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UN backs Afghanistan efforts to fight opium trade

Security Council backs Afghanistan's efforts to battle lawlessness, illicit drug trade

The Security Council today strongly backed efforts in Afghanistan to reign in lawlessness, with a particular emphasis on curbing the illicit drug trade emanating from that country.

Following a daylong open discussion - during which representatives of more than 30 countries took the floor after senior UN officials had briefed the Council on security issues and current efforts to battle the trafficking of illegal narcotics - the 15-member body issued a wide-ranging statement in which reaffirmed its strong commitment "to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan."

Read out by the Council's President, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, the statement expressed the Council's 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 the Taliban and other rebel elements.

The Council also voiced its concern over other security threats, including from illicit drug trafficking, and stressed the need to improve the security situation in the provinces and further extend the administration's authority throughout the country. "Against this 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 statement said.

Focusing specifically on the drug trade, the statement said the Council recognized the links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism, as well as other forms of crime 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 15-nation body 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. "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."

Concerned that the volume of illegal opium production inside Afghanistan has returned to former high levels, the Council gave its support to the commitment by the Afghan Transitional Administration to eliminate drug production by 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 Council welcomed the "significant" contribution by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC) and noted that its work inside Afghanistan was restrained by the lack of general stability and security in the opium growing areas of that country. The Council further welcomed the projects underway in individual countries to counter the threat of drugs in Afghanistan, and underscored the pressing need to achieve quickly a "significant and sustainable decrease" in Afghan opium production.

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