in rural and urban areas. Its adverse effects are felt across the society; according to a recent survey, 11 per cent of the Afghan population uses drugs, one of the highest drug use rates in the world.

The Government of Afghanistan has drafted the Afghanistan’s National Drug Action Plan (ANDAP). The plan integrates alternative development, eradication, interdiction, and drug treatment and prevention programs into a broad effort by the government to further good governance, economic development, security, and stability. We can assure our friends and regional countries that we have the necessary political will and resolve to put this plan into action very soon. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan has taken some important below steps to put an end for poppy cultivation and opium production in Afghanistan. These steps are:

1)     Establishing a Counter Narcotics Commission to be chaired at least three times per year by the President; by holding specialized meetings at the Cabinet and Council of Ministers’ level, we aim to bring added political focus on the implementation and follow-up necessary to ensure success.

2)    Not only have we revised the country’s counter narcotics strategy, but we are also amending the laws concerning enforcement, prosecution, and accountability.

3)    We aim to align counter narcotics planning with military operations carried out by our security forces. In the short term, eradication may be considered as an option, but in the long run we aim to make use of proven alternatives and maximize the rate of drug seizures.

4)    We have designed the mainstreaming of drug demand reduction into public health packages, and also intend on using the education system as a means of awareness, prevention and research.

5)    Our integrated model for the elimination of the opium industry managed by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics is initiating a 10-year long district-based national program, which will include alternative development, security, good governance and community mobilization.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me inform the committee that with the fresh initiatives of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan and our increased poppy eradication efforts, we have already seen significant reduction in poppy cultivation, opium production, and casualty rates during poppy eradication campaign. Naturally this requires further verification from independent sources. We are looking forward to the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey which will be presented in Kabul on Oct 14 by UNODC.

The Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to eradicate the drug problem in Afghanistan with cooperation of international community. The government of Afghanistan has drafted the new Drug seizure strategy to control the drug supply in and out of Afghanistan. The draft of the counter Narcotics Regional strategy is prepared and will be soon shared with regional stake holders.

Mr. Chairman,

The drug economy in Afghanistan is a multi-billion dollar business that links cultivators, traffickers and consumers and is a major financier for the Taliban and other extremist groups, who are the main profiteers of this illegal trade. The counter-narcotic strategy has suffered from ills of the black market in the region. Last year, the value of the opiate economy in Afghanistan amounted to US $2.84 billion, amounting to about 13 per cent of the national GDP, according to UNODC reports. A comprehensive counter-narcotic strategy should focus not only on poverty and insurgency but also on tackling the menace of black market economy. The nexus between terrorism and the drug business, the troubling increase in Afghan addiction cases, and the illicit drug economy are not just issues concerning Afghanistan. The drug economy in Afghanistan is integrated in the global narcotics economy, fuelled by global demands and this issue remains a common and shared responsibility that should be addressed through effective and increased international cooperation. The global narcotics problem demands an integrated, multidisciplinary, mutually reinforcing, balanced and comprehensive approach to supply and demand reduction strategies. Hence increased cooperation between Afghanistan, its neighbors and international partners is essential for an effective drug eradication strategy, by taking into consideration existing challenges and regional realities.

We ask our friends and regional countries to enhance their coordination with the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to adopt new proven measures in interdiction, law enforcement and preventive strategies. In this regard, we welcome the remarks and suggestions made by other delegations in today’s meeting. Our government is committed to eliminating the opium economy through the Drug Action Plan and other parallel strategies. With the support and cooperation from the international community, we can make a difference and protect future generations from the menace narcotics pose to healthy and productive societies.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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