Strengthened Regional Cooperation to Countering Illicit drugs was having a positive impact in the West and Central Asia

The Steering Committee Meetings of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019 and Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries were hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan in Astana on 6 April 2017. Mr.Rashid Zhakupov, Deputy Minister of the Interior of Kazakhstan and Mr Alexandre Schmidt, Chief of UNODC Regional Section for Europe, West and Central Asia, HQ Vienna opened the meetings. 

At the meetings senior representatives from the drug control agencies, Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Health, Customs, Border Guards, Justice from the Central Asian countries, Afghanistan, Iran and  Pakistan, as well as donor, international partners and organizations reviewed the achievements made under the programmes in 2016 and identified the priorities for 2017.

On this occasion, Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC in his video message to the participants  informed that UNODC has delivered over 29 million USD technical assistance across the West and Central Asia in 2016, which includes over 12 million USD to Central Asia alone to bolster law enforcement cooperation, ensure fair, effective and humane criminal justice systems, prevent drug use and HIV and treatment as well as support  research and advocacy to ensure responses based on evidence and scientific data. He urged that more than ever before it is important for the countries to work together on drugs, crime and terrorism issues given the increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and emerging concerns on security and violent extremism. 

Ms Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia reaffirmed commitment of the UNODC Programme in Central Asia 2015-2019 to ensure that quality technical support in UNODC's niche areas of expertise through capacity development in areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, forensics and health in the Central Asia and the wider region. She thanked the countries, donors and partners for their continuing support and urged them to match their commitment of resources to the complex challenges of drugs, transnational organised crime and terrorism in the region.

Mr. Andrey Avetisyan, Regional Representative for Afghanistan and the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, noted that strengthened regional cooperation and joint responses to countering illicit drugs and transnational organized crime was having a positive impact in the West and Central Asia region. He thanked the Member States, donor countries and stakeholders for their unwavering commitment to work together to address the shared challenges. 

The Kyrgyz Republic will be chairing the next, third UNODC Programme for Central Asia Steering Committee meeting which will be held in 2018.