Roundtable Meeting of Ambassadors Representing Countries of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Tuesday, 23 January 2018: The United Nations Office on Drugs Crime in Pakistan (COPAK) hosted a roundtable meeting of Ambassadors that represent countries of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries. This meeting included representation from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

During the meeting, UNODC COPAK Representative Mr. César Guedes apprised the distinguished guests that since its launch in 2011 the Regional Programme has become the core mechanism for UNODC to strengthen regional cooperation in West and Central Asia. He elaborated on the inter-regional drug control approach, integrated programming and the focus on partnership as the main principles of the Regional Programme. The establishment of a regional working group on precursors, law enforcement training, forensic, trafficking in persons, cybercrime and transfer of sentenced prisoners as well as Family and School Together Programme and specialized research on Balkan route were shared as a few achievements of the Regional Programme. On the other hand, 63% surge in Afghanistan poppy cultivation, diversion of precursors, difference in legal systems, use of cyberspace and cryptocurrencies by criminals and low data availability were highlighted as challenges by the UNODC Regional Programme during last year.

During the course of roundtable discussion, H.E. Mehdi Honardoost, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, suggested that funds allocations for countering narcotics should be in consonance with the challenges that each country faces, while referring to regional drug scenario and the importance of cooperation, he stated that "Local diseases need local remedies". Mr. Zardasht Shams, Chargé d'affaires of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, emphasized the long-term, sustainable programmes to help the alternative development initiatives in Afghanistan. H.E. Atadjan N. Movlamov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan, mentioned the importance of comprehensive and long-term approach to counter the drug problem. Mr. Esen Ausamaev, a representative from the Kyrgyz Republic, flagged the challenges posed by emerging synthetic drugs and use of crypto-currencies by criminals in the region and Mr. Behodur Buriev from the Republic of Tajikistan enquired about UNODC's technical assistance on designated entry-exit points to the countries in the region to interdict drugs trafficking from the region.

The participants unanimously appreciated UNODC's effort to generate awareness and cooperation between law enforcement and judicial agencies within the region and reinforced the importance of sharing international best practices in these areas. UNODC thanked the distinguished guests for their presence and valuable contribution during the discussion.