H.E. Mr. Yury Fedotov,
H.R.H. Prince Bajrakitiaybha Mahidol,
H.E. Minister Yasid Reyes Alvarado,
H.E. Ambassador Arthayudh Srisamoot,
H.E. Ambassador Khaled Shamaa,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to attend today’s special event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and to launch the 2015 World Drug Report as yet another excellent overview of recent developments and trends with regard to the world drug problem. I would like to thank the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime and the Commission for Narcotic Drugs for the invitation extended to me and for the opportunity to speak in this important gathering.
Today is an important day for reminding ourselves of the dangers and threats that the world drug problem poses to development, well being, security and stability of our societies. Since 2005, the Government of Afghanistan has commemorated this international day conveying to the public the negative impact of this menace on the society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Illicit drug remains one of the biggest challenges to Afghanistan, the region and the world at large which requires our collective actions based on the principle of shared responsibility. Afghanistan remains a prime victim of this menace. Along with factors such as insecurity, poverty and unemployment which motivate cultivation in some provinces, drug trafficker networkscontinue to encourage farmers including through advance purchase of opium poppy. Additionally, the growing links between narcotics, terrorism, money laundering and other forms of transnational organized crimerequires comprehensive .
Parallel to an increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan over the past few years, we have also witnessed deteriorating securitysituation in areas under cultivation which is an indication of clear link between cultivation and insecurity. In accordance with the survey conducted by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan with support from the UNODC in 2014, out of 132 districts in the country where poppy cultivation takes place, 41 districts are responsible for 94% of cultivation, out which, 10 districts cultivate 54% of poppy in the country. The survey also shows that around 90% of cultivation happens in the insecure areas in the south and south west of the country. Our main focus in the next few years will therefore be on these 10 districts. .
The National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to the elimination of opium economy including through development and implementation of new programs and initiatives and the revision of the current laws and strategies under an integrated approach. Under the vision of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Counter Narcotics has just recently presented its first 100-day work planunder the new leadership aiming at 1) further development of counter narcotics strategies and policies, 2) strengthening coordination and cooperation among all agencies and ministries involved in counter narcotics efforts, 3) improving the capacityof the Ministry in implementing its relevant programs and projects, and 4) encouraging greater support by the international community in the area of counter narcotics. .
During the first month of the work plan, the Ministry has made considerable achievements in areas such as the review and revision of the National Drug Control Strategy, preparing the draft amendment to the Counter Narcotics Law of Afghanistan, development of Counter Narcotics District-Based National Program, development of gender policy and public awareness strategy, development of oversight and evaluation mechanism for counter narcotics programs, improving coordination and oversight for alternative development programs, implementation of alternative livelihood projects that have direct impact on farmers’ livelihood, collecting homeless addicts, launching of the Afghanistan Drug Reporting System with support from the UNODC, conducting various surveys and capacity building programs.
The work is also underway to further incorporate the counter narcotics goals in the programs of the line ministries. We are working closely with the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan to mainstream the drug demand reduction into the two public health packages: The Essential Public Health System (EPHS) and The Basic Public Health System (BPHS). This will help us use the capacity of some 2000 hospitals and clinics with 40000 health employees to deliver drug treatment services. This is of highly importance for us given the recent worrying increase in the number of addicts in the country and equally important will be greater international support to these two public health packages. We are also trying to academically institutionalize Drug Demand Reduction in the Higher Education System in Afghanistan starting with the inclusion of a demand reduction course in the curriculum of some of the faculties including the faculty of medical science.
As another important initiative, we have aligned the counter narcotics planning with the anti-insurgency military operations and in this context, our focus in the short term will be on poppy eradication and for the longer term, the focus will be to prevent the cultivation of poppy and to maximize the drug seizure rate.
At the regional level, we are trying to expand counter narcotics efforts under the Heart of Asia Process. The work has also been underway to develop the Counter Narcotics Regional Strategy aiming at strengthening regional cooperation in support of counter narcotics efforts in the region.
In ten months, we will all gather in New York to discuss our way forward in addressing the world drug problem while learning from our past experiences and building on our achievements in the past. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Board tasked with UNGASS preparations for facilitating the preparatory process including the provision of opportunities for discussing the priority areas that need to be addressed during the Special Session in 2016. We are glad to see that Afghanistan will have the opportunity to represent the Asian Group as the First-Vice chair of the Board. I hope that UNGASS 2016 will serve as an opportunity to not only discuss ways to expedite the implementation of the political declaration and plan of action of 2009 but also to focus on the new and emerging challenges, trends and realities on the ground as well as ways to address them under a holistic and balanced approach.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our international partners have provided considerable support to our fight against narcotics over the past years for which we are grateful. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has also been actively supporting our efforts in areas such as survey and research, alternative livelihood projects, demand reduction and addiction treatment. The UNODC role is also crucial in facilitating and coordinating regional and international cooperation in addressing the world drug problem.
While we are committed to fighting the menace of narcotics, we will continue to need international support including those under the UNODC. I hope that we will witness greater international assistance to our counter narcotics efforts in the years to come.