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Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Working Group on International Cooperation (6th Session)

Vienna, 28.10.2015

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time that I take the floor, please allow me to join other distinguished delegations to express my sincere congratulations to you on your election as the chair of this working group meeting. I would also wish to thank the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents as well as our distinguished panellists for their excellent presentations over the past two days.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite our collective efforts at a global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of crime including the new and emerging ones continue to threaten our societies. As it has long been stated, given the transnational nature of most of the crimes, international cooperation in criminal matters is of utmost importance. In this context, we support the work that has been done over the past few years under this working group.

Gathering and sharing electronic evidence as well as the use of liaison officers and police sharing mechanisms are important topics that have been under discussion in this session of the Working Group.  Let me briefly share a few comments on these topics.

Firstly, as stated by the distinguished panellists yesterday, capacity building for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in dealing with cybercrime and crimes involving electronic evidence including through specialization of such agencies remains key in strengthening international cooperation in this important area.

Secondly, as highlighted, a lack of channels of communication remains a challenge in the area of law enforcement which hinders or slows down exchange of information among countries. We believe that the introduction of liaison officers and use of channels of communication among law enforcement authorities can facilitate cooperation between countries including in preventing and detecting cross-border offences.

We appreciate the efforts made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) over the past few years in developing a number of tools to assist Member States in taking action against transnational organized crime, including the knowledge management portal (SHERLOC) as well as in redeveloping existing tools, such as the directory of competent national authorities and the Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool. In this context, we hope that greater efforts will be made to implement the recommendations made by the previous meetings of the Working Group including on the need to further develop such tools with a view to strengthen communication channels and information sharing between countries.

Mr. Chairman,

Afghanistan continues to suffer as a prime victim of the challenges that terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other various forms of transnational organized crime pose to our country. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels in countering various forms of organized crime and has recently signed extradition agreements with neighboring and regional countries in accordance with its new Law on Extradition. The Government of Afghanistan has also been in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries.

Thank you.

Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at the UNODC

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Vienna, 28.10.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement today at the sixth session of the UNODC’s meeting of the Working Group on International Cooperation. He noted to the participants that, “Despite our collective efforts at a global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of crime including the new and emerging ones continue to threaten our societies.” He stated Afghanistan’s support for the work done over the years by the Working Group on International Cooperation. Ambassador Erfani praised the UNODC for developing tools to help Member States take action in fighting transnational organized crime, such as the SHERLOC knowledge management portal.

Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan continues to suffer as a prime victim of the challenges that terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other various forms of transnational organized crime pose to our country. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels in countering various forms of organized crime and has recently signed extradition agreements with neighboring and regional countries in accordance with its new Law on Extradition. The Government of Afghanistan has also been in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries.” In concluding his remarks, Ambassador Erfani stated that, “Afghanistan is making every effort to build its national capacity to implement its obligations under the relevant regional and international mechanisms to fight transnational organized crime and we will need our partners continued cooperation to this end.”

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Reminder: Embassy/Consulate closed on October 26th

Please note: the Embassy, Consulate and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna will be closed on Monday, October 26th for the Austrian National Day Holiday. Normal Consulate/Embassy/Permanent Mission services will resume on Tuesday, October 27th.

Ambassador Erfani speaks at OSCE Asian Contact Group Meeting

11225348_1632973403652128_7738566875833571843_nVienna, 16.10.2015

On October 16th, Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation and Gender Dynamics” at this year’s final meeting of the OSCE Asian Contact Group. After thanking the group’s Chairperson, Ambassador Claude Wild of Switzerland, for the warm welcome and introduction, Ambassador Erfani provided a brief overview about the historical perspective concerning the situation of women in Afghanistan. The Ambassador then highlighted accomplishments achieved since 2001, including a solid framework of both domestic and international legal instruments, institutional building, political commitment, democratic structures and elections, the role of media, and civil society engagement.

“Despite challenging security conditions in some areas of the country, due to terrorists’ activities, we have managed to enable women to regain their historic role as a powerful force for change and progress in our society,” the Ambassador said. Ambassador Erfani also emphasized the remaining and emerging challenges in the empowerment of women noting that, “Work to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan is in progress, but we accept that there is much more to do.”12111954_1632973400318795_8963704946664707409_n

The Ambassador stated that there is strong commitment by the President of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, by the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and as a matter of fact by the entire cabinet, to continue the work in improving the situation for women in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani also made reference to the important role of the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, in encouraging participation of women in Afghan politics by forming the Women Advisory Board.

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of the OSCE in advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan and appealed to the international community to continue and expand the support in implementing the legal and political commitments. He concluded with a request to the OSCE and all present to, “Please continue your assistance and we look forward to further broadening and deepening our collaboration with all of you and with a view to accomplishing a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan for all Afghans. Women constitute more than 50% of Afghan society and without their active participation Afghanistan will not be able reach its goal for a stable, democratic and prosperous future”.


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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Speaks at UNODC Launch of Afghanistan Opium Survey

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Vienna, 14.10.2015

Today, the UNODC launched the Executive Summary of the Afghanistan Opium Survey in a simultaneous event in Vienna and Kabul. At the event in Vienna, H.E. Ambassador Erfani thanked the UNODC for their valuable support in Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts and the support for the production of the Opium Survey. He noted that this year’s survey indicates a considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and the production of opium in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been a prime victim of narcotics and will continue to do its part to make every effort to fight against narcotics. Further steps taken by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the recent revision of the counter narcotics strategy and the development of a new National Drug Action Plan (NDAP) for 2015 – 2019. The three main goals of the NDAP are to decrease the cultivation of opium poppy, decrease the production and trafficking of opiates and, to reduce the demand for illicit drugs while increasing the provision of treatment for users.

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Ambassador Erfani concluded by noting that, “While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.”IMG_2338 ed

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Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Launch of the Executive Summary of the Opium Survey

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Mr. Yury Fedotov,Executive Director of the UNODC,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the UNODC for its invaluable support to our counter narcotics efforts including the production of the Afghanistan Opium Survey which stands as a prime example of technical support provided by the UNODC to Afghanistan. The survey is also a clear indication of increased capacity in Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics institutions in the area of research and data collection. I would also like to thank Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America for their financial contributions to the production of this survey as well as the rest of our regional and international partners for their continued support to our fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

As the findings of this year’s survey indicate, there has been considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium in Afghanistan by 19% and 48% respectively. The findings also show an increase in the level of eradication by 40% with less security incidences and casualties.

The survey suggests that caution is needed when interpreting these results due to a possible impact of the improved methodology used to estimate the area under poppy cultivation, however, these positive results can be partly attributed to intensified efforts and improved coordination in particular in the area of eradication.

As in the previous years and more evidently this year, 97% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the country’s most insecure provinces in the South, East and West. This is indicative of a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of a regional nature for Afghanistan. The anti-government elements and the criminal and terrorist networks across the region continue to benefit from the production and trafficking of opium as a major source for financing their activities. They are also involved in trafficking of precursors into Afghanistan which are key to processing opiates into heroin and morphine.

This year, improved coordination between the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministries of Defense and Interior has increased security during eradication which was carried out near the areas of military operations in Hilmand and Kandahar provinces. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan is trying to further align the counter narcotics planning with the anti-insurgency military operations.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a prime victim of narcotics, Afghanistan is committed to doing its part to continue every effort in the fight against narcotics. Our recent efforts under the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the revision of our national counter narcotics strategy, the amendment of the Counter Narcotics Law, and more importantly, the development of our new National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019).

The new Action plan lays out three interrelated counter narcotics goals which the Government seeks to achieve by 2019:

–          Decreasing the cultivation of opium poppy,

–          Decreasing the production and trafficking of opiates; and

–          Reducing the demand for illicit drugs and increasing the provision of treatment for users.

The Action Plan will be implemented under an integrated and balanced approach which will include both incentives such as alternative development, and deterrents, such as eradication, interdiction, and prosecution. At a national level, successful implementation of the Action Plan requires improved coordination among all national bodies in areas of public health, law enforcement, security, and agriculture and at a regional level it requires regional and international cooperation in areas such as anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture.

On the demand side, our focus will be on prevention and evidence-based treatment initiatives. We are planning to mainstream the drug demand reduction into the two public health packages: Essential Public Health System (EPHS) and Basic Public Health System (BPHS). Furthermore, the Drug Demand Reduction will be academically institutionalized in the Higher Education System in Afghanistan.

While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.

I hope that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will serve as an opportunity to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities and that we all will be able to use this opportunity for open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

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H.E. Ambassador Erfani Speaks at UNODC Launch of Afghanistan Opium Survey

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Today, the UNODC launched the Executive Summary of the Afghanistan Opium Survey in a simultaneous event in Vienna and Kabul. H.E. Ambassador Erfani thanked the UNODC for their valuable support in Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts and the support for the production of the Opium Survey. He noted that this year’s survey indicates a considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and the production of opium in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been a prime victim of narcotics and will continue to do its part to make every effort to fight against narcotics. Further steps taken by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the recent revision of the counter narcotics strategy and the development of a new National Drug Action Plan (NDAP) for 2015 – 2019. The three main goals of the NDAP are to decrease the cultivation of opium poppy, decrease the production and trafficking of opiates and, to reduce the demand for illicit drugs while increasing the provision of treatment for users.

Ambassador Erfani concluded by noting that, “While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.”

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HE Ambassador Erfani Presents at the Austro-American Society

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Vienna, 30.09.2015

On September 30, 2015, HE Ambassador Erfani delivered a presentation on “Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024): empowerment of women and transnational security aspects”, as part of the 7th Annual Webster/Austro-American Society Distinguished Speakers Series. After giving a brief overview of Afghanistan’s rich history, Ambassador Erfani discussed the challenges of the past few decades that Afghanistan has been working to overcome. He then went on to discuss the achievements made by Afghanistan in the last 15 years. He noted, “Afghanistan, supported by our partners in the international community, has accomplished tremendous achievements including but not limited to: the creation of equal opportunities for all Afghan citizens, men and women; the establishment of a democratic government; holding of democratic elections on all levels; assumption of responsibility from the international forces; expansion of friendly long-term strategic relations with countries in our region and beyond; progress in the health sector and in the infrastructure; provision of education for millions of kids, 40% of whom are girls.”

Ambassador Erfani noted the important role of women and that while challenges still remain to bringing them full equality and security, the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to the equality of women and increasing their involvement in elections, government and society. He went on to say that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world.” In conclusion, Ambassador Erfani said that, “With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we the men and women in Afghanistan are committed to implement the constitution for a new agenda, reshape our country and our status in the region and in the world… Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country and without their active participation no one will be able to guarantee Afghanistan’s Transformation to a democratic and properties future.” Ambassador Erfani followed his presentation by holding a question and answer session.

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