UNODC Executive Director meets European Union officials and attends NATO briefing on mission to Brussels
15 March 2011 - UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has lauded the partnership between UNODC and the European Union in their common goal to address internal and external transnational issues of organized crime, illicit trafficking, corruption, money laundering and terrorism. He acknowledged the partnership not only for its policy exchanges but also on operational terms, evidenced by the large ongoing portfolio of joint UNODC projects co-funded by the European Community.
At a meeting with Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Mr. Fedotov said, "Internal and external security is a key EU policy priority and links closely with the UNODC mandates on the rule of law, security, human rights and development". He added that with its work rooted in international Conventions, UNODC provides assistance in sensitive thematic areas, and is keen to engage with the EU in joint strategic thinking on global security issues. Mr. Fedotov also noted that the EU has ratified the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the UN Convention Against Crime.
Mr. Fedotov noted the growing trend that non-traditional conflicts are fuelled by drug trafficking, organized crime and related corrupt practices. These conflicts undermine Governments in some countries and destabilize whole regions. He stressed the need for rule of law as a precondition for development and said that the UN, and UNODC, is working to integrate responses to transnational organized crime (including criminal justice reform) into its peacekeeping, peace building, security and disarmament activities.
A UNODC report The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment released last year shows that organized crime has globalized and turned into one of the world's foremost economic and armed powers. The report showed that Europe is the highest-value regional heroin market (US$ 20 billion).
The European Union remains one of the most significant donors to UNODC programmes globally. In 2010, the EU donated US$ 15.6 million. Some of the UNODC programmes funded by EU include the Counter Piracy programme to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia and efforts to fight illicit drug trafficking in West Africa.
Mr. Fedotov also attended the NATO North Atlantic Council meeting, which brought together over fifty countries represented by their Ambassadors, as well as officials from the World Bank/EU. Addressing the issue of Opium and Insecurity in Afghanistan, Mr. Fedotov said, "The threat posed by Afghan opium is a global problem, one that affects both health and security in many countries around the world. Thus our responses should not be limited to Afghanistan itself, or even to the major countries affected by the opium trade. All of Afghanistan's neighbours, as well as the larger region itself, are affected by trafficking in Afghan opium and by insecurity in Afghanistan".
At a bilateral meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero, Mr. Fedotov emphasized that for both organizations, Afghanistan remains the most important and challenging mission, particularly in terms of matching the urge for aid with the want for ownership as Afghanistan and international partners prepare a Transition Exit Strategy.
Mr. Fedotov informed Mr. Bisogniero about UNODC's new Country Programme for Afghanistan (2011 - 2013) which is providing a strategic guide for work in the country and supporting the regional strategy. He also informed that a Regional Programme is currently being drafted (to be launched in May 2011) to provide a platform under which shared responsibility between countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and the international community can be strategically planned and implemented.
Mr. Fedotov announced that for the last five years, UNODC has promoted the need for a regional approach to tackling Afghanistan's challenges, and UNODC's role may help to engage regional partners, in particular Iran. He also noted that UNODC delivers an important volume of activities to the country, accounting yearly for 10 per cent of UNODC total work.
The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010 released by UNODC showed that opium prices were rising, a phenomenon which may encourage farmers in Afghanistan to plant more opium poppy. "There is cause for concern. The market responded to the steep drop in opium production with an equally dramatic jump in the market price to more than double 2009 levels", said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC at the launch of the report in September.
Among other dignitaries, Mr. Fedotov met with EU Commissioner Ms. Cecilia Malmstroem, Home Affairs; Mr. Dmitry Rogozin, Ambassador of Russia to NATO; Mr. Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General European External Action Service, EU; Mr. Giovanni Kessler, the new Director General of the European Anti-Fraud Office; Mr. Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy; Mr. Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of Russia to EU; Mr. Antonio Vigilante, Head of the UN Office in Brussels and members of the Cabinet of Commissioner Vivian Reding in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.