Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director


Remarks at the UN Security Council debate on the situation in Afghanistan

New York, 17 September 2015

Mr. President,

Esteemed Members of the Security Council,

Thank you for inviting me to address your meeting.

This debate takes place just a few days before world leaders will start discussing a visionary and transformative development agenda; an agenda that links peace and security to sustainable development, highlighting the centrality of the rule of law and accountable institutions and access to justice.

The situation in Afghanistan makes the need for such integrated approaches abundantly clear.

The recent Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework senior officials meeting highlighted the need for effective measures to counter the narcotics trade that is undermining the country's development and fuelling terrorism.

Last year, Afghanistan accounted for an estimated 85 per cent of global opium production and 77 per cent of global heroin production.

Opium cultivation and processing remains one of Afghanistan's leading economic activities, with the gross value of the opiate economy estimated in 2014 at 2.84 billion dollars.

Accounting for some 13 per cent of the national GDP, the export value of opiates considerably exceeded the value of the export of any licit goods and services.

Illicit drugs are supporting instability, insurgency, corruption and organized crime, while weakening state institutions and Afghanistan's overall ability to promote peace and good governance.

The Security Council, in Resolution 2210, stressed the importance of addressing mutually reinforcing, cross-cutting issues of counter-narcotics, anti-corruption and accountability.

Since I reported to you in December 2014, we have in fact seen efforts by the new government to address opium production and trafficking, corruption and economic crime.

In the face of these severe challenges, Afghanistan has sought to strengthen the effectiveness of the country's institutions, and UNODC has endeavoured to support these steps.

Our work is undertaken in close coordination with UN system partners, especially UNAMA.

In June, UNODC and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics launched the Afghanistan Drug Reporting System.

The system provides access to the most up-to-date data on all available narcotics-related indicators in the country, including on eradication, cultivation, drug prices, treatment capacity, alternative livelihoods and seizures, to inform analysis, policy development and evaluation.

This has helped to further reinforce the Ministry's leadership and coordination role in national counter-narcotics efforts.

Such efforts cannot be limited to law enforcement alone, and in response the Ministry has launched the National Mobilization against Narcotics to involve communities, civil society, media and development agencies.

UNODC supports this initiative, as well as development of the new Afghan National Drug Control Action Plan, which will be finalized soon.

The Afghan government has made advancing relationships with its neighbours a priority, and UNODC has continued to promote effective counter-narcotics cooperation in the region and beyond.  

The Triangular Initiative of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, as well as the AKT initiative with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others, have served as important platforms for regional cooperation.

UNODC is also planning a high-level meeting with Partners of Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries in December in Vienna, prior to the Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting.

Operationally, we are coordinating interventions through our Afghanistan Country Programme, the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries and the Programme for Central Asia, as well as the global Container Control Programme, Maritime Crime Programme and the Networking the Networks initiative.

Through Networking the Networks, UNODC is helping to develop inter-regional platforms for practical, real-time cooperation between law enforcement coordination centres, financial intelligence units and networks of prosecutors, to enable the exchange of information and criminal intelligence as well as the coordination of multilateral operations.

We are working with relevant Afghan agencies on the cross-cutting issue of illicit financial flows.

This is critical for building confidence, creating a safe and sound financial sector capable of supporting private sector-led growth, as well as enhancing Afghanistan's ability to address fraud and corruption.

Our experts on countering money laundering and terrorist financing are providing technical assistance on the ground. 

UNODC supports Afghanistan in its stated priority of rooting out corruption by helping to review relevant legislation and revise the national anti-corruption strategy. We are also supporting Afghanistan in the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.

Nevertheless, the situation remains undeniably difficult.

The rise in Afghan opiate production over the last years has been accompanied by a sharp increase in local consumption.

Supporting and expanding evidence-based prevention and treatment services in Afghanistan, including for HIV, remains a major challenge.

We similarly face difficulties with implementing alternative livelihoods initiatives.  

Although land area under opium cultivation in Afghanistan is just three per cent of total agricultural land cultivation, there are pockets where opium plays a major role in the rural economy.

Opium represented an average of 12 per cent of all farmers' incomes in the Southern region last year, and accounted for almost 30 per cent of the total area of agricultural land in Helmand province.

Approached holistically as part of broader efforts to create economic opportunity and modernize the agricultural sector, alternative development has the potential to break this vicious cycle.

Nevertheless, widespread international political support for alternative development has not been matched by funding: overall gross disbursements of alternative development funds from OECD countries accounted for just 0.1 per cent of global development assistance in 2013.


We will be presenting the full results of the 2015 Afghanistan opium survey shortly. Our report is being finalized.

Today I can confirm that the figures available at this stage clearly indicate a decrease in cultivation, especially in critical provinces.

While this trend may partially reflect global heroin market self-regulation, it is nevertheless positive news - particularly in view of the results of last year's survey, which reported a sharp increase in opium poppy cultivation and heroin production in Afghanistan .

Moreover, our data indicate that this year, eradication of opium poppy has increased.

For example, eradication in Helmand rose from 787 hectares in 2014 to 1,747 hectares in 2015.

Mr. President,

I believe it is important that we acknowledge the positive steps that have been taken, and we must endeavour to sustain and strengthen hard-won progress where it has been made. 

If we want to achieve sustainable progress, we need the steadfast commitment and engagement of the Afghan authorities and the international community.

That also means that in the face of budgetary constraints and competing global demands, Afghanistan's partners provide the resources needed to deliver meaningful, integrated and targeted support.

We cannot afford to do less.

Thank you.