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Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Chairs Session on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ during ACUNS Conference

Vienna, 14.01.2016

From January 13-15, 2016 the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) held a conference on “New Approaches for a Peaceful and More Sustainable World”. On the second day of the conference, Mr. Hassan Soroosh chaired a session on “Women, Peace and Security” where speakers from various international organizations and NGOs discussed the progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Mr. Soroosh opened the discussion by noting the considerable efforts undertaken across the world including the creation of National Action Plans by many countries as well as various initiatives undertaken across the UN System and beyond to meet the main goals of ‘Prevention, Protection, Participation and Peace Building and Recovery’. During interventions by the speakers of this session, the common idea throughout was a call for the increase in the participation and empowerment of women in peace building and post-conflict recovery as women are a critical for the development of lasting peace. Participants in the audience raised questions including on how to achieve gender balance and what strategies could be applied. Mr. Soroosh closed the session by thanking the speakers for their valuable contributions during the session as well as the participants for their interest in how to further the involvement of women in peace and security efforts.

The conference agenda can be found here.

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H.E. Minister Azimi and Deputy Minister Ahmadi attend high level meetings in Vienna

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Vienna, 18.12.2015

H.E. Mrs. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, along with Deputy Minister Baz Mohammad Ahmadi of the Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan and the delegation, attended several keys meetings in Vienna from December 14 – 18, 2015. On Monday, December 14, H.E. Minister Azimi and the delegation participated in the High-Level Meeting of Partners for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries. The meeting was aimed at presenting strategic directives on counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan and neighboring countries as well as perspectives from the region and international partners on how to further coordinate and strengthen such efforts in the future. Minister Azimi as co-chair of the meeting, delivered an opening statement focusing on the new National Drug Action Plan of Afghanistan. Other co-chairs were Mr. Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, and Mr. Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA. H.E. Minister Azimi also had a short statement at the Closing Session of the High-level Meeting which was moderated by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna. Another member of the delegation, Ms. Fareshta Sakhi, Director General of Border Affairs and Security Cooperation of MOFA read out the Concluding Statement on behalf of the co-chairs.

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From December 15 – 16, the delegation of Afghanistan attended the Paris Pact 12th Policy Consultative Group Meeting where H.E. Minister Azimi delivered an opening statement which included an overview of the efforts and achievements made in counter narcotics as well as the challenges that Afghanistan is facing in this area. Deputy Minister Ahmadi delivered a closing statement on the second and final day of the Paris Pact meeting on December 16 and provided a detailed overview of law enforcement measures related to counter narcotics and highlighted a number of key achievements and challenges along with concrete operational recommendations. Mr. Humayoun Faizzad, Director General of Provincial Affairs at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan also had a presentation on the new National Drug Action Plan of Afghanistan.

During the course of the week, bilateral meetings were held between the delegation of Afghanistan and the delegations of Germany, Iran, Turkey and the United States of America, where the prospects of counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan including under the new Action Plan as well as ways to support these efforts at all bilateral, regional and international levels was discussed. The delegation also had a brief meeting with the chair of the UNGASS Board discussing the preparatory process as well as topics to be discussed during the Special Session in 2016.

The delegation of Afghanistan also met with the UNODC Executive Director where the new Country Program for Afghanistan was signed. The visit was concluded with a meeting between the delegation of Afghanistan and the OSCE Secretary General Ambassador Zannier as an opportunity to discuss the prospect of the OSCE-Afghanistan partnership.

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Director General for Border Affairs and Security Cooperation addresses OSCE’s Security Committee

Vienna, 18.12.2015

Ms. Farishta Sakhi, the Director General for Border Affairs and Security Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan delivered a presentation at this week’s Security Committee of the OSCE. Ms. Sakhi discussed the implications of political and security transitions in Afghanistan and briefed participants about the reform agenda of the National Unity Government and shared her views regarding the latest developments concerning the Resolute Support Mission and the Government’s response to current and emerging security threats. The Director General also briefed the committee about renewed efforts toward peace and reconciliation, while highlighting the regional dimension of the security architecture. Ms. Sakhi highlighted the importance of Afghanistan’s collaboration with the OSCE for the past twelve years, including in the area of border affairs and security cooperation and shared her perspective of areas that can be further expanded under this partnership in view of the needs and priorities associated with the Decade of Transformation. Afghanistan has been an OSCE Partner for Co-operation since 2003.

In closing, Ms. Sakhi thanked the OSCE and all donors for both implementation of the projects and programmes and generous contributions provided, and looked ahead to next year’s Warsaw NATO Summit as well as the international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, to be held in July and October, respectively. Ms. Sakhi visited Vienna as a member of a ministerial delegation attending high-level meetings at UNODC.

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Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai Attends the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade

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Belgrade, 04.12.2015

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, attended the 22nd Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade from 3-4 December 2015. In his statement at the plenary, Deputy Minister Karzai shared an overview of the ongoing efforts and processes in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan perspective of the security challenges facing the country and the wider OSCE region. Deputy Minister Karzai highlighted the relevance of the OSCE’s vision and goals in today’s security environment. His statement also included an overview of Afghanistan’s regional cooperation agenda under the Heart of Asia Process and RECCA as well as Afghanistan’s engagement with the OSCE, focusing on areas of cooperation that can be further expanded in the future. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a statement at the Meeting of the OSCE Troika with the OSCE Asian Partners and shared the Afghan perspective of ways to strengthen partnership between the OSCE and the Asia Partners for Cooperation.  In this context, he highlighted the importance of greater cooperation and coordination between the OSCE and the two Afghanistan-focused regional cooperation frameworks: the Istanbul-Heart of Asian Process and RECCA. During his two-day visit to Belgrade, Deputy Minister Karzai also had bilateral meetings with the heads of delegation of Norway, Thailand, Moldova, Mongolia, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, where they discussed the prospects of bilateral relations and the need for exploring new areas of cooperation at a bilateral level. Also discussed during these meetings was the need for enhanced regional and international cooperation in addressing transnational security threats. Deputy Minister Karzai also had a meeting with the OSCE Secretary General and discussed with him various aspects of the OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan and ways to expand the present partnership between the two parties. Deputy Minister Karzai expressed hope that engagement with Afghanistan will remain a key priority of the OSCE’s agenda in the coming years.

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UNODC Working Group on Trafficking in Persons

Vienna, 16.11.2015 – 18.11.2015

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the International Organizations in Vienna participated in the UNODC’s meeting of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons held from November 16-18, 2015. During this Working Group, in regards to the agenda item on “National coordination mechanisms against trafficking in persons”, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor, gave a statement on Afghanistan’s experience with this agenda item. This was the first time the Afghan delegation was able to join this working group meeting, following the accession last August to the ‘Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children’. Afghanistan has been one of the countries most affected in connection to the trafficking in persons. Over the past few years, the government of Afghanistan has made considerable efforts to improve legal, institutional and policy frameworks for combating crimes of abduction and trafficking in persons. Noteworthy is the 2008 law adopted on combating abduction and trafficking in persons and the establishment of the High Commission for Combating Crimes of Abduction and Trafficking in Persons. The High Commission has since established provincial anti-trafficking commissions in most provinces and worked on coordinating their activities country-wide. In the conclusion of the remarks, it was state that, “while we are appreciative of the technical assistance provided to our anti-trafficking efforts including through UNODC over the past few years, there is greater need for such technical assistance including in strengthening the existing national coordination mechanism. We believe that there is also need for better coordination at a regional level among national coordination mechanisms and the UNODC has an important role in creating such a regional network for coordination.”

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UNODC Working Group on Smuggling of Migrants

Vienna, 18.11.2015 – 20.11.2015

The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the International Organizations in Vienna and a representative from the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistan participated in the 3rd meeting of the Working Group on the Smuggling of Migrants held from November 18-20, 2015. During this Working Group in regards to the agenda item on “Practical measures to prevent the smuggling of migrants and children, in particular unaccompanied children, such as the issuance of visas on arrival, public information campaigns and training sessions on fraudulent documents”, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor, gave a statement on Afghanistan’s experience. It was noted that Afghanistan has been until recently the world’s largest country of origin for global refugees over the last three decades. In order to address issues of migration and repatriation, the government of Afghanistan established the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation to develop policies and programs to address different aspects of migration and repatriation. Recent steps by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan was to work on developing refugee laws and to this end, the High Commission for Refugees was established. It was noted that, “Preventing smuggling of migrants is a key component of our national agenda in addressing the issue of migration and combined law enforcement measures and public awareness campaigns have been carried out by the Government. However, given the socio economic root causes of migration, the Afghan Government is trying to create an enabling socio-economic condition that can contribute to the prevention of smuggling of migrants.” Further steps made by the government to address these issues include the launch of the National Employment Program in November 2015 by H.E. President Ghani, which aims to create job opportunities in both urban and rural areas across the country. In conclusion, it was stated that Afghanistan believes there is a need for greater technical assistance in support of the law enforcement and public awareness measures.

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Ambassador Erfani Delivers Remarks at Europe – Eurasia Leadership Conference 2015

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Vienna, 30.10.2015

From Friday, October 30th to Saturday, October 31st, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna hosted the Europe-Eurasia Leadership Conference titled “Eurasia and Europe Dialogue: Building Trust and Securing Cooperation for Sustainable Development”. H.E. Ambassador Erfani was invited to the conference and delivered a statement at the close of Friday’s session. Ambassador Erfani spoke on Afghanistan’s 15 years achievements and focused on “Engaging Women and youth in Afghanistan’s Transformation”. He noted that women and youth in Afghanistan will continue to play an important role in Afghanistan becoming a prosperous and peaceful country. The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to bringing women full equality and security and increasing their involvement in development, government and society. Ambassador Erfani remarked on the importance of the work to be done during Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), which will be successful due to the commitment of the men and women of Afghanistan. The goals to be tackled include implementing the constitution for a new agenda and reshaping the country and its status in the region and the world. Ambassador Erfani also remarked on Afghanistan’s importance as a bridge connecting the region and beyond for promoting trade, transit and most importantly connecting people and civilizations.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by saying that women and youth are the best hope for peace, sustainability and development in Afghanistan so that Afghanistan is reedy to play its important role as a bridge in the region.

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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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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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