UNODC chief launches Afghanistan country programme

Photo: UNAMA/Eric Kanalstein: UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov (right), with Zarar Ahmad Moqbel Osmani, the Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan at the launch of the Afghanistan Country Programme in Kabul29 May 2012 - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, together with Zarar Ahmad Moqbel Osmani, the Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, launched the UNODC country programme for Afghanistan for the period 2012-2014 in Kabul yesterday.

Primarily aimed at supporting the Government of Afghanistan in delivering an effective drugs and crime response, the programme focuses on establishing alternative livelihoods for households dependent on illicit crop cultivation, reducing drug demand and preventing and treating drug-related HIV. At the same time, the programme will enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics to conduct research, surveys and analysis. Other components of the programme will include support for law enforcement and criminal justice to address drug trafficking and the drug economy and the challenges they pose to the rule of law.

In addition, the country programme will contribute to the wider objectives of the regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries for the period 2011-2014, which is a strategic framework for UNODC and multilateral partners to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime. Launched in December 2011, the regional programme places particular emphasis on strengthening border controls to prevent the trafficking of drugs and of the precursor chemicals that are used to manufacture drugs.

Mr. Fedotov underscored the timeliness of this initiative: "The clock is ticking. UNODC recognizes that it must align its work with the withdrawal of international military forces in order to ensure we don't lose momentum," he said.

"The UNODC country programme for Afghanistan for the period 2012-2014 represents a concrete step towards strengthening the capacity of the Government to fight illicit drugs and crime and paving the way for Afghanistan to achieve long-term development."

Stressing the "common and shared responsibility" of countries in the region and beyond to act against the menace of illicit Afghan opiates, Mr. Fedotov called for balanced and comprehensive responses to breaking the link between poverty and drug cultivation, curbing drug demand and directing law enforcement efforts against the traffickers - not the farmers or the addicts.  He also stated that good governance and anti-corruption measures were essential for the long-term development of the country.

At last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Chicago, United States of America, where world leaders discussed the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged "enduring" support for the nation beyond that date, citing drug production and trafficking, health care and livelihoods as some of the priorities to be addressed.

Afghanistan produces some 90 per cent of the world's opiates. The UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey 2011 pointed to a sharp increase in opium production, higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drugs trade. With more than 1 million drug users in the country and 5 per cent of the population involved in drug cultivation, Mr. Fedotov stated that Afghanistan was paying too high a price for the illicit drug problem.

The $117 million country programme is by far the largest donor-funded UNODC country programme worldwide and the Office's work in Afghanistan now accounts for some 15 per cent of its global activities.