Towards Integration and Balance

2011 has ended, and so it is the right time to sum up UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) interventions in the region.

With a traditional emphasis on building capacity in counter-narcotics through technical assistance, UNODC activities in the region link national projects on border control with the regional projects developing intelligence analysis systems and joint operations. These include: the Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) in Almaty; precursor chemical control; controlled deliveries; national drug control agencies. This work is carried out in close cooperation with the national and international partners and donors.

One of the UNODC's main focuses has been on the training of all levels of border security, intelligence analysis, drug treatment, drug use prevention and many others,  in order to ensure that best international practices are used to address some of Central Asia's most pertinent regional issues.

Cooperation between CARICC member states resulted in the dismantlement of 23 transnational drug smuggling channels, and seizure of more than 600 kg of drugs and the arrest of 46 members of different criminal organizations.

ROCA has worked to provide equipment and material support to law enforcement operations throughout Central Asia. One of the developments in this area has been the creation of Computer Based Training, which condenses a classroom of 11 workstations into two portable suitcases. Meanwhile, extensive work has been undertaken at the pressured Yakchi-Pun outpost on the Tajik-Afghan border, which has included the provision of new low-maintenance structures and the installation of an independent hydro-power turbine. These sustainable improvements have ensured that the outpost can operate effectively despite its isolated location.

Another significant goal of UNODC's regional operations in 2011 has been the reform of prison systems in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. This work has included a training-of-trainers program, designed to strengthen the capacities of prison management, and programmes to encourage of the rehabilitation and vocational training of inmates. Meanwhile, technical and legal expertise has been provided in order to encourage the reform of legislative frameworks related to the implementation of prison reform and alternatives to imprisonment.

While the UNODC has conducted training and equipment provisions at grassroots levels, it has also worked to encourage the establishment of favourable legislation, amendments and programmes on national levels. The most prominent of these efforts has been a meeting between the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov with the Kyrgyz  authorities in order to discuss UNODC's growing partnership with the nation, while establishing a new project to support Kyrgyzstan's State Service on Drug Control in the framework of Integrated Country Programme developed for Kyrgyzstan.

Developments in regards to legislation and national policy have occurred throughout Central Asia. A round-table meeting has taken place in Azerbaijan, organised by UNODC and the nation's parliament, in order to discuss the topic 'New policy, revised legislation, updated strategy towards effective prevention of HIV/AIDS among drug users'. Meanwhile, UNODC has worked towards improving access to HIV-related health services for drug users and prison inmates, through the consultative meeting 'Accessibility of HIV prevention and treatment for vulnerable population in Central Asia and Azerbaijan: Results of the legislative and policy analysis'.

The solution to the Afghan drug problem lies in an integrated regional response and requires more dedicated contributions of the international community based on principles of shared responsibility. This can only be done in a meaningful way through tailored mechanisms for improved cooperation and coordination at different levels, including between agencies within each country, among countries, and between donors and partner organizations. All stakeholders in and involved with the region recognize the paramount need for a regional approach and integrated coordination.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has been called upon to provide such coordination support due to its unique role with strong presence and a long history of partnership with governments in the region, performing the function of a neutral and honest broker. The Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) is a strategic framework for UNODC's engagement in the region and it is designed to provide a platform for better coordination and facilitation of counter-narcotics efforts across the region, bringing coherence to activities conducted by UNODC. The aim of the Regional Programme is to enhance counter-narcotics capacities across the region through better coordination and facilitation of regional cooperation as well as better allocation of the required resources and provision of technical assistances for regional cooperation by the international community to the countries of the region.

Judging by the above efforts, it is evident that UNODC has undertaken significant work in Central Asia  and Azerbaijan throughout 2011. These operations have laid a good foundation sustainable improvement, and on-going UNODC work in the wider region.