Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Statement by H.E. Mahmuod Saikal  Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations At the General Debate of the First Committee 70th Session

Madame Chairperson,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chairman of this session. My delegation is fully committed to the successful fulfillment of the work of the Committee, and assures you of our full support and cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan aligns itself fully with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, I would like to draw attention to a few specific points in my national capacity.

As history has repeatedly shown, political decisions incur the worst ramifications when made unilaterally, without consultations or consideration of the needs of all actors involved. It is for this reason Afghanistan wishes to reiterate its commitment to multilateral diplomacy as a crucial principle for advancing the global disarmament agenda. Only with all sides demonstrating political will we can achieve the goal of arms control, reduction, disarmament and total elimination of all types of Weapons of Mass Destruction, including nuclear weapons. In this context, we welcome the successful conclusions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and P5+1, which will benefit security and stability in our wider region. Going forward, it will be imperative that the concerned parties fulfill commitments to implement the agreement. Only through strong collective political will we can reach our collective desired goal of a nuclear-free world.

Madame Chairperson,

Afghanistan strongly and consistently supports all initiatives in the sphere of nuclear disarmament. As such Afghanistan is party to Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, among many other treaties calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as well as weapons of mass destruction.

We are of the firm belief that full utilization of these existing international mechanisms is the only guarantee to the security of our world, and doing so requires their universal adherence. Afghanistan is not alone in urging all states to fulfill their international responsibilities in signing, ratifying, and actively supporting all efforts to promote the goals of all multilateral treaties relating to disarmament and non-proliferation.

The failure to agree on an outcome document at the 2015 NPT Review Conference represents an increasingly grave need for more effective action and leadership on the part of NPT member states. The division exists on a number of urgent issues which have, in our opinion, otherwise clear-cut solutions, is a worrisome reality and should serve as a wake-up call for the international community to renew its commitments and turn words into action.

In the same manner, we would like to express our strong disappointment at the failure to convene a conference on the establishment of the Middle East as a zone free of Nuclear Weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction. As the political turmoil in the Middle East threatens to spill over into its neighbouring regions, Afghanistan wishes to highlight the need for immediate action to be taken by the international community to prevent looming humanitarian and political catastrophe and overcome diplomatic stalemates.

Afghanistan is extremely disturbed at the humanitarian threat posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons, and the possibility of their use, intentionally or accidentally. It is for this reason that we welcome the outcome of the third and final Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which recognizes that total elimination of all nuclear weapons is the only definite safeguard against a nuclear explosion. Despite this collective understanding, there has been inadequate progress by Nuclear Weapons States in fulfilling their commitments to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles, and we echo the calls for these states to abolish their dangerous nuclear doctrines, which include the practice of refurbishing or modernizing existing nuclear stockpiles and related facilities, and using the global existence of nuclear-weapons as an excuse for maintaining or proliferating one’s own stockpiles.

Madame Chairperson,

Enduring conflict has facilitated one of the most destructive developments in Afghanistan. The mass illicit trafficking of arms, mainly small and light weapons, facilitating their easy access and ample abundance in procurement along the Durand Line has enabled the terrorists and extremists to cause the Afghan people tremendous suffering for decades and must be put to an end. We embrace the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons but believe that it must be accompanied with a deeper understanding of the complex realities on the ground, closer follow up of its implementation, and integration with the mandate of the Arms Trade Treaty.

We are also grateful for the recommendations made by the 2015 Open-ended Meeting of Governmental Experts, and their thoughtful insights on developments and emerging needs for the Programme of Action, including new considerations that need to be reviewed in light of evolving modern technologies and the importance of marking weapons for tracing purposes.

Subsequent brutal wars over the past few decades have left Afghanistan heavily mined, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of our civilians. We remain one of the most heavily mined countries in the world; despite the fact over 80 percent of minefields have been cleared thanks to international efforts. For the year of 2014, an average of 38 civilians were killed or injured each month, and nearly 1 million Afghans still live within 500 meters of landmines. The continued existence of minefields also poses a threat to the development process in Afghanistan, as they delay the construction of national infrastructure projects until clearance.

The use of anti-personnel landmines in Afghanistan is used freely to the benefit of brutal terrorists who have no regard for the children they maim, the lives they destroy, or the country they devastate. It is for this reason that the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service in Afghanistan, which transferred full responsibility for mine action entirely to the Afghan government in 2012, is critical. While Afghanistan’s Mine Action Programme has produced excellent results, funding cuts threaten the goal we set in line with the Ottawa Treaty for fully ridding Afghanistan of mines by 2023, if further conflict and furnishing mines are prevented. However, we thank the generous donations made from Member states to UNMAS, aid that is invaluable to achieving our goals, but still far from what is needed. We look forward to the successful completion of the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. We are committed to the full realization of the goals adopted at the Third Review Conference of the Convention in Maputo.

And finally Madame Chairperson, Afghanistan is gravely concerned about the continued existence of Improvised Explosive Devices – IEDs around the globe. IEDs are responsible for thousands of civilian casualties every year; they have become the primary weapon for non-state armed groups across many conflicts. Their impact on the security and stability of states are profound, as they do not only damage the political, social, and economic development of a country, but also prevent the ability of necessary humanitarian aid to reach afflicted areas. Due to the lack of a comprehensive, systematic approach to countering the use of IEDs, which is relatively simple in its manufacturing, acquirement, and transfer, we call for an international mechanism to be established which seeks to eradicate the creation and proliferation of IEDs. Therefore, my delegation is tabling a resolution at this committee during the current session. The resolution, inter alia, includes the consistent collection of data, awareness raising, regulation of components, and international technical assistance and cooperation, and victim assistance. In this regard we held our first informal consultations with the member states and my delegation seeks further your full cooperation and support, so the resolution could be adopted by consensus.

Madame Chairperson,

In conclusion, I would like to state that this year; we share a special responsibility to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the atomic attack on Nagasaki and Hiroshima that killed many lives and hopes across generations. Remembering this catastrophe brings an ample occasion to remind ourselves of the dire humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In this context, my delegation has supported the initiative of Austria on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons during this year’s NPT Review Conference.

My delegation sadly notes that, despite the many positive developments in the work of international diplomacy for the disarmament of nuclear weapons, we still face threats to human security and sustainability of a scale similar to what the generation before us have faced. The global and regional climate of terrorism has made the call for nuclear disarmament as well as that of the weapons, including small and light arms the more urgent.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism

Check against delivery

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.