15 July 2003

United Nations, Regional Group Cooperate against Drug and Crime Flow from West and Central Asia

VIENNA, 15 July (UN Information Service) -- The Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization  (ECO),  Ambassador Seyed Mojtaba Arastou from Iran, paid a visit on Monday to the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),  Antonio Maria Costa.

The discussion focused on specific action to strengthen  cooperation between UNODC and ECO to counteract drug trafficking, terrorism, corruption and trafficking in human being. In particular ECO effort was needed to assist Member States in ratifying the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime that will enter into force on 29 September 2003.

"Only a concerted and stronger action within the ECO region against drug production, trafficking and abuse can make economic growth of the region sustainable", Mr. Costa said.

ECO, with its 10 Member States (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), is a key partner for UNODC.  It comprises the world's largest opium, morphine and heroin producing  region. All ECO Member States are affected by drug addiction, trafficking and drug-related crimes. Narcotics produced in Afghanistan and destined for Western markets are trafficked through both the Pakistan, Iran and Turkey route, further through the Balkans, and via new routes passing through the Central Asian republics and Azerbaijan. The ECO region accounts for over 90 per cent of global seizures in Afghan opiates.

UNODC and ECO have been collaborating in drug control matters as of the early nineties. Within the framework of an agreement between these two organizations, UNODC has been supporting the creation of a Drug Control Coordination Unit within the ECO Secretariat. To date,  this Unit also benefits from support by the European Commission.

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