17 June 2003


Press Release

Security Council

4774th Meeting (AM & PM)



In Presidential Statement, Council Also Stresses Need to Improve Security

In Provinces, Extend Transitional Administration Authority throughout Country

As it took up the situation in Afghanistan this morning, the Security Council focused on the threats presented by drugs originating in that country, seeking to tackle the issues of their production, consumption and trafficking on the national, regional and international levels.

In a presidential statement, read by the Council President, Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation), and issued under the symbol S/PRST/2003/7, the Council noted that security remained a serious challenge facing Afghanistan.  Recognizing the links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism, the Council stressed that security would be enhanced by continued coordinated efforts to combat the production of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, as well as to interdict narco-trafficking beyond its borders.  Also highlighted in the statement is the need to promote efforts by neighbouring countries to stop transboundary trafficking in drugs and support the Afghan Transitional Administration’s drug strategy to eliminate illicit opium poppy cultivation by 2013 and to reduce the demand of drugs globally.

The Council also urged the international community to provide assistance to the Transitional Administration in addressing such key areas as development of alternative livelihood and markets, improving national institutional capacities, enforcing prohibitions on illicit cultivation, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs, and encouraging demand reduction.

Prior to the adoption of the presidential statement, 29 speakers took part in the debate on the issue, following the briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa.

Briefing the Council on the drug threat originating in Afghanistan, the top United Nations anti-drug official said that the old Silk Road had been turned into “an opium-paved road”.  While the opium economy undermined current institution-building efforts in Afghanistan, the argument could be turned around:  the slow progress of re-establishment of the rule of law was hurting the authority’s ability to reduce the drug economy.

With Afghanistan expected to continue being the world’s largest producer of opium in the coming years, Mr. Costa stressed that “the task to rid Afghanistan of the drug economy requires much greater political, security and financial capital than presently available, to assist the rural areas affected by opium production and, above all, to improve the central Government’s ability to implement the opium production ban”.

Mr. Guehenno, in his briefing, informed the Council about the latest developments in the country, saying that the peace process had entered into its most critical and most sensitive stage –- the constitutional and electoral process –- but prevailing insecurity posed a serious risk of derailing it.  While preparations were under way for the constitutional Loya Jirga in October and national elections in 2004, the authority of the Transitional Administration beyond Kabul was still much too limited, and most provincial leaders continued to act with an autonomy that denied the Transitional Administration the means to implement its National Development Plan.  To be credible, the Government needed to deliver economic and physical security to the population.  “And the population’s patience is wearing thin”, he said.

Encouraging the Afghan authorities and the international community to demonstrate a shared commitment to the peace process, he stressed that those who wished to subvert the process should not be allowed to triumph over the aspirations of the majority of Afghans for a stable State.

Speakers in the debate stressed the need for a coordinated and balanced strategy against the trafficking in drugs originating in Afghanistan, supplementing measures within Afghanistan with efforts outside that country.  They pointed out that illicit trafficking in drugs was a global phenomenon, which should be effectively addressed by the international community.  Many speakers referred to a meeting of 55 affected countries in Paris last month, which had stressed the importance of strengthening national capacities, creating regional partnerships and building a multilateral framework under United Nations auspices.  It was important that the United Nations, the Council and the General Assembly participated in that strategy.

Participating in the discussion were representatives of France, Mexico, Guinea, Syria, Cameroon, Bulgaria, Chile, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, United States, China, Angola, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Greece (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, Ukraine, India, New Zealand, Colombia, Norway, Uzbekistan, Philippines and the Republic of Korea.

The meeting was called to order at 10:18 a.m., suspended at 1:30 p.m., reconvened at 3:12 p.m. and adjourned at 5:16 p.m.

Presidential Statement

Following is the text of today’s presidential statement as read out by Council President Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation):

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan.

“The Security Council stresses that security remains a serious challenge facing Afghanistan.  In particular, the Council expresses its concern over the increased number of attacks against international and local humanitarian personnel, Coalition forces, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan Transitional Administration targets by Taliban and other rebel elements.  In this regard, the Council condemns in the strongest terms the attack against ISAF in Kabul on 7 June.  The Council also expresses its concern over other security threats, including from illicit drug trafficking.  The Council stresses the need to improve the security situation in the provinces and further to extend the authority of the Afghan Transitional Administration throughout the country.  Against the backdrop, the Council underlines the importance of accelerating the comprehensive reform of Afghanistan’s security sector, including the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.

“The Security Council welcomes the establishment and deployment of international civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in the provinces and encourages States to support further efforts to assist with improving security in the regions.

“The Security Council believes that constructive and mutually supportive bilateral and regional relations between Afghanistan and all States, and in particular its neighbours, based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in each others affairs are important for stability in Afghanistan.  The Council calls upon all States to respect the Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighbourly Relations (S/2002/1416) and to support the implementation of its provisions.

“The Security Council reaffirms the principles established in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session, inter alia, that action against the world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated and balanced approach in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

“The Security Council recognizes the links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism, as well as other forms of crimes and the challenges posed by these activities inside Afghanistan, as well as to the transit, neighbouring and other States affected by the trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan.

“The Security Council also expresses its concern at the increasing risk of the spread of HIV/AIDS associated with drug abuse in the region and beyond.

“The Security Council stresses that security will be enhanced by continued coordinated efforts to combat the production of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, as well as to interdict narco-trafficking beyond its borders.  The Council recognizes that the effort to counter the problem of drugs originating in Afghanistan will only be effective when it is integrated into the wider context of reconstruction and development programmes in the country.

“The Security Council expresses its concern, that despite the efforts pursued, the volume of illegal opium production inside Afghanistan in the year 2002 has returned to former high levels.  The Council notes with concern the assessment contained in the Opium Rapid Assessment Survey of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that opium poppy cultivation has been reported in several districts of Afghanistan for the first time.  The Council stresses the need to promote the comprehensive international approach, carried out, inter alia, under the auspices of the United Nations and through other international fora, in support of the Afghan Transitional Administration’s Drugs Strategy to eliminate the illicit cultivation of opium poppy.  The Council also supports the fight against illicit trafficking of drugs and precursors within Afghanistan and in neighbouring States and countries along trafficking routes, [including the strengthening of ‘security belts’ in the region].  Also, extensive efforts have to be made to reduce the demand of drugs globally in order to contribute to the sustainability of the elimination of illicit cultivation in Afghanistan.  The Council welcomes the comprehensive drug strategy for Afghanistan as set out in the Transitional Administration’s Drugs Strategy and calls for help to be provided within the framework of that strategy.  The Council also welcomes the ‘Paris Pact’ (S/2003/641) introduced at the International Conference on Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe held in Paris on 21-22 May 2003, and thanks the Government of France for convening the Conference.

“The Security Council expresses support for the commitment by the Afghan Transitional Administration to eliminate drug production by the year 2013 and its efforts to implement the decrees prohibiting the cultivation, production and processing of the opium poppy, including illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse.

“The Security Council welcomes the significant contribution by the UNODC and notes that the work of this Office in Afghanistan is restrained by the lack of general stability and security in the opium growing areas of that country which the international community as a whole should endeavour to ensure.  The Council further welcomes projects under way by individual states to counter the threat of drugs in Afghanistan.  Most of these projects are long term, which is vital to eliminate drugs on a sustainable basis.  The Council underscores the pressing need to achieve as soon as possible a significant and sustainable decrease in opium production in Afghanistan.

“The Security Council acknowledges the necessity of coordination through the lead nation on this and all issues in Afghanistan; and expresses in this regard its gratitude to the United Kingdom and Germany for their work on counternarcotics and police issues, respectively.

“The Security Council recognizes the problems caused to neighbouring countries, by the increase in Afghan opium production, as well as the efforts made by them and other countries to interdict illicit drugs.

“The Security Council stresses the need to promote effective realization of anti-drug projects for Afghanistan.  These efforts can be reinforced through promulgation of a comprehensive programme of action in the region and the States of transit and destination.  The Council notes in this regard a major coordinating capacity available with the UNODC, and calls upon all those concerned to cooperate with the UNODC in order to adopt harmonized measures in this area.  The Council notes the call for all those concerned to adopt compatible and harmonized measures for law enforcement and counternarcotics efforts through support for implementation of the Afghan National Drug Strategy and the ‘Paris Pact’, supported by the G-8 Summit in Evian on June 3, 2003.  The Council urges donor States to work within such a consultative process to maximize the effects of their bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes.

“The Security Council urges the international community, in collaboration with the UNODC and in accordance with the Afghan Transitional Administration’s National Drugs Strategy, to provide assistance to the Afghan Transitional Administration that addresses, inter alia, certain key areas, including development of alternative livelihood and markets, improving national institutional capacities, enforcing prohibitions on illicit cultivation, manufacturing, and trafficking of drugs, encouraging demand reduction, and building up the effective use of intelligence, including aerospace monitoring.

“The Security Council urges the international community, in collaboration with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UNODC to encourage cooperation among affected countries, specifically in strengthening border controls, assisting the flow of information between and among appropriate security and law enforcement agencies, combating groups involved in drug trafficking and related crimes, particularly money laundering, carrying out operational interdiction activities and controlled deliveries, encouraging demand reduction, and coordinating information and intelligence to maximize the effectiveness of all measures taken inside Afghanistan and beyond its borders.

“The Security Council invites the Secretary-General to include in his next report to the Security Council and the General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan any proposals made during its 4774th meeting held on 17 June 2003 and any commentary and response to these proposals by any Member-State and to submit his relevant recommendations to the Security Council for its consideration.

“The Security Council decides to remain seized of the matter.”


The Security Council met this morning in a public meeting to consider the situation in Afghanistan.  It was expected to hear briefings by Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria, and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

At the opening of the meeting, the Council’s President, SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) bid goodbye to China’s Permanent Representative, Wang Yingfan, who was leaving the Council.  Thanking him for his contributions to the work of the Council, he wished him success in his future achievements.

WANG YINGFAN (China) thanked the President for his kind words and expressed thanks to all delegates and Secretariat personnel for their support and cooperation.  He was sure that his colleagues would work hard and meet new challenges.  As many new colleagues had come to replace older members, including the new Ambassador of Chile, he wished all good luck and even greater achievements.


Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO said some 18 months after the Bonn Agreement the authority of the Transitional Administration beyond Kabul was still much too limited.  The majority of provincial authorities continue to act with an autonomy that denies the Transitional Administration the means to implement its National Development Plan.  Yet, it must deliver economic and physical security to the population, if it was to be credible.  “And the population’s patience is wearing thin.”

In a determined effort to bring the provinces under the writ of his Government, he continued, President Hamid Karzai had summoned 12 of the country’s most powerful governors and regional commanders to Kabul on 20 May, threatening to resign if he failed to secure their cooperation.  The 12 agreed to comply with a 13-point decision of the National Security Council, which, among other things, forbids recruitment of private military personnel and unauthorized military action and requires that all governors ensure that provincial incomes are regularly passed on to the central government.

Already, there were signs that written agreements did not necessarily translate into tangible action, he added.  For example, Ismail Khan, in Herat, had already signalled his unwillingness to yield any authority to Kabul.  The Government and the international community must send a strong signal that the signatories will be held accountable for their pledges. 

He said the overall human rights situation continued to be negatively affected because of extortion by local commanders, arbitrary detentions, and the general lack of rule of law. The seven satellite offices of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) were now fully operational.  During the public consultation on the constitution and initial preparations for next year’s elections, it was expected that the AIHRC offices would play an important role in the civic education process and to monitor human rights abuses.

Of all the elements of the peace process, he said, re-establishing the rule of law and the justice sector was one of the most important areas for long-term stability.  The Judicial Reform Commission had taken several steps during the past month, including determining what laws were currently in force, and surveying and developing the human, technical and logistical needs of the justice sector.  The Ministry of Justice had begun to compile and index national laws.

The Constitutional Review Commission had formally inaugurated the start of public consultations on 6 June, he continued.  A draft constitution, which would take into account the results of the public consultation, would be circulated in September.  A working group had been discussing options for the organization of the Constitutional Loya Jirga.

The preparations of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for the electoral registration process had continued, and last month the supplementary budget that established the Electoral Unit had been approved.  The election process was fundamentally a shared responsibility between the Government, the United Nations and the international community.  The feasibility of conducting the registration, and its ultimate credibility, would depend not only upon technical contributions to the management of the registrations process from the United Nations and the Government, but critically upon the effective creation of an improved political environment and, most importantly, security.

On 7 June, a suicide car bomber detonated a large explosion alongside a German International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) bus, killing five and injuring 29, he said.  The dreadful act was designed to shake the resolve of the international community in its commitment to the peace process. That had, however, not happened.  The incident underscored that Kabul was not immune to the security problems of the hinterland, and that, if security was not extended from Kabul, then the city itself would become more vulnerable.

Other signs of the activity of those seeking to subvert the process continued to occur in the rest of the country.  Across the north, factional fighting regularly continued. In southern and south-eastern Afghanistan, incidents of violent crime and reported clashes between suspected Taliban and Coalition and Afghan National Army forces continued amidst an apparent marked increase in Taliban infiltration.  International and national non-governmental organizations operating in several cities had been the target of grenade attacks.  United Nations road missions had had to be severely restricted in the provinces of Zabul, Uruzgan, Kandahar and northern Helmand.  One third of the country was currently inaccessible to the United Nations.

Mr. Guehenno said national security structures would have to assume responsibility for domestic security backed by a functioning justice system, but developing those systems would require time.  Satisfactory progress had been made in the training of the national army and police forces, but the funding for the forces’ salaries was woefully inadequate.

With the support from the Government of Japan and UNAMA, the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) programme would be ready to commence later this week, he announced.  However, the Ministry of Defence was lacking in regional and ethnic balance and, thus, did not have the trust of the factions which were to participate in the DDR programme.  Accordingly, the commencement of DDR had now been made contingent on the implementation of a series of confidence-building measures.

He welcomed the Provincial Reconstruction Teams’ contribution to improved security.  He was encouraged by recent expression of interest by a number of countries in participating in the Teams.  They could provide a platform for supporting and expanding the work that was being undertaken on security sector reform and they could also carry out infrastructure work to support government authority.  The Teams could also play a confidence-building role in the constitution-making process, DDR and electoral preparations.  However, currently the Teams, in their strength and deployment, were still far from an adequate response to the security challenge posed to the Bonn process.  He stressed that, while national Afghan institutions were ultimately the answer, further deployment of international security elements were needed to provide the security environment and confidence for the Bonn process to move forward.

In conclusion, he said that in the past month civic processes central to the Bonn Agreement had commenced that offered all Afghans a stake in achieving a stable State.  There were still some in Afghanistan for whom the process represented a threat, and it was their intent to subvert it.  The vicious technology of terror gave them a power that was disproportionate to their number.  The aims of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were reasonably clear.  More difficult to gauge was whether the professed commitment of regional commanders and powerful governors to the nation-building process was, in fact, genuine.

The peace process had entered into its most critical and most sensitive stage –- the constitutional and electoral process –- but prevailing insecurity posed a serious risk of derailing it.  “Those who wish to subvert the process should not be allowed to triumph over the aspirations of the majority of Afghans for a stable State.  I encourage the Afghan authorities and the international community to demonstrate a shared commitment to provide the necessary conditions for the peace process to move forward”, he said.

Focusing on the drug threat originating in Afghanistan, ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the Afghan Government’s commitment to controlling the cultivation, trade and abuse of narcotics could be turned into real progress only if stability and security spread throughout the country.  While the opium economy undermined current institution-building efforts, the argument could be turned around -- the slow progress of the re-establishment of the rule of law was hurting the authority’s ability to reduce the drug economy.  It was a vicious circle, of sort.

The frequently made reference to Afghanistan’s drug problem needed a qualification, he said.  It was not true that the whole country was involved in illegal activities.  Less than 1 per cent of its land was cultivated for opium poppies, and no more than 6 per cent of families derived the resulting illicit livelihood.  Only five of the country’s 31 provinces produced opium on a large scale.  But, still in 2002 poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had been estimated at 74,000 hectares, resulting in 3,400 tons of output in the northern, eastern and southern parts of the country.  According to a recent pre-assessment, this year opium cultivation appeared to have spread to new areas, while a decrease had taken place in several traditional provinces.  Therefore, neither the surface under cultivation nor the volume of output were likely to change significantly.

In order to rid Afghanistan of its dependence on illegal activities, starting with opium, it was necessary to create ample and easily accessible opportunities for alternative sources of income, he continued.  That task, however, was rendered complicated by economic and security factors.  In particular, the price of opium, which used to be about $35 to $50 per kilogram, had recently shot up to about $550 to $600 per kilogram.  The price of opium had gone up at a time when the risks associated with its cultivation had not increased, comparatively.  The task to rid Afghanistan of the drug economy required much greater political, security and financial capital than presently available, to assist the rural areas affected by opium production and, above all, to improve the central government’s ability to implement the opium-production ban.

Drugs originating in Afghanistan provided resources to crime and terrorism, he pointed out, and posed a major health threat.  They ruined the lives of entire communities and corrupted people.  The drug dealers, among them the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, had a vested interest in ensuring that the State remained weak in Afghanistan.  That ensured a further flourishing of the drug economy, with huge profits recycled in violence and death.

Corruption was both a cause and a consequence of narco-traffic, he said.  His Office had extensively studied the drug-trafficking routes.  A common element among them was the presence of corrupted government officials, corrupted port and airport staff, and corrupted customs employees.  The old “Silk Road”, now turned into an opium-paved road, was riddled with such evidence.  Among other threats, he also mentioned the spread of HIV/AIDS, because of drug injections, and the danger of economic and social instability in the countries located along the trafficking routes.

Last month, the Transitional Government of Afghanistan had adopted its first national drug control strategy, he continued.  It foresaw the elimination of opium within 10 years through law enforcement and rural development.  It also aimed to counter domestic processing and trafficking, to counter money laundering, reduce abuse and enhance international cooperation in drug control.  The drug economy could be reconverted to peace and growth if the Government was assisted in addressing the roots of the matter, which included poverty and unemployment.  A recent report prepared by his Office had exposed those roots and deconstructed Afghanistan’s drug economy, showing that it was essential to:  help poor farmers decide in favour of licit crops; provide micro-lending; provide jobs and education to women and children; turn bazaars into modern trading places; and neutralize warlords.

National efforts to control the problem were not enough, he stressed.  Afghanistan’s opium cultivation, trafficking and abuse had ramifications that reached deeply into the country’s -- and Central Asia’s -- recent history and widely into contemporary geo-politics of terrorism and violence.  Hence, convergent efforts by neighbouring countries, Europe and the Russian Federation, where heroin abuse helped nourish opium cultivation in Afghanistan, were needed.

The international community could develop, under the United Nations auspices, a comprehensive approach aimed at assisting Afghanistan in implementing its drug-control strategy and promoting concerted measures against drug trafficking, stockpiles, clandestine laboratories and the supply of precursors.  It was also important to mainstream the drug issue into the overall reconstruction programmes for Afghanistan and to promote alternative development in the opium-growing areas, through partnership with the specialized United Nations agencies.  Afghanistan needed assistance in its criminal justice reform efforts.  It was also important to provide a follow-up to the recent Paris Conference on Drug Routes from Afghanistan, with the proposed consultative groups.  His Office would contribute to the largest possible extent in those efforts.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France), aligning himself with Greece’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said the United Nations had a central role to play in the fight against the scourge of drugs.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was the best tool for implementation of anti-drug policies, and its role should be strengthened.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) might make a useful contribution in that regard, and the Council must also do its part in the effort.  Trafficking from Afghanistan constituted a serious threat to international peace and security, next to terrorism and the proliferation of organized crime.  That threat affected everyone, Europe included, as an important share of Afghan opium was consumed in Europe and transit countries, such as the Balkan countries, were also seriously affected.

For Afghanistan, he said, the production of drugs presented an enormous challenge.  Poppy cultivation hindered progress in two major areas of the Bonn process:  security in the provinces; and strengthening the central government.  The battle was not won.  After a decline in 2001, opium production in Afghanistan was estimated to be at 3,400 tons in 2002.  President Karzai had confronted the challenge, adopting a plan of action.  That plan proposed a long-term strategy for the elimination of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan by 2013.  That process should be supported.

He said it was important that the response of the international community respect certain principles using all available tools:  repression; prevention; and treatment.  The objectives must be balanced:  reduction in supply and demand.  Coordination regionally and internationally must be improved.  On 22 May, representatives of 55 countries seriously affected by opium from Afghanistan had met in Paris and adopted the “Covenant of Paris”.  According to that plan, national capacities would be strengthened, regional partnerships would be established and a strategic multilateral framework would be developed under the aegis of the United Nations.  It was important that the United Nations, the Council and the General Assembly participate in that strategy, he said.

CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) highlighted the coordination work by UNAMA and concerted work of all the competent bodies of the United Nations system, as well as humanitarian organizations and civil society.  The international community must strengthen international cooperation to tackle the causes of conflicts, strengthen national institutions in Afghanistan and reconstruct the infrastructure of that country.  Despite the progress achieved, Mexico was concerned that real threats to security and democratic progress still existed in Afghanistan.  Among immediate challenges, he listed formation of a national army, disarmament, drug problems and the need to draft and adopt the national constitution.  In all those tasks, international cooperation would be fundamental.  At the same time, it was important to prepare conditions for the holding of national elections in 2004.  The process must be transparent and legitimate. 

Continuing, he also emphasized the need to strengthen security and safety, and improve the health, education and living conditions of the people.  He forcefully condemned recent attacks against international and humanitarian personnel in the country.  The situation in Afghanistan was quite complex.  There were forces that promoted anarchy and extremism.  As a first step, it was important to increase security throughout the country.  As for drug production, the problem transcended the issue of public health.  It was a source of violence, corruption and illicit trafficking in weapons.  There were two sides to the problem:  production and consumption.  Those countries to which consumption had spread also had a responsibility to address the issue.

The international community must cooperate in developing a well-balanced approach to the issue, he said.  Joint and shared responsibility and respect for the principles of the Charter and international law were indispensable.  He advocated the use of an integral approach, recognizing and supporting the work already accomplished, including international treaties and declarations.  A recent Paris conference on drug routes was an important step in the efforts against drug trafficking.  It was important that, in Afghanistan, a strategic partnership had been formed between the donor countries, the international community and the United Nations, as well as civil society.

MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that, even though significant progress at the political level had been made in the implementation of the Bonn process, insecurity remained the main obstacle to establishment of a State based on the rule of law.  Illegal drugs were one of the major sources for financing criminal activities and international terrorism.

In Afghanistan, illegal cultivation of poppies was a major concern.  The Afghan Interim Administration had set the objective of eliminating poppy cultivation.  It was a work that required stamina, alternative solutions and education of the population.  The Afghan authorities must strictly implement the measures taken, and the international community must help with quick impact projects in finding alternative crops.

He said it was up to the international community to strengthen the foundations of the political process of the Bonn Agreement by providing more support.  The Agreement had entered a crucial phase, and the country truly needed financial and political support.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that the issue of drugs was an important and complex problem that needed to be addressed by the international community.  The problem of security was one of the major challenges in the peace process in Afghanistan.  Poppy cultivation was a source of national, regional and global concern, because the profits from drugs made it possible to finance terrorism.  It was regrettable that poppy cultivation was, in fact, still at the levels preceding 2002.

Fighting against the danger of drugs required a clear and consistent strategy on behalf of the international community, with participation of the countries concerned, he continued.  He welcomed the efforts by the Transitional Administration and the measures being adopted for alternative crops.  State structures in Afghanistan needed to be strengthened, and national legislation needed to be improved.  Efforts to achieve the rule of law required serious international assistance, which should go beyond purely financial aid.

It was important to ensure a better life for farmers, establishing a solid economy in the country, he said.  Those efforts should go hand in hand with raising awareness.  The work should not be confined to the borders of Afghanistan.  A well-coordinated international strategy should aim to improve security conditions, build government structures and reconstruct the infrastructure.  It was impossible to deal with drug production in an isolated fashion, independent of all those issues.

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said the link between poppy cultivation, lack of security, economic difficulties, corruption, and consolidation of the rule of law had been clearly established.  The interconnection between the cultivation and trafficking of drugs and transnational organized crime, of which trafficking of small arms was one of the symbolic outgrowths, had been mentioned in meetings over the past few weeks in Tashkent, Prague and Paris.  He thanked the Government of France for organizing a ministerial conference on drug routes from Central Asia to Europe.  The concerns raised by participants were basically identical to those seen in the areas of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa or South-East Asia.

The production and trafficking of drugs was one of the most significant challenges faced by post-Taliban Afghanistan, he continued.  Economic recovery, combating poverty, security and political progress were influenced by poppy cultivation.  The very same warlords who were at the heart of economic and political developments in the country also controlled production and trafficking of opium. Efforts to combat the production had been ineffective, as production had increased in Afghanistan and consumption had increased in other countries.  Absent mobilization of the international community, Afghan progress was threatened.

Action against poppy cultivation should entail improving agricultural production by large investments in irrigation, he said.  Promoting a competitive private sector and investment in productive sectors would also address unemployment and crime.  Afghanistan needed the support of the international community, as well as access to international markets.  The ambiguity regarding the warlords must also be addressed.  Strengthening institutional capacities and the central government’s control of all Afghanistan with a competent and honest army and police were absolutely essential for the reduction of drug trafficking, he said.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that his country fully associated with the position of the European Union and added that it was very difficult not to react to the rather sombre picture described by Mr. Guehenno regarding the situation in Afghanistan.  Security remained an important issue, and up to one third of the country was still not accessible to the United Nations.  Violence and violations of human rights continued. 

The drug problem was one of the most important dimensions of the situation in the country, he continued.  Drug production had implications both for the country itself and the world at large.  Bulgaria was following with growing concern the trend of the stabilization of drug production at a rather high level.  The area of cultivation of poppies in Afghanistan had been calculated at 74,000 hectares in 2002.  Some 70 to 90 per cent of heroin in Europe came from Afghanistan.  In view of all that, the problem of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan could not be expected to be easily resolved in the near future.

That did not mean that the international community should be discouraged in its efforts, he said.  The measures by the Transitional Administration were an important endeavour.  Alternate crops needed to be developed.  It was also clear that one of the best ways of dealing with poppy cultivation was to limit demand in the consumer and transit countries.  Recently, while there had been a positive trend as far as the Balkan route was concerned, other transit routes had begun to develop.  The conference in Paris had been a very useful event, which had helped to assess the dimensions of the problem.  One of the explanations of that trend was the fact that the European countries were making major efforts to coordinate their anti-drug efforts, especially in combating transborder crime.  Bulgaria was participating in the regional efforts to combat the scourge.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said concerns had been raised about the results of the rapid assessment survey of opium production conducted in Afghanistan last March, which revealed that poppy crops had been detected for the first time in various districts of the country in areas beyond where they had been traditionally grown.  Nevertheless, he noted the success achieved in the eradication of crops in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan.  He also commended the anti-drug efforts being made by the United Kingdom and the police control activities being carried out by Germany.

While there was no single formula for dealing with the scourge, a number of approaches might possibly be helpful to the process, he said.  He agreed on the importance of having a broad international approach under United Nations auspices in support of the commitment of the Afghan Interim Authority to eradicating the illicit cultivation of poppies, as well as efforts to combat drug trafficking, both in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries.  In that connection, he welcomed the recommendations contained in the most recent report of the Office on Drugs and Crime, including the need to address certain problems that contributed to the emergence of an economy based on opium production. 

Noteworthy among those, he continued, was support for farmers to produce alternative crops, including the provision of equipment, seeds and fertilizers; alternative sources of income for non-farm work and, in particular, for refugees returning to the country; employment for women and access to education for children; macro-economic structures in which the market for raw materials could be delinked from the perverse incentives of opium production; micro-credits for farmers and returnees; and the effective implementation of the law against trafficking in opium in the country.  Lastly, he expressed his full support for the presidential statement to be adopted today.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), aligning himself with Greece’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said a critical moment in the Bonn process had been reached.  Although political progress had been made, the security situation remained too fragile.  The ISAF continued to assist with security around Kabul, but similar benefits had to be brought to the rest of the country.  There were some encouraging signs, however, such as the agreement on the customs revenues.

Overcoming the growth of the drug trade in Afghanistan was essential, he said.  For as long as regional leaders had income from the illicit drugs trade, they were a threat to the region.  There were no quick fixes to the drug problems anywhere in the world, and in Afghanistan one had to be realistic and temper high expectations.  In the coming year, law enforcement would have a limited reach beyond Kabul and not be able to reach farmers.  The Transitional Administration deserved credit for adoption of its national drug control strategy and the Council should put its weight behind that strategy.

To facilitate funding of the drug control strategy and better international coordination, the United Kingdom was ready to assist the Government through a conference of donors and international agencies.  Regional cooperation against the drug trade should also be emphasized, as not only the international community was affected by the harm caused by abuse of drugs and the funding of terrorism through drugs profits, but also Afghanistan’s neighbours.  He welcomed the outcome of the Paris conference last May.  Strengthening border-crossing controls was important, he said, and he described several United Kingdom activities in that regard, including training Afghan control-border personnel jointly with Iran.

He said the Council did not need to become involved in the details of the fight against drugs from Afghanistan, but must remain focused on long-term security of that country and create favourable conditions for successfully addressing the problem.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that the entire peace process in Afghanistan was threatened by the lack of security, continued battling among factions and drug trafficking.  Unfortunately, drugs had become a source of livelihood for many people in the country.  He hoped the national strategy for drug control would be successful, leading to a reduction in production, trafficking and use of drugs.

Continuing, he said that the fight against drugs meant not only improving the economic situation in the country, but also sharing responsibility between drug-producing and consuming countries.  It was important to increase international cooperation in the fight against drugs, strengthening border controls and introducing programmes to increase training and reduce demand.  A global, well-balanced and coordinated approach was needed to tackle the problem.  In the sphere of international action, he invited the parties to the international anti-drug convention to contribute to seizures and anti-money-laundering efforts by international organizations.  Spain was already taking part in such efforts.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that continuing insecurity and instability, particularly outside Kabul, made security sector reform a crucial prerequisite for the fight against illicit opium production and trafficking.  Germany had assumed the lead role in rebuilding the Afghan police force, including the anti-drug and border police forces.  So far, much had been achieved.  Among other things, the infrastructures of the national criminal police and national drug police had been re-established.  Building the border police would be another vital task, linking both the anti-drug efforts and the rebuilding of the Afghan National Army with the police project.

There could be no real success until the Afghan police force could ensure law and order in those provinces hit especially hard by drugs, he stated.  While the Afghan Government had good intentions, it had neither the necessary means nor the strength to assert its authority outside Kabul.  The challenge now was to extend the reconstruction of the security sector.  The level of development in the security sector and success in the fight against opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan would not only depend on positive developments in the general security situation, but, in particular, on the participation of the international community.

Combating drug production and trafficking would be the litmus test, he noted, of the ability of lead nations in the security sector to achieve synergies in their overlapping fields of responsibility.  That would continue to require well-coordinated efforts and commitment from all Afghan and international actors in the security sector.  However, the success of efforts to eradicate illicit drugs did not only depend on credible enforcement measures, but also on the availability of alternative sources of livelihood for farmers and a comprehensive improvement of the socio-political environment.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said the 2003 Afghan poppy harvest might be as large as that of the record year 2002, something which would further erode security in Afghanistan and threaten reconstruction.  The opium trade generated funds that corrupted institutions and funded terrorism, as well as crime syndicates involved in the small arms market.  A shift in opium poppy cultivations to more remote areas from prime agricultural areas was an alarming trend, which underlined the urgent need to establish law and order in remote areas.

Farmers required viable alternatives for illicit crops and needed credit, he said.  Also, there was a need to deal with trafficking in neighbouring States.  The United States was committed to help the Interim Authority to run effective anti-drug programmes and establish alternative livelihood programmes.  The United States supported United Kingdom’s lead on counter-narcotics and Germany’s lead on police training, and had contributed $60 million to that end.  The United States also contributed to alternative agricultural development and drug treatment programmes, as well as to drug enforcement.

He said his country was planning, with Germany, an expansion of police training.  He strongly supported the efforts of the local office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the outcome of the Paris Conference.  The United States was working closely with Germany to coordinate assistance for the Afghan border police.  It remained committed to working with Pakistan and other Afghan neighbours to strengthen capacities to confront the drug trafficking that posed as much a threat to them, as to Afghanistan itself.  He remained concerned about the upswing of violence in Kabul and the provinces.  Taliban and Al Qaeda elements now appeared to target civilians.

Regarding the 2004 elections, he noted that UNAMA had started preparatory work.  However, a formal plan and budget had not been established yet.  The United Nations Electoral Assistance Divisions was proposing to fund the work out of voluntary contributions.  He urged all countries to provide the maximum financial support possible.  He was concerned about a shortfall in the Afghan budget and urged all countries to contribute to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund as soon as possible, noting that his country would contribute $20 million shortly.  Ultimately, resources devoted to dealing with Afghanistan’s serious problems, could make a decisive difference, he said.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said the drug problem in Afghanistan had seriously affected the country’s stability and economic development, and was an unstable factor in the region.  To curb drug production and trafficking was the common objective for Afghanistan and other countries in the region, as well as the entire international community.  His Government appreciated the measures adopted by the Transitional Administration to root out the drug problem and the positive role played by UNAMA, the Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Kingdom and France in that regard. 

He was in favour of taking timely actions to formulate an international strategy against the Afghan drug threat and engage in genuine international cooperation, under the leadership of the United Nations.  To sever the drug source and effectively solve the drug issue, efforts should be made to develop substitute crops and improve rural economic and social environment, so that farmers would acquire income through legal means and free themselves from their dependence on drug production.  The international community should assist the Transitional Administration in policy-making and funding in that area.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that in the past years, Afghanistan had been the focus of international attention.  The Bonn Agreement had set the framework for international peacekeeping and reconstruction of the country.  Today, however, implementation of the Agreement was far from complete.  Security remained a serious concern.  Development of the new constitution and holding of the elections were among immediate tasks that needed to be carried out.  If integrated into the framework of broader efforts to achieve reconciliation and development, international efforts could help tackle the threats presented by remaining terrorist elements and drug trafficking.

Combat against production and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan could achieve results only through stabilization and economic development, he said.  Among the measures that needed to be implemented, he mentioned promotion of alternative livelihoods, assistance for the Transitional Administration in implementation of the opium poppy ban, identification of groups involved in trafficking and money laundering, and effective measures to curtail demand in the consuming countries.  Those efforts were important not only for Afghanistan itself, but for the region as the whole.  The lead nations and the international community should reinforce their assistance to Afghanistan’s drug control efforts.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said until the authority of the Transitional Administration was extended throughout the country, lawlessness and security threats would continue.  The lack of security and law and order were the basic catalysts for the illicit production and trafficking of narcotics.  Such activities were fed by abject poverty and the lack of alternative livelihoods, and perpetuated and protected by influential commanders.  The problem also had serious implications for its neighours, particularly for Pakistan, which now had some 3.5 million drug addicts, although it was not a poppy cultivating country.

There was a need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach, not only to interdict the illicit trafficking of drugs, but also to deal with the source, he said.  He called on the international community to provide all possible assistance to the Afghan Government to help implement its national drugs strategy.  His country had participated in the Paris Conference and supported its outcome.  However, such a comprehensive approach must begin with effective measures inside Afghanistan, including strengthened law-enforcement.  Afghan farmers should also be weaned away from poppy cultivation, and that would require immediate assistance in crop-substitutions and income support.

He said the problem of illicit drug manufacturing could not be effectively tackled unless the chemical precursors used in drug manufacturing -- especially acetic anhydride -– could be prevented from reaching the laboratories.  Countries which produced those chemicals had special responsibility in preventing their outflow.  In dismantling the networks engaged in trafficking, special attention needed to be paid to tracing and prosecuting financing at the source.  Demand reduction strategies must not only be evolved in Afghanistan and the transit States, but also in destination countries.  Unless strong enforcement action was taken not only against the suppliers, but also against the consumers and financiers of illicit drugs in destination States, the drug problem would not go away.

Speaking in his national capacity, the President of the Council, SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation), said that while much had been achieved in Afghanistan, it was still too early to say that the peace process there had been completed.  The Transitional Authority was still encountering significant difficulties in overcoming the heritage of the past, and terrorist acts against international personnel testified to the danger posed by the resurrection of the Taliban and other extremist elements.  Multilateral assistance was still needed, and he was convinced that it was necessary to support those Afghan forces that had proven themselves in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  It was also important to ensure non-interference in the internal affairs of the country, including through concrete measures in implementation of the declaration on good-neighbourly relations adopted in Kabul last December.

The Council should continue a focused discussion of the problems confronting the country today, he continued, and the Russian Federation had proposed to put the issue of drug threats at the centre of today’s discussion.  Due to its geographical situation, attempts had been made to use Russia as a convenient transit route for smuggling drugs originating in Afghanistan, in particular, heroin.  That drug was spreading to new territories not only in Europe, but also in North America, Japan and Australia.  The challenge was to develop an effective, comprehensive and balanced approach to the fight against drugs, both inside and outside Afghanistan.

Russia supported measures to establish anti-drug agencies within Afghanistan, strengthen their capacity and develop an alternative economy, he said.  It was clear, however, that current measures were not sufficient, so far. It was also important to organize systematic search and destruction of illicit drug laboratories and intercept couriers.  The drug problem was closely related to the issues of security and the establishment of law and order in Afghanistan

Considering the acuteness of the problem, neighbouring countries were often forced to undertake additional and sometimes exceptional steps to strengthen anti-drug potential on their borders, he said.  Creation of anti-drug “security belts” on the borders of Afghanistan and its neighbours could help to increase the effectiveness of international efforts to stop the flow of opiates to the region.  His country was actively collaborating with the United Nations and countries of the region in that respect.  Progress had been achieved in fighting smuggling on the Tajik and Afghan borders.  About four tons of narcotics, including 2.3 tons of heroin, had been seized on Russian borders last year.  Since the beginning of this year, some two tons of narcotics had been seized, including 1.2 tons of heroin.  Cooperation within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was becoming more effective.  Special mechanisms had been established within the framework of the Shanghai cooperation structures.

The threat from Afghanistan was not confined to the immediate region, he stressed.  Illicit trafficking in drugs was a global phenomenon, which should be addressed along with other new threats.  It provided financial resources to terrorists, and a new phenomenon of narco-terrorism had emerged.  It was in the interests of the international community to identify and neutralize the entire chain of transnational crime structures trafficking in Afghan drugs.  Such efforts should include steps to prevent attempts to launder profits from drugs.  It was important to cut off the flow of precursors of heroin to Afghanistan, as it was important to reduce the demand for heroin.  He hoped today’s discussion would allow the Council to make a decision aimed at uniting, under the aegis of the United Nations, the efforts of all interested States and international organizations, in order to work out a joint and comprehensive approach to the fight against drugs.

RAVAN FARHÂDI (Afghanistan) highlighted some major problems that needed the sustained attention of the international community, saying that consolidation of peace, security and stability in Afghanistan largely depended on assistance in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country’s social and economic infrastructure.  It was imperative to channel international assistance through the national development budget of the Afghan Transitional Authority and to focus attention on building the capacity of the country’s Government.  A relevant mechanism for monitoring expenditures could be established.  Additional resources were needed beyond the pledges made in Tokyo in January 2002.  Recently, President Karzai had renewed his plea for an additional $15 billion, and it was necessary to consider a new pledging conference.

Regarding DDR, he said that it was a central element of long-term peace-building and conflict prevention in Afghanistan.  His country’s delegation had attended a Tokyo conference in February to mobilize international support for the process of DDR of former combatants.  By the end of this month, the country would launch the DDR process, in accordance with a timetable and appropriate scheme.  To turn former combatants into law-abiding citizens, the DDR efforts needed to be accompanied by education and training programmes; economic growth and development; and establishment of income-generating projects.  It should be an integrated process, and there could be no gaps or delays as a result of slow funding.

Turning to poppy cultivation, production and trafficking, he said that there was a strong political will to eradicate the problem in Afghanistan.  However, the implementation of the Government’s decrees depended, to a large extent, upon credible law enforcement and availability of alternative sources of livelihood for farmers.  The Afghan Government had prepared a national drug-control strategy, which encompassed programmes for alternative livelihood, enhancement of the capacity of law enforcement agencies and improvement of national legislation.  With the support of the international community, his Government was committed to eliminating opium production by 2013.

He went on to say that on 18 May the National Security Council of Afghanistan had made some important decisions.  In accordance with article 2 of its decision, for example, all provincial incomes should be deposited with the central treasury.  The Government’s efforts to centralize revenue collection had been welcomed by the people of the country and provincial governors, yielding tangible results.  Work was continuing on the new constitution.  With the help of UNAMA, the first office of the Constitutional Review Commission had now opened in Kandahar, with other field offices expected to open soon.  The main purpose of those offices would be to lay the groundwork for the public debate on the new Afghan constitution.

In conclusion, he expressed deep condolences to the people and Government of Germany on the death of the German members of ISAF.  The cowardly attack on 7 June had been carried out by terrorists who were struggling against the peace, stability and development of Afghanistan.  In the face of such a threat, the countries of the region should extend and reinforce their cooperation against terrorism, extremism and fanaticism within the framework of relevant Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001).  The Afghan Government also renewed its request to the Counter-Terrorism Committee to consider provision of adequate resources, equipment and training of professional personnel for the effective combat and annihilation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The meeting suspended at 1:30 p.m.

As the Council meeting resumed this afternoon, YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said despite international efforts, opium production in Afghanistan in 2002 had returned to high levels and, as a result, opium transit through the Central Asian countries had increased.  As long as that alarming trend persisted, international terrorism would continue to have a source of financial support.  To effectively counter the existing drug threat, it was necessary to apply a comprehensive approach to the problem, with the United Nations playing a coordinating role.

He stressed the importance of convening a drug control conference in Kabul, which would contribute to the coordination of efforts to combat illicit drug production in Afghanistan.  Also, he commended the contribution of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to the efforts to eliminate drugs on a sustainable basis, and welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe, held in Paris from 21 to 22 May.

His Government was interested in strengthening the “security belts” around Afghanistan to prevent drug trafficking from the Afghan territory and to prevent precursor chemicals from flowing into Afghanistan.  It was also imperative to develop a United Nations programme to combat drug trade in Central Asia on a systematic basis.  In that context, the Office on Drugs and Crime’s initiative to create a regional cooperation structure between the Central Asian countries should be supported.  Effective assistance to strengthen border security, customs and law enforcement agencies of States located alongside drug-trafficking routes from Afghanistan and the improvement of interaction between regional drug control agencies could also be important factors to prevent drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that for a year and a half now, Afghan society was living with the hope of establishing peace and stability after some  20 years of conflict.  The Bonn Agreement had become a reliable compass towards normalization of life in Afghanistan.  At the same time, there were unresolved problems, in particular, security.  Groups were undermining the peace process and hatching plans to return society to a time of darkness.  Those destructive acts were committed by those who were controlling the cultivation of drugs, including international criminal groups.  The Taliban-organized narco-business had not been destroyed, and the “hellish heroin machine” was still working full tilt.  The illegal income derived from drugs was at the same level as international assistance given to the country.

He said Tajikistan had been on the old silk route and was now situated at the crossroads of the great opium route.  In Tajikistan, the poignancy and scope of the drug threat emanating from Afghanistan was well understood, and, thanks to government efforts, his country had become an important and reliable shield against Afghan drugs.  Since 1999, Tajikistan authorities, with the assistance of the Russian Federation, had removed 25 tons of opiates, the equivalent of $1 billion in market value.  Thanks to the joint operations of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation, more than 14 million citizens on earth had been spared the exposure to the White Death.  His country was number four in the world in removing heroin from the international markets.

Despite that success, the counter-narcotic security belt was not 100 per cent effective.  Tons of heroin were waiting to be sent to Europe and America.  There was still a fire under the ashes of the Taliban regime which threatened the international community.  That dictated the need for developing an international strategy with adequate measures to combat drugs within and outside Afghanistan.  It was essential that assistance to the Afghan authorities be stepped up.  New ideas were needed to wean Afghan farmers from poppy cultivation.  Creating a unified databank on Afghan drugs was also important.  Attention should also be given to the origin of chemical precursors and their route into Afghanistan.  Only collective resistance to the global drug threat from Afghanistan would give that country the opportunity to rid itself from the heroin legacy from the Taliban.

JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said insecurity and drug trafficking in Afghanistan were mutually reinforcing, and both contributed to terrorism and other forms of transnational crime.  Across the globe, the lines between international organized crime and global terrorism had become blurred, and the links between them had grown in the past decade.  That reality should compel governments to begin revamping their strategy for the war on both terrorism and drug trafficking.

He supported the idea of promoting, under United Nations auspices, a comprehensive anti-drug strategy based on close cooperation between the parties concerned and the Afghan Transitional Administration.  Such a strategy should be all encompassing, bringing together all actors and interested parties, including civil society and governments from source, transit and destination countries.  It should also aim to address all aspects of the problem, including opium cultivation, drug processing, trafficking and abuse.

Iran, as a neighbour of Afghanistan, was the primary transit route for narcotics to the West and, at the same time, had itself become a destination country, he said.  It had addressed the problem at the source by providing resources for labour-intensive public works and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.  It had also provided assistance to the Afghan Government in a variety of ways, including investing in crop substitution, training Afghan law enforcement officers in Iran and in five Afghan provinces, and building 25 sentry posts for the Afghan Government.  The total value of Iran’s contribution to various reconstruction projects exceeded $68 million as of March 2003.

ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Iceland, said that Union member States were actively participating in efforts to reform the Afghan security sector, through the strengthening of the Afghan national army and police, including anti-narcotic units and border police, as well as judicial training and reform.  The security sector reform was of utmost importance for the viability of the forthcoming DDR process, to begin in July. 

Besides the immediate tasks of stabilization and reconstruction, one of the key aims of European Union assistance to Afghanistan was to improve the availability and access to food and promote alternatives to poppy production.  He strongly believed that drug production and trafficking undermined development efforts, destabilized political systems, engendered corruption, fuelled organized crime and might even finance terrorist activities.  The smuggling of opiates and cannabis undermined the economic and social stability of countries and jeopardized peace and security in the region as a whole.

The European Union was committed to coordinating its assistance with the United Kingdom, who was leading international counter-narcotics efforts to support the Afghan Government in eliminating the cultivation, processing and trafficking of opiates.  He also recognized that international efforts to tackle the drug problem involved development concerns and priorities, demand reduction and the strengthening of law enforcement capabilities.  It was also necessary to focus on the drug routes, since the drug fight must be geographically comprehensive and address simultaneously the problems of production, trafficking and consumption on all points of the routes along which drugs moved from producers to consumers.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that, despite the efforts to eradicate poppy crops by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community, it was anticipated that in 2003 Afghanistan would again be the world’s largest opium producer.  It was necessary to put in place effective counter-narcotics measures, which would contribute to the strengthening of the central Government by undermining the financial foundation of warlords and contributing to the improvement of security and consolidation of peace.  He strongly supported the  10-year national drug control strategy set out by the Government of Afghanistan and welcomed the initiative of the United Kingdom in that effort.

He went on to say that successful drug control depended not only on effective programmes for growers and capacity-building for law-enforcement, but also on measures aimed at a reduction of poverty.  In order to improve the overall economic situation in the country, Japan, for its part, was steadily implementing a comprehensive regional development plan, or the so-called Ogata Initiative.  Under that plan, projects were being carried out for income generation, medical care, sanitation and capacity-building for education and infrastructure rehabilitation.

It was also important to address the problems from a regional perspective, he continued.  It was essential for neighbouring States to effectively control their borders and cut off the traffic route within their territories.  Control of all drugs must also be strengthened globally.  Unless supply and demand for drugs was controlled worldwide, it would be impossible to control the trafficking of drugs.  What was required was improved information exchange among customs authorities, as well as greater cooperation among law enforcement and investigative agencies.

Success in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as the establishment of a credible Afghan national army and police, would enhance the effectiveness of drug control efforts, he said.  It was encouraging that the Government of Afghanistan had committed to complete the DDR process by the beginning of elections next June.  Japan and the United States were taking the lead in that process, and he urged the international community to extend full cooperation to it.  As new urgent issues came up in such areas as Iraq and the Middle East, the attention of the international community could be distracted from Afghanistan.  Failure to secure peace in Afghanistan, however, could seriously affect the peace process in other areas, as well.  It was important to honour the commitments made to Afghanistan until a free, democratic and peaceful country was achieved.

VALERIY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said he was deeply concerned with the difficulties still confronting Afghanistan, particularly in the field of internal security, despite progress made since the Bonn Agreement.  His country strongly condemned all acts of violence and intimidation directed against the United Nations and humanitarian personnel.  The Transitional Administration, with the support of the United Nations, should take urgent measures to improve the security situation.  Special attention should be given to the implementation of the announced DDR programme, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

He said one of the most alarming factors leading to insecurity and to establishing the rule of law in Afghanistan was the narcotic threat.  Moreover, organized crime and illicit narco-trafficking and drug abuse were becoming the most serious threats to the economic prosperity and political stability of many countries in the world.  The link between narco-trafficking and other phenomena such as terrorism, money laundering and smuggling should not be ignored.  No individual State could address those challenges alone.  That was only possible through coordinated and effective actions by the international community as a whole.  In that regard, further strengthening of the role of the United Nations as a powerful instrument in developing international cooperation to combat the narcotic drug threats was extremely important.

His country fully supported full implementation of the Afghan National Drug Strategy and the “Paris Pact”.  Undoubtedly, he said, the success of the Afghan Administration in combating drugs was dependent on the success of the peace process as a whole.  The only way to remove the drug dependence of farmers was by providing them with alternative livelihoods, with skills to engage in other economic activities, and market access.  In that connection, his country supported proposals to develop, under the aegis of the United Nations, an international strategy of complex counteraction against narco-drugs originating from Afghanistan.

A. GOPINATHAN (India) said drugs accounted for as much as 18 per cent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the problem traced to its socio-economic roots.  The phenomenon needed to be tackled at a multifaceted level, involving action to accelerate development in the provinces concerned, increase literacy and employment opportunities and develop alternative crop cultivation options.  However, none of those medium- to long-term solutions could be achieved without facilitating a basic environment of security and stability.

Discussions at the Paris Conference on Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe last May had highlighted the nexus between drug trafficking and financing of terrorism, he said.  It had also reinforced the requirement for an urgent, swift and coordinated response to the problem.  The fact that “narco-terrorism” had often been State-sponsored or assisted by unrestrained agents of State authority had not made it any easier to control.

The Transitional Authority’s decrees prohibiting cultivation, production and processing of opium were a step forward, he said.  President Karzai had indicated his Government’s seriousness in addressing the issue.  India welcomed the significant contribution of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and individual States to counter the threat of drugs in Afghanistan.  The joint statement issued at the conclusion of the sixth India-Russia working group on Afghanistan last March had expressed concern over increased production of drugs in Afghanistan and their illegal trafficking, emphasizing the need to develop a comprehensive strategy, with an appropriate United Nations role in the process.

In his view, given the seriousness of the problem, its dimensions and implications within and outside Afghanistan, there was a pressing need to tackle the issue, supplementing other programmes under implementation or consideration.  Such efforts should include allocation of increased resources for the affected areas of the country; enhancement of the Government’s capacity to enforce its ban on opium cultivation; identification of the chain of transborder criminals and their supporters; and greater cooperation among the countries concerned.  India fully supported international efforts aimed at reconstruction of Afghanistan and its emergence as a peaceful, prosperous and independent country.  His country had extended an assistance package amounting to over $170 million to Afghanistan.  It had also provided training to some 500 Afghan nationals.

He said that it was important to address the security problem firmly and resolutely before matters went out of control.  The recent terrorist attack in Kabul highlighted an increasing need for the international community to address the threats to regional peace and stability emanating from terrorist activity in the region.  The cause for the escalation of tensions could be directly attributed to the increasingly bold subversive and terrorist activities by the elements hostile to the Afghan Government, including Taliban remnants, Al Qaeda and their accomplices.  Serious international efforts needed to be directed against that threat.

Mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan were also important, he stressed.  It was, therefore, vital that signatory States adhered to their commitments under the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations signed last December.  One way to ensure that was to entrust the Secretary-General with the role of monitoring adherence to the Declaration.  Another measure to ensure a more secure environment in Afghanistan would be to proceed quickly with the development of indigenous security structures.

TIM MCIVOR (New Zealand) said his country attached priority to international efforts to assist in the restoration of Afghanistan, to establish security and rebuild society.  He saw the role of the United Nations, via UNAMA, as very important in that process.  Addressing the drug economy was a necessary first step in countering a range of illegal activities.  The link between drugs, the authority of the central Government and its ability to achieve broader security continued to present major challenges.  His country was very appreciative of the efforts of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime and Member States making significant contributions to drug-eradication efforts in Afghanistan. 

Turning to the situation in the country as a whole, he said it was heartening to see the achievements of the Transitional Government since it had been put in place last year.  He encouraged further progress on the key milestones of the Bonn Agreement, particularly in the lead-up to national elections next year.  He was concerned over recent attacks on ISAF in Kabul, which reinforced the importance of contributing to the strengthening of national security institutions and providing support to the Force and Operation Enduring Freedom.

New Zealand was contributing personnel to ISAF and taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom, he said.  It also intended to contribute to one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams working to expand the Government’s influence outside Kabul and promote security and reconstruction efforts there.  New Zealand military personnel would also work with a British team providing command and leadership training to the national army in Kabul.  Aware of the need to achieve tangible improvements in the quality of life of Afghan people, while also making longer-term investments in building capacity, his country had also contributed to humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.  The international community needed to reassure Afghanistan’s Government and people that it intended to remain engaged in security and humanitarian assistance efforts to restore their country.

LUIS GUILLERMO GIRALDO (Colombia) said his country, which was engaged in a relentless war against illicit drugs and terrorism, knew first hand the difficult task facing the Afghan authorities in eradicating illicit crops. The international community had recognized that the global problem of illicit drugs and related criminal activities was one of the serious scourges of the time.  Illicit drugs, money laundering and illicit arms trafficking were the effective tripod of international crime.

Terrorist groups not only benefited from the abundant resources created by the increasing demand for drugs, but were now directly involved in the “perverse business”, as was proven by events in Afghanistan.  His country welcomed the call to neighbouring countries and the international community to intensify cooperation on security and the control of illicit drug trafficking, precursor chemicals and related crimes such as money laundering.  He also joined in the call for global demand reduction and for the Afghan people to receive alternative development programmes, with open market access for their products.

Speaking from his country’s experience, he warned that, for terrorists, drug trafficking was only a medium.  Therefore, efforts to contain all possible financing sources by strengthening legislative systems, effective control in the banking system and the adequate exchange of information should be strengthened. The participation of terrorists in illegal drug trafficking was almost inevitable.  All terrorists opposed democracy, human rights, tolerance, peaceful solution to conflicts, freedom of thought and speech and other values.  In the same way as the United Nations had faced the terrorism of Al Qaeda, it must assume its obligation to fight against all forms and expressions of terrorism.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.  In the long run, successful implementation of an Afghan-led security sector reform was essential to ensure positive political and economic development there.  On establishing Provincial Reconstruction Teams, he noted concerns raised regarding confusion of roles between the Teams and civilian aid workers.  The expanding drug economy was a threat to peace and stability not only in Afghanistan, but in the region as a whole.  The fight against that “cancer” required a multidimensional approach.

The Bonn Agreement clearly recognized the right of Afghans to choose their own leaders, he said.  A prerequisite for free and fair elections was a security situation where people felt free to express their views without fear of intimidation or persecution.  The United Nations’ agreement to play a key role in preparing the elections was welcome.  Significant progress had been made in clarifying relations between the central Government and the provinces, especially concerning customs and tax revenue.  He strongly supported the Transitional Administration in its efforts to control domestic revenue collections.

Afghanistan was one of the major recipients of Norwegian development assistance, and his country had pledged $53 million in 2003.  He said it was essential that the international community honoured pledges made at the Afghanistan Development Forum in March and disbursed funding fully and as quickly as possible.  His country also strongly supported joint financing mechanisms such as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.  It was important that the large donors also supported the Afghan National Budget through that Fund.  Peace, stability and economic development could only be achieved by a prolonged commitment by the international community in Afghanistan.  Security was the most essential condition for positive development.

ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said there was irrefutable proof of the link between international terrorism and the narco-business that fed it.  Narco-trafficking was a direct challenge to the security of States and was of concern to all.  Transit of drugs through Central Asia was growing, and the link with the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan should be recognized.  Opium growing in Afghanistan was not lessening, and new major laboratories in the north of the country had been established to produce heroin.

The problem of narco-trafficking must remain a priority item on the international agenda, and assistance by the international community to Afghan efforts to address the problem was essential, he said.  In the last years, authorities in his country had seized more than 50 tons of narcotics coming out of Afghanistan and 72 tons of illicit precursors going into that country.  Assistance in monitoring the border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan with state-of-the-art equipment would enhance the fight against trafficking.

Uzbekistan had established cooperation with international organizations, such as Interpol.  It also attached great significance to programmes of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  However, such programmes and measures were poorly coordinated and not adequately resourced.  Instead of those patchwork programmes, there was a need for centralized system of preventive measures to eliminate the various sources of the threat.  A Tashkent regional clearing house to combat transborder crime must, therefore, be established.  That initiative had been tabled for the first time in October 2002 when the Secretary-General had visited the country.  He hoped today’s meeting would reinvigorate the fight against illegal drugs, as narco-aggression was one of the major challenges to humankind and could only be stopped by coordinated efforts of the international community.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that, while many positive developments had been achieved in the country, in recent months the Afghan people had been manifesting their growing restlessness and disappointment over the seeming lack of progress in their lives.  Peace dividends had not touched the lives of many Afghans.  At the same time, the Taliban was now waging conflict in the southern part of the country to the detriment of reconstruction projects.  While noting progress in the channelling of revenues to the central Government, he noted that warlords or regional chieftains continued to undermine the authority of that Government, especially in the provinces.  One effective means of addressing the problem of warlords would be to expedite the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration measures, including those aimed at building a national military force.

It was disquieting that poppy cultivation was again on the rise despite the issuance of decrees banning it, he continued.  In that connection, he recalled that in 2001 opium cultivation had declined by 91 per cent, compared with the previous year, resulting in a 35 per cent corresponding drop in the global poppy cultivation.  Figures now indicated that some 3,500 tons of the drug had been produced in 2002, leading to a five- to 10-fold increase in income from opium and heroin trafficking.  While the elaboration of a long-term strategy to curtail poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was a step in the right direction, the root cause of the problem was the lack of alternative employment opportunities for the people of the country.  In that respect, the reconstruction process played a vital role.  Unless its pace was accelerated, there could be no viable alternative but to continue poppy cultivation.

On security, he welcomed the decision of the North Atlantic Council to continue and enhance its support to ISAF beginning in August 2003.  However, it was apparent that security outside Kabul needed to be addressed urgently.  The Taliban’s increasing strength in the south needed priority attention.  As for funding for reconstruction, reported figures indicated that only half of the Tokyo pledges had been forthcoming.  It was necessary to accelerate meeting the goals and pledges of the Tokyo Conference.

He added that President Karzai had recently estimated that $15 billion to $20 billion would be needed for the reconstruction of Afghanistan for the next five years.  While that appeared to be a staggering amount, the international community might wish to view that requirement in the light of its significance for global peace and eradication of the drug menace and related organized crime.  International support must be sustained and strengthened.  Every effort must be taken to implement the Afghan Government’s national drug strategy.

CHUN YUNG-WOO (Republic of Korea) said the drug problem was among the serious challenges facing the Afghan peace process today.  The cultivation and trafficking of drugs had long been a prime factor in fuelling and sustaining intra-Afghan conflicts.  Effectively countering that illegal sector of the economy should be an integral part of the international community’s efforts in supporting the Afghan peace process.  The drug eradication campaign would be more effective when police enforcement was coupled with the availability of alternative sources of livelihood to farmers.

Economic reconstruction and rehabilitation was another challenge to be met if Afghanistan was to stand on its own feet and fully enjoy the dividends of peace, he said.  His country was proud to carry out its assistance programmes for Afghanistan, in line with its commitment to extend up to $45 million through 2004, despite its own financial situation.  It was also contributing to Afghan nation-building endeavours in the field of security, including through providing telecommunications equipment to the Afghan National Army.  The sustained support of the international community was vital to the consolidation of peace and stability in Afghanistan.  But it could not be a substitute for the will and efforts of the Afghan people and their leaders to help themselves in rebuilding their country.

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For information media. Not an official record.