Almaty, 8 - 9 December 2009

Delivered by Mr. Miroslav Jenca Special Representative of the Secretary-General
and Head of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA)

It is a pleasure to send greetings to the distinguished ministers and others participating in this important regional meeting.

The world is deeply concerned by the impact of illegal drugs on Afghanistan. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the dangerous consequences for Afghanistan's neighbours.

As we all know, a major heroin trafficking route runs through Central Asia, from Afghanistan to Russia. This illicit trade poses a threat to security by enriching and empowering criminal groups and anti-government forces. It undermines development by creating instability and widening corruption. And it poses a risk to health by spreading drug addiction and HIV.

For more than a decade, the United Nations has supported the development of national drug control agencies and other law enforcement bodies in Central Asia. But no country can tackle this threat alone. This transnational problem requires a regional solution. That was the inspiration for the Memorandum of Understanding that has now resulted in the creation of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre.

I therefore welcome the inauguration of CARICC in Almaty. This Centre will facilitate the exchange of intelligence to identify and disrupt trafficking networks, strengthen regional criminal justice capacity, and build security and confidence among neighbours. I thank the Government and people of Kazakhstan, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and all the parties to the Memorandum of Understanding for their role in making this Centre possible. The activities of the Centre also offer an opportunity to strengthen partnership among organizations active in the region, including the United Nations, SCO, the OSCE, the EU, NATO, CSTO, CIS, ECO and others.

The UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia is another important part of this picture. Its establishment demonstrates the UN's strong will to support peace, security and prosperity in the region. The Centre will continue providing political support to the work of the CARICC, and will do its part to address cross-border threats, including those associated with drug trafficking.

I encourage all states affected by Afghanistan's opium to make the CARICC work and thereby cut the flow of drugs from Afghanistan. I look forward to working with all partners in fulfilling this shared responsibility.