Yury Fedotov


Director General/Executive Director UNOV/UNODC


Speech at the International Conference on the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs

17 October, Baku

Dear Mr. Hasanov,

Dear Mr. Mikuriya,

Dear Mr. Aliyev,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to commend the initiative of the government of Azerbaijan for agreeing to host this important conference.

Indeed, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs is a challenge of global proportions. Every year, opiates from Afghanistan kill thousands of people worldwide, spreading pain and misery to thousands more, and undermining stability.

Unfortunately the latest news is hardly encouraging. UNODC's Afghan Opium Survey 2011 shows cultivation in 2011 has increased to 131,000 hectares compared to the 123,000 hectares of the previous two years. The amount of opium produced has risen from 3,600 metric tons in 2010 to 5,800 metric tons in 2011-a rise of 61 per cent.

Taking only the "farm-gate" value of opium production, standing at US$ 1.4 billion, this represents 9% of Afghanistan's GDP. If the profits of manufacturing and trafficking are added to this figure, it is clear that opium production provides considerable funding to the insurgency and fuels corruption.

For these reasons, it is likely that, in the short to medium term, transit and destination countries are going to remain under pressure when facing the problems arising from trafficking in narcotic drugs.

Afghanistan's wider region has expressed the greatest concern about the opiate production, as it confronts high addiction rates, cross-border criminality, corruption, funding of insurgent groups, and instability.

In recognition of these challenges, we must move three steps forward in our thinking:

Our first step is to acknowledge that the issue of illicit drugs is not an Afghan problem or any other country's problem, it is "our" joint problem, requiring the collective action of the international community.

Second, while drug crimes are often local in nature, our solutions must be global. I say this because it reflects the nature of the trafficking of narcotic drugs, which forms part of a complex, shifting web of transnational organised crime whose strands touch almost every country and cross every region.

Third , we must appreciate the causal connections between drug trafficking and insecurity. The production and trafficking of narcotics undermines security; promoting corruption, criminality, and terrorism.

Working with partners, including Member States, the wider UN System, inter-governmental organisations and others, UNODC has helped create a series of interlocking initiatives connecting  the local to the regional and global, The initiatives form a coherent response to combating drug supply, and drug trafficking and reducing drug demand.

Across the wider region, the Paris Pact Initiative has created a focused international forum for the discussion on drug trafficking and cross-border cooperation. The forthcoming Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact partners in February 2012 offers an excellent opportunity to further coordinate these efforts.

The overall strategy also includes other successful forms of cooperation such as the Triangular Initiative between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; the control of precursor chemicals under the Operation Tarcet banner; and the creation of the intelligence sharing mechanism CARICC founded on the agreement of the five Central Asian countries, Russia and Azerbaijan.

To reinforce regional cooperation, UNODC is launching a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring countries. This initiative is not only a matter of international security, in which we all have a shared stake, but also one of sustainable development.

Within Azerbaijan, the main challenge is the transit of drugs through its territory. UNODC is helping to increase capacity among security forces who confront increasingly sophisticated trafficking groups.

Azerbaijan has also made drug control a priority and has successfully implemented a national anti-drug strategy. The strategy includes modernizing customs infrastructure, particularly at the Astara border checkpoint.

An important programme in Azerbaijan is the regional Container Control Programme. This initiative, supported by UNODC in partnership with the World Customs Organisation, is introducing a new approach to the selection and searching of containers through a rigorous risk assessment of suspicious containers. UNODC is currently working with the Government to establish specialist Joint Port Control Units that integrate several branches of law enforcement.

The programme has built upon UNODC strategies such as the Triangular Initiative and the Caspian Sea Initiative, and targets shipments moving in and out of Afghanistan.

UNODC's work in all these areas is defined by its guardianship of the three Conventions on illicit drugs. These conventions express the view that our work on the supply side must be balanced by reducing drug demand in consumer countries.

Our drug demand strategy recognizes drug use as a health condition and we are heavily involved in the issues of health, demand reduction and HIV and AIDS. There is a particular emphasis on working with young people to reduce vulnerabilities to developing dependence and addiction.

UNODC is also working with other UN organisations to ensure that combating transnational organized crime and drug trafficking are mainstreamed throughout the United Nations system.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the beginning of my speech, I said the international community needed to view trafficking of narcotic drugs from the perspective of shared responsibility.

In the spirit of this sentiment, I urge us all to do more to cooperate closely and to produce the strategies necessary to combat the trafficking of narcotic drugs.

We must never forget the reason for our work: to alleviate the suffering of the children, women and men who are the victims of this terrible crime.

Thank you.