Secretary-General Ban warns that terrorism, drugs and crime are thwarting development in Afghanistan

30 March 2009 - Terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are seriously impeding progress in Afghanistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, calling for greater international cooperation to help the country tackle these challenges.

"They are obstacles to development," Ban said in an address to the Special Conference on Afghanistan, convened in Moscow under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. "They bring violence into people's daily lives. They undermine justice and human rights. They are a grave threat to public health, to governance and a democratic future."

In the area of drug trafficking, for example, he emphasized the shared responsibility in reducing demand abroad, reducing supply in Afghanistan and tightening security along trafficking routes. "Cooperation must be our watchword as we respond," he said.

Ban stressed that Afghanistan cannot face these challenges alone, and that all States have an interest in countering them with "sustained and robust" action.

"The problems harm not only the Afghan people," he noted. "They pose a major danger to the region and the world at large. And all of us must be involved in helping to solve them."

The Secretary-General also noted that the security situation in Afghanistan was at a "delicate juncture" and that, while conditions have deteriorated in recent months, indications of "new thinking and new commitment" from Afghanistan's international partners are reasons for cautious optimism.