12 October 2004
New United Nations Efforts to Stem Afghan Opium Trafficking
Pakistan Minister for Narcotics Control and Policy-Makers from more than 20 Countries Expected to Propose New Measures during the Paris Pact Meeting in Vienna
VIENNA, 12 October (UN Information Service) -- Senior-level policy makers are meeting in Vienna to discuss measures to stem the increasing levels of heroin trafficked from Afghanistan. The meeting of the Paris Pact Consultative Group is being organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and aims at providing policy directions for proposed new border control and law enforcement measures in the most affected countries along European and West and Central Asian trafficking routes.
The Policy Meeting is being co-chaired by Ambassador Lamberto Zannier from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Rowan Laxton, Deputy Head of the United Kingdoms Drugs and International Crime Department within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Jean-Pierre Vidon, Ambassador on the Fight Against Organized Crime from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Minister for Narcotics Control of Pakistan, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar, who is also attending the meeting is expected to hold separate discussions with UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa and other senior UNODC officials on the sidelines.
Afghan opium production has become a national security threat to the country. It is becoming a major threat to neighbouring countries and to those affected by the trafficking. Heroin is sold locally, causing major addiction and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Therefore, it is in the interest of all parties to strengthen remedial action, said Mr. Costa when he opened the meeting. The Paris Pact is meant to strengthen enforcement not just within Afghanistan, but even more along key trafficking routes, especially in the countries where corruption is a major lubricant to traffickers activities, he added.
More than 55 countries and organizations launched the Paris Pact during the Ministerial Conference on Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe, hosted by the Government of France in May 2003 in Paris. They agreed on the need for stronger and better coordinated action in border control and law enforcement, to limit the trafficking of illicit opiates from Afghanistan through West and Central Asian and European countries. The UNODC was asked to act as a clearing house in this initiative, and to provide comprehensive information and analysis on action priorities and assistance requirements.
Prior to todays meeting, UNODC organized a series of Expert Roundtables to identify possible ways for improving border control in countries along the Balkan Route and in Iran, and to counteract illicit trafficking through Central Asian States and the Russian Federation. These Roundtables proposed specific interventions, such as new border control units in Central Asian countries, or measures for better control of precursor chemicals in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Based on these expert recommendations, todays Policy Meeting is expected to agree on strategic priorities, endorse new support measures for the most-affected countries, and recommend action that transit countries should take themselves. The meeting will also consider the concept and requirements for a planned new database, which will provide comprehensive information on assistance needs and ongoing donor projects, in order to facilitate the planning and resource allocation for future bilateral and multilateral projects.
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