Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

Remarks at the High Level Meeting of Partners for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

 14 December 2015

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased that the partners of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries could meet here today at a high political level to discuss the way forward in our joint efforts in the region.

I would particularly like to thank Minister Azimi for presenting Afghanistan's new national action plan on drugs.

And thanks to my colleague SRSG Haysom for his comprehensive overview of UN assistance in Afghanistan.

In the face of continuing instability and security challenges in Afghanistan, the international community has been paying increased attention to the problems posed by illicit drug production and trafficking, as well as related organized crime, corruption and illicit economic activities. 

As we heard from Minister Azimi, the new Afghan National Drug Action Plan, based on a balanced approach, represents a crucial blueprint for all partners committed to countering illicit production and trafficking and reducing demand, while supporting sustainable development in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

The plan offers a solid baseline and feasible targets, and includes an important focus on the regional dimension.

This call for regional cooperation has been emphasized in UNSCR 2210, which for UNODC and many partners in this room represents an important milestone.

The resolution highlighted the need to address cross-cutting issues of counter-narcotics, anti-corruption and accountability, and encouraged the international community to further support Afghan-led efforts to address drug production and trafficking, including through regional initiatives.

It also reinforced the need to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organized crime, and address the threat to Afghanistan's security and stability posed by terrorist groups and criminals involved in the production, trafficking and trade of illicit drugs.

UNSCR 2210 also welcomed the ongoing work of the Paris Pact Initiative as one of the most important frameworks in the fight against opiates originating in Afghanistan.

We will in fact be holding a meeting of the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group here tomorrow.

The Tripartite Review Commission established following UNSCR 2210 urged the UN family to support the Government to combat the illicit economy, including counter narcotics, as well as address regional linkages and concerns.

In September, the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework's Senior Officials Meeting was held in Kabul. A new Mutual Accountability Framework was approved at the meeting, ahead of critical meetings in Warsaw and Brussels next year, at which donor commitments are expected to be renewed.

Our meeting today seeks to support and build on these efforts with a specific focus on narcotics and the rule of law.

While the situation with respect to security and counter-narcotics remains extremely challenging, there have been some incremental progress which needs to be reinforced and accelerated.

Among the positives are the increased effectiveness of the counter-narcotics institutions and the intensified efforts we have seen on the part of the Government of Afghanistan as well as the international community, including States neighbouring Afghanistan, to reinforce regional cooperation .

Afghanistan and neighbouring countries have further reiterated their commitment at the recent high-level conference in Dushanbe with Heads of Drug Control Agencies in West and Central Asia and the Ashgabat Conference.

Notably in 2015, Afghanistan increased opium poppy eradication by forty per cent over the previous year.

The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at one hundred and eighty-three thousand hectares and production equaled three thousand three hundred tons in 2015, down from the unprecedented level of two hundred and twenty-four thousand hectares and production of six thousand four hundred tons in 2014.

This trend may partially reflect global heroin market self-regulation, but it is nevertheless positive news and should be viewed as a step in the right direction.

Operationally, UNODC remains committed to supporting an integrated approach to illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism in Afghanistan, West and Central Asia and the wider region, through our Inter-regional Drug Control Approach and Networking the Networks initiative.

We are also working with relevant Afghan agencies on the cross-cutting issue of illicit financial flows, as well as providing technical assistance to counter money laundering and terrorist financing, and address corruption.

Currently, UNODC is reviewing its Programme portfolio for West and Central Asia, and remains committed to supporting Member States, including through country, regional and global programmes, such as the recently launched Central Asia Programme.

This morning we signed the new Country Programme for Iran 2015-2019, and the new Country Programme for Afghanistan 2016-2019 will be signed in the coming days.

We are working with the Government of Pakistan and other stakeholders to develop and finalize the new Country Programme for Pakistan.

We are also finalizing the next phase of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries 2016-2019, as part of the "Integrated UNODC Solution for West and Central Asia".

Going forward to UNGASS 2016, we need to continue addressing the challenges of illicit drugs as a common and shared responsibility that requires effective and increased international and regional cooperation, with a focus on an integrated, multidisciplinary, mutually reinforcing and balanced approaches, addressing both supply and demand reduction.

Our meeting today comes at a critical juncture. It is an opportunity to further advance Afghanistan's counter-narcotics strategy, strengthen regional cooperation and streamline our collective efforts to promote governance and the rule of law.

I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.