UN Security Council Briefing on Emerging Challenges to International Peace and Security
23 November 2011
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome the opportunity to brief you on the multifaceted nature of transnational organized crime and trafficking in drugs, which are undermining security in many regions, and evolving into major threats to political and social stability, the rule of law, human rights, and economic development.
In recognition of this global challenge, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is raising awareness and mobilizing multilateral action to deliver as one. Earlier this year, the Secretary-General invited UNODC to co-chair the UN system-wide Task Force on Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking.
The heads of UNHCR and WHO, Mr. Guterres and Dr. Chang, present here today, are strong and active partners in these collective efforts.
We are working closely with them, as well as with DPKO, DPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, Interpol, CITES, and the World Bank, among others, to create a multi-disciplinary response in such areas as piracy and drugs, illegal trade in small arms, corruption, illicit money flows, human trafficking, and wildlife crime.
We are also building partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
Our comprehensive and concerted approach is underpinned by UNODC's guardianship of the UN Conventions on corruption, drug control and transnational organized crime.
UNODC's strength lies in its ability to deliver operational results in the field. We have developed a series of regional programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These programmes support an integrated approach linking the local to the regional and to the global.
Regarding the MENA region, it is UNODC's most urgent priority to assist "post-Arab Spring" countries in their progress towards democracy and the rule of law.
To this end, based on our existing capacities in this region and building upon new ones, we are refocusing our Regional Programme for the Arab States to adequately address new realities.
UNODC is already working closely with the authorities in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as developing a national programme with Libya.
There is much to be done in this region in terms of strengthening the rule of law and criminal justice, police reform, combating corruption and assisting in the recovery of misappropriated funds, fighting against human trafficking and illicit migration, and terrorism prevention.
Combating piracy off the coast of Somalia through providing the assistance to countries in the region to prosecute and jail convicted pirates remains our outstanding priority.
The illicit money flows produced by piracy must be dealt with in a more meaningful way.
We need also to address the growing threat of an upsurge in pirate attacks in West Africa, in particular, off the coast of Benin.
The UN interagency assessment mission, co-led by DPA and UNODC, that the Secretary General recently dispatched to Benin and Nigeria, will certainly help to develop a tailored, comprehensive and effective anti-piracy strategy for this region.
The impact of transnational cocaine trafficking has had a devastating effect on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, in particular, the volume of cocaine consumed has doubled over the last decade.
Our Latin American/Caribbean programmes are dealing with this issue, but we are also working hard to assist in the promotion of a collective response among the West African countries.
UNODC has drawn attention to West Africa's vulnerability as a transit route for cocaine on a number of occasions, and there is a need for the international community to focus on this pressing issue.
UNODC's Regional Programme for West Africa (2010-2014) was developed to support the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan's ability to address the growing problem of illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa.
Afghanistan and its surrounding countries is another key region where UNODC is working to combat the transnational threat of drugs.
The latest news is hardly encouraging. After the drastic decline in 2010 over previous high production levels due, mostly, to the opium plant disease, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan this year has increased by 7 per cent. In the same period, the amount of opium produced increased by 61 per cent: from 3,600 metric tons to 5,800 metric tons. There are now only 17 provinces that have a poppy free status, compared to 20 in 2010.
As a result, production levels may be heading in the direction of previous highs seen before 2010.
The farm-gate value of opium production alone is equivalent to around 10 per cent of the country's GDP. Opium, therefore, forms a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides funding to terrorism and the insurgency, while fuelling corruption.
This situation cannot last forever. The time has come for a more result oriented response to this challenge; a response which is based on concrete action and shared responsibility.
I hope that the 5 th Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting, which is scheduled for 28 November in Kabul, will help to agree new measures among the region's states and to ensure that the Afghan government accepts counter-narcotics as a national priority.
UNODC is launching a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring countries on 7 December. It is an initiative in which we all have a shared stake.
I also hope I will be able to report on the first results of our efforts at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact to be held in Vienna on 16 February 2012.
Continuing our efforts to reduce the supply of drugs, we must also focus on demand reduction and prevention of drug addiction.
UNODC recognizes that drug use and drug dependence are health issues, including HIV and AIDS, that must be addressed in full compliance with the Conventions on drug control, that form our profound commitment to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.
Young people are particularly vulnerable. UNODC's Global Programme concerning Children Exposed to Drugs addresses drug use in early childhood.
Starting in Afghanistan, the programme will soon be extended to West Africa and to Latin America.
We must also appreciate that transnational organized crime and drug trafficking are also development issues requiring a sustained approach and the long term commitment of all partners.
At the core of our multilateral response must be a policy to help build the capacities of fragile or weak states, while assisting with the defences of neighbouring countries and the long term development of criminal justice systems.
To conclude, I would like to commend the Portuguese Presidency for its initiative in organising this meeting of the Security Council, and all the Council's Members for their support of UNODC.
My Office stands ready to further brief the Council on all issues relevant to your important responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security.