Director General/Executive Director
Speech of the UNODC Executive Director, at the Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CABSI): Lessons Learned and the Way Forward
16 April 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the Austrian government, particularly the Federal Minister of Interior Mikl-Leitner, the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, the European Union and UNDP for organizing today's event.
I also welcome the delegations from Central Asia and other countries, as well as representatives of international organizations, to this meeting on border management and security.
Countering drugs trafficked from Afghanistan and developing effective border controls is one of the key challenges for the countries of Central Asia.
We are facing a threat that undermines stability, destabilizes societies, promotes corruption, hinders good governance and social and economic development, heightens cross-border criminality, and funds terrorism.
We are also seeing growing drug addiction problems along the main routes of narcotics.
The Central Asian Border Security Initiative-CABSI, through its border management and drug activities, is providing support in countering this threat.
And such initiatives are becoming more important as time passes. In 2014, the international forces will withdraw from Afghanistan.
If we are to avoid a dangerous vacuum, one happily filled by the insurgency and criminal networks, the international community must work even more intensively with Afghanistan and neighbouring countries in West and Central Asia to enhance border security.
UNODC has been working on these activities in Central Asia since 1993.
We are helping nations to counter drugs, crime and terrorism by building local capacities in the areas of border control, cross border cooperation, information sharing, data collection and analysis, regional precursor chemical control and the improvement of regional coordination.
These are all fundamental when seeking to stop heroin flowing out of Afghanistan, through its immediate neighbours, into Central Asia and beyond.
Our overall approach has been to help build successful initiatives such as the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre-CARICC, while also forming strong relationships with the government of Afghanistan and its neighbours.
A CARICC facilitated operation in October 2011 seized 5.7 tons of Afghan drugs with an estimated value of USD 130 million.
Another CARICC assisted operation earlier this year, coordinated by Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and China, led to the seizure of 5.8 Kg of Afghan heroin.
The Triangular Initiative, comprised of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, is also delivering successes.
The Global Container Control Programme, which UNODC co-manages, is assisting countries in the region to develop procedures for effective container profiling and control.
Operation TARCET, currently in its third stage, has seized tons of precursor chemicals.
These achievements, however, are too limited and partial. Much more needs to be done, in particular, in strengthening regional and international cooperation to fight the common threat.
Launched in UNODC in December 2011, the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries is helping to generate coordinated counter-narcotics activities.
Our focus is also on the finances of criminal organizations. Using the Regional Programme as its umbrella, the CASH initiative has been launched by UNODC and its partners.
Through the programme we are establishing better cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units in the region to intercept criminal funds.
But we are also taking a balanced approach to the issue of illicit drugs. While we must work on halting the drug flows, we are also working to assist those who demand the drugs.
However, if we are to truly prevent drugs being trafficked, border management and law enforcement are only part of the overall solution.
We must also work to lift people out of poverty and away from the vicious trap of drug cultivation.
UNODC's STOP programme combines these approaches by focusing on joint operations against trafficking, while promoting alternative livelihoods and job creation.
STOP will soon be extended to Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the Badakhshan region.
People need to be offered aspirations for a new life, not the temptations of their old one. They need greater social and economic opportunities, including health and education. We need to do everything to help them achieve these goals.
With this in mind, I, therefore, invite Member States and organizations present today to consider partnering UNODC in developing additional alternative livelihood projects.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today's event is an additional milestone in the international community's engagement with the West and Central Asian region.
They are a continuation of the process that is building momentum on Afghanistan and its wider region.
CABSI is also a welcome sign that, where once we saw these issues in terms of patrols, fences and watch towers, we now see them in terms of integrated programmes, information sharing and joint operations.
The time of isolated border actions is gone. Together, we must embrace an approach that relies on coordination, cooperation and collaboration among all nations and at all levels.
Acknowledging these principles, the Paris Pact partners adopted in February the Vienna Declaration, which agreed that regional initiatives, severing financial flows, halting the movement of precursor chemicals and reducing drug abuse and dependence were essential in countering illicit drugs.
In this spirit, I, therefore, encourage Central Asian border control and law enforcement agencies here today to collaborate more closely, not only among themselves, but also with their Afghanistan and neighbouring counterparts as well.