The Triangular Initiative:
An Effective Model for
Regional Counter-Narcotics Cooperation
Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting
Islamabad , 25 November 2010
I would like to thank the Government of Pakistan for hosting this important meeting, and pay tribute to all three countries for your steadfast commitment to the Triangular Initiative. I thank the three Ministers for their kind words addressed to UNODC. It is good to be needed.
Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and the international community as a whole share an interest in the success of the Triangular Initiative. This mechanism provides an effective platform for counter-narcotics cooperation, intelligence-sharing and confidence building. It is a cornerstone of the regional approach to drug control supported by the Paris Pact and the Rainbow Strategy. I expect that this meeting will give fresh momentum to the Triangular Initiative. The resulting political declaration should set out clear and meaningful goals. At the same time, the Initiative could serve as a successful model for other regions.
Your countries form the first line of defence against the massive flow of illicit drugs that threaten security throughout the region and beyond. You are dealing with these issues every day, and at great cost. Many of your law enforcement and border control agents, as well as ordinary citizens, have sacrificed their lives in the fight against drug trafficking. This is a terrible price to pay, and we mourn their loss.
Fundamental to the Triangular Initiative's success is the growth of mutual trust among your countries. This has enabled you to work together effectively, and you have already taken many important steps.
- You have established a Joint Planning Cell in Tehran that serves as a platform for information and intelligence exchange and facilitates and supports joint operations.
- You have engaged in 6 joint operations leading to seizures of almost 2,500 kilograms of opium, heroin and hashish and stopping at least 74 drug traffickers.
- You have established Border Liaison Offices at key points along your shared boundaries to help improve border control.
- And you regularly convene ministerial and senior officials' meetings to further strengthen trust and keep the momentum going.
Each of your countries has contributed a lot to stopping the flow of illegal drugs through the region:
Afghanistan faces many serious challenges, but in provinces where governance is stronger and the rule of law prevails, only a few hundred hectares of opium cultivation remain. Afghanistan's efforts to increase security and reduce opium cultivation are to be commended and must be expanded.
Iran 's efforts to prevent drug traffickers from crossing its borders have resulted in the highest seizures of opiates in the world. Iran also provides strong support and plays a constructive role in counter-narcotics enforcement activities and promoting cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking throughout the region.
Pakistan , despite the tragic devastation of the widespread flooding this year and other serious challenges, has meaningfully participated in joint operations resulting in seizures and arrests of traffickers. In a further demonstration of its commitment to confronting the drug problem, four months ago Pakistan launched with UNODC a drug control master plan and a new country programme.
We know that the Triangular Initiative works, and it has made good progress in just a few short years. But given the vast scope of the problem, now it must concentrate on operations and make them even more effective.
The JPC needs to become fully operational through the deployment of full-time Permanent Liaison Officers. Joint operations need to be intelligence-led and carried out more frequently, and they should be followed up by a comprehensive criminal justice response. And while there has been progress in establishing Border Liaison Offices and standardizing cross-border communications, this needs to proceed more rapidly.
In the future, the Triangular Initiative could expand its cooperation from preventing drug trafficking to include other mutual concerns, such as precursor control, judicial cooperation, anti-money laundering, and preventing and treating drug use. This is just a suggestion, but one that is worthy of serious consideration.
UNODC would also like to see the Triangular Initiative become part of a wider regional and inter-regional approach, progressively linking up with other regional initiatives, particularly the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) and Operation Tarcet, which targets precursors.
UNODC firmly supports your work through the Triangular Initiative, and we would like to help you to do more. With the launch of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries early next year, UNODC will be able to provide more resources and expertise to the region. The Regional Programme will serve as a platform for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries and the broader international community to develop and implement effective, integrated strategies to counter drug trafficking and organized crime and other regional challenges.
Security ultimately means the ability to ensure the safety of citizens in every city, every village and every street. It is also based on people's confidence that they can live without fear of becoming victims of criminals and drug dealers, and that they can work towards a more prosperous future for themselves and their families. These are the real goals of our efforts to fight drug trafficking. The Triangular Initiative has the potential to improve life not only for your citizens, but for people throughout the region and beyond. And then we may decide to change the logo of our Initiative by turning upward the top of the green triangle.