The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today praised counter-narcotics ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran on a new agreement that will increase the exchange of information to tackle drug trafficking in the region.
Afghanistan provides 90 per cent of the world’s opium, most of which is shipped through Iran and Pakistan. Since 2007, the three countries have been involved in the UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative to coordinate their efforts to combat trafficking.
“Now is the time for a more result-oriented response to the challenge of drugs, which is based on concrete actions and shared responsibilities,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov told reporters in Kabul, where he is currently on a two-day visit.
“The Triangular Initiative is an important illustration of how we should promote shared responsibilities at local, regional and international levels. Shared responsibilities mean that the international community without any exception must be united against drugs and crime,” he added.
The ministerial declaration signed today by the three countries strengthens the joint planning cell, which enhances analytical and operational capacity and coordinates joint operations. The cell has yielded results in the past, coordinating 12 joint drug control operations that led to the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrests of key drug dealers and traffickers.
“But much more needs to be done,” said Mr. Fedotov. “The joint planning cell must be the engine of the Triangular Initiative. Joint patrols should become routine, not exceptional events.”
The UNODC Opium Survey 2011, released last month, reported that despite increased efforts to combat poppy harvests, rising prices and growing demand boosted cultivation by seven per cent in 2010, spreading to new regions of Afghanistan.
Drugs pose a threat to the health and security of not only Afghanistan, but Iran and Pakistan as well, and many other countries beyond. It is one of several issues the international community will discuss next week in Bonn, Germany, during the International Conference on Afghanistan.
“At the International Conference on Afghanistan next week in Bonn, I hope to encourage the international community to bolster counter-narcotics as an essential element in ensuring a better future for Afghanistan and its neighbours,” said Mr. Fedotov.
During his visit to Kabul Mr. Fedotov also met with President Hamid Karzai. UNODC is set to launch its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, which will focus on drug control.
Mr. Fedotov said he would welcome the President’s support for the regional approach advocated by UNODC, including cooperation not only with immediate neighbours, Iran and Pakistan, but also further afield with Central Asian countries, Russia and China.
The UNODC chief also met with Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who is currently on an official visit to the country. Discussions focused on the Bonn conference and strategies to bolster long-term international support for Afghanistan.