28 June 2006

Afghanistan Risks Becoming a Narco-State, UNODC Executive Director Warns

(Re-issued as received)

MOSCOW, 28 June 2006 (UNODC) - "Afghanistan has already become a narco-economy in the sense that drugs are now Afghanistan's largest employer, income generator, source of capital, export and foreign investment," Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said on Wednesday. "It has become a narco-society in the sense that many Afghans are now hooked on the drug money," he said, "and now it risks becoming a narco-state". 

At a Ministerial Conference in Moscow on drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan, the UNODC Executive Director warned that opium revenue is corrupting Afghan society. "Pyramids of protection now connect the upper world of the Afghan establishment to the underworld of Afghan mafias," he said.

Over 50 countries, including all G8 members, were represented at the Moscow conference alongside senior representatives of international organizations.

Mr. Costa said heroin trafficking followed the paths of least resistance from Afghanistan, through some of Europe's and Central Asia's most unstable regions, on to lucrative western markets. "Afghanistan's heroin causes addiction, spreads HIV,  provides revenue for organized crime and funds terrorism," he warned.

He called for adoption of a Moscow Agenda, to intensify efforts to tackle supply, trafficking and demand.

He suggested that poverty eradication should go hand in hand with illicit crop eradication. He also encouraged participants to support an agenda that would prosecute and extradite at least ten of the most serious drug traffickers, purge at least one hundred corrupt officials, and complete the disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of militias and warlords.

He called for an intensification of efforts to block trafficking routes, improve border control, and to interdict the import of chemical precursors which are necessary for producing heroin. He also called on affected countries to establish and then meet verifiable targets in reducing corruption, money laundering and bad governance: "Counter-narcotic work alone will not solve the heroin trafficking problem," he said.

Mr. Costa described reducing demand for heroin as "the mother of all drug control challenges". He urged states to establish verifiable heroin demand reduction targets "to help President Karzai deliver on his commitment to put an end to the supply of opium in his country".


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For information contact:

Richard Murphy
Chief, Advocacy Section, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761
E-mail: richard.murphy@unodc.org