Top UN official in Belgium to discuss global drug war with Europeans

17 September 2002
Antonio M. Costa

The role of the United Nations in the global fight against drugs and crime will be the focus of talks between the UN's top anti-narcotics official and those from Belgium and the Brussels-based European organizations.

"We see a lot of common ground in addressing those issues," Antonio Mario Costa, Executive Director of the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), said of his three-day visit to Belgium.

"It is of crucial importance to identify areas of common concern, such as drug-related crime and trafficking in human beings, as well as economic and financial crime," Mr. Costa added. "There are ample prospects for partnership and joint initiatives."

Noting that Europe was the main destination for illicit drugs, with 90 per cent of all heroin found in Europe originating in Afghanistan, Mr. Costa said that his talks would focus on ODCCP's contribution to European efforts against illicit drug trafficking as well as other forms of transnational organized crime.

He is also expected to inform his European counterparts about ODCCP's current activities in Afghanistan, where the Office aims to help the Afghanistan Transitional Authority establish its own drug control and crime prevention institutions.

During his stay in Brussels, Mr. Costa is expected to meet with senior Belgian officials, including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, as well as representatives from the European Commission and EuropeAid.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech to the Conference on trafficking human beings, co-sponsored by the European Union and the International Organization for Migration.


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