West and Central Asia

The situation

Afghanistan continues to dominate the worldwide opium market. In 2015, the country still accounted for almost two thirds of the global area under illicit opium poppy cultivation. Most of Europe is supplied with Afghan opiates through the "Balkan route", via the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South-Eastern Europe, which continues to be the most important conduit for heroin trafficking. The total value of illicit opiates trafficked on the Balkan route is estimated to amount to an average of USD 28 billion per annum, which is roughly a third bigger than the entire GDP of Afghanistan, while only a fraction of these profits remain in the source country. The "southern route", through Pakistan or the Islamic Republic of Iran by sea to the Gulf region and Africa (particularly East Africa), has grown in importance. The "northern route", from Afghanistan to neighbouring States in Central Asia, the Russian Federation and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, has started to undergo a resurgence after a decline in the period 2008-2012. However, Afghanistan and its neighbours are not only affected by trafficking as the drugs are moved to their key destination markets. Of the globally about 17.4 million past-year users of opiates, particularly South-West Asia is marked by high levels of opiate use and the highest prevalence of HIV among people who inject drugs. In Afghanistan alone, 2-2.5 million people are estimated to use drugs. Additionally, an emerging trend in Afghanistan, and similarly in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the use of amphetamines. *

Opiate trafficking generated by production in Afghanistan

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Source: UNODC World Drug Report 2016

Integrated UNODC Solution for West and Central Asia

Aiming to address the security, economic, governance and development challenges in Afghanistan, which are of an interconnected nature, UNODC developed a concerted solution for Europe, West and Central Asia with interventions at three distinct yet closely inter-connected levels: country, regional and inter-regional. The initiative, which is referred to as the ' UNODC One Concerted Approach for Europe, West and Central Asia', brings together the achievements and impacts of country, regional and global programmes in an integrated manner, builds on lessons learned and focuses on key areas where UNODC is envisaged to have the greatest added value and impact in the period 2016 till 2019. The focus is on a series of prioritized common deliverables with joint milestones in three key areas: i) Law Enforcement Cooperation; ii) Criminal Justice and Judicial Cooperation; and iii) Social and Human Development. It is based on joint and harmonized planning, implementation and monitoring between country, regional and global level programmes.

This 'three-tier' approach brings the comparative advantages of each UNODC office in West and Central Asia (i.e. Country Offices in Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Pakistan as well as the Regional Office for Central Asia) together in an integrated programming effort, with coordination through the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries. The Paris Pact Initiative provides strategic guidance through its Policy Consultative Group Meetings and related consultations with Member States. Global programmes that work in the region are also full partners, including the Global Programme on Money Laundering, the Container Control Programme, the Afghan Opiate Trade Project and the various Global Programmes on HIV/AIDS as well as Drug Use Prevention, Treatment and Care.

Joining country, regional and global support helps to scale up the work conducted under several well-established initiatives including:

In addition, maritime regional cooperation is strengthened to address the growing use of maritime routes for trafficking illicit drugs originating in Afghanistan as well as precursors destined for illicit drug manufacture in Afghanistan.

With the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre ( CARICC), the Joint Planning Cell ( JPC) and various Border Liaison Officers ( BLOs) across the region, UNODC continues to support countries to build a foundation for coordinated action and information sharing.

Paris Pact Initiative

The Paris Pact Initiative (PPI) represents the international community's determination to combat the trafficking in opiates originating in Afghanistan in a balanced and comprehensive manner. Since its inception in Paris in 2003, the broad international coalition - recognising its common and shared responsibility - has grown to 58 partner countries and 23 partner organizations, including UNODC. At the 3 rd Ministerial Conference in 2012, the partnership adopted its road map, the Vienna Declaration, which centres on four areas for enhanced cooperation: regional initiatives; financial flows linked to illicit traffic in opiates; preventing the diversion of precursor chemicals; and reducing drug abuse and dependence. From the start, UNODC provided coordination support to the partnership with its global Paris Pact programme, now in its fourth phase, which seeks to enhance synergies and increase cooperation among partners, including UNODC, and continues to drive forward its three well-established components: the Consultative Mechanism at expert and policy level; the Research and Liaison Officer network based along the major trafficking routes out of Afghanistan; and information management through the PPI online hub ADAM and the Drugs Monitoring Platform.

... for more information on the Paris Pact see ADAM - www.paris-pact.net

Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (2016-2019)

Building on the UNODC mandate and experiences in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, the new phase of the Regional Programme (RP) is closely coordinated with all respective country and sub-regional programmes. Its approach allows UNODC to ensure counter-narcotics and rule of law to remain a central theme of the policy debate, and regional governments to receive the support required to develop necessary capacities.

The UNODC response to the complex reality in Afghanistan and the surrounding region aims at identifying and addressing all major aspects of the drug and crime situation, including building regional cooperation in the law enforcement, judicial and health sectors through advocacy in the policy arena and practical implementation in the field, as well as increasing capacity to more broadly analyse and counter the illicit narco-economy.

The Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (2016-2019) is composed of four Sub-Programmes, all grounded in a gender responsive, human rights-based approach: regional law enforcement cooperation; international cooperation in legal matters; prevention and treatment of drug dependence among vulnerable groups; and trends and impact analysis.

The RP seeks to maximize synergies with existing and new programmes in the region (listed below). It further builds on the Inter-regional Drug Control Approach and ensures effective linkages with other UNODC Regional Programmes operating in regions affected by Afghan opiates traffic including the trafficking of precursors, notably along the Balkan, northern and southern routes.

... more on the website of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Programme for Central Asia (2015-2019)

The Programme for Central Asia represents the overarching strategic framework under which UNODC provides technical assistance within the five Central Asian States. It builds on previous UNODC assistance within the sub-region and aims to deliver effect in an integrated and comprehensive manner. It is aligned with the UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) for the Central Asian States and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Programme for Central Asia aims to enhance both, national level capabilities and sub-regional cooperation, between and within the Central Asian States.

... more on the UNODC Central Asia website

Country Programme for Afghanistan (2016-2019)

The vision of the County Programme for Afghanistan is to strengthen the capacity of the Government, assist with the policy framework and provide accurate data and information to counter the consequences of drugs and crime in the country. The programme's goal is to improve security and stability, advancing good governance, and promoting the rule of law and respect for human rights, particularly in relation to women and girls. The Programme is structured along four thematic areas: law enforcement; criminal justice; health and alternative development; and advocacy, policy and research.

... more on the UNODC Afghanistan website

Country Partnership Programme for the Islamic Republic of Iran (2015-2019)

UNODC Iran, jointly with the Government of Iran, has developed a Country Partnership Programme, which is made up of four sub-programmes: 'Border Management and Illicit Trafficking' to enhance national drugs and precursors control capacities; 'Crime, Corruption and Criminal Justice' to support the national institutions' progress under the UNTOC, UNCAC, and countering of terrorism; 'Drug Use Prevention, Treatment, Rehabilitation and HIV Care' to strengthen national and NGOs capacities; and 'Alternative Livelihoods and Sustainable Development' to enhance job creation schemes in the Eastern provinces of (I. R. of) Iran bordering Afghanistan.

... more on the UNODC Iran website

Country Programme for Pakistan (2016-2019)

The Country Programme for Pakistan builds on UNODC's national, regional and global strategic priorities as well as the priorities of the Government of Pakistan with an explicit focus on vulnerable groups and the application of a rights-based approach. The Programme aims at "Working together against illicit trafficking, drug use and crime, while promoting the rule of law, towards a safe society for all in Pakistan". The Programme consists of the three main programmatic pillars: illicit trafficking and border management; criminal justice and legal reforms; and drug demand reduction, prevention and treatment.

... more on the UNODC Pakistan website


* Sources of this paragraph: 60 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 2017: Report of the Secretariat on the world situation with regard to drug abuse ( E/CN.7/2017/4); and Report of the Secretariat on the world situation with regard to drug trafficking, problem focusing on illicit drug trafficking and related offences ( E/CN.7/2017/5); UNODC, World Drug Report, 2016; UNODC, Drug Money: the illicit proceeds of opiates trafficked on the Balkan route - Executive summary, 2015