UNODC strengthens counter-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries
7 December 2011 - High-level government ministers from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries today launched a regional UNODC programme for 2011- 2014 to boost coordinated counter-narcotics efforts and regional stability. The launch follows the International Conference on Afghanistan held in the German city of Bonn to set the future course for Afghanistan after the 2014 handover of power to the Afghan Government.
"Given the gradual disengagement of the International Security Assistance Force, the international community will increasingly look to the United Nations to take on additional responsibilities in supporting Afghanistan," said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
The agreement by eight national officials to cement cooperation, especially in information-sharing, is unprecedented, said Mr. Fedotov. It is a measure of the trust built up by UNODC over the past few years in which parties have come together in Vienna. The meeting was attended by ministers, deputy ministers and high-level representatives from Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan and countries in West and Central Asia have been involved in various UNODC-brokered partnerships to improve their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities.
The Regional Programme is a strategic framework for the work of UNODC and multilateral partners and focuses largely on counter-narcotics and the rule of law in order to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime. Building on past successes, examples of future work may include the training of counter-narcotics law enforcement officials, joint raids, drug seizures and border patrols and activities to tackle cross-border illicit money flows.
In parallel, a new UNODC country programme for Afghanistan (2012-2014) will support the provinces, providing alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers, expanded health care, drug demand reduction and HIV prevention while enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics to conduct research, surveys and analysis.
Over the past five years, Afghanistan has produced some 90 per cent of the world's illicit opium. The UNODC Afghan Opium Survey 2011 shows that this year, Afghanistan has witnessed a sharp increase in opium production, higher prices for opium poppy crops and a flourishing drug trade that has continued to fuel insecurity.
"Because the coming years are absolutely crucial for Afghanistan's future, we must produce a response based on shared responsibility and concrete action", said the Executive Director.