17 November 2005

Afghan President Meets with INCB President to Assess Progress against Drugs

Discussion on Article 14 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

VIENNA, 17 November (UN Information Service) -- The President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), met this week at UN Headquarters in Vienna to address Afghanistan's compliance with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Article 14 of the 1961 Convention is currently invoked against Afghanistan, in view of the serious drug control situation in the country. INCB invokes Article 14 when a situation in a country seriously endangers the aim of the Convention.

"This is definitely the case in Afghanistan, by far the largest producer of opium poppy in the world," the INCB President said. "As a result, illicit manufacture of heroin and trafficking of opiates is on the rise and smuggled into other countries in West Asia and on to Europe. Virtually all the heroin abused in Europe originates in Afghanistan."

The Afghan President and the INCB President spoke about the forthcoming consultations between INCB and Afghanistan, in the context of Article 14 of the 1961 Convention, which are scheduled to take place early in 2006. The INCB President welcomed the continuing cooperation of Afghanistan in maintaining a close dialogue with the Board on all drug control issues.

Cultivation of Opium Poppy

While some progress has been reported, the INCB President expressed concern over the situation of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. The total area under illicit opium poppy cultivation in 2005 decreased by 21 per cent, but an increase in agricultural productivity resulted in the actual production of opium remaining at almost the same level. Afghanistan continues to supply the overwhelming majority of the world's opium.

Central and provincial Governments of Afghanistan were able to eradicate only five per cent of illicit poppy crops in 2005. Moreover, the decline was varied across the country, showing that some provincial Governments still need to be committed to eradication efforts.

The INCB President welcomed the Government's strong stance against proposals to use illicitly-cultivated opium poppy to produce legal opiate-based medicines.

Need for Alternative Development

The INCB President acknowledged that there was a need for legitimate alternative development in Afghanistan. "Alternative development is about providing legitimate alternatives to people whose only choice for livelihood has been the cultivation of opium poppy," the INCB President said. He added, "Experience has shown that alternative development programmes can only be successful if the people engaged in growing these crops have an economically viable alternative to illicit cultivation and if such activities are combined with drug abuse prevention."

"At the same time, effective law enforcement is an important supporting factor for successful legitimate alternative development as it will contribute to the building of trust between local communities and the authorities and should promote greater involvement of communities in the formulation of policies to deal with the various aspects of the drug problem," he said.

Professor Ghodse complimented President Karzai on his Government's efforts towards making a significant impact on illicit crop cultivation and illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse, and for his personal dedication towards achieving the aims of the international drug control treaties.

Afghan Election Results

Professor Ghodse welcomed the success of the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan which were held in September, adding, however, that "Democracy can only continue to flourish if Afghanistan steps up its efforts to rid itself of the illicit drug trade."

The INCB President urged the international community to accelerate their delivery of assistance to the Afghan Government in its endeavour to address the drug problem. 

"Article 14 will remain invoked," the INCB President said, "until Afghanistan makes significant progress in the right direction."

In concluding, the INCB President expressed appreciation, also on behalf of the Board, to President Karzai for his determination and strong commitment to the implementation of drug control measures. 

The Vienna-based Board is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to monitor Governments' compliance with the international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years. Its sessions are closed to the public.


For further information, contact:

The INCB Secretariat
Tel: + 43 1 26060 4277
Email: secretariat@incb.org