Thursday, October 23, 2014

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan At the Third Committee debate on Agenda Item 106: International Drug Control 65th General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since its inception in 1997, the UNODC has played an instrumental role in leading the global fight against illicit drugs and international crime. For our part, Afghanistan values the indispensible role of UNODC in supporting our efforts to eliminate the threat of narcotic drugs and other forms of organized crime. This support has been provided in various areas, including capacity building of relevant law-enforcement institutions for effective border-control management, drug-demand-reduction and provision of alternative livelihoods.

Mr. Chairman,

Addressing the threat of narcotic drugs on the security and well-being of our society is among the top priorities of the Afghan government. Given its global and transnational character, defeating this menace will be possible only through a concerted international and regional effort.  The problem of narcotics is part of a complicated and sophisticated criminal network, from which the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer immensely on a daily basis.

Cognizant of this threat, the Afghan government has taken a number of steps at the national, regional, and international levels for addressing this scourge.  We are pleased to state that our efforts have yielded important results. With support and assistance from our international partners, we have succeeded in reducing poppy cultivation by 48% this year. We are pleased to see this reflected in UNODC’s 2010 Afghanistan Opium Survey. Additionally, through a comprehensive set of measures, which include strengthened law-enforcement, agricultural development, interdiction, alternative livelihoods, demand-reduction and public awareness, we have maintained twenty poppy-free provinces and are committed to increasing that figure by next year.

Meanwhile, it has become evident that a successful fight against narcotic drugs requires a comprehensive strategy with more focus on addressing the trafficking and consumption dimension of the narcotics problem. More needs to be done by transit and consuming countries to prevent trafficking of chemical precursors, and reduce demand in foreign markets. In this regard, we call for increased measures by member-states to implement Security Council resolution 1817 on combating deliveries of chemical precursors for drug production in Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

The production of illicit drugs is linked to the continuation of terrorist and extremist activity in Afghanistan and our region. The proceeds from narcotic drugs continue to be used as a main source of terrorist funding.  Like terrorism, the narcotics problem is a threat to stability in our region and beyond. Therefore, given the interdependent link between terrorism and narcotics, these twin challenges must be addressed in tandem with one another .

Aside from security implications, narcotic drugs pose a serious threat to the social fabric of Afghan society. Drug abuse in Afghanistan has increased substantially over the past years.  Those affected include both youth and adults.  As indicated in last year’s ‘Drug Use in Afghanistan Survey,’ “[e]asy access to cheap drugs and limited access to drug treatment, combined with three decades of war-related trauma have resulted in problem drug-use among almost one-million Afghans, roughly 8% of the population between 15-64 years old.” Moreover, according to the survey, more than 90% of drug users are in dire need of treatment.  Currently, 40 structured drug-treatment centers are operational in 21 provinces. In this regard, we underscore the need for sustained international assistance in expanding quantity and quality of “drug-treatment centers” throughout the country.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan attaches special importance to effective regional cooperation for addressing the many challenges facing our region. These include terrorism, extremism, narcotic drugs, and organized crime. In this regard, we continue collaboration with regional countries for a viable solution to these problems. We are working to expand cooperation in various fields, including strengthening of relevant law-enforcement agencies, greater intelligence sharing on terrorist threats, and drawing effective mechanisms to curtail trafficking of chemical precursors and narcotic drugs. We continue to hold bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral consultations, and maintain our efforts through other mechanisms and forums, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Moreover, in the context of more effective border management, we underscore the need to expedite the recruitment and training of Afghan security forces, including Afghan border and customs police to render a more effective role in preventing the infiltration into Afghan territory of all forms of illegal activity.

Mr. Chairman,

We are thankful to the international community, the UNODC in particular, for its continued support and commitment in addressing the challenges of security, narcotic drugs and organized crime, and achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Together we have come a long way, but much remains to be accomplished.  We look forward to our continued partnership to finish the vision we began nine and a half-years ago.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.

Check Against Delivery

H.E. Zahir Tanin

H.E. Zahir Tanin at the 111th Plenary meeting of the GA 64th session: Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations

Ambassador Tanin Briefs JCMB Countries on Preparations for Parliamentary Elections

H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador Permanent Representative to the United Nations, yesterday joined the Assistant Secretary General for Peace-keeping Operations, Mr. Atul Khare, in briefing members of the Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board (JCMB) on preparations for Afghanistan’s up-coming parliamentary elections, which will take place on the 20th of September 2010.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Tanin noted that the successful holding of free, fair and transparent elections were among the top priorities of the Afghan government. In that regard, he asserted the preparations for the polls were well on track, with candidate and voter registration already concluded.

He said Afghan national security institutions – the Afghan national army, police and intelligence services – were working in close collaboration to ensure the elections are conducted in an atmosphere of security. Nevertheless, he asserted that the prevailing security situation in the country remained a challenge and that under such circumstances, “a perfect election process should not be expected.”

Ambassador Tanin, however, underscored that Afghanistan’s expectation was that the elections would see remarkable improvements in terms of “transparency and credibility,” and “mark a milestone in the consolidation of Afghanistan’s democracy.”

On his part Assistant Secretary General Khare said all ballot papers and relevant material had arrived in Afghanistan. He also stated of the total number of registered voters, 376,000 were new voters, who did not take part in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections of September 2005. Forty percent of the new-registered voters were women.

He also alluded to the assessment of the Afghan national security forces of the security situation in various provinces, which led to the decision to close 797 polling centers which – owing to insecurity – were “declared not fit to be open” on the day of elections. In that regard, he also underscored the need for a “realistic perception of the election process,” noting that incidents of irregularity should be expected. He also said that the final list of all polling stations which will open on the day of elections will be available on the 18h of August.

Nevertheless, the Assistant Secretary General noted that the Afghan government and the UN were fully committed to ensuring a successful election process. He also called on the international community to contribute in that effort by dispatching elections monitors.