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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

 

Statement by H.E. Ayoob Erfani, Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna At the 9th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

It is a pleasure seeing you chairing our session, I would like to congratulate you on your election as the chair of this 9th Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery and express my gratitude to the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents. This session is yet another good opportunity to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and sharing of experiences between state’s parties in overcoming the challenges that we face in the area of asset recovery.

Mr. Chairman,

Many countries around the world continue to face the huge challenge that the transfer of proceeds of corruption abroad pose to their development and economic growth. In Afghanistan, addressing this aspect of corruption remains key in our anti-corruption efforts and considerable efforts have been made in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development which aims at building the required capacity to this end.  The adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the law on overseeing the implementation of the strategy, the establishment of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption as an independent body in 2008 in accordance with article 6 of the UNCAC as well as the establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Court and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit at the Office of the Attorney General, are testimony to such efforts in recent years.

As the most recent examples of such efforts, the new Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law as well as a number of regulations under the Law on Banking of Afghanistan as well as the Law of the Central Bank of Afghanistan have been adopted, which directly or indirectly deal with asset recovery.  Additionally, the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Afghanistan, which was established in 2006, has been enhanced and the Unit has been increasingly playing an important role in anti-corruption efforts including in facilitating the return of proceeds of crime. The FIU has recently joined various cooperation frameworks among FIUs across the region and beyond.

The Government of Afghanistan has also adopted the new Law on Extradition and has recently signed various extradition agreements with a number of neighbouring and regional countries. Such agreements have already facilitated various cases of asset recovery and extradition between the parties. A number of high profile cases of corruption have been recently addressed by the Government which included, in some cases, asset recovery from outside Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman,

As it has long been argued, given the cross-border nature of asset recovery, success in this important area depends on continued cooperation at all bilateral, regional and international levels and the role of the existing international initiatives is key in supporting countries in dealing with associated challenges. Asset recovery is also a complex and multi-faceted process which requires technical knowledge and specialized capacity.

In this context, while Afghanistan remains committed to further improving the legal and institutional frameworks required for asset recovery as well as to cooperating under the UNCAC and various bilateral agreements, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to require technical assistance to strengthen their capacity including in the area of asset recovery.

Thank you

Ambassador Erfani addresses UNODC anti-corruption meeting

Amb delivering statement at UNODC working group 3

Vienna, 01.09.2015

 Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani delivered a statement at the sixth session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the prevention of corruption, a 3-day meeting organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Ambassador started by highlighting the significance of the working group meetings as excellent opportunities for exchange of information, experiences and lessons learned. He continued by recalling that tackling the underlying drivers and challenges of corruption remains crucial, also in Afghanistan. “We have taken specific steps at national and international levels in Afghanistan, and for the last 14 years, the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community has made considerable efforts in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development”, he said.

Mr. Ambassador underscored the important role of Afghanistan’s High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, established in 2008. He also emphasized the relevance of the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit and of the government’s anti-corruption strategy. He made reference to the government’s efforts with regards to combatting money laundering, also on regional and international levels, and stated the importance of integrity, transparency and accountability in the area of public procurement. Among other things, the National Unity Government has created the National Procurement Commission to secure better results in this area. The Ambassador also mentioned the crucial role of civil society organizations.

Ambassador Erfani concluded by declaring that “the Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthen its capacity in the prevention of corruption including in preventing money laundering as well as to take its reform agenda into the procurement and financial management systems. While we are grateful for the support we have received thus far from the international community including through UNODC, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to need technical support including in the implementation of their preventive programs and initiatives.”

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Remarks by H.E. Ayoob Erfani, Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna At the Sixth Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group On the Prevention of Corruption

Thank you Madam Chair,

At the outset, I would like to join other distinguished speakers in congratulating you on your election as the chair of this Sixth Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption and thank the Secretariat for the timely preparation of the documents. We highly value the Working Group sessions as an excellent opportunity for exchange of information, good experiences and learned lessons among member states on preventive measures and practices, which remains a serious challenge for all of us.

Madam Chair,

Tackling the underlying drivers and challenges of corruption remains an important component of Afghanistan’s national development agenda and in this context, we have taken specific steps at national and international levels. For the last 14 years, the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community has made considerable efforts in areas such as institutional building, legislation and policy development.

The Establishment of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption in 2008 as an independent unifying oversight body to coordinate, supervise and support all anti-corruption efforts in the country, the establishment of anti-corruption tribunals and prosecution offices in both capital and provinces as well as creation of the Financial Intelligence Unit are among other institutional building efforts that have significantly contributed to our anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan. The adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the law on overseeing its implementation have provided an appropriate legal and policy framework for anti-corruption efforts in the country.

Preventive measures have been on the top of our national anti-corruption agenda. Asset declaration of high-ranking government officials has been underway under the High Office of Oversight over the past few years which have so far resulted in registration of close to 8000 asset declaration forms. Simplification of the administrative procedures has been further expedited in the past few years and efforts are underway to revise the existing laws, regulations and procedures pertaining to the area of the provision of public services. Additionally, various anti-corruption public awareness programs have been implemented by the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption with support from the relevant government agencies and civil society institutions.

Madam Chair,

The two topics under discussion in this session of the working group are of high importance. I would like to thank the Secretariat as well as the distinguished panelists for their excellent presentations under the two thematic discussions during yesterday’s and today’s sessions.

Money laundering continues to pose threats to economic and social development in our societies including through fostering other illegal activities such as corruption, drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, arms trafficking as well as terrorism. Over the past few years, the Government of Afghanistan has made considerable anti-money laundering efforts which include, among others, the adoption of the new Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law as well as improving the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Afghanistan in addressing money-laundering cases. The Afghan FIU has expanded cooperation with other FIUs in the region and has joined several international cooperation frameworks.

Integrity, transparency and accountability in the public procurement system have a great impact on economic growth in every country. In Afghanistan, legal and institutional reform in public procurement has been underway over the past 14 years and has become a top priority for the National Unity Government aiming at providing better services through an effective, efficient and transparent procurement system as well as boosting economic growth and effective control of financial expenditure.

As part of this reform agenda, the former Special Procurement Commission has been restructured to the National Procurement Commission chaired by H.E. the President and the National Procurement Authority (NPA) has been created which serves as the secretariat for the Commission. The NPA’s mission is to:

  • “Strengthen the national procurement system by incorporating mechanisms for increased capacity, visibility, accountability and public confidence through development of policy instruments for the efficient management of public resources and effective budget execution that will stimulate and contribute to economic growth.
  • Enable system compatibility with international procurement standards, best practices and to keep pace with the dynamic technological advances.
  • Regulate the national procurement system by developing and implementing comprehensive legal, regulatory, policy and capacity building frameworks and programs.”

Afghanistan has made significant efforts in building a credible and transparent public financial management system. The government is taking required measures to continuously improve its public financial management. Such measures include “(a) applying whatever controls are needed to manage the budget and report reliably to all stakeholders on public finances; (b) building sustainable capacity in the spending ministries to improve their internal controls; (c) establishing government wide internal audit under the Ministry of Finance; (d) strengthening the independence of the external auditor; and (e) harmonizing audit standards.”

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to further strengthen its capacity in the prevention of corruption including in preventing money laundering as well as to take its reform agenda into the procurement and financial management systems. While we are grateful for the support we have received thus far from the international community including through UNODC, our anti-corruption agencies will continue to need technical support including in the implementation of their preventive programs and initiatives.

Thank you.

 

 

Draft Statement by H.E. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan at the Special Event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

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,

Excellencies,

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. 

Excellencies

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’ livelihoodcollecting homeless addictslaunching 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 servicesThis 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 packagesWe 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.  

Excellencies, 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

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. 

Excellencies, 

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. 

Ambassador Erfani addresses the IAEA’s meeting with National Experts

 Ambassador Erfani addresses the IAEA’s meeting with National Experts 

Ambassador Erfani with IAEA experts and the Afghan Delegation

Ambassador Erfani with IAEA experts and the Afghan Delegation

Vienna, 06/02/2015

Ambassador Erfani addressed the organisers and Afghan delegation in Vienna for the IAEA National Experts Meeting to Design and Formulate Technical Cooperation National Projects of Afghanistan for 2016-2017, at the VIC today. The meetings were held from 2-6 February and it was a great opportunity for the delegates to discuss furthering technical cooperation in Afghanistan. Ambassador Erfani addressed the closing session noting the important achievements Afghanistan has made for the past decade, such as the establishment of the Independent Nuclear Energy Commission and how far Afghanistan has come in terms of capacity building in the country, with the assistance of the IAEA, especially in the areas of safety, agricultures and human health. He mentioned that Afghanistan’s priority of strengthening the quality control of X-Ray equipment; radiological monitoring; energy planning; using atomic energy in water, soil and crop improvement; and the Aliabad teaching hospital telemedicine program, among others, are all of great importance as we moved towards improved capabilities and capacities in the country. We appreciate the active cooperation and partnership of the IAEA with Afghanistan in these fields.

Additionally, this week Ambassador Erfani was kept busy with a number of pressing issues: He met with academic Ms. Edit Schlaffer (Women without Borders, Sisters against Violent Extremism) to discuss empowerment of women in Afghanistan, making reference to the successful women’s employment project in Kunduz. They discussed her organisations and possibilities for cooperation with Afghanistan in the future; and the OSCE’s engagement with Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

On Tuesday Ambassador Erfani met with Ambassador Launsky, head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Development Cooperation to discuss Austria’s furture possible involvement for development projects in Afghanistan and they also discussed including the issues related to the Kunduz project on womens empowerment.

On Wednesday, Ambassador Erfani attended a brainstorming session at the OSCE to prepare for a Security Days discussion on how the OSCE could enhance its efforts to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, as one way to help to prevent the growing challenge of religious related violence in the OSCE region and expressed Afghanistan’s position. Ambassador Erfani noted the importance of the sensitisation of all people to religious diversity and promotion of tolerance and respect for all people. At the meeting he condemned the brutal killing of the Jordanian pilot this week at the hands of extremists.

On Friday, Ambassador Erfani met with the head of the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) and his team, to discuss UNODC projects in Afghanistan and how the UNODC can be more actively implement these projects in the country. They exchanged views on the future of cooperation and the mandate of the UNODC and Afghanistan’s National Priority Programs. He thanked the UNODC’s continued participation in  Afghanistan’s stabilisation process.

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Ambassador Erfani chairs a UNTOC side-event on the relationship between organised crime, illicit economy and sustainable development

The Ambassador of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Vienna H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani chairs the ACUNS Side Event “Relationship of Organized Crime, Illicit Economy & Sustainable Development”

 

Ambassador Erfani chairs the event ;Relationship between organised crime, illicit economy and sustainable development'

Ambassador Erfani chairs the event ;Relationship between organised crime, illicit economy and sustainable development’

Vienna, 08.10.2014

Ambassador Erfani chaired the panel discussion that was part of the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on October 8, 2014 at the Vienna International Centre. The conference was concerned with the negative impact of Organized Crime, Illicit Economy, Fraud and Corruption on Development, as well as the contribution of UNODC to these challenges. “Afghanistan, as a country, which has long been a victim of war and has felt the impact of organised crime during our path to development, has seen how these three issues are precariously intertwined.” Ambassador Erfani extended his appreciation to each of the speakers for their valuable contribution to the event.

Ambassador Erfani introduced the event by discussing the precarious nature of these three intertwined issues. He mentioned how this is a main priority for the new unity government and discussed how detrimental they have been to Afghanistan. The panellists discussed several points regarding organised crime, illicit economy and sustainable development and in particular issues concerning Afghanistan.

Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public affairs, lead UNODC’s largest operation in Afghanistan and talked about the strengths and weaknesses of such engagements. He sees the creation of alternative and sustainable livelihoods as vital, in order to reach a peaceful and sustainable solution for illicit activities. Lemahieu noted that the global community should also take responsibility for organised crime and illegal activities in Afghanistan, since 90% of the money made is moved out of the country. Mr. Arije Antinori, Professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, mentioned the connection between poverty, corruption and organised crime. Organised crime disregards national borders and thus the global community has to take responsibility. Mr. Michael Theil, Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, talked about how financial institutions such as insurance companies might facilitate illicit activities in different ways. The presentations concluded with Mr. Maximilian Edelbacher, Former Chief of the Major Crime Bureau of the Federal Police in Vienna, who spoke of the connection between qualitative and quantitative crime and how we can fight the increase of organised crime on a global scale by trying to close the gap between poverty and wealth.

Some concluding remarks were made on how election fraud, which also affects Afghanistan, is usually forgotten when discussing organised crime. “Fighting these challenges is one of the main priorities of the new unity government for a successful Decade of Transformation, as it is without a doubt that the presence of corruption, organised crime and illicit economy, will forever inhibit the development of countries, such as Afghanistan, from achieving peace, stability and prosperity.”

 

Ambassador with Mr Lemahieu and the other panellists and organisers.

Ambassador with Mr Lemahieu and the other panellists and organisers.

 

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Ambassador Erfani delivers a statement at the UNTOC conference

 

Draft Statement by H.E. Ayoob Erfani

 Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
to the United Nations Office at Vienna

 at the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Vienna, 06-10 October 2014

 

Check against delivery

 

Mr. President,

At the outset, please allow me to join the previous distinguished speakers to express my sincere congratulations to you on your election as the president of this 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to which Afghanistan attaches great importance.I am confident in your able leadership; please count on my delegation’s full support in your efforts for a successful outcome of this session. I would also like to thank the Secretariat for the excellent arrangement and timely preparation of documents.

My delegation aligns itself with the statements made during the opening session by the Group 77 and China and the Asian Group and due to the importance of the subject to Afghanistan,  I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.

Mr. President,

Despite our collective efforts at the global level to counter transnational organized crime, various forms of interconnected crimes, in particular the growing link between TOC, terrorism, narcotics and corruption, which increasingly undermine development, stability, governance and rule of law, thereby posing a serious threat to our societies.

As a victim of three decades of wars and conflicts, Afghanistan since 2001 has begun to rebuild the country from scratch. We have made tremendous efforts at the national, regional and international level to be an active part in the global fight against organized crime. We have also rebuilt institutions, adopted national legislations, undertook a broader justice sector reform process to improve the institutional and legal frameworks, joined relevant regional and international instruments, protocols and conventions, in line with Afghanistan’s new Constitution. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Afghanistan has acceded to the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children” in August this year. Afghanistan has also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as all 15 international counter terrorism instruments over the past few years. Afghanistan is also a party to two drug-related 1971 and 1988 conventions and has very recently ratified the Protocol amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

Two most recent examples of our efforts in the area of legislation are the enactment of the new “Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Law” as well as the new “Law on Combating Financing of Terrorism” aiming at preventing and prohibiting the use of financial institutions or any economic activities for money laundering and for the financing of terrorism. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Afghanistan along with other relevant institutions in the security and justice sectors are increasingly playing an important role in the implementation of these laws.

Furthermore, our anti-corruption efforts under the High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption which was established in 2008 have been increasingly intensified within a comprehensive approach covering all key components of a successful anti-corruption strategy including prevention, awareness-raising and law enforcement.

Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are two of the major concerns for Afghanistan. The legal framework in countering trafficking in persons has been increasingly improved over the past few years which can be exemplified by the adoption of the “Law on Countering Abduction and Human Trafficking/Smuggling (2008)” and the “Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (2009)”. The Government of Afghanistan has also intensified efforts to address the smuggling of migrants and in this context we support the latest recommendations of the Working Group on Smuggling of Migrants regarding the need for enhanced cooperation as well as ensuring the rights of smuggled migrants.

Another area of major concern for the country is the trafficking of cultural property.  The trafficking of the country’s historical items abroad during times of conflict has been a tragic feature of Afghanistan’s recent history.  Efforts to prevent trafficking of the country’s cultural heritage include the revision of the “Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties of Afghanistan” and the formation of a special police force to protect the country’s historical sites. We believe that the “International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences” can help facilitate international cooperation in countering the trafficking of cultural property.  Furthermore, improved cooperation and coordination between the UNODC, UNESCO, INTERPOL and other relevant institutions will increase the effectiveness of international efforts in this important area.

Mr. President,

The success in combating transnational organized crime requires a comprehensive approach covering all key elements such as prevention, law enforcement and international cooperation. Given the transnational nature of most of the crimes including those related to terrorism and narcotics, international cooperation in criminal matters is of utmost importance. We believe that more effective collective efforts are needed at both regional and international levels in combating organized crime.

The Government of Afghanistan, on its part, has been actively involved in judicial cooperation at various bilateral, regional and international levels. The adoption of the Law on Extradition has facilitated cooperation in criminal matters between Afghanistan and other countries. In accordance with this law, Afghanistan has recently signed extradition agreements with the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey and these agreements have already facilitated many cases of asset recovery and extradition between the parties. The Government of Afghanistan is also in the process of negotiating and concluding a number of other bilateral judicial agreements with neighboring and regional countries. Afghanistan, after taking preliminary measures at the national level has approached the Council of Europe indicating Afghanistan’s intention to join the “Convention of Transfer of Transfer of Sentenced Persons”, signed on 21 March 1983 and its Additional Protocol of 18 December 1997..

 

Mr. President,

 

Shortage of capacity in implementing the UNTOC remains a major challenge for most of the parties to the convention. In this context, we support dialog and consultations on a review mechanism under UNTOC and hope that such a mechanism, once adopted and operationalized, will assist states parties in identifying capacity building needs in the implementation of the convention and will help ensure the alignment of technical cooperation behind such needs. We also support the work done by the capable working groups under the convention, and we would like to underline that there is a rising need to more effectively assist the states parties in implementing the convention.

In closing, Mr Chairman, despite our achievements during the past thirteen years, Afghanistan is still suffering from the remaining challenges connected to terrorism and narcotics, and remains a prime victim of various forms of organized crime. For Afghanistan, upholding its commitment to further strengthen the institutional and legal frameworks for combating organized crime is an essential component of our transition to a stable and prosperous country. However, given the complex nature of transnational organized crime, a response to which requires advanced and comprehensive technical knowledge and capacity, Afghanistan continues to require financial and technical support to support its efforts in this important area in the years to come.

Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

Ambassador Erfani speaks at the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Meeting on counter-narcotics

Vienna, 29.09.2014

 

Ambassador Erfani delivered remarks at the 11th Paris Pact Policy Consultative Meeting today at the UNODC in Vienna. He discussed the challenges still being faced in the fight against narcotic drugs and added that this meeting could provide an opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of the Paris Pact initiative, achieved progress, new arising challenges and to look for practical solutions to meet the goals of these initiatives.

 

Following the statement by Deputy Minister, Ambassador Erfani concurred that while Afghanistan has made significant progress for the last 13 years and is taking steps to its Transition into Transformation, there are still a number of challenges facing Afghanistan including the drug problem, of which Afghanistan has been a prime victim. It will remain a non-stop effort of the Afghan Government throughout this Decade of Transformation.

 

Ambassador Erfani referred to today’s inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani as a historic day for Afghanistan and reiterated that the focus to fight drugs will be one of the main priorities of the new Government. Ambassador Erfani continued that “We appreciate the Paris Pact initiative’s efforts to mobilize regional and global efforts against the world drug problem, and its committed to meet our share of responsibility and work with the Paris Pact members to achieve its goals.”

 

He concluded by thanking the International community for their continued commitment and sacrifices so far, and will continue to cooperate with Afghanistan in post-2014.

 

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