Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to address this high-level side event by UNODC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and I would like to thank the Republic of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation for co-organizing.
This event is being held to mark progress in addressing the world drug problem, achieved through regional responses and international frameworks, including the international drug control conventions.
In 2021, we are commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Together with the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, these conventions form the cornerstone of balanced and comprehensive international drug control system.
Through the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the international community has continued to build on this foundation to protect the health and welfare of humankind, including through the 2016 outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session, and the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.
UNODC is proud to support Member States to implement these commitments, and address regional drug challenges and priorities within this international legal framework.
In this regard, I would also like to highlight the tenth anniversary of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNODC and SCO, which was signed in June 2011 with the aim of joining efforts to prevent and combat illicit drug trafficking and related crime, and to bring our partnership to a more strategic level.
This event today is a milestone in itself, as it is the fifth such event organized by SCO and UNODC at the regular sessions of the CND.
These joint side events represent a valuable tradition and they enable us to draw the attention of policymakers to illicit drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime, as well as to highlight our engagement with regional partners, including SCO, to address these existing and emerging threats.
The world drug problem is a shared responsibility that manifests itself in a range of national, regional and inter-regional challenges.
Now the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic downturn threaten to further worsen the impact of crime, especially for people who can least afford it.
As the CND has recognized, the pandemic has also had wide-ranging effects on the drug situation, and on stability and sustainable development.
UNODC welcome the role of SCO in promoting trade and transit corridors in its region, which are vital for sustainable economic development, especially as we build back from the pandemic.
At the same time, transnational organized criminal groups are also seeking to exploit this increasing integration and new infrastructure, including online infrastructure and technological developments.
We must address these potential vulnerabilities to safeguard the region’s recovery, its future growth and its efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our efforts can build on, and benefit from, a number of regional cooperation frameworks, as well as law enforcement coordination platforms and networks which UNODC has supported through its Programme for Central Asia and its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries. These include CARICC, the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre; the Triangular Initiative with Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, along with its Joint Planning Cell; and the Afghanistan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Initiative.
UNODC welcomes CARICC’s efforts to expand its membership to include Afghanistan and Turkey, which will significantly enhance CARICC’s operational capacity to address trafficking of opiates, including through strengthened intelligence sharing.
I am pleased to note some important operational results that have been achieved with UNODC assistance, including the establishment of Border Liaison Offices in West and Central Asia. Nineteen offices have been created to date, including the liaison office opened on the Kazakh-Uzbek border at the end of March.
We have also helped to set up Air Cargo Control Units in the region, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and since February, in Kazakhstan.
Moreover, the Inter-Regional Network of Customs Authorities and Port Control Units, established with the support of the UNODC Container Control Programme, is helping to counter drug trafficking through transit corridors, while facilitating licit trade.
Looking ahead, UNODC remains committed to continuing this support and deepening our cooperation with SCO, at both the strategic and expert levels.
Our joint efforts benefit from SCO’s important role in building trust and confidence between the SCO countries, and this event is a valuable opportunity to take stock and take forward our dialogue and cooperation for the benefit of the region and beyond.