STATEMENT Delivered BY NAZIFULLAH SALARZAI
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Third Committee of the 73nd Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Items 109 & 110: Crime prevention and criminal justice, and International drug control
New York, 4 October 2018
At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive reports under the agenda items 109 & 110: Crime prevention and criminal justice, and International drug control.
I also wish to express my gratitude to UNODC’s Director of Legal Affairs for his informative briefing. The UNODC is one of the key allies and partners not just to Afghanistan, but globally, in combating the world drug problem.
Taking this opportunity, we also recognize the important role of the International Narcotics Control Board in monitoring our collective progress.
Terrorism, organized crime and illegal drug trade are the most pressing issues of our time that continue to destabilize international peace and security. In Afghanistan, a country facing imposed conflict for over four decades, the nexus between narcotics and terrorism is well documented. According to the World Drug Report 2017, the bulk of poppy cultivation was concentrated in the insecure provinces. Protracted conflict has fed into growing poppy cultivation and use; further, revenue from this illicit trade is one of the sources fueling the insurgency.
Illicit drugs remain a growing concern of our time that continues to undermine our stability, economic development and facilitates other forms of transnational organized crimes. This menace, coupled with unemployment, and poverty, has intensified its negative impact on our society, where many ordinary Afghan citizens are currently addicted to narcotics. According to a 2016 survey, about 3.2 million Afghans are victims of this global epidemic, which creates severe problems in the family structure, as well as exacerbate pressures on existing treatment facilities.
The Government of Afghanistan is highly committed to combating the drug problem with concrete actions and policy directions. In 2017, we conducted 2,711 operations leading to the arrest of 3,094 suspects, including foreign nationals, and seizure of 302 tones of narcotics. Further, we destroyed 50 drug processing labs and 12 storage facilities. Taken together, this led to a net loss of $362 million for the drug traffickers.
Additionally, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MOIA) has taken several policy related measures to curb narcotics trade. These include:
- Improving security at airports and border crossing points to better detect, deter, and prevent drug trafficking
- Bombardment of facilities involved in drug production and distribution
- Combating illicit drug trafficking
- Strengthening Inter-Ministerial Coordination and improve Coordination with Resolute Support (RS)
- Establishment of K9 training and housing facilities
- Creation of Emergency Response Unit (Telephone Line)
Despite our policies and actions to curb narcotics production and its trade, we are well aware that a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s drug production takes place in its insecure provinces. Further, those who export terror to us in effect create fertile grounds for drug production and trafficking. Directly or indirectly, they benefit from this criminal economy and obviously become the transit routes for trafficking. There are three key factors behind the need to enhance our collective security in this regard:
- Upsurge of foreign fighters affiliated with transnational terrorist networks, such as Daesh, Al-Qaida, Lashkar-i-Toiba, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
- Taliban’s involvement in narcotics trade, which is directly linked to fuelling the insurgency, rising global demand for drugs, and other security and fiscal costs.
- Distinction between good and bad terrorists by some member states, leading to an environment where these elements can thrive.
For these reasons, promoting security cooperation and bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan is a priority of my government. To this end, we have presented a peace plan within the framework of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security to the reconcilable elements of the armed opposition. Peace with the armed opposition will not only promote stability, but will provide us with a roadmap that would enable my government to address the drug problem.
Further, my government is utilizing social and economic tools within the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) to alleviate unfavorable social conditions that has led to an exponential increase in drug abuse. Through this framework, we are providing local communities with tools to improve their skills, and helping with access to better livelihood opportunities.
We have developed a National Mobilization week, where we mobilize, youth, women, civil society, religious scholars and local leaders to raise awareness on this issue. We are also working to address the negative impacts of the ongoing drought in Afghanistan. Since poppy doesn’t require much water, it is comparatively easy to produce, especially during a drought season. To address this challenge, we have developed effective water management systems to enable farmers’ access to sufficient water sources. In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) is promoting the cultivation of aloe-vera as an alternative to poppy under the Alternate Poppy Cultivation project.
In addition to these measures, we must address the root causes of violence, along with developing a holistic approach with a focus on trade, trafficking, production and consumption aspects to combat the nexus of illicit drugs, crime, and terrorism. Global demand and supply chains drive the narcotics trade, and despite supply reduction in some areas of the world, continued demand in others have propelled this trade. Hence addressing this global problem requires a comprehensive, multifaceted, and unified strategy from all member states and UN agencies. In this regard, our joint efforts and mutual cooperation is absolutely essential.
We have strengthened cooperation with regional organizations, such as Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC) and JPC – tripartite center including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, as well as our international allies. Afghanistan stands ready to work with our regional and international partners through various bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral 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, Afghanistan has initiated several undertakings to mitigate the production of drugs and we remain committed to ensure that we create a drug free world for the future generations. However, we require the continued support of the international community as we strive to overcome this menace collectively. I thank all our partners and UNODC for supporting us in this endeavor.
I thank you.