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Statement by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan at a briefing by the INCB President on the 2015 Report

February 03, 2016

Thank you Mr. President,

I would like to join other distinguished delegations in thanking you for convening today’s briefing on the mandate and activities of the INCB as well as on the 2015 Report. We are appreciative of the efforts that are made by the board in the framework of monitoring the international drug control treaties and helping countries with their treaty-based obligations.

I would also like to thank the board for preparing the 2015 report along with the reports on precursors and availability which all together provide a detailed overview of the drug control situation in different parts of the world at a time when we are preparing for the upcoming UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in New York.

Mr. President,

As a prime victim of narcotics and as a country in the front line of the fight against this menace, Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts under a holistic and balanced approach and within the newly adopted Afghan National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019). As the findings of the recent Afghanistan Opium Survey, which are also well reflected in the 2015 INCB Report show, there has been a considerable decrease in both cultivation and production of opium as well as an increase in the level of eradication during 2015 in Afghanistan. As noted in the report, there has also been an increase in the counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan which resulted in considerable law enforcement achievements during this period.

As in the previous years, the findings also show that over 90% of illicit opium poppy cultivation has taken place in the most insecure province in the country which once again suggests that there is a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of regional nature for Afghanistan. We therefore believe that addressing the security dimension of the drug problem remains key in the success of counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan. Other priorities in our joint counter narcotics efforts should include, among others:

–          Increasing the effectiveness of alternative livelihood programs under the broader sustainable development agenda and in light of the SDGs.

–          Improving operational capacity at both national and regional levels in addressing trafficking in precursors into Afghanistan which remains a major challenge for Afghanistan,

–          Strengthening cooperation and coordination in addressing new trafficking routes and trends,

–          Intensifying efforts to address the financial aspect of drug trafficking at both regional and international levels;

–          And developing a more comprehensive and balanced approach to addressing drug dependency with a particular focus on increasing the treatment capacity, taking into consideration the increasing number of drug users in the country.

Mr. President,

Regional cooperation remains key in addressing the world drug problem. As noted in the report, the Government of Afghanistan has been actively involved in the efforts under various sub-regional and regional counter-narcotics initiatives including the Heart of Asia Process; the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; the AKT Initiative between Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries as well as the Paris Pact Initiative.

As highlighted in the report, consultation between the Board and the Government of Afghanistan continued in 2015 with a number of high level bilateral meetings including during the CND Session in March last year which provided the opportunity to discuss the achievements,  priorities, new initiatives as well as the challenges facing Afghanistan in countering narcotics. Furthermore, consultation has continued between the board and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna including on the upcoming visit by the Board to Afghanistan which will hopefully take place in the first half of this year.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that while Afghanistan is committed to continuing its counter narcotics efforts at all national, regional and international levels, there is need for continuous international assistance including to the relevant capacity building programs as well as for greater alignment of international assistance behind our needs and priorities as outlined in the new Afghan National Drug Action Plan.

Thank you

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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The Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, Addresses UNGASS on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

Today, the Minister of Counter Narcotics Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi, addressed for a second time the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. In her address, she presented an overview of the counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives being undertaken in Afghanistan under the new counter narcotics strategy.

Minister Azimi noted the progress made by Afghanistan in cooperation with the international partners over the past 14 years but despite this progress, illicit narcotics continue to inflict a great deal of damage to Afghan society, the broader region and the world. Minister Azimi elaborated that the first challenge in counter narcotics is that organized crime groups continue to strengthen in the region and abroad including the trafficking of drugs and drug precursors to Afghanistan. She called for improved border security and continued cooperation and support from the international community. A second, challenge is the alarming increase in those addicted to drugs in Afghanistan in recent years. Minister Azimi noted that there are three million addicts in the country with 9% being children and 11% women. She called for integrated efforts in both prevention and treatment to address this tragic phenomenon. The third challenge to be faced is that those farmers involved in poppy cultivation must do so for their livelihood, yet receive only 4% of the 61$ billion illicit drug business. Minister Azimi called for provision of sustainable livelihoods which must be a part of the broader economic development agenda.

In her conclusion, Minister Azimi noted, “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… 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.”


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H.E. Ambassador Efani Welcomes H.E. Minister Azimi to the UN General Assembly on World Drug Problem

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Vienna, 10.09.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani, in his role as Vice-Chair of the Board tasked by the Counter Narcotics Division with the preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016, welcomed the Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, H.E. Minister Azimi. He noted that UNGASS on the World Drug Problem in 2016 is crucial for shaping collective efforts in light of new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing counter narcotic targets.

Ambassador Erfani thanked the international community for their continued support towards Afghanistan and noted that while Afghanistan has come far in the last 14 years, challenges remain and support is still needed. He noted that Minister Azimi would speak on the main challenges still faced by Afghanistan in terms of illicit narcotics as well as the commitments and programs Afghanistan has for the next three years to address the challenges of drugs. After Minister Azimi’s speech, Ambassador Erfani chaired comments from the delegates present and thank them for their continued interest and support for Afghanistan and for their commitment in the truly global fight against narcotics.

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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