Issues on your agenda have crucial importance for the security and well-being of your citizens. Many of these issues fall within the mandate that the international community has given to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). I would therefore like to highlight how UNODC can support your efforts to control drugs, prevent crime and counter terrorism.
The most acute situation at the moment is the impact of Afghanistan's opium. The record opium harvest in Afghanistan - over 8,000 tonnes - will lead to the production of some 1,000 tonnes of heroin. This new record affects your countries in a number of ways.
- Security; drug money being partially used to fund extremists and terrorists.
- Crime; creating instability through drug trafficking and other illicit activities.
- Corruption; drug money being used to bribe border guards and senior officials;
- Health; growing rates of drug addiction and a spread of HIV/AIDS.
This threat is the result of the inability of the Government of Afghanistan to control its borders. Only 4% of opium being trafficked along the Northern Route is being seized. Moreover, Central Asia is a conduit for precursor chemicals smuggled from Asia. Therefore, problems in Afghanistan affect Central Asia and negatively influence health and security in the CIS states.
To counter-act these threats, UNODC is working with States - particularly those bordering Afghanistan - to strengthen border crossings, provide training, and set up joint interdiction teams. We have assisted Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to establish Drug Control Agencies. We are developing projects with Turkmenistan, on container security and border management. We are assisting Uzbekistan to reopen checkpoints on the Uzbek-Afghan border. Indeed, Central Asia has the biggest portfolio of UNODC technical assistance worth over $50 million. There is scope for even greater engagement, as demonstrated in the UNODC Action Plan for "Securing Central Asia's Borders with Afghanistan".
Effective counter-narcotics requires regional cooperation. That is why my Office has brokered the establishment of a Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) modelled on INTERPOL. I am confident that this Centre will improve information sharing and law enforcement cooperation. My thanks to Kazakhstan for hosting CARICC headquarters in Almaty, and to all Ministers involved for their support. I look forward to the final signature of the CARICC Agreement by the Russian Federation and ratification by all parties to enable this initiative to move ahead.
There is another flank that needs to be covered - the Caspian Sea. My compliments go to the government of Turkmenistan for recently launching together with UNODC the Caspian Sea Initiative, and for its willingness to foster greater counter-narcotics cooperation in this region.
Money made from drugs has a destabilizing effect. I urge you to apply all the measures available through the UN Conventions against Organized Crime and Corruption to stop the laundering of stolen assets and the financing of terrorism. UNODC has expertise that can assist you. We welcome the Russian proposal to tighten the financial security belt around Afghanistan.
UNODC also provides legal assistance to help states fight corruption. I would like to applaud our hosts, Tajikistan, for having recently established an independent Anti-corruption Agency. I visited it and was impressed. I urge you all to follow this example.
Excellencies, drugs have an impact on the health of your citizens. Whereas in the past your countries were mostly affected by transit, they are now increasingly affected by drug addiction and HIV. I therefore urge you to draw on the assistance provided by UNODC for effective prevention and care. I especially welcome the multi-million projects against HIV/AIDS we have set up in Russia and Central Asia.
Before closing, there is a different sort of crime that deserves your attention - human trafficking. I urge you all to strengthen your efforts to prevent it, protect the victims, and prosecute the traffickers as called for by the UN Protocol against Trafficking in Persons. I therefore invite you to join the Global Initiative we launched to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) that is gaining momentum around the world. My thanks to Belarus for its strong support for this cause.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that my Office is your ally in the fight against drugs, crime and terrorism and operates actively in the CIS. Unfortunately, we have almost no presence in the Caucasus and in Ukraine and could do much more in Belarus and Moldova. Let us broaden and strengthen our cooperation towards establishing security and rule of law.
I will be happy to make a statement at tomorrow's meeting of the Heads of States and to inform them of the support that my Office can provide.
I use this opportunity to thank the CIS Secretariat, especially Mr. Rushaylo, with whom my Office works very productively.
I wish you a successful Ministerial meeting. Thank you for your attention.