Triangular Initiative underscores need to address maritime routes for Afghan opium


Vienna, 14 March 2014 - Speaking at a ministerial review meeting today of the Triangular Initiative, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, said, "Addressing maritime trafficking routes is an issue of increasing urgency. During my recent mission to the Gulf countries, the use of maritime routes for drug trafficking was highlighted as one of the main challenges."

Because of their geographical position countries in the Gulf region face trafficking in a range of drugs and precursor chemicals. To halt the trafficking countries need to intercept ships as they move between ports in West Asia and the Gulf region. As part of its own efforts, UNODC has developed a Maritime Cooperation Framework to confront this issue. In 2013, Iran, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Oman launched operations that seized vessels containing more than 10 tons of different drugs.

The Triangular Initiative, launched in 2007, coordinates the efforts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan against the threat of opiates flowing from Afghanistan, as well as other forms of transnational organised crime in West Asia. Efforts include joint operations and the use of liaison officers to ensure greater information sharing between the three countries.

UNODC's 2013  Afghanistan Opium Survey  said that Afghanistan's opium crop had risen by a record 36 per cent, while opium production had increased by 49 per cent. Based on the report the area under cultivation rose to a level of 209,000 ha from the previous year's total of 154,000 ha. This is higher than the previous peak of 193,000 ha in 2007.

UNODC is currently developing new and innovative approaches to tackle drug trafficking. Described as the inter-regional drug control approach, the strategy brings together regional centres to enhance criminal intelligence sharing and operational collaboration along the Balkan, Northern, and Southern routes used for shipping drugs and precursors to and from Afghanistan.