VIENNA, 5 April (UNODC) - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has agreed to work closely with the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organization on fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and trans-border crime. The CSTO consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Under a Protocol signed on Wednesday by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa and the Secretary General of the CSTO Nikolay Bordyuzha, the two organizations will develop joint projects against drugs and crime and share information about their activities.
"CSTO Member States are no strangers to the security and health risks posed by drug abuse and drug trafficking," Mr Costa said. "Because of their proximity to Afghanistan, the world's biggest supplier of heroin, they are on the front line of efforts to contain the spread of drugs from Afghanistan."
The UNODC Executive Director paid tribute to the CSTO's "Operation Channel," which he said had made substantial inroads into blocking illegal drug smuggling from Afghanistan to Europe and Africa. In 2005 alone, more than 11 tonnes of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances were seized under this operation and thousands of cases were brought to court.
"You have done great work in seizing drugs and precursors, prosecuting drug-related crimes and seizing weapons and ammunition," he told Secretary General Bordyuzha.
Mr Costa urged the six CSTO countries to reduce demand for drugs within their own borders and tackle the alarmingly high growth rates of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users.
"We need to do more to educate people - particularly the young - about the dangers of drug abuse and we have to treat drug abuse in order to prevent an HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in prisons," he said.
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