Director General/Executive Director
Remarks of the Executive Director UNODC at the Security Committee of the OSCE on the ongoing UNODC activities in Afghanistan
14 May 2012
Secretary General Zannier,
Thank you for inviting me to speak at the OSCE's Security Committee on UNODC's activities in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of illicit opium and heroin. Over the last 10 years, it has been responsible for around 90 per cent of the world's illicit opiate.
This has helped to fuel local instability, the insurgency, cross-border criminality, corruption and drug consumption, particularly among Afghanistan's neighbours.
Opiates from Afghanistan are estimated to claim the lives of 100,000 people every year. The country has the highest rates of opiate prevalence in the world, as well as high numbers of drug users with HIV/AIDS.
These problems cannot be solved simply by focusing on the country itself. Instead, a concerted effort at the local, regional and international levels is required.
UNODC's approach has been threefold: analyze the situation, build political commitment, and deliver practical activities.
Regarding our analysis of the situation, t he Opium Rapid Assessment Survey published in April indicates that the number of opium free provinces may, for the second year in a row, have fallen from 18 to 15.
Most of the provinces in the Northern region of Afghanistan remain poppy free; however, the Southern region maintains its status as the largest opium cultivating region in the world.
Poppy cultivation in the East and West is growing, whereas the entire Central region, including Kabul, might become poppy free in the future. But, only if effective eradication measures are taken.
There is also compelling evidence that security and poppy cultivation are interconnected. Based on our analysis, the majority of villages cultivating poppies are doing so in an extremely poor security environment.
It is clear, therefore, that, in the years to come, the Afghan government will need more help fighting poppy cultivation, especially in view of the 2014 transition.
UNODC, along with other UN partners, is preparing to do everything possible to assist Afghanistan and the other countries in the region during this phase.
For these reasons, we must promote shared responsibility among the international community.
Afghanistan and the international community need to strengthen border controls, confront the issue of corruption and promote alternative development.
We are continuing to build these commitments through our work with the Paris Pact, but also through our partnerships with other organizations.
For example, a memorandum of understanding was recently signed with UNIDO. The two organizations will promote development in poor rural communities that are dependent on the cultivation of illicit drug crops.
UNODC has also promoted an integrated regional approach, particularly through its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and the Neighbouring Countries.
The initiatives, we are creating in the region, include the Triangular Initiative and its Joint Planning Unit, CARICC, and Operation Tarcet to share information and conduct joint operations.
UNODC has also launched three new initiatives under the umbrella of the Regional Programme:
First , the Criminal Assets Southern Hub (CASH) Initiative offers advice to national authorities dealing with cross-border narcotics cases involving the potential pursuit of criminal profits.
Second, the Southern Trafficking Operational Plan (STOP) aimed at maximizing and focusing law enforcement and interdiction efforts coupled with alternative livelihoods, and
Third, the Maritime Regional Security Initiative (MaReS), which addresses the progressive shift of trafficking routes into the sea along the Makran coast between Iran and Pakistan.
Disappointingly, counter-narcotics was not viewed as a national priority at the Kabul meeting in 2010. But we need to face this challenge.
It is essential that we forge the political will to act against illicit drugs by broadening the efforts of multiple stakeholders at the national and international levels.
There must be a genuine mainstreaming of counter-narcotics within Afghanistan.
UNODC is striving to contribute to these confidence building measures through its regional programme.
To help in this, UNODC has launched an advocacy campaign to increase the focus on counter narcotics within the existing National Priorities Programmes.
In support of these activities, I plan to again visit Afghanistan and some neighbouring countries shortly to promote good governance combined with alternative development, as well as regional cooperation.
During my mission to Kabul, I will launch the new Country Programme for Afghanistan.
The three-year programme, aligned to the Regional Programme, has been designed to respond to the complexity of the drug and crime related challenges.
To promote all of these approaches, I would welcome the Security Committee's support in raising the issue of counter narcotics at the upcoming events in Chicago, Tokyo and Kabul later this year.
Members of the Security Committee,
By addressing Afghan opium and insecurity we are helping the region; but, we are also assisting countries all over the world to confront their own illicit drug problems.
With our focus on political commitment, integrated regional programmes and building an understanding of the multifaceted nature of the problem, we have begun a process capable of delivering results.
I hope we can continue to work with the OSCE in these areas to benefit the Afghan people, the wider region and the international community.