UNODC chief calls for action against drug cartels

Corruption must be stamped out and borders strengthened to run emerging Afghan drug cartels out of business, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told reporters at UN Headquarters in March.

"Most of the Afghan opium is exported either to Iran or Pakistan," Mr. Costa said, calling for strengthened relations among the three countries to stem illicit drug trafficking.

UNODC Executive Director Costa briefs the media at UN Headquarters. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Mr. Costa, who briefed the Security Council on UNODC's latest report on opium cultivation in Afghanistan, called corruption the "major lubricant" facilitating both the cultivation and trading of opium.

He welcomed a new Council initiative-under which major traffickers could have their assets seized, be banned from travel and face arrest-to prevent burgeoning cartels from becoming worldwide entities. "We count on that as a very important step to nip the emerging drug cartels in the bud," he added.

He also called for greater efforts to promote development in Afghanistan to present farmers currently engaged in opium production with an alternative.

The UNODC Afghanistan Opium Winter Assessment highlighted the divergent regional trends between the centre-north and the south of the country.

While six of the centre-north provinces have been certified as drug-free, "the situation is out of control in the southern part of the country," Mr. Costa said.

The expansive southern region, roughly half the size of France, has 100,000 hectares of land under illicit drug cultivation and currently has the largest concentration of narcotics in the world, he said.

The Security Council and Afghanistan

In a resolution adopted unanimously on 23 March, the Security Council urged the Afghan Government and the international community to do more to implement the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year UN-backed blueprint launched early last year which sets benchmarks for certain security, governance and development goals.

The Security Council meets to review the situation in Afghanistan. UN Photo/Ryan Brown

The resolution stresses the importance of meeting the benchmarks, particularly those focused on "the cross-cutting issue of counter-narcotics," and calls for accelerated reform in the justice sector.

The resolution called on the Government to implement all the elements of its National Drug Control Strategy, including garnering regional support against illicit trafficking and money-laundering linked to the industry.

Source: United Nations News Centre