Statement by  H.E. Zahir Tanin  Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan at the meeting on Crime and Drugs in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan at the meeting on Crime and Drugs in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


As this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, please allow me to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and all members of the Bureau on your election. Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout the work of this committee.


I would also like to express my appreciation to the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their comprehensive reports, which provide an annual analysis of the efforts of the international community in combating consumption, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs.


Mr. Chairman,


The problem of narcotics, with all its dimensions, is an international challenge. UNODC’s 2012 World Drug Report highlights this fact. The vicious cycle of production, trafficking and consumption of narcotics must be addressed through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies. It is all three aspects of the cycle that create the threat of narcotic drugs. While the Afghan Government is committed to addressing the issue of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, production does not occur without the persistent problems of trafficking and consumption. There is not one origin of the problem, but three interconnected and complex challenges. Mr. Chairman, the responsibility to eliminate the threat of narcotic drugs, and address all three areas of its existence is an unshakable task that we share internationally.


Mr. Chairman,


In Afghanistan, the illicit drug trade is a part of the conflict economy, which thrives on the continuation of insecurity and instability. Afghan farmers are faced with immense pressure as a result of demand for poppy cultivation. They often fall into poppy production out of desperate, misguided attempts to emerge from war-induced poverty, or due to coercion from traffickers. However, Afghan farmers only receive a small fraction of the sale of their crops while the vast majority of profits are made outside of Afghanistan’s borders by traffickers and often support networks of global crime and terrorism. While the narcotics industry extends far beyond the Afghan farmer, the cultivation of poppy is a serious issue that must be addressed resolutely. This is why the Afghan Government is committed to eliminating poppy production, strengthening the rule of law and promoting economic prosperity.


Nevertheless, the efforts toward eradication are complicated. We must fight the perception that those who seek to keep the drug industry alive are supporting the livelihoods of Afghan farmers, while those who seek to eradicate poppy are punishing them.  This is why creating alternative livelihoods for farmers and promoting economic opportunities are crucial.


Mr. Chairman,


Despite prevailing challenges, Afghanistan has made tangible progress in combating narcotics over the course of the last few years. We have developed policies in three key areas: creating alternative livelihoods, boosting anti-drug trafficking efforts and reducing demand. We also revised our Five-year National Drug Control Strategy where we identify four key areas to disrupt the illicit drug trade, strengthen and diversify rural livelihoods and reducing demand for illicit drugs.


With invigorated efforts, we managed to reduce poppy cultivation from 193,000 hectares to 131,000 hectares in Afghanistan during the last 5 years. We have succeeded to increase the number of poppy-free provinces from 6 to 17. However, as we have recently seen, as a result of the increase in international demand, once declared poppy-free provinces can be lost. We must continue to address cultivation; this year we have managed to eradicate close to 10,871 hectares of poppy fields which shows an increase of three times the eradication of last year. Moreover, we have had significant achievements in the law enforcement sector. For instance 542 tons of opium and its derivatives were seized which is three times more compared to last year figures; 2,331 suspects were arrested which is a 24% increase when compared to last year’s total; and the arrest of public service officials who had supported or facilitated the drug trafficking activities was another strong measure taken last year.


These achievements have not come about without a cost. Hundreds of Afghan police officers have sacrificed their lives in eradication of poppy fields.  Compared with 2011, this year we have experienced higher security related incidents during eradication operations showing the strong correlation between insecurity and poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.


Mr. Chairman,


The link between narcotics and terrorism is of profound concern as terrorist groups in our region are financed in part by profits from trading in drugs. The first report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Implementation Monitoring team, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1988 of 2011, explains that narcotics are the primary source of funding for the Taliban and terrorist organizations in the region. By halting narcotics production in Afghanistan, we eliminate a significant source of funding for the Taliban and terrorist groups. Therefore, an anti-narcotics plan for Afghanistan is also a counter-terrorism plan.


Mr. Chairman,


We are convinced that eliminating this dangerous and destructive threat, which has regional and international implications, will require sincere regional cooperation. Afghanistan has, in many regional cooperation forums indicated its strong commitments to this end, and hosted the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference” in Kabul in June, to further strengthen the cooperation among the countries of our region. One of the main Confidence Building Measures adopted at this conference is cooperation and interaction among regional countries in the area of counter-narcotics, including through countering the production, trafficking and consumption of opium and other narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and their precursors.


Afghanistan has also been represented at a number of key international conferences including the “International Conference of Ministers of Foreign Relations and Heads of Specialized National Agencies against the World Drug Problem”, in Peru this year and importantly, the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners, which was held in Vienna in February. The Paris Pact is a keystone of the international community’s fight against illicit traffic in opiates. These forums provide an important opportunity to exchange ideas and build on strategies to address this multifaceted issue. Illicit drugs pose a challenge that we all face, and my delegation believes that with strong regional and international cooperation, we can address that challenges at the three necessary levels: production, trafficking, and consumption.


Mr. Chairman,


Through these discussions, we must remember that narcotics are hardly an abstract issue: drug abuse is a concrete, life-altering problem that has very tangible consequences for far too many people all over the world. Drug addiction is a human issue that can rob individuals of their livelihood and happiness. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is no exception to this reality. Like other countries in the world, many of our people also suffer the pernicious effects of drug addiction. Drug addiction causes chronic unemployment and curbs economic, social, and political progress in Afghanistan. A drug addict is unable to function at anywhere near his full potential, and usually cannot maintain steady employment or a healthy family life.


Mr. Chairman,


In conclusion, please allow me to reiterate the commitment of the people and Government of Afghanistan in the fight against narcotics. We look forward to working with our regional and international partners in taking decisive action to address this global threat.


Thank you.

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