June 12th, 2007 09:00 EST
Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agree to strengthen counter-narcotics efforts
Senior officials from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan have agreed to work more closely to stop the threat of drug trafficking along their common borders, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which hosted their meeting, announced today.
In a joint statement, the ministers of public security and counter-narcotics from the three countries expressed their intention to take action to reduce the threat posed by Afghanistan’s opium. “This transnational threat requires a cooperative solution,” they said.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa hailed the meeting as a turning point in the fight against Afghanistan's drug problem.
“The very fact that these ministers and senior officials turned up and agreed [to] a joint statement is a strong political signal of their desire to work together to fight a common problem. This increases the chances of containing the problem at its epicentre,” Mr. Costa said.
The three countries agreed to take steps to improve border management by building more physical barriers, boosting law enforcement capacity, launching joint counter-narcotic operations, improving communication, and increasing intelligence-sharing about trafficking routes, traffickers, suspicious shipments and other activities, UNODC said.
The ministers and officials also agreed to focus not only on trafficking, but on all aspects of the drug economy, the agency said. This includes stopping the diversion and smuggling of precursor chemicals used to make drugs, locating and destroying drug labs, tackling corruption which facilitates the drug business, and halting the laundering of drug money.
They also urged countries where opiates are consumed, particularly the European Union and the Russian Federation, to assume their share of responsibility by curbing the demand that is fuelling the opium trade.
They called on States where precursor chemicals are produced to tighten their procedures to prevent diversion of substances that are essential for producing heroin from opium poppy. As the opium problem is best controlled at the source, chemical precursors should likewise be controlled first and foremost where they are produced.
The senior delegates from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agreed to hold policy-level coordination meetings at least every six months and technical-level exchanges every three months, UNODC said, predicting that this should improve operational contacts that can stem the flow of drug trafficking from Afghanistan.
“UNODC is proud to have brokered this process which can help solve the world's biggest drug control problem,” said Mr. Costa. He urged the three countries to build on the goodwill evident at the Vienna meeting and pledged his Office’s continued support for the process.