Press Releases

    UNIS/NAR/764
    23 October 2002

    STATEMENT OF THE CHAIR TO THE MEETING ON DRUGS
    ORIGINATING FROM AFGHANISTAN IN VIENNA

    VIENNA, 23 October (UN Information Service) -- The Ambassador of Finland, Tom Carl Ernst Groenberg, has issued the following statement following the Informal Consultations on the Fight against Drugs Originating from Afghanistan, held in Vienna on 22 October 2002.

    Representatives of donor countries, the European Commission, the Afghanistan Transitional Authority, countries neighbouring Afghanistan and other interested countries met in Vienna on 22 October 2002 to discuss the drug control efforts in Afghanistan and the role of the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (* ODC) in assisting the Afghanistan Transitional Authority (ATA) in facing the challenge posed by the cultivation and trafficking of illicit opiates.

    The ODC representatives presented the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2002 estimate that this year’s opium production will reach high levels similar to those of the late 1990s. The participants shared their concerns about the projected increase in opium production in Afghanistan, which in the last decade has amounted to 70 per cent of global production of opiates.

    At the same time, they took note of recent encouraging developments. These include a strong commitment on the part of the Afghan Government to the drug control issue. That commitment has been demonstrated ever since the new government took office, beginning with President Hamid Karzai’s January 2002 decree banning cultivation, processing, trafficking and abuse of illicit opiates; then through the courageous eradication effort last spring and, finally, through a recent declaration reasserting the ban. The Afghan Government has confirmed its long-term commitment by assigning the responsibility for the overall drug control effort to the National Security Council and by creating, within the council, the Counter Narcotic Department responsible for the development and implementation of the national drug control strategy.

    The participants have expressed their satisfaction with the recent strengthening of the ODC Kabul office which is fully operational and implementing the long-term drug control strategy for Afghanistan.

    The participants emphasized the importance of sustained international efforts to help Afghanistan develop institutional capacity to deal effectively with the drug problem. They also saw the need to strengthen cross-border cooperation in order to enhance the monitoring and interdiction of illicit drug trafficking in the region. It will be important to create alternative livelihoods to farmers involved in illicit opium cultivation. This calls for strong international financial support. There was a consensus among the meeting participants that the ultimate goals of the international assistance to Afghanistan -- sustainable development and long-term security of the country -- cannot be achieved without establishing effective drug control institutions and practices.

    With that in mind, the participants called for greater international support for both the Afghan Government and ODC in their drug control efforts in the country and in the region.

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    * The United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) has been officially renamed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with effect from 1 October 2002.