65th Session UNODC: Intervention by Ms. Yoana Barakova (Senior Research Analyst EFSAS) Item 5
Text and video of Ms. Yoana Barakova's Intervention on Item 5 - Implementation of the International Drug Control Treaties: (e) Other matters arising from the International Drug Control Treaties - during the 65th Session of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna.
Video of Ms. Yoana Barakova's Intervention on Item 5 during the 65th Session of the UNODC in Vienna.
The territory of Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for about 87% of the global production despite a 9 billion dollars effort over a two-decade period by the United States to deter illegal production in the country.
The United Nations has recently assessed that on the territory of the country 6,800 tons of opium had been produced in 2021, the fifth straight year in which opium production had crossed the 6,000-ton mark, and that the uncertainty resulting from the Taliban’s takeover of the country had pushed up opium prices in August and September. Output grew 8% this year and incentives for cultivation have risen as prices have picked up amid soaring poverty and food insecurity. The UN report further said that income from opiates in Afghanistan amounted to some 1.8-2.7 billion dollars in 2021.
Under Taliban control, this expansive trade in drugs eventually morphs into narco-terrorism.
A report of the UN Security Council’s monitoring team in June this year observed that the production and trafficking of both heroin and methamphetamines remains the Taliban’s largest single source of income.
According to the UNODC, heroin trafficking routes are primarily conducted via regionally close locations, with the territory of Pakistan accounting for 40% of all heroin trade routes. Tons of opium produced in Afghanistan are smuggled into the western borders of Pakistan and processed there. The heroin is then reassembled into bigger consignments by organised crime gangs in Lahore and Faisalabad, before being sent to Karachi and Gwadar for further transportation through fishing vessels in the Makran coast.
The threat from the escalating trade in Afghan heroin and methamphetamine after the Taliban takeover extends far beyond South Asia. As does the threat of terrorism.
Yet, they cannot be treated separately.
While the Taliban currently vowed to suspend the production of narcotics, the previous tactical temporary ban on poppy cultivation reminds of the duplicity of such anti-drugs rhetoric and similar pledges of protection of human rights.
In addition, the inhumane treatment of heroin and methamphetamine addicts, who are rounded up and forcibly sent to so-called ‘treatment centres’ which do not provide adequate medical care needs to be addressed.
Thus, tackling the challenges of drug trafficking and terrorism require the strengthened concerted efforts and cooperation of all regional actors and the UN. For that we keep urging neighbouring countries to abide to all the established international drug control treaties. Yet, we would like to further pose the question of how those same agreements will be implemented under the Taliban regime?