Director General/Executive Director
Remarks at the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting
Excellencies, Honoured Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you to the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting.
I thank the Paris Pact partners for their dedication and for their commitment, especially in the consultative mechanism.
I also offer my warm thanks to the Russian Federation and to France for the leadership they have shown in the preparation of this conference.
My particular thanks to the Russian Federation for their financial support for the forthcoming Paris Pact ministerial meeting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Afghan opium claims tens of thousands of lives worldwide, while inhibiting security and promoting corruption, criminality, instability and insecurity within Afghanistan, the region and internationally.
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.
In Afghanistan, I commend the work of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). Both institutions have worked hard to improve their performances.
I also acknowledge that the government's action, through its awareness programmes, has delivered some results. One example of this policy is the Helmand Food Zone, where strong political support from the Governor, combined with focused aid, is delivering reductions in opium production.
Yet, the Afghan government needs to do much more, in particular enhancing erradication efforts and developing alternative livelihoods. A shared sense of commitment needs to be promoted across all government departments.
Without this crucial mainstreaming of the issue, the bolstering of the counternarcotics section of the police service and their integration into the police capacity building program, there is a risk that Afghanistan's counter-narcotics bodies are being set up to fail. This must not be allowed to happen.
Due to these serious threats, 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.
In its own response, UNODC is working to bring counter-narcotics and the rule of law back to where it belongs: at the very heart of the policy debate on Afghanistan's future.
To achieve this, UNODC has helped develop a number of interlocking initiatives linking the local to the regional to the global.
One of them is the Triangular Initiative that has made considerable progress in tackling the challenges posed by the trafficking of illicit drugs from Afghanistan.
In my recent visit to Afghanistan for the 5 th Ministerial Meeting of the Triangular Initiative, there were several successes to celebrate.
Agreements were reached to improve effectiveness, developing joint operations, deploying Permanent Liaison Officers, and enhancing legal cooperation, among others.
Yet more needs to be done. We must turn these initiatives into a series of practical steps that not only build capacities, but also vigorously apply them.
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.
Based on the principle of shared responsibility, a concept well known to the Paris Pact Partners, UNODC is promoting regional cooperation and greater involvement from the international community in combating these transnational issues.
This concept is fully embedded in our Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (2011-2014), to be launched later today.
The Regional Programme will enable UNODC to promote greater regional cooperation, especially at the operational level.
However such initiatives are reliant on the commitment and financial support of the international community.
I am glad to say that this role has been taken up with dedication by the Paris Pact Partners whose work complements our own in the region.
I hope I will be able to report on the first achievements of the Regional Programme to the Paris Pact Ministerial Conference on 16 February.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I leave you now so that you can address the agenda of the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting, but I look forward to joining you once again this afternoon at the launch of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring countries, followed by a briefing to all Member States.