Friday, October 28, 2016

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Sixth Committee under agenda item 84: The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels


6 October 2016


Mr. Chairman,

We wish to thank the Secretary General for his report “Strengthening and Coordinating United Nations rule of law activities,” – in document A/71/169.

My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

The rule of law is the fundamental pre-condition for achieving a rules-based international order, in which citizens can live peaceful, secure, and dignified lives. In that respect, it provides the very foundation upon which stable and prosperous societies are built. We are pleased that the subject of rule of law at national and international levels remains an essential topic in the agenda of the United Nations.

This is also a fitting opportunity to highlight the centrality of the United Nations’ role in achieving a world where the principles of peace, equal opportunity, justice, and prosperity prevails.

Mr. Chairman,

In Afghanistan, our efforts to advance the rule of law has been a challenging task, owing to the tragic legacy of more than twenty years of conflict we inherited in 2001, when we began a new chapter in our modern history. It has also been a constant conflict between legitimacy and illegitimacy, legality and illegality. Whereas the National Unity Government and preceding administrations have sought to strengthen governance and transparency in our society and institutions, extremist groups sent to Afghanistan from outside our borders have defied our constitution and engaged in a reign of terror, aimed at undermining our stabilization.  In doing so, they violate fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter, including international law and international humanitarian law.

Since its formation two years ago, the Unity Government has worked to consolidate the rule of law as a cornerstone of our strategy to achieve a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan. Over the past two years, we have conducted a major overhaul of our State and local institutions to promote transparency and accountability in all affairs of the Government.  We have done so knowing that the rule of law is the ultimate guarantee for our long-term stability.

In the area of civil service, we have established a merit based process for the appointment of senior officials. A number of capable officials who place Afghanistan’s national interest above all other considerations, have been appointed to key positions, including the judiciary. In that process, more than 600 judges were replaced, with some being prosecuted for illegal activity. We have created a National Council on the Rule of Law, which is fully operational with a mandate to address all forms of administrative corruption.  In addition, we have also begun to reform our electoral institutions to consolidate the democratization process. In the sector of public finances, we have established the National Procurement Commission to ensure transparency in all Government contracts.

Yesterday, at the international Brussels conference on Afghanistan, we opened a new chapter in our partnership with friends and allies to build on what we have collectively achieved so far. At the conference, we provided an update on our reform efforts. The international community made new pledges of assistance to help us implement our National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), which constitutes our overarching strategy to advance social, economic, and institutional development.

Mr. Chairman,

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight the central role of the United Nations in coordinating the international community’s support to Afghanistan over the past several years, which has had a profound contribution to our rule of law efforts:

Promoting fundamental rights and freedoms for all our citizens, especially women and children;
Enhancing capacity in our State institutions for effective delivery of services;
Strengthening democratic values and principles in our society;
Laying the foundation for an Afghanistan that is governed fully by the rule of law, and is self-reliant in providing for our own security and development needs.
Mr. Chairman,

We are convinced that security, economic development, and the rule of law are reinforcing in nature, and thus inextricably linked to each other. That said, continued violence in Afghanistan in the form of terrorism and violent extremism remains the dominant challenge facing our stabilization and rule of law efforts. We have initiated a comprehensive strategy, comprising both a military and peace-building component, to overcome this obstacle and achieve durable peace for our people. While continuing our fight against terrorism, we are also pursuing peace and reconciliation with reconcilable armed opposition groups, who are ready to shun the path of violence, become law abiding citizens, and adhere to the provisions of our constitution.

We are also focused on building a broad-based economy that will empower our citizens with job opportunities, and instill renewed confidence in our cities, districts, and villages throughout Afghanistan. To achieve this, we have already taken important steps in strengthening regional connectivity to substantially increase the volume of trade and transit with our neighbors, and invested in modernizing our agricultural sector. In addition, we have also developed new policies to make the most of our vast natural resources, which can serve as a key pillar of our future economy.

Mr. Chairman,

The rule of law provides the very foundation for a rules-based international order, in which States meet their respective obligations to abide by the principles of the UN Charter. In this context, it is imperative that States meet their commitments within the framework of multitudes of international treaties and conventions related to peace and security, human rights, and social and economic development. For our part, we are sparing no effort to implement our commitments under all international instruments that we are party to.

Mr. Chairman,

Just fifteen years ago, Afghanistan began its state-building efforts from sub-zero.  We were a country forgotten by the global community, whose social fabric was decimated in various aspects. Yet we are a resilient nation, which has overcome adversity throughout history. Over the past decade and half, we have come a long way and regained our place among the responsible community of nations that is committed to the full implementation of the rule of law and other universal principles enshrined in the UN Charter. We are confident that with the continued support of the United Nations and other international partners, we will realize the vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for our people.

Thank You.

Stement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the Third Committee under agenda item 106 and 107


6 October 2016


Madam Chair,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, allow me to congratulate you as the Chair of the Third Committee. Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support  and cooperation throughout the work of this committee.

I also wish to express my gratitude to the UN Secretary General  and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their comprehensive  reports which provided us with important updates on the latest developments on the international efforts in combating illicit narcotics. Let me also thank UNODC and its dedicated team for their support for our joint efforts, in Afghanistan  and elsewhere.

Madam Chair,

While the international community has to deal with a number of formidable challenges such as transnational organized crimes, including illicit drugs and drug trafficking, the threat of violent extremism and terrorism is by far the greatest and most menacing of all.

Today, terrorist  groups in various parts of the world continue to affect our peace, security, social order, and economic development and have put the future of a prosperous and peaceful world in jeopardy. According to our experience in Afghanistan over the last two decades, the threat posed by this evil phenomena, mixed with criminality, is real and growing fast.  No country and no region, regardless of their religion and race is immune to its destabilizing effects. Moreover, the transnational nature of this problem and its interlinkages with drugs mean that no state can effectively deal with this global scourge alone. We know the challenge ahead of us is daunting, but we also know that the ultimate responsibility for creating a peaceful environment for our families and future generations rests upon our shoulders. Therefore, we believe that today, more than ever before, it is crucial for the members of the international community to put aside their differences, strive to work together, and use all available tools to tackle this problem.

In this regard, we believe the United Nations can play an important role by developing a better and more workable international approach to violent extremism  and terrorism through further strengthening the global regime with a focus on those who use terrorism and militant extremism as a political weapon to further their hegemonic ambitions.

Madam Chair,

Illicit drugs is another growing concern of our time that continues to undermine our stability, economic development and facilitates other forms of transnational organized crimes.

Afghanistan is also a victim of illicit narcotics and its impact on Afghan society mirrors the current challenges of the country. Moreover, the nexus between illicit drug trade and terrorist groups has contributed to the problem of security in Afghanistan as drug related proceeds is one of the sources, among others, to fuel violence in the country. According to UNODC reports, the bulk of opium poppy cultivation and opiate production occur in the provinces where security situation is worst and economy and infrastructure are least developed.

Cognizant of the gravity of the challenge, the Government of Afghanistan has taken a number of steps to address this problem. We are pleased to state that our efforts have yielded important results. We succeeded in reducing opiate production by 11% and poppy cultivation by 19% since 2015. Moreover, through a comprehensive set of measures we have increased the eradication of opium poppies by 40% and are committed to increasing that figure by next year.

Since 2015, we have been implementing a National Drug Action Plan that aligns law enforcement, education, and public health. Recognizing that successful reforms require long-term commitments, over the next five years, we will continue to provide alternative livelihoods for farmers while strictly enforcing laws against money-laundering and drug trafficking. This Action Plan has set three main interrelated counter narcotics goals to be achieved by 2019:

–         Decrease the cultivation of opium poppy;

–         Decrease the production and trafficking of opiates; and

–         Reduce the demand for illicit drugs and increase the provision of treatment for users.

The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan which took place on 5th of October 2016, marked a new phase of mutual commitment between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community. The conference underlined the need for a sustained and integrated approach in effectively reducing the illicit production and trafficking of narcotics and precursor products, and fighting organized crime, including money laundering, corruption and the financing of terrorism. Moreover, the conference also supported the Afghan National Drug Action Plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indisputable that the issue of narcotics is widespread, and the effects of drug cultivation, production, trafficking and consumption are vast and devastating. Addressing this global problem requires a comprehensive global, and unified response with a focus on trade, trafficking, production, and consumption aspects.

In our part, the people and Government of Afghanistan are strongly committed to continuing their efforts to not only build upon the achievements of the last sixteen years, but also put a new foundation for  progress and advancement for our future generations. In this regard, we have already taken major steps to expand our cooperation with countries of the region and beyond to strengthen our relevant law-enforcement agencies, greater intelligence sharing on terrorist threats, and drawing effective mechanisms to curtail trafficking of chemical precursors and narcotic drugs. We also continue to hold bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral consultations, and maintain our efforts through other mechanisms and forums, including the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

In conclusion, Madam Chair, I would like to express our gratitude to the international community for its generous support and commitment at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, UNODC for its continued support in addressing the challenges of narcotic drugs and organized crime, in order to acheive a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. I thank you.

Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the Sixth Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism


(check against delivery)

4 October 2016


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I join the previous speakers in congratulating you and other members of the Bureau on your election. We assure you of our full support, and wish you every success in leading the work of the 6th Committee to a successful conclusion.

We align ourselves with the statement, delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Terrorism is the most blatant form of violation of human rights, and a phenomenon that contradicts the core values and tenets of all religions and the essence of the UN Charter.  As we take up this agenda item each year, we have come to realize that this dangerous menace continues to grow in its scope and reach, posing a serious threat to the security and stability of all societies, irrespective of their geographical location.

This year is no different, as numerous attacks took place in my own country, Afghanistan and in other countries in five continents.  The status quo makes it ever more evident that despite ongoing efforts, the global counter-terrorism campaign must be revitalized for a more responsive approach.

To that end, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy remains the most effective framework within which States must carry out their counter-terrorism obligations. We welcome the 5th Review of the Global Strategy this past July, which helped give new focus on ways to address some new trends, with respect to the global terrorist threat. We also acknowledge the important mandate entrusted to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and Implementation Task Force (CTITF) for supporting States with technical and logistical assistance to meet their counter-terrorism obligations.

Having said that, a glimpse at the status of counter-terrorism efforts show that terrorist threats have rapidly increased rather than subside.  This reflects the obvious; States need to do more to meet their counter-terrorism obligations, in a timely and efficient manner.  In light of the continuing trend, we see merit in a review of the activities of UN entities, to identify and fill gaps in implementation, and assess what really can be done to achieve a more results-oriented approach for fulfilling respective mandates.

Mr. Chairman,

The many counter-terrorism resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, including SC resolutions 1373 and 2178 remain living documents. Nevertheless, far too often, we see elements in Some States, particularly one in our region, still resort to terrorism as a tool to advance their misguided foreign policy agenda.

Here again, we wish to state that the fight against terrorism cannot be won, if the international community fails to address the lingering problem of terrorist sanctuaries, safe havens and training centers, where extremists are nurtured, equipped and directed to engage in terror. Any State or elements within a State, involved in the perpetration or orchestration of terrorist attacks must be held to account.

Mr. Chairman,

This year, Afghanistan’s fight against terrorism continued unabated. Our security forces were tested on different fronts, battling a sophisticated nexus of 9 terrorist groups in different parts of the country.  As we speak, our security forces have repulsed another failed attempt by the Taliban and affiliate groups to establish a presence in Kunduz city, in northern Afghanistan.  However, as they retreat, they have taken innocent people hostage and have intentionally caused as much destruction to civilian lives and property as they can. Latest estimates indicate enemy forces have suffered heavy losses in their ranks, including senior figures. Weakened in their morale and operational capability, enemy forces increasingly resort to asymmetrical attacks on schools, universities, aid agencies and public events.  In July and August, they attacked a large gathering of peaceful demonstrators and the American University in Kabul, resulting in the loss of scores of civilians, including many of our talented youth.

We have adopted a holistic approach to combat terrorism, entailing both military and peace-building components.  We have consistently pursued a policy of combating those elements driven by extremist ideology, while keeping the doors of peace and reconciliation open to those elements that are ready to renounce violence, accept the constitution, and return to normal life.  Moreover, the National Unity Government has facilitated an effective platform for our religious clerics to amplify their denunciation of terror and violence, whether in Afghanistan or any other parts of the world.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan joins the call for the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, for a more responsive approach in dealing the problem of terrorism. A final conclusion of this important legal instrument has eluded us for far too long, while thousands of people have fallen victim to terrorism around the world: men, women; the elderly, and even children.   The time is now to break the impasse and address outstanding issues to finalize the draft comprehensive convention as a matter of priority.

We attach great importance to the Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PEV) and its recommendations, which offers a unique perspective on addressing some of the underlying conditions that drive individuals to radicalize and join extremist groups.

Afghanistan also believes that inter-religious and inter-faith dialogue and collaboration can play an important role in the fight against terrorism by fostering a spirit of peace, solidarity and harmony between different cultures and religions.  In this context, we reject any form of religious and faith-based intolerance, and association of any religion with terrorism.  To that end, we welcome the important work being done by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and welcome the outcome of the Baku Declaration, adopted at the conclusion of the AOC’s 7th Global Forum in April.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, we reiterate our long-standing commitment to defeating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  As a country whose people have stood valiantly in the front line of the global war against terrorism for over two decades, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, nationally, regionally and internationally to reduce, and eventually eliminate the threat posed by this global menace.

Thank You.