16 February 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lent his support to comprehensive and concerted international action to stem the flow of opium and heroin from Afghanistan. At a high-level conference taking place today in Vienna, ministers stressed the need to reduce opium poppy cultivation, opiate production and drug trafficking and abuse while aiming to establish a broad international coalition to combat opiate trafficking. Among them were Mr. Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, and Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
"Drug trafficking and transnational organized crime undermine the health of fragile States, weaken the rule of law and hinder our attempts to meet the Millennium Development Goals", Mr. Ban told the partners of the Paris Pact initiative, a framework for cooperation in controlling the traffic in opiates from Afghanistan. "Fighting the drug trade is essential to our work to reduce poverty and raise standards of human well-being", he added.
In view of the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan in 2014, the international community will increasingly look to the United Nations to take on additional responsibilities in supporting Afghanistan, said Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC. Mr. Fedotov, whose Office supports the 55-country-strong Paris Pact initiative, stressed that since security questions were attracting the most attention, it was important to renew focus on the non-military aspects of transition - development, governance and the strengthening of civilian authority throughout Afghanistan.
"In all our activities, we are working closely with the Afghan Government to ensure that we reverse the worrying trends in the increasing production and cultivation of opiates. I encourage the Afghan leadership to make this a national priority and to develop shared responsibility across all branches of government", said Mr. Fedotov.
Afghanistan produces some 90 per cent of the world's illicit opium. The UNODC Afghan Opium Survey 2011 pointed to a sharp increase in opium production, higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drug trade, once again highlighting the direct correlation between insecurity, lack of agricultural aid and opium cultivation.
Drug money can potentially derail long-term stability. In recognition of the pivotal role of counter-narcotics efforts in building security, democracy and prosperity in Afghanistan, the Ministerial Conference identified four main areas for enhanced cooperation: regional initiatives; tackling financial flows linked to drug trafficking; preventing the diversion of precursor chemicals, which are used to manufacture drugs; and reducing drug abuse and dependence. Efforts under the Paris Pact initiative are aimed at strengthening international and regional cooperation in support of Afghanistan's efforts to address drug trafficking.
In December 2011, UNODC launched a regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, which could be a major tool in creating a broad international coalition to combat opium poppy cultivation and opiate production and trafficking, said Mr. Fedotov. He stressed the need for a comprehensive set of responses: breaking the link between poverty and drug cultivation, curbing drug demand and directing law enforcement efforts against the traffickers - not against the farmers or addicts concerned. Intelligence-sharing with countries affected by the drug trade was also essential, along with good governance and anti-corruption measures. He said that only prospects for a better future would bring lasting security to Afghanistan, and his Office would do its utmost to support that aim through its extensive regional programme.
Affirming their "common and shared responsibility", the Paris Pact partners adopted the Vienna Declaration, a statement of international commitment to act in a "balanced and comprehensive manner" against the menace of illicit Afghan opiates. "We recognize that the narcotics problem is a global challenge which also requires a global response, including addressing the demand and supply sides," the Declaration states.
Vienna Declaration (pdf)