Director General/ Executive Director
Opening Statement of the UNODC Executive Director, at the First Tripartite Ministerial meeting with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
31 May 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to provide the opening address for the First Tripartite Ministerial meeting with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
I arrived here from Afghanistan, travelling north, through the Badakshan province bordering Tajikistan, and then crossing at the Khorog district.
During my journey, I was able to visit some poppy fields, as well as eradication efforts and gain a better understanding of the challenges we face.
Afghanistan produces the world's largest amount of illicit opium and heroin and accounts for an estimated 83 percent of global illicit opiates.
Drugs from Afghanistan undermine social and economic development, promote crime, instability and insecurity, while generating narcotic addiction and HIV/AIDS everywhere.
As a consequence, it should be vital for the Afghan government and the international community to stop the operations of criminal networks who traffic in drugs and crime.
This shared sense of responsibility has been at the heart of the international community's response to this multifaceted threat.
UNODC has worked with Member States and inter-agency partners to promote this concept and to build integrated responses that rely on political commitment and the delivery of solutions in the field.
South, West and Central Asia's borders with Afghanistan form part of this strategic approach.
We all share responsibility at the local, regional and international levels to address the transnational crime groups responsible for drug trafficking.
To assist, UNODC launched the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries in December 2011 to enhance coordinated counter-narcotics efforts and regional stability.
Our vision for this Regional Programme is that, by 2014, countries in the region will be working together to counter the impact of drugs and crime.
Despite limited resources, the programme is delivering a series of initiatives designed to counter drugs and transnational organized crime.
The Regional Programme, therefore, offers an opportunity to combat the challenges faced by all countries in the region based on integrated initiatives and shared responsibility.
Indeed, today's ministerial meeting provides an excellent opportunity to develop initiatives that intercept drug traffickers, as well as the smuggling of precursor chemicals, weapons, and human trafficking.
In support of this, UNODC has been promoting confidence-building and collaboration in the region including across Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan under the banner of the Triangular Initiative.
We have also pursued a similar initiative based on the Tripartite AKT cooperation in Border Management and Drug Control among the countries of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Northern Route for Afghan's heroin is a concrete reality and cannot be ignored. It is estimated that 90 tons of heroin leaves northern Afghanistan annually through Central Asia, along with tons of hashish.
With such large amounts of drugs moving through a geographically limited area, it is vital that Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan cooperate through these Tripartite meetings.
Fortunately, the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre is operational.
Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are CARICC members and Afghanistan is in the process of appointing a liaison officer.
The countries present today need to make every use of the Centre when sharing information and coordinating operational responses to drug trafficking.
Each of the countries present today has also established a dedicated counter narcotics force capable of launching and participating in coordinated activities.
We have the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, the State Service on Drug Control in Kyrgyzstan and the Drug Control Agency in Tajikistan.
Each of these agencies has trained and dedicated professionals who are capable of investigating and interdicting drug trafficking organizations.
However, while providing the vital cornerstone of our response, these agencies cannot succeed on their own.
Our foundations must also be built on firm political commitment at the highest levels as well as support from law enforcement.
The Tripartite meetings are, therefore, a forum not only to stimulate regional coordination, but also to enhance coordination at the national level.
I am pleased to announce that since the first meeting in January of this year, the Afghan and Tajik authorities have planned and executed a joint operation.
However, I hope that we will soon be able to move to a higher level with initiatives that are broader in scope and geography. More operations, more follow up, more intelligence sharing and judicial cooperation.
But illicit drugs have a human face. They impact on the health and welfare of citizens. We cannot afford to ignore the need for rehabilitation and reintegration back into society and the promotion of alternative development.
Each and every agency has a responsibility to assist in efforts to address this crime. Hopefully the AKT Initiative will be able to share creative and innovative ways of assisting drug users.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Illicit drugs and transnational organized crime are grave threats to the countries of Central Asia.
Our response must be equal to these challenges.
We must work together to build the initiatives capable of breaking down the criminal networks and seizing the illicit drugs.
Today marks a crucial milestone along this path. I trust there will be many more.