Open Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan
(New York, June 17, 2003)
Statement by Ambassador Luis Guillermo Giraldo, Permanent Representative of Colombia
The Colombian delegation expresses its solidarity with the Afghan people, victims of violence and religious extremism that damaged their fundamental rights. The people of Colombia have suffered also, the violence spread by violent and illegal armed groups, which persist in laying terror and death in order to establish anarchy and prevent economic and social development, a right for all peoples of the world.
Colombia, which is fighting without respite against illicit drugs and terrorism, notes with particular concern that in the year 2002, the production of opium poppy in Afghanistan registered such high levels. We know first hand the difficult task related to the eradication of illicit crops that awaits the Afghan authorities, due to the fact that in the past years, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous amounts of efforts in the eradication of those crops in our country. In the year 2002 we were able to break the increasing trend of these crops, which for the first time, registered a 30% reduction rate.
The international community recognized that the global problem of illicit drugs and related criminal activities, is one of the gravest scourges that affect humanity in our times, as well as a challenge of immense proportions. To the problem of public health that is drug addiction, with its tragic consequences that affect the family and society, an immense peril that this problem represents to international security, is added. Illicit drugs, money laundering, and illicit arms trade are set up in an effective tripod for international crime. To confront it, it has been proved that the activities deployed by the most affected nations result insufficient if the commitment of all international society isn't translated in tangible results that contribute, through international cooperation, to destroy each one of these extremes.
The global problem of drugs and terrorism hold a link that is getting narrower now that the terrorists groups not only benefit from the abundant resources created by the increasing demand of drugs, but are now directly involved in this perverse business. What happened in the past years in Afghanistan shows it. As a matter of fact, extremist groups grew stronger financially with the product of the alarming expansion of illicit crops in that country and of the resulting traffic of opium, mainly to Europe.
That is why we embrace the decision of the Security Council to adopt today a Presidential Statement, where the links between these two problems are recognized as well as the dangers that these activities represent to Afghanistan, to it's neighbors and to the whole world. We also share the call that is being made to the neighboring countries and to the international community, to intensify cooperation with regard to security and control of illicit drug trafficking, its precursors and related crimes, such as money laundering. We recognize the work done by the countries that assist Afghanistan in their struggle against illicit drug trafficking, and we highlight the need to continue and intensify it. We join in the call for a global demand reduction of these substances and for the afghan countrymen and women to receive alternative development programs, with open market access for their products.
Repeatedly, the General Assembly and this Security Council have recognized the links between international terrorism and drug trafficking. In the struggle against these grave phenomenons, the international community has to address firmly its commitment, in compliance to the principle of common responsibility. The global drug problem transcended the public health or police context, and became an international security issue, for it's grave influence on social, economic and political stability of the nations.
As a representative of a country that has been a victim to the perverse alliance between terrorism and illicit drug traffic, I wish to bring to your attention that experience brings more wisdom than mere words.
Terrorists do not share our beliefs. For them drug trafficking is only a medium, if effective, valid to overtake their actions. As a result, we cannot lessen our efforts to contain all possible financing sources of terrorism, by the strengthening of the legislative system, the effective control in the banking system and the adequate exchange of information in the international level, inter-alia.
It is evident in Colombia that a deadly alliance between terrorism and illicit drug traffic has been created. The FARC, the guerrilla that says struggles for political ideals, started confronting illicit drug traffic organizations. Shortly after, they began to coexist with them, protecting their crops and laboratories for retribution in money or goods, generally weapons. Later on, they got involved in the production of illicit crops and advanced further on to process coca leaf to basic paste. Nowadays, the FARC refine the coca paste and ship the cocaine to the consumer.
We must always remember that the association and participation of terrorists in illegal drug traffic is almost inevitable, will be greater in time and will stand in the way of the task of strangling terrorism in its economic sources.
All forms and expressions of terrorism are equally dangerous to peace and international security. All terrorists share similar objectives and means. They oppose democracy, human rights, tolerance, peaceful solution to controversies, freedom of thought and speech, and other intangible values. That is why the finality is so similar worldwide and all enemies are those of us, who share the absolute need to defend those values.
In the same way as the United Nations faced, with promptness and decision, the terrorism of Al Qaeda, it must assume it's obligation, and humankind will be grateful, to fight against all forms and expressions of terrorism; grave threats against peace and international security. Therefore, my delegation reaffirms the commitment of Colombia with the fight against terrorism and receives all initiatives that contribute to the eradication of this scourge. In that sense, we note with interest the initiative recently presented by the Spanish government, a proposal that could update Resolution 1373 2001, with a view to broaden the reach of its dispositions and narrow down even more the siege that the international community has layed around all of those that made a lifestyle out of violence and terror.