UN drug control office reports to donors on plans to rid Afghanistan of illegal narcotics

UN drug control office reports to donors on plans to rid Afghanistan of illegal narcotics

Antonio M. Costa
The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) today presented donors with its plans to help Afghanistan break a decade-long dependence on opium poppy cultivation.

The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) today presented donors with its plans to help Afghanistan break a decade-long dependence on opium poppy cultivation.

“The United Nations, and the international community in general, have been very generous. However, ultimately Afghan society needs to build its own institutions in order to beat the evil of drugs, crime and terror,” ODCCP Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told a meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group held in Geneva.

In 1999, Afghanistan was the source of 70 per cent of the world’s opiates, equivalent to over 450 tons of heroin, according to ODCCP, which estimates that this year, the country’s production could be as high as 200 to 250 tons.

In response, the UN Drug Control Programme is helping Afghanistan to monitor illegal crops, establish a judicial framework consistent with international law, and set up effective drug control and law enforcement agencies. Projects for demand reduction and narcotics prevention are also in the works, as growing drug abuse in Afghanistan is emerging as a new problem.

The ODCCP, which also works with other international partners, is undertaking similar initiatives in Iran, Pakistan and a number of Central Asian countries. “Afghanistan’s drug problem affects the entire region,” observed Mr. Costa. “We are working with all of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries to develop joint measures.”