Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism

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Statement by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal

Designated Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the Sixth Committee Meeting on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (4th meeting)

Agenda item 108

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Let me join other delegations in congratulating you on your assumption of Chairmanship of the sixth committee of the 70th session of the UNGA and your bureau members for their well-deserved elections. We look forward to working closely with you and assure you of our full support and cooperation throughout the deliberations of issues concerned to this committee.

My delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the people and Government of Turkey for the barbaric terrorist attack in Ankara at a peace rally. Afghanistan has faced terrorism and extremism for a very long time, and we stand beside Turkey in this critical hour.

Mr. Chairman,

H.E. Mahmoud Saikal Designated Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Designated Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Violent extremism and conflict not only threaten the collective security of all member states but also pose a serious challenge to our fundamental values of equality, tolerance, justice, and human dignity. With the continued persistence of destructive conflicts around the world, the international community now witnesses the emergence of increasingly violent forms of extremism that disproportionately affects civilians, especially women and children. These threats are neither constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology; these groups misrepresent and abuse religious edicts to achieve their objectives. We are faced with international terrorism that is far more violent, organized, well positioned (in some cases, even within state structures), well financed and often transcending international boundaries. The rise in conflicts worldwide, especially in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and parts of Africa is especially troublesome because civilian populations continue to pay the price in the form of dislocation and collapse of government services, particularly education, healthcare and economic development. According to a 2014 UNHCR report, worldwide displacement is at its highest at 59.5 million as conflict and persecution force more people than at any other time to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere. The unprecedented movement of refugees across parts of Asia, the Middle East and Europe is a testament to this unfolding catastrophe.

The current global scenario of rise of various non-state actors promoting extremism indicates that terrorist organizations are increasingly replacing traditional groups with more sophisticated forms of operations that include political structures, administrative units, social media propaganda, and new forms of technology-based coordination, in addition to access to funding and recruits. Despite ongoing efforts by the international community, increasing conflicts worldwide, especially in the Middle East, and growing indoctrination and radicalization of impressionable young men and women, as evident from the sustained flow of foreign terrorist fighters to conflicts in various countries, make it imperative to find political solutions to conflicts and ensure peace and stability for all citizens. There is a pressing need for all member states to cooperate closely to address the issues of terrorism, violent extremism, and indoctrination; further implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 would be beneficial to achieve this goal.

Mr. Chairman,

In 2015, following the withdrawal of tens of thousands of international troops and the establishment of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan, Taliban and other terrorist groups accelerated their brutal campaign through the so called spring and summer offensives against the Afghan people. Subsequent to the belated announcement of the mysterious death of the fabricated leader of the Taliban, leadership struggles and factional infighting within the Taliban due to a lack of a leader intensified. In order to divert the focus and unify their ranks, the Taliban increased the number of violent, brazen attacks that have taken the lives of many civilians and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Our security forces are at the forefront of the international war on terrorism; they have defended Afghanistan, the region and the world at large against various external terrorist elements and have fought with bravery in the face of tremendous hardships. Today they continue to fight thousands of international terrorists and groups such as Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Islamic State or Daesh, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan among others. Despite heavy causalities during the recent offensives of these terrorist groups, our security forces have derailed and prevented many terrorist plots and succeeded in killing and capturing scores of enemy combatants, including significant number of foreign terrorist fighters. Generally, the terrorists have not managed to hold the ground they gain anywhere in Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

We firmly believe that militancy and extremism will never serve the long-term interests of any country. It is unfortunate that these terrorists fighting in Afghanistan still receive support and guidance, as well as find sanctuaries outside our borders. The use of violent non-state actors and terrorists for proxy wars must come to an end. Rival states should not turn a third country into a battleground to advance their agenda. No doubt, states are naturally concerned about advancing their national and regional interests; but it must be noted that states have no right whatsoever to pursue their interests through violence and extremism. In the past 20 years, Afghanistan has been a victim of regional state orchestrated violence leading to insecurity and tremendous suffering for our people. Unless the mentality of using violence in pursuit of political objective changes, achieving peace in Afghanistan will be very difficult.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan strongly supports a comprehensive approach in addressing these threats. In our pursuit of lasting peace, our counter-terrorism and diplomatic efforts will continue unabated. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan continues to engage its neighbours to promote regional cooperation and provide a comprehensive approach in addressing the threat from terrorism. Regional organizations and processes play an important role in fulfilling our aims in this regard. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process addresses this initiative. Strengthening border cooperation, inter-agency coordination and most importantly building confidence and trust among our neighbours, in particular with Pakistan, and other countries in the region is of utmost importance to our shared efforts in defeating terrorism.

Mr. Chairman,

A comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism and violent extremism needs to be long-term and multilateral in nature. This strategy must deal with poverty, marginalization, and economic inequality that provide the enabling conditions for recruitment and promote education and critical thinking. We look forward to the Action Plan which the Secretary General will be presenting to the General Assembly this year. I would also like to highlight the need to achieve the early conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism. Finally we welcome the Fifth Biennial Review Process of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy which is to take place in June next year.

As a country that has long suffered from the menace of international terrorism and resulting violence, Afghanistan strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and remains firmly committed to continue the fight at the forefront of the global campaign against international terrorism.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal Designated Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the UNODC Launch of the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2015

Ms. Monsebian, Dr. Me, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me to thank UNODC for the invitation to be a part of this important event on the occasion of the launch of Afghanistan’s Opium Survey 2015. 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. Government and international efforts at eradication and crop substitution have been going on in the past few years, but numerous challenges remain in tackling the menace of opium cultivation, eradication, and addiction. With the fresh initiatives of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan, going on over the past year, and our increased poppy eradication efforts, we have already seen significant reduction in poppy cultivation, opium production, and casualty rates during poppy eradication campaign. We are looking forward to the results and findings from the UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey 2015.

TUNODChe Afghanistan Opium Survey, implemented annually by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan in collaboration with UNODC, is significant as it provides a detailed picture of the outcome of the current year’s opium season and with data from previous years, enables the identification of trends in the evolution of the illicit drug problem. The survey team collects and analyses information on the location and extent of opium cultivation, potential opium production, and the socio-economic situation in rural areas. Survey data can be useful in policy development and planning how to tackle the illicit crops. We hope that with the methodological rigor and analytical expertise of UNODC, along with the support and collaboration of our Ministry of Counter-Narcotics will ensure transparency in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey and provide additional credibility to the results.

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 insecure provinces in the country. Drug production and trafficking have been significant sources of asset generation for the Taliban. The connection between criminality and terrorism is fueling the drug trade as various international terrorist groups, sent to our country, benefit from the illicit drug trade. The problem of narcotics doesn’t only pose a security threat for the country and the world at large, but also seriously impacts our social fabric by undermining Afghanistan’s development, stability, and rule of law.

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. The 2014 UNODC report on the impact of drug use on users and their families in Afghanistan presents the devastating impacts of drug addiction in Afghan society. Grinding poverty, lack of viable employment opportunities, and ongoing conflict in parts of the country has significant effect on drug usage. The consumption of heroin and other opiates in Afghanistan doubled between 2005 and 2009. 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 which is a culmination of the efforts by the new government to address opium production and trafficking, corruption and economic crime. 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.

Despite the efforts by the government and international partners like UNODC to counter the drug issue, it must be noted that the drug economy in Afghanistan is part of 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. Last year, the value of the opiate economy in Afghanistan amounted to US $2.84 billion, accounting for 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 drug economy in Afghanistan is integrated in the global 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. 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.

Before I end, let me thank the Governments of Germany, Norway, and US for funding this very important study. We look forward to the UNODC 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey. Thank you.

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

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.