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Statement by H.E. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan Special UNGASS Event

Vienna, 10.09.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani,

Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director of the Division for Operations at UNODC,

Madam Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretary to the Governing Bodies,

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity for the second time to address an UNGASSSpecial Event to discuss issues of high priority in addressing the world drug problem and to present an overview of our counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives that we are undertaking under our new counter narcotics strategy.

I would like to thank the Commission for Narcotic Drugs and the Board tasked with UNGASS Preparations for the invitation extended to me and for the opportunity to speak in today’s meeting.

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will be crucial to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing our counter narcotics targets as set out in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action of 2009.

I commend the leading and facilitating role played by the Commission and the Board throughout the preparatory process over the past few months. We also highly value the efforts being made by the Permanent Missions in Vienna under this important process.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to actively contributing to the preparatory process and we are glad to see that Afghanistan has the opportunity to serve as the First-Vice Chair of the Board in run up to the Special Session in April 2016. In this context, we strongly support broader collaboration, based on the principle of shared responsibility, among all member states, relevant UN bodies, international and regional organizations, and civil society organizations, to address to world drug problem.

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 Afghanistan, together with our international partners, has come a long way over the past 14 years with considerable achievements in all political, economic and social areas including in building the foundations of a democratic system and important national institutions in all sectors. The Afghan National Security Forces have been able to take full responsibility for providing security across the country and efforts have been underway in the past few years to further improve their capacity in addressing security challenges in the country including those associated with the menace of narcotics.

Counter narcotics has remained a cross-cutting issue under our national development agenda and considerable efforts have been made in areas such as legislation, institutional building and policy development aimed at improving the capacity of the Government to counter this multi-dimensional menace in the country.

The Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan as a policy making body is leading and coordinating all counter narcotics efforts in the country andis making every effort to eliminate the opium economy in the country including through development and implementation of new programs and initiatives and the revision of the current laws and strategies under an integrated approach. Despite the efforts and achievements, however, illicit narcotics continues to inflict a great deal of damage to our society as well as to the region and the wider world.

Firstly, organized crime groups are continuously strengthening their networks in our region and beyond. Their activities include not only drug trafficking but also trafficking inchemical precursors to Afghanistan and border areas for heroin production. Theopium economyprovides funding for the terrorist activities. Additionally, a demand-driven marketaccelerates the increase of drug cultivation in Afghanistan and the region.In this context, we believe that the growing link between terrorism and narcotics needs to be addressed under a holistic approach and political commitment at all national, regional and international levels needs to be strengthened. We need to discuss ways to increase operational capacity at both national and regional levels to address trafficking of drugs and precursors as well as to address the new trends including the growing link between narcotics and terrorism and the increasing reliance of traffickers on the sea routes particularly across the southern route. Furthermore, a special attention needs to be given to address the financial aspect of drug trafficking. All countries need to improve border security and management and make full use of facilities and technologies to identify and eliminate safe havens of drug traffickers and organized criminal groups.

Secondly, many countries including Afghanistan have been witnessing an alarming rate of increase in the number of addicts over the past few years .In Afghanistan, tragically, there are three million addicts in the country, among them 9% children and 11% women. We believe that integrated efforts in both prevention and treatment areas need to be made to address this tragic phenomenon and greater financial support needs to be provided to the most affected countries.

Thirdly,many farmers who are involved in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan do so for their livelihood and they only gain 4% from this 61$ billion illicit business.The lion’s share of profitsare skimmed off by the Taliban and regional and international drug networks. As we have long argued, it is with the provision of sustainable alternative livelihood that we can counter the appeal of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and other countries. As successful experiences in various countries show, it requires endurance and well-funded investments to provide alternative livelihood to the farmers and to liberate them from the clutches of the drug and terrorist networks. Experiences also show that in order to increase the effectiveness of alternative livelihood programs we need to incorporate them into the broader economic development agenda and that such programs need to be complemented with infrastructure development and access to national, regional and international markets.

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. The new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the relevant action plan will soon be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come. In my presentation at the Special Event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, 2015 in Vienna, I introduced our major ongoing efforts as well as the outline of our new programs and initiatives. While we are committed to the implementation of such programs and initiatives, we will need continued long-term and demand-driven support to our counter narcotics efforts in the years to come. Our international partners have already provided considerable support including through UNODC, for which we are grateful.

Let us seize the remaining months until UNGASS 2016 with a view to facilitate open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

I look forward to be part of this important session in 2016.

Thank you