Triangular Initiative Meeting Underscores Need to Address Maritime Routes for Control of Afghan Opium Flow
16 March 2014 - The Drug Control Ministers of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, participated in the Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting on 14 March 2014 in Vienna.
The meeting, which was held at the sidelines of the ongoing 57 th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), aimed to review progress under the Triangular Initiative, which provides an umbrella for counter-narcotics cooperation between the three countries, with the UNODC serving as the Secretariat and providing technical assistance.
Launched in 2007, the Triangular Initiative coordinates the efforts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan against the threat of opiates flowing from Afghanistan, as well as other forms of transnational organized crime in West Asia. Efforts include joint operations, through the Tehran-based Joint Planning Cell, and the use of liaison officers to ensure greater information sharing between the three partners.
In one of the keynote speeches at the meeting, the UNODC Executive Director stressed the increasing urgency of addressing maritime trafficking. He referred to his mission to the region, during which the use of maritime routes for drug trafficking was highlighted as one of the main challenges.
Mr. Fedotov also took the opportunity to acknowledge Iran's support to the JPC, and commended Iran and Pakistan for the recent field operations conducted in January and February, which resulted in seizures of more than one ton of different types of drugs. He reiterated UNODC's continued commitment to supporting Triangular Initiative member states in making the region safer from drugs and transnational organized crime.
Because of their geographical position, countries in the Gulf region face trafficking in a range of drugs and precursor chemicals. To halt the trafficking, countries need to intercept ships as they move between ports in West Asia and the Gulf region. As part of its own efforts, UNODC has developed a Maritime Cooperation Framework to confront this issue. In 2013, Iran, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and Oman launched operations that seized vessels containing more than 10 tons of different drugs as a result of this new UNODC initiative.
According to UNODC's 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey, Afghanistan's opium crop had risen by a record 36%, while opium production had increased by 49%. Based on the report, the area under cultivation rose to a level of 209,000 ha from the previous year's total of 154,000 ha. This is higher than the previous peak of 193,000 ha in 2007. This situation poses a threat to health, stability and development in Afghanistan and beyond and underscores the need for an integrated, comprehensive response to the drug problem
UNODC is currently developing new and innovative approaches to tackle drug trafficking, including the inter-regional drug control approach that brings together regional centres to enhance criminal intelligence sharing and operational collaboration along the Balkan, Northern, and Southern routes used for shipping drugs and precursors to and from Afghanistan.
Director General/Executive Director's Remarks at the Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting, 14 March 2014, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/speeches/triangular-initiative-ministerial-meeting-140314.html