Saturday, October 10, 2015

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. Ambassador Zahir Tanin to serve as chair for the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform

In his first appointment as President of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency Joseph Deiss appointed H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, to serve as chair for the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.  Ambassador Tanin also currently serves as a Vice-President of the 65th session of the UNGA.

This is the third consecutive session in which Ambassador Tanin has chaired this process, which began officially during the 63rd session of the GA with the transition out of the Open-Ended Working Group and the launch of negotiations in February of 2009. Since then, Ambassador Tanin has overseen five rounds of negotiations and the preparation, for the first time, of a negotiation text which was met with universal and unanimous support from Member States.

As this process enters into its third year, Member States will seek to capitalize on the substantial achievements of the previous sessions in order to construct a transparent, inclusive, and comprehensive framework for reform, based on the positions and proposals of Member States, and in keeping with GA decisions 62/557, 63/565, and 64/568, in the search for an early solution that can garner the widest possible political acceptance.

Ambassador Tanin has accepted the appointment. He believes the process has reached a crucial and promising stage. “I feel that the Membership has both the momentum and the political will to find a solution,” he says, “but as always, this process must be owned and driven by the Member States themselves.”

65th General Assembly Opens under Swiss Presidency

Today the 65th session of the General Assembly opened under the Presidency of Switzerland.

This year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, and the General Assembly will face a heavy agenda including a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, the ongoing review of the Human Rights Council, and a third year of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.

General Assembly Opens 65th Session A wide view of the General Assembly during the first meeting of its sixty-fifth session under the presidency of Joseph Deiss (on screens).

The President of the General Assembly is H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, a career Swiss politician who has previously held high-level positions including President of the Swiss Confederation, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Economic Minister, in addition to a period as a Member of Parliament. In his first statement, officially opening the 65th session of the General Assembly, President Deiss emphasized his faith in the United Nations and the General Assembly, and stressed that the United Nations Charter gives the General Assembly a central role as “the pre-eminent forum for global debate.” He outlined an ambitious set of goals, including the achievement of the MDGs; returning the United Nations to its rightful place at the center of global governance; and the promotion of sustainable development  (click here for the complete text of the opening statement).

Afghanistan, represented by Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will serve as a Vice President of the 65th GA. This is the second time that Ambassador Tanin will play this role; he previously served as Vice President of the 63rd GA from 2008-2009.