Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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.

Introduction of new Permanent Representative H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal

Press Release: Oct 1, 2015

Ambassador Saikal

H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal

On October 1, 2015, a ceremony at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan marked the end of tenure for H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin and the introduction of his successor, H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal. The Afghanistan delegation, led by Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, other dignitaries, diplomats, and Permanent Mission staff were present at the event.

Dr. Abdullah thanked Ambassador Tanin for his service to Afghanistan and mentioned his achievements during his long tenure as Ambassador of Afghanistan to the UN. He congratulated Ambassador Tanin for his appointment as SRSG and Head of UNMIK.

Dr. Abdullah introduced the new Permanent Representative, H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal  as a seasoned diplomat with a good track record of successful negotiation. He wished him the very best for his tenure.

Ambassador Saikal is a senior Afghan diplomat and international development specialist with over two decades of experience with governments, international organizations, private sector and civil society.

He has served as Special Representative and Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive of Afghanistan (primarily on foreign policy and international relations), Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (economic portfolio), Ambassador of Afghanistan to Australia and New Zealand, First Secretary and later Counselor Minister Plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo.

Ambassador Saikal has been instrumental in the negotiation of various agreements, including the 2014 agreement on the formation of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan, the  “Joint Declaration on Regional Peace and Stability” a track II initiative launched in Kabul in 2013, the “Afghanistan Compact” which was launched at the London International Conference on Afghanistan in 2006, as well as the 2006 Afghanistan-NATO Declaration, which set out the Framework for Enduring Cooperation in Partnership.

He has been deeply involved in the promotion of regional cooperation, resulting in Afghanistan’s membership in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), strengthening Afghanistan’s membership in Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and formulation of the process of Regional Economic Cooperation Conferences on Afghanistan (RECCA).

He has a Master’s Degree in International Development from Deakin University of Melbourne, as well as two bachelor degrees from the University of Sydney and the University of Canberra. He graduated with First Class French Baccalaureate from Lycee Esteqlal of Kabul.

Ambassador Saikal starts his tenure on October 6, 2015.