Vienna, 19 March 2019
The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan hosted a Side-Event entitled “The Symbiotic Relationship between Insecurity and Opium Production in Afghanistan and the Peace Process as a Potential Solution” on the margins of the 62nd session of the UNODC Commission on Narcotic Drugs on Monday 18 March 2019 at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna.
Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the International Organizations in Vienna, chaired the panel and highlighted insecurity as one of the main root causes of the drug problem in Afghanistan and the nexus between drug production and insecurity. Considering the link between insecurity and drug production, recent efforts to bring peace is giving Afghanistan a glimpse of hope.
Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Edress Zaman presented the latest efforts in the peace negotiations with the Taliban with a focus on the consequences on the future of counter narcotics activities. Most importantly, he outlined the dividends peace in Afghanistan would bring not only in the country but also regionally and internationally. However, as good as peace may sound in Afghanistan, H.E. Edress Zaman clarified how the Constitution of Afghanistan and the gains of the Afghan society are the red lines of the Afghan government in this peace process.
Mr. Jawid Ahmad Qaem, Senior Advisor for the Office of National Security Council of Afghanistan, highlighted the importance of incorporating the drug component in the post-peace talks with the Taliban. In order to solve the drug problem, the post-peace approach will have to focus on the categories of landowners and farmers. He emphasized that drug trafficking in Afghanistan is not a national but a regional and international issue that should be tackled under the principle of shared responsibility. He called for creating a clear and complete picture of the situation of the drug problem in the Region, especially with regard to trafficking routes, to be able to create suitable solutions and policies to counter this international menace.
Lastly, Mr. Mark Colhoun, UNODC Regional Representative for Country Office in Afghanistan, stressed the need to include rule of law, development and health issues relating to illicit narcotics in the peace process. The illicit financial flows generated and the harm to society are simply too large for these not to be included in the process. At the same time, the regional dimensions need to be considered as well, particularly when it comes to interdiction efforts.
Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel concluded the session by saying that ‘we – Afghanistan and our partners – must convince all those neighbors of Afghanistan still skeptical about positive developments in Afghanistan and Central Asia and must send a clear message to them that it would be also in their own interests to border a secure and prosperous Afghanistan.’