Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 106: International Drug Control 65th General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since its inception in 1997, the UNODC has played an instrumental role in leading the global fight against illicit drugs and international crime. For our part, Afghanistan values the indispensible role of UNODC in supporting our efforts to eliminate the threat of narcotic drugs and other forms of organized crime. This support has been provided in various areas, including capacity building of relevant law-enforcement institutions for effective border-control management, drug-demand-reduction and provision of alternative livelihoods.

Mr. Chairman,

Addressing the threat of narcotic drugs on the security and well-being of our society is among the top priorities of the Afghan government. Given its global and transnational character, defeating this menace will be possible only through a concerted international and regional effort.  The problem of narcotics is part of a complicated and sophisticated criminal network, from which the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer immensely on a daily basis.

Cognizant of this threat, the Afghan government has taken a number of steps at the national, regional, and international levels for addressing this scourge.  We are pleased to state that our efforts have yielded important results. With support and assistance from our international partners, we have succeeded in reducing poppy cultivation by 48% this year. We are pleased to see this reflected in UNODC’s 2010 Afghanistan Opium Survey. Additionally, through a comprehensive set of measures, which include strengthened law-enforcement, agricultural development, interdiction, alternative livelihoods, demand-reduction and public awareness, we have maintained twenty poppy-free provinces and are committed to increasing that figure by next year.

Meanwhile, it has become evident that a successful fight against narcotic drugs requires a comprehensive strategy with more focus on addressing the trafficking and consumption dimension of the narcotics problem. More needs to be done by transit and consuming countries to prevent trafficking of chemical precursors, and reduce demand in foreign markets. In this regard, we call for increased measures by member-states to implement Security Council resolution 1817 on combating deliveries of chemical precursors for drug production in Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

The production of illicit drugs is linked to the continuation of terrorist and extremist activity in Afghanistan and our region. The proceeds from narcotic drugs continue to be used as a main source of terrorist funding.  Like terrorism, the narcotics problem is a threat to stability in our region and beyond. Therefore, given the interdependent link between terrorism and narcotics, these twin challenges must be addressed in tandem with one another .

Aside from security implications, narcotic drugs pose a serious threat to the social fabric of Afghan society. Drug abuse in Afghanistan has increased substantially over the past years.  Those affected include both youth and adults.  As indicated in last year’s ‘Drug Use in Afghanistan Survey,’ “[e]asy access to cheap drugs and limited access to drug treatment, combined with three decades of war-related trauma have resulted in problem drug-use among almost one-million Afghans, roughly 8% of the population between 15-64 years old.” Moreover, according to the survey, more than 90% of drug users are in dire need of treatment.  Currently, 40 structured drug-treatment centers are operational in 21 provinces. In this regard, we underscore the need for sustained international assistance in expanding quantity and quality of “drug-treatment centers” throughout the country.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan attaches special importance to effective regional cooperation for addressing the many challenges facing our region. These include terrorism, extremism, narcotic drugs, and organized crime. In this regard, we continue collaboration with regional countries for a viable solution to these problems. We are working to expand cooperation in various fields, including strengthening of relevant law-enforcement agencies, greater intelligence sharing on terrorist threats, and drawing effective mechanisms to curtail trafficking of chemical precursors and narcotic drugs. We continue to hold bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral consultations, and maintain our efforts through other mechanisms and forums, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Moreover, in the context of more effective border management, we underscore the need to expedite the recruitment and training of Afghan security forces, including Afghan border and customs police to render a more effective role in preventing the infiltration into Afghan territory of all forms of illegal activity.

Mr. Chairman,

We are thankful to the international community, the UNODC in particular, for its continued support and commitment in addressing the challenges of security, narcotic drugs and organized crime, and achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Together we have come a long way, but much remains to be accomplished.  We look forward to our continued partnership to finish the vision we began nine and a half-years ago.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Check Against Delivery

General Assembly Plenary on the humanitarian situation resulting from the floods in Pakistan

Statement of H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin

General Assembly

Plenary on the humanitarian situation resulting from the floods in Pakistan

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to convey the deepest condolences of the Government and people of Afghanistan to the government and people of Pakistan, our neighbors, for their losses during this tragedy, and our full solidarity with them as they recover and rebuild in the coming months and years.

The United Nations as an Organization reminds us constantly that we do not exist in isolation; more than ever we share the joy and pain of our fellow men. I want to assure the Pakistani people that they are not alone in this struggle; that the international community, and this great Organization, including Afghanistan, are here to assist them. Afghanistan and Pakistan share a long border, common languages, religion, culture, and history, and we feel closely the pain and anguish of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan during this tragedy.

Mr. President,

In this regard, I would like to welcome the draft resolution tabled today, and encourage the international community to give generously in order to minimize the suffering of the Pakistani people and speed the recovery process. Afghanistan has already pledged $1mil in aid, despite our own difficult situation, and has sent four helicopters and more than 4 tonnes of medical supplies, along with 48 medical and humanitarian personnel. The international presence in Afghanistan, both ISAF and UNAMA, have also leapt to assist the Pakistani people, both directly and by funneling aid from outside. We will continue to work closely with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan to offer them a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on during this difficult time.

Thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan are also among those suffering, as three refugee camps have been largely destroyed, affecting more than 3000 families. Our Consul General in Peshawar has already distributed a thousand blankets, and is working closely with UNHCR to ensure that these families are cared for.

Mr. President,

None of us can be disinterested in the face of such destruction. More than fourteen million people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and in many cases their lives. We have a common responsibility, as human beings, to come together and assist the government and people of Pakistan however we can, so that this disaster will not result in further tragedy. It is our hope that the international community will demonstrate its solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan by responding promptly and generously to any request from Pakistan for assistance in their plight.

Again, I reiterate to the Pakistani people and government the full support of my own government and people, and we will assist you further through all available channels.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Security Council Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Statement By

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin

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

at the Security Council Debate on

the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Madam President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, let me congratulate you, Madam President, for assuming the Presidency of the Council for this month, and thank you for convening this meeting. Allow me to also thank the Secretary-General, High Commissioner Pillay and Under Secretary-General Holmes for their briefings today. I want to pay particular tribute to Mr. Holmes, and thank him for his years of service at the United Nations and his extraordinary efforts to protect civilians across the world.

Madam President,

Only last week we met in this chamber to debate the situation in my country, and during my statement then I emphasized the importance of putting the Afghan people at the center of our common efforts, and reengaging them in the reconstruction and stabilization of their country. There can be no legitimacy of efforts or sustainability of progress without the support and partnership of the people themselves.

This awareness has led the Government of Afghanistan, in partnership with the international community, to focus on finding ways to meet the needs and expectations of the people. In this regard, last month, my government convened a consultative Peace Jirga, which brought together all segments of Afghan society in the search for stability and the end of conflict. One thing was very clear; all Afghans desire peace. This is, at heart, the only way to truly protect the Afghan people and stabilize the country. This is my Government’s ultimate and most fundamental goal.

Madam President,

In the meantime, civilians continue to pay a staggering price. Over six thousand Afghans were killed and injured last year alone, including women, children and the elderly, and even more are being killed this year. More than half are killed by suicide attacks and IEDs. Mines and other remnants of war continue to claim lives, particularly of children. Over the past years, the Taliban, al Qaeda and their terrorist allies have been responsible for an increasing and overwhelming majority of civilian casualties, and they have embraced assassinations, executions and threats in an attempt to control the population through terror. They show a complete disregard for human life and a willingness to particularly target vulnerable groups, including schoolchildren and teachers. Last month, in a particularly gruesome example, they hanged a 7-year old child, accusing him of being a government spy. The same day, they attacked a wedding ceremony and killed over forty people in Kandahar.

In addition to the Afghan cost of this conflict, our international friends are also targeted for their efforts to build a stable, prosperous Afghanistan. Attacks on humanitarian workers, United Nations personnel, and those working in education and healthcare, continue to increase. The attack last October on Bakhtar Guest House, which took the lives five UN staff and three others, was just one of several such incidents. In this regard, and on behalf of my Government, let me reiterate our gratitude to the men and women of the United Nations and our international friends, who work in Afghanistan under very difficult circumstances for the sake of the Afghan people and in the pursuit of international peace and security. The Afghan Government and people recognize the critical work that you do in supporting the efforts of my Government and in providing basic services and humanitarian needs for the people. We fully support your efforts in Afghanistan and at the UN to improve security conditions for UN staff.

Madam President,

It is not only the terrorists who are to blame; we also bear an enormous responsibility to safeguard the security of non-combatants. We have achieved remarkable progress on this in the past year. We welcomed steps taken by ISAF’s former commander General McChrystal to change their rules of engagement in order to better protect the lives of civilians, and the Security Council noticed the results in their Mission last month. We expect that General Petraeus, as the new commander of ISAF, will continue this emphasis. However, we can, and must, do more to prevent collateral damage and friendly fire, such as in the unfortunate incident yesterday which cost the lives of five Afghan servicemen. Every civilian casualty undermines the belief of the people in the goodwill of the international community and emboldens the enemy. President Karzai continues to raise this issue with our international partners at the highest level, including in his May meetings with President Obama, and we know that our allies share our belief that every civilian death is unacceptable. In addition, my Government is working to build an efficient, effective and responsible army and police force dedicated to the protection of Afghans and the maintenance of security and rule of law. The safety of the Afghan people should be our central concern, and we must continue to work together to be worthy of their trust and confidence in our future efforts.

Madam President,

Afghanistan supports the growing trend of mentioning the protection of civilians in the mandates of ISAF and other military missions. Increasingly, we should measure our success not by abstract measures, but by the concrete improvement in the lives of the people. It is both responsible and necessary that we continue to search for ways to better meet our responsibilities, and bring to Afghans, and others, the peace, justice and stability that is the birthright of all mankind.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan