UN Ambassador Richardson heads to Afghanistan... Narcotics Tops Agenda 4/17/98

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, on a tour of South Asia, will arrive in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 17 to discuss human rights and the opium poppy with the ruling Taliban. Afghanistan is said to be the world's largest source of the opium poppy, raw material in the production of heroin. The Taliban, in control of approximately 75% of the country, are not officially recognized by most of the world's governments due to their extremist policies regarding women. These include barring women from education and health care, from speaking in public, and from appearing in public without a close male relative. Penalties for failure to abide can include public beatings, amputations or execution. The Taliban have ignored repeated calls from international organizations to reform these policies, calling their detractors, including the leadership of several international women's rights groups "infidels". (See "Sympathy for the Devil" at http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/12-5-1.html#editorial.)

Pino Arlacchi, the new United Nations' "Drug Czar", has seized upon Afghanistan's opium production to justify his plan, as part of the soon to be released United Nations drug strategy, to fund the Taliban to the tune of at least $250 million over ten years in return for their promise of opium eradication. This despite the fact that the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs 1997 report warned that "(The Taliban's) limited capacity to engage in substantial processes of policy-making or the implementation of governmental programs remains the main obstacle to meaningful cooperation." The Taliban have also made a mockery of other UN efforts by repeatedly attacking aid workers, especially women, to the point that earlier this year, the UN pulled most of them out of the southern part of the country. In addition, a high-level United Nations official has previously told The Week Online, "no one really believes that (the Taliban) will follow through on this. It seems to be (Arlacchi) looking for headlines."

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Issue #38, 4/17/98 Week Online Reprint Policy | UN Ambassador Richardson heads to Afghanistan... Narcotics Tops Agenda | "Global Days Against the Drug War" United Nations Protest Takes Shape | Press Release: Dutch Study Finds Marijuana Use Lower than Previously Thought | Commerce Department Report: Over 100 Million People Online... but most of them not on DRCNet | College Student Suspended for Two Semesters for Protesting Zero-Tolerance Policy | Special Report: Medical Marijuana in Canada, and its Potential Impact on the US | Events Coming Up | Editorial: The 20-Apr Debate

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