Director General/Executive Director UNOV/UNODC
5th Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My sincere thanks to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and in particular, the Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Moqbel Osmani for hosting this 5 th meeting of the Triangular initiative.
I would also like to thank the governments of Iran and Pakistan, and their counter-narcotics ministers, for their commitment to the Triangular Initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite a decade of international efforts and initiatives, the problems of drugs and crime in Afghanistan remain a threat.
After the drastic decline in 2010, due, mostly, to the opium plant disease, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased this year by 7 per cent. In the same period, the amount of opium produced increased by 61 per cent.
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 the insurgency, while also fuelling corruption.
These figures are not unknown to you. I am just quoting some of conclusions of the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey, released last October.
I welcome the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to address these challanges, and the practical positive steps, mentioned by Minister Moqbel Osmani, but there is now an even greater need for new result-oriented measures to counter trafficking in drugs from Afghanistan, as well as the smuggling of precursor chemicals into the country.
The coming years are crucial for Afghanistan's future. Due to the gradual disengagement of the International Security Assistance Force-ISAF-the international community will increasingly look to the United Nations to take on additional responsibilities in supporting Afghanistan.
Throughout this period, UNODC will work to bring counter-narcotics and the rule of law back to where it belongs: at the very centre of the policy debate on Afghanistan's future.
Based on the principle of shared responsibility, UNODC is promoting regional cooperation and greater involvement from the international community in combating this transnational challange.
To achieve this, UNODC has helped develop a number of interlocking initiatives that include the Paris Pact, the control of precursor chemicals under the Operation Tarcet flag; and the creation of the intelligence body, CARICC, embracing the five Central Asian countries, Russia and Azerbaijan.
One of the most important is the Triangular Initiative which has seen three countries allocate significant political capital, as well as financial and human resources to countering the illicit drug and crime problem.
Before continuing, I should like to mention one of the most committed advocates of the Triangular Initiative, General Daud Daud, who was killed in a bomb attack in May.
I met General Daud Daud during my last visit to Afghanistan, when he was in charge of the police and security in the Northern region. I will remember him as a firm ally of UNODC in the fight against drugs. I offer my sincerest condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.
Over the last four years, the Triangular Initiative has made considerable progress in tackling the challenges posed by the cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs originating from Afghanistan. In this period, it has built greater trust among the countries involved and delivered operational results.
Since 2009, there have been a number of achievements, including 12 joint or simultaneous drug control operations conducted and coordinated by the Joint Planning Cell. These actions have resulted in the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrest of many drug traffickers.
I am also pleased that, since February 2011, the Border Liaison Office at Torkham, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is open and functioning with regular inter-agency meetings taking place.
The 7 th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the Triangular Initiative held on 27 November 2011 in Kabul, was also a success and I endorse the new agreements on: improving effectiveness, developing joint operations, deploying Permanent Liaison Officers, and enhancing legal cooperation, among others.
Yet more needs to be done. The fact of our collaboration is not a destination, it is a significant point of departure. We must turn this partnership into a series of practical steps that not only builds capacities, but also vigorously applies them.
The Joint Planning Cell needs to become the engine of the initiative; joint patrols, especially between Afghanistan and Pakistan, must become the rule rather than the exception.
We also need to expand on maritime initiatives, thoroughly examine illicit money flows and confiscate the assets of drug trafficking networks, as well as review new drug trafficking routes and smuggling methods. Our good intentions must be translated into solid successes.
I would, therefore, urge the TI partners to recognize that this means generating more trust, more bilateral cooperation, more intelligence sharing, more joint patrols, and more joint, simultaneous operations.
To the international community, I say we must promote shared responsibility at the local, regional and international levels, at every possible opportunity, if not we risk collective irresponsibility.
To the partners of the Triangular Initiative, I say that no state, no matter how powerful, can tackle the threat from drugs and crime alone.
We must work in partnership, and in doing so, recognize that our triangle has three equal sides and all of them are equally important.
The concept of shared responsibility is also fully embedded in our Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (2011-2014), to be launched in Vienna on 7 December.
The Regional Programme will enable UNODC to promote greater regional cooperation, especially at the operational level. I invite the countries of the Triangular Initiative to play a strong leadership role in this context.
UNODC's comprehensive and concerted approach in Afghanistan is underpinned by our guardianship of the UN Conventions on corruption, drug control and transnational organized crime.
Drug use and drug dependence are also health issues, including HIV and AIDS, and our joint efforts are undertaken with full respect for the rights of citizens.
For all of these activities we need funding. I urge the donor community and international financial institutions to provide the members of the Triangular Initiative with technical and financial assistance to enhance their capacities to combat illicit drugs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our meeting today is part of a series of events that started in Istanbul, continues in Bonn and Vienna in early December, and concludes with the Paris Pact Ministerial meeting on 16 February next year.
In all these forums, UNODC is helping to establish initiatives such as the Regional Programme, the Triangular Initiative and other mechanisms of cooperation among regional countries.
I, therefore, look forward to a successful conclusion to the Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting and I believe that, as it progresses, this initiative will provide the nucleus of support for other activities, including UNODC's Regional Programme.
However, we need to demonstrate greater political will and determination when combating drugs and crime. The international community, the countries in the neighbouring region, and the Afghanistan government must view these issues as urgent priorities.
When we look back on this critical period for the region, not in three years, or even five years, but in 10 years, we need to be able to say it was our shared desire for cooperation, our collective political will, that made a lasting difference.