Saturday, December 10, 2016

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.

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 Second Committee of the 70th Session of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

 

At the outset, let me congratulate you on your assumption of Chairmanship of the second committee of the 70th session of the UNGA and your bureau members for their well-deserved elections. I am certain that under your able leadership and guidance, the second committee will have productive and fruitful discussions for the forthcoming weeks. I would like to assure you of my delegations’ full support and cooperation throughout the deliberations of issues concerned to this committee.

I also wish to commend your predecessor and his bureau for their tireless efforts and successful leadership of the Second Committee during the last session.

My delegation associates itself with the statements made yesterday by South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77, China and Bangladesh, on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, and Zambia, on behalf of the Group of Landlocked developing countries.

 

Mr. Chairman,

2015 is a unique year as three landmark conferences- namely, the third UN  world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai Japan, the third international conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa, and the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda were held successfully. And last but not least, the COP21 on climate change is going to be held in Paris in December. Tremendous efforts and high ambitions were vested in these conferences.  The collective will and unwavering determination of developing countries and developed partners, supported by engagement and contributions of all stakeholders, resulted in remarkable outcomes. The common goal for all these efforts is to eradicate poverty and hunger in all their forms, save our planet and to build the future we want.

 

Mr. Chairman,

Last week our leaders in a historic summit unanimously adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. This agenda addresses in a balanced manner the three dimensions of the sustainable development: namely economical, social, and environmental pillars which are among the core issues of the second committee agenda. Hence, it is befitting to align our deliberations on the implementation of the 2030 agenda by taking into account the guidance and commitments made by our heads of states and governments during the last week’s summit. In this regard the role of the UN system, particularly General Assembly, ECOSOC and High Level Political Forum are crucial and conducive in the follow up and realization of 2030 agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

I am happy that the 2030 development agenda has recognized the special needs and challenges of the countries in special situations particularly LDCs, LLDCs , SIDS as well as countries affected by conflict. In this connection, the Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) and the Vienna Program of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries are highly important to comprehensively and practically address the special needs and challenges of the LDCs and LLDCs in the context of the 2030 development agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

As a member of LDCs, LLDCs, and as a conflict affected country, I would like to highlight the following points:

 

–        As a prime victim of international terrorism and the conflict resulting from it, my country is combating terrorism on a daily basis on behalf of the international community and paying a very high price in terms of blood and resources to ensure peace and stability in the country, the region and the world at large. There is no doubt that peace and security are fundamental for achieving sustainable development and economic growth. In this regard, we highly value goal 16 of the SDGs which addresses building peaceful and inclusive societies.

–        Financing for development is a crucial factor in the implementation of the 2030 development agenda. In this regard, the realization of the commitments made in the Addis Ababa action agenda is of high importance to us. As a country highly dependent on aid, we also recognize the great importance of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to support our efforts for reaching sustainable development goals and economic growth.

–        South-South cooperation as complementary to North-South cooperation is an essential factor for developing countries in their endeavor for attaining sustainable development. Moreover, we cannot stress enough the added value of regional cooperation.

–        We recognize that technology is a key means of implementation of the SDGs and the 2030 agenda.

–        The follow up and review mechanism constitutes a crucial part of the implementation of the 2030 agenda. This cannot be achieved without accurate data. In this regard, we are looking forward to the outcome of the work of the UN Statistical Commission on developing global indicators in March 2016.

–        We cannot ignore our vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. In this regard we hope that the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris will result in a comprehensive and legally binding agreement.

–        Last but not least the revitalized global partnership is a must for the successful implementation of the 2030 development agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade starting in 2015 and finishing in 2024, captures a big part of the 2030 agenda and coincides with its commencement. Based on our 2005-2015 MDG report we have had a mix of achievements and setbacks. In the past 14 years, some of our gains have suffered from a lack of consolidation, continuity and sustainability. While poverty rate has remained constant for several years we have made considerable progress in primary education, gender equality and women empowerment; child and maternal mortality rates have been reduced.

Afghanistan will remain committed to developing strategies and policies to integrate our national development agenda with the 2030 development agenda.  Although Afghanistan began to pursue its MDGs almost half a decade later than other Member States, extending our deadline to 2020, Afghanistan is still committed to achieving the unfinished MDGs.

In conclusion, I would like to reassure you of my delegation’s constructive and efficient engagement throughout the discussions in this session.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

17 September 2015

NEW YORK

Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on your leadership of the Council for this month. I thank the Secretary-General for his recent report on the Situation in Afghanistan and my good friend Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA, Mr. Nicholas Haysom for his comprehensive briefing. I also thank Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Director General of UNODC for his briefing and his presence today. I am very grateful for the role Spain is playing as the penholder on Afghanistan and for its capable work in the Security Council. This is my last statement at the Security Council on the situation on Afghanistan as I am leaving at the end of this month to assume my new responsibilities. As I stand in the midst of friends and colleagues in this noble council, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation, especially to those I had the pleasure of working closely with in the past few years. Thank you for your friendship and cooperation.

Mr. President,

In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed a challenging security situation in terms of increasing violence and heinous attacks by the Taliban and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. While the enemies of Afghanistan failed to achieve the aim of gaining control of territories and breaking the will of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), they have continued their brutal campaign of violence and coercion trying to destabilize the country and terrorize Afghan people. We saw these heinous attempts in a number of highly sophisticated recent terrorist attacks, like the one on August 7 that led to hundreds of causalities, including women and children. In the face of increasing violence and instability, ANDSF, who assumed full responsibility of security after the departure of thousands of international forces, through their sacrifices, patriotism, resilience, and commitment, have demonstrated time and again that they are ready to face the challenges posed by the Taliban, and other terrorist and violent extremist groups. The ANDSF is at the forefront of defense of the country and security of the Afghan people; they present a bulwark against letting Afghanistan slip into the chaos and destruction of the viscous civil war as happened in 1990s.

Mr. President,

The National Unity Government is committed to make every effort to move Afghanistan on a path of stability, peace, and security. The Government has reached out with the message of peace and reconciliation not only to the Afghan Taliban, those who are willing to stop fighting and join the peace process, but also to neighboring countries. One of the first steps taken by President Ghani was to embark on a process of ending the undeclared state of war between Afghanistan and Pakistan and start a new era of peace and cooperation. This process has been largely supported by the Afghan people and the first rounds of peace talks with the Taliban led to a surge of optimism about the prospects of peace and end of violence. The Government of Afghanistan believes that despite some of the apparent setbacks in the process of peace talks, following the declaration of the death of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and the benighted leadership changes in its ranks, we are hopeful that the prospect of political settlement will not be withered but it requires responsible attitude by all sides, mutual determination, and real commitment.

Mr. President,

The regional cooperation agenda is not just limited to peace and security but to economy, development, and prosperity as well, since the future of the region can only be fostered and strengthened through connectivity and greater cooperation. We all know that the stability of Afghanistan at the heart of Asia is essential for the stability of the wider region. Integrating Afghanistan as the center of economic hub focused on transit, transportation, and trade for the next two decades remain imperative to achieve economic self-sufficiency and shared economic prosperity. Afghanistan’s vision for advancing regional economic goals, whether through its role as the Asian roundabout between the energy suppliers in Central Asia and the energy consumers in South Asia, or through the growing number of cross-border agreements to share services in health, rural development, and training is bound up with its economic agenda for the transformation decade. The 6th RECCA conference earlier this month in Kabul also elaborated further on ways to develop and consolidate partnerships towards promoting regional economic cooperation in Afghanistan and across the region. We are looking forward to the next Ministerial level meeting of Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process in Islamabad as another important step of strengthening confidence building and partnership in the region.

Mr. President,

As we approach the first anniversary of the establishment of the national Unity government, there is a greater attention to ensure effective implementation of vital reforms to strengthen the economic growth, improve governance, eradicate corruption, bring electoral reforms, and protect human rights, particularly rights of women. The promotion of good governance is a cornerstone for the Government’s reform agenda. One of the central pillars for the reform agenda is to effectively tackle the scourge of corruption. The institutions created by the Government, like the National Procurement Commission, comprehensive reorganization and review of the Supreme Court and other measures dealing with institutions and individuals involved in corruption are essential for transformation of the anti-corruption efforts into practical, measurable outputs.

The efforts of the National Unity Government against corruption also includes a series of important measures in dealing with the illicit drug trade with its overall implications on economy, polity, society, and rule of law in all parts of the country. The Government is focused not only on curbing this illicit trade but tackling all financial channels that is providing the basis for criminal networks to be linked at all levels in the region and globally. In order to achieve this goal, the Government has formed an inter-ministerial commission to clamp down on narcotics trade and the moral as well as financial corruption that goes with it.

To further the reform process, the national unity government has taken important steps to revise the election law and presented its reform proposal to the Government. Recommendations from the Commission include the allotting of one-third of Parliament’s 250 seats to political parties; the restructuring of the current election commission; the creation of a clear voter identification system ahead of future polling; and moving to an electoral system that divides provinces into smaller voting districts that can be easily quarantined in case of fraud. Proper implementation of this reform process would bring about necessary changes in ensuring free and fair elections in the future. In order to reflect on these reforms, the election law has been revised earlier this week by a Presidential decree and the calendar of the parliamentary and district council election will also be announced in the near future.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community has been paramount for the achievements of Afghanistan in last 14 years and is essential for the realization of the lasting goal of peace, stability, and prosperity for years to come. The engagement of the international community and the UN, be it in the form of aid, expertise, manpower, or sacrifices of soldiers and civilian workers, the progress seen in Afghanistan would not be possible today. Afghan people and the Government are grateful and recognize the contributions of the international community as a whole and particularly all Afghan partners.

Role of the UN has been pivotal in Afghanistan in last 14 years not only to coordinate international civilian activities for bringing peace and security but to support Government in all areas of political stability, good governance, institution building, human rights, and coordination of humanitarian needs. The Tripartite review commission and the Government of Afghanistan have embarked on full reexamination of the role, structure, and activities of all UN entities in Afghanistan and I am happy to state that Nicholas Haysom, SRSG for UNAMA, along with his colleagues played an important role in moving this process forward. The commission examined the UN engagement in the country focusing the areas where the UN brings most value and ensuring the UN serves to maximize the support of the international community for Afghanistan and its people. The discussion focused on 3 themes: UN principle of engagement, Government commitment and obligations, and future UN presence in Afghanistan. The Government is certain that the outcome of these efforts will provide the country, the security council, and the UN a framework for effective engagement of all UN activities in Afghanistan, including role of UNAMA and all UN agencies, funds, and programs in Afghanistan.The framework for review will allow the beginning of a new relationship between Afghanistan and the UN in the coming years.

The success of transformation decade is strongly based on the constant engagement and support from our international partners, not only today but in the future. To further this goal, the agreement reached during the Senior Official Meeting earlier this month on a refreshed mutual accountability framework is a significant milestone in Afghanistan’s relationships with the international community. Afghanistan looks forward to the future conferences on Afghanistan in Brussels and Warsaw.

Mr. President,

Though much has been gained in Afghanistan, much remain to be addressed. As President Ghani has noted, 2015 will test Afghanistan’s will and capacity as a nation to address reform across all sectors- social, economic, security and electoral process. I would like to reiterate that the challenges faced by Afghanistan are many; but the country and the people have proven, time and again, that we want peace over conflict, progress over repression, unity over factionalism, prosperity over hostility, and inclusive growth over isolation. Today Afghanistan’s vibrant civil society, free media, improved social indicators, successful democratic transition of power—all signal that there is significant potential to put the last three decades of devastation behind and move forward. In order to do so, Afghanistan must protect the gains made in the last 14 years, and present a united front against all agents who are working to destabilize the country. The role of our neighbours in the region, as well as the international community, is pivotal in supporting Afghanistan during its transformation decade to achieve lasting peace and stability.

Thank you very much.