Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Building inter-regional synergies to disrupt illicit financial flows in West and Central Asia and South Eastern Europe

Zagreb 28-29 June, 2018


Heroin trafficking is a global business that generates immense profits. The amount of poppy cultivation and heroin production in 2017 represents a serious concern for the international community, given that heroin trafficking fuels other organised crime, drives corruption and is also believed to be a key source of funding for insurgent groups which poses a threat to regional and inter-regional security and stability.

In turn the illicit financial flows (IFF) triggered by it, undermine the economies of Member States along the major trafficking routes, heighten perceived and actual risks to direct foreign investment and the confidence of international development effort.

These challenges require a concerted and collective response by all relevant stakeholders. Towards this goal, UNODC, under the framework of its Regional Programmes for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries and South Eastern Europe, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of the Republic of Croatia convened an Inter-Regional Meeting between South Eastern Europe and West and Central Asia on Building Partnerships in Countering Illicit Financial Flows on 28-29 June 2018 in Zagreb, Republic of Croatia. In his welcoming remarks Mr. Amir Muharemi, Assistant Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, welcomed the participants and the innovative inter-regional approach of UNODC.

The event was attended by more than 80 participants including heads of drug control agencies, heads of financial intelligence units, and other relevant stakeholders from Albania,  the I.R. of Afghanistan, Bosnia  and  Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia, I.R of Iran, the Republic  of Kazakhstan, Kosovo (under Security  Council Resolution  1244) the Kyrgyz Republic, the FYR of  Macedonia,  Montenegro, I.R Pakistan, Serbia, Republic of  Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as member of the donor community.  During the event challenges and prospects for inter-regional cooperation were addressed, with a particular emphasis on illicit financial flows (IFF) in line with the 2016 UNGASS Outcome document.     

"The meeting is organized within the context of the UNODC Regional Programmes for South Eastern Europe and Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, as well as the One UNODC Concerted Approach for Europe, West and Central Asia aiming at inter-connecting and enhancing synergies for increased impact to address drug trafficking and organized crime, including the related illicit economy", said Mr. Alexandre Schmidt, Chief of the Regional Section for Europe, West and Central Asia and Regional Representative for South Eastern Europe in its opening remarks. Mr. Schmidt further added that "UNODC would continue supporting Member States, in close cooperation with partners, to tackle drug-related crime and related illicit financial flows, using all the tools at our disposal, as provided by the Conventions on drugs, corruption, transnational organized crime and terrorism, and the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice".

The meeting counted with the contribution of a wealth of experts from the public and private sectors including ABN AMRO Bank, Western Union, Europol, The Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Center of Afghanistan (FINTRACA), Moneyval, RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring), Financial Crimes Investigation Board - FIU (MASAK), Turkey .

The two-day event started with an overview of the trends and analysis of IFF along the three drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan given by UNODC, which presented the updated Report on the trafficking of opiates along the Northern Route.  Many different topics were discussed and analysed such as national measures and responses to challenges associated with illicit financial flows, financial investigative techniques to interdict illicit financial flows, trans-border investigations, national experiences in countering money laundering and  the role played  by regional and inter-regional actors to strengthen cooperation at all levels. Additionally, the role that the private sector, particularly the banking industry and HOSSP (Hawala and other similar service providers), can play to support the criminal justice systems identifying and disrupting illicit financial flow was discussed.

This meeting not only contributed to exchange best practices among participants of both regions, but also raised awareness on the critical importance of cooperation at the regional and inter-regional level and on the need  to support Afghanistan in its endeavour to fight drug trafficking and organised crime

In this regard H.E. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, in her remarks commended UNODC initiative to convene this meeting and highlighted its importance. Minister Azimi also reiterated the commitment of Afghanistan to continue its fight against drugs trafficking in synergy with all relevant regional and international partners.

UNODC thanked the European Union and the government of Turkey for funding this important activity.