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Delegation of Afghanistan Attends the 59th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Vienna, 22.03.2016

From March 14 – 22, 2016, the delegation of Afghanistan attended the 59th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. During the opening of the Special Segment on UNGASS 2016, the Head of the Delegation, H.E. Mrs. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, delivered a statement on the progress made and the challenges remaining in Afghanistan in counter narcotics efforts. It was noted that, despite security threats, in 2015 the poppy cultivating areas were reduced by 19%, with a 48% reduction in opium production as well as a 40% increase in the eradication of poppy cultivation compared to the previous year. Increased regional and international cooperation was called for, along with increased support for the counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan under the National Drug Action Plan, so that this truly global problem can be better addressed. Also in attendance to the 59th Session of the CND, were H.E. Mr. Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, Deputy Minister for Counter Narcotics from the Ministry of Interior, and Dr. Osman Frotan, Director General of Policy and Planning at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, and Ms. Iran Saihoon, Director of the Research and Studies Department at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics.

CND side eventDuring the week, the delegation of Afghanistan held several bilateral meetings, including with UNODC Executive Secretary Mr. Yury Fedotov; the Director of the Transnational Threats Department of the OSCE, Mr. Alexey Lyzhenkov; and the President of INCB, Mr. Werner Sipp. In addition to this, bilateral meetings were held with the heads of the delegations of the USA, Peru, and Tajikistan.

On March 16th, the government of Afghanistan and the UNODC Statistics and Surveys Section held a side event at the 59th Commission on Narcotic Drugs titled “Afghanistan Socioeconomic Survey of Opium Cultivation 2015 and the Implications for Alternative Development”. The session was chaired by Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna. H.E. Minister Azimi delivered a statement where she noted the need for an integrated approach that takes in to account security aspects and socio-economic factors including poverty and unemployment in order to make sustainable progress in the fight against narcotics. The key findings of the report were presented by Dr. Osman Frotan, and by Ms. Angela Me, Chief of the UNODC Statistics and Surveys Section, which noted the decrease in poppy cultivation and aspects on what drive poppy cultivation, and called for the investment of building infrastructure. The conclusions from the report found that there is a need for job creation and skill training for rural workers and a stronger inclusion of women in counter narcotics efforts. After the presentation of the report, a question and answer session was held with the audience.

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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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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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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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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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HE Ambassador Erfani Delivers Statement at the UNODC

Vienna, 29.09.2015

Today, HE Ambassador Erfani delivered a statement at the UNODC during the meeting on the Review Mechanism for the UN’s Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. He noted that review mechanisms are key tools available for the provision of technical assistance and for strengthening international cooperation. Ambassador Erfani also noted that core elements of review mechanisms should be funded by the UN regular budget in order to maintain predictability and stability. Further to this, Ambassador Erfani noted Afghanistan’s view that, “the review mechanism should meet state of the art requirements while remaining cost-effective.” He concluded by stating that Afghanistan would greatly appreciate technical assistance in terms of the provision of technical and practical advice to Afghanistan’s practitioners. Ambassador Erfani expressed his support for the chair in his efforts and committed his delegation to actively participating in the process.

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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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