High-Level Conference between Afghanistan and Pakistan, "Facilitating Trade While Interdicting Unwanted Flows"

28 November 2019, Tokyo: A 2-day High-level Conference between the counter-narcotics and law enforcement authorities from the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan and Pakistan was facilitated and hosted by UNODC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan from 26-27 November 2019.

The Conference was chaired by Mr. Jeremy Milsom, Representative of the UNODC Country Office Pakistan, while His Excellency (H.E.) Mr. Katsuhiko Takahashi, Assistant Minister and Director General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau and Japan's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan attended its inaugural and closing sessions as the guest of honor.

In his opening statement, H.E. Mr. Takahashi reaffirmed Japan's long-term partnership with UNODC to address various global challenges. "The Government of Japan is closely engaged in Afghanistan's peace-building process. While we stand committed to support Afghanistan and Pakistan in their endeavors against various forms of illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime, we consider regional cooperation to be a key to success. We look forward to developing a joint strategy with UNODC for addressing common challenges, as identified at this landmark conference", he said. 

In his opening remarks, Mr. Jeremy Milsom thanked the Government of Japan for hosting the High-level Conference. He highlighted that many initiatives were underway for improving connectivity, as well as boosting trade and commerce between Afghanistan and Pakistan. "While all of this is important and welcomed, an increase in trade volumes at the crossing points warrants additional counter-measures, for mitigating the risks of illicit trafficking. It necessitates development of a comprehensive strategy encompassing provision of required resources, improved inter-agency coordination and streamlined procedures for quickly handling the commercial consignments", said Mr. Milsom.

In his opening statement, H.E. Mr. Mohammad Hashim Aurtaq, the Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Government of Afghanistan thanked the Government of Japan and UNODC for holding this important Conference. He remarked "Afghanistan has been combating the menace of poppy cultivation and drug trafficking since a long time, and at a great cost. We want to find workable solutions for addressing common challenges, in close collaboration with our brotherly country Pakistan". He also stressed the importance of strengthening mutual trust and political commitment and provision of advanced technology for achieving effective results.

Mr. Amjad Javid Saleemi, the Federal Secretary from the Ministry of Narcotics Control, Government of Pakistan highlighted the challenges of illicit drug trafficking, as well historical relationship between the two neighboring countries. "Pakistan is a transit and destination country for the drugs being produced in Afghanistan. It is also faced with increased trafficking of psychotropic substances and synthetic drugs. The two countries have strong bonds, based on social and cultural heritage and a blood relationship. Therefore, Pakistan looks forward to strengthening regional partnerships, and supporting Afghanistan in drug supply reduction. Facilitating trade while interdicting unwanted flows will improve the quality of life of those living below the poverty line".

Under technical facilitation by the UNODC Country Offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan, senior officials from the two countries deliberated upon three thematic areas of the High-level Conference, i.e. illicit trafficking of drugs and precursor chemicals; trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; and smuggling of commercial goods and contraband items. They brainstormed current and emerging challenges, shared successful experiences, as well recommended an Action Plan for promoting regional cooperation against various transnational criminal elements and their nexus - that generates an illegal economy which can potentially fuel instability and terrorism. Towards the end, a Joint Statement was agreed and considered to be adapted, upon approvals by the respective national authorities.

The high-level conference was organized by UNODC Country Office Pakistan under an ongoing project funded by the Government of Japan, entitled " Secured Borders with reduced illicit drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime". It contributed towards strengthening the rule of law, stability, human rights and effective governance, under the Sustainable Development Goal 16: " Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions". It can be advocated as a good practice at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Kyoto, Japan during April 2020 ( under Agenda  Item 4: International cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address all forms of crime: (a) Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and (b) New and emerging forms of crime).


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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tokyo Japan:  https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/release/press4_008065.html