About UNODC in Central Asia

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UNODC began its presence in Central Asia in 1993 with the establishment of the Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Today, ROCA supports the five countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to reduce abuse and trade of illicit drugs, counter transnational organized crime and corruption, and prevent terrorism. UNODC ROCA has five Programme Offices in the region – Astana and Almaty (Kazakhstan), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), and Ashgabat (Turkmenistan). UNODC focuses on the following five prime areas of activity:

  1. Strengthening member states’ capacities to confront threats from transnational organized crime.

  2. Supporting member states in implementing a balanced, comprehensive, and evidence-based approach to the world drug problem that addresses both supply and demand.

  3. Strengthening crime prevention and building effective criminal justice systems.

  4. Tackling corruption and its catastrophic impact on societies.

  5. Countering terrorism, including through implementation of the 19 international legal instruments against terrorism.

UNODC’s presence in Central Asia is built around a traditional emphasis on technical assistance to the law enforcement agencies, healthcare, and criminal justice in the region. Some of the current UNODC activities include efforts to counter cybercrime and anti-money laundering; assistance to respective national drug control agencies on capacity development through training, infrastructure, and intelligence-led policing. Further support is being provided to improve prevention of evidence-based drug use, treatment, and rehabilitation programs. Support is also being provided for forensics, strengthening of criminal justice systems, and crime prevention. Prevention of violent extremism and radicalization, as well as legislative reforms related to terrorism prevention, are an integral part of UNODC’s work in the region. All these efforts are carried out in close cooperation with the local governments, international partners, and donors. Although opiates trafficked along the Northern route through Central Asia, to the Russian Federation and beyond are one of the largest threats to the region, there are also challenges posed by homegrown drugs such as cannabis, and the increasing use of synthetic drugs which are trafficked from other countries. The transnational and organized criminals involved in the narcotics trade often traffic more than illicit drugs and their cargos include contraband, weapons, natural resources, and even humans. The resulting illicit economy that emanates from drug trafficking has a destabilizing effect on local economies; it feeds corruption and weakens the State’s ability to function. Drugs extract a high human cost. Drug use is on the rise and so are the resulting health and social issues associated with their use. Furthermore, Central Asian states face an ever-present threat of terrorism, both internally and externally from those returning from other conflicts. In the modern world, these multiple threats are both physical and virtual. The transnational and evolving nature of these threats coupled with modern communications necessitates a reinvigorated and collective response across the Central Asian States.

UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2022-2025

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On November 24, 2021, the UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2022-2025 was officially launched. The Programme outlines the proposed scope and focus of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's work in Central Asia from 2022 to 2025. The overall vision of the Programme for Central Asia is: “a healthy, safe, and secure community, free from the threats posed by organized crime and drug use and confident in the integrity of the justice system to access services for all.”


Read more: UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2022-2025