From the event

5 Sep 2007

UN representative briefs NATO
on Afghan drugs issue

Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime visited NATO HQ on 5 September to discuss with NATO decision-makers the issue of opium production in Afghanistan.

Mr. Costa met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and briefed the North Atlantic Council, the Alliance’s principal decision-making body, on the 2007 Afghanistan Opium Survey.

He also shared with NATO Ambassadors his views of the role the international community, including NATO, could play in a comprehensive strategy to counter narcotics production in Afghanistan.

The special meeting included representatives from non-NATO contributors to the ISAF mission, Afghanistan, NATO's Central Asian partners, Russia, the World Bank, the European Union and Japan, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach to the issue.

Link between security and drugs

In a briefing for journalists, he stressed that countering opium production in Afghanistan required a long-term effort.

Mr. Costa said that targeting traffickers, opium labs and markets, as well as greater support to the Afghan national army and police were some of the immediate measures that could be taken.

NATO Spokesman James Appathurai stressed that NATO was playing its part, including by taking on the Taliban, who are protecting and taking a cut of opium production in Afghanistan, and using it to fund their violent insurgency against Afghanistan's democratically elected Government.

“There is a symbiotic relationship between the Taliban and the drugs trade,” he said, “NATO is supporting the Afghan national security forces in taking them on.  That is an essential part of an effective counter-narcotics strategy.”

He also said the Alliance was providing support to Afghan security forces and counter-narcotic forces, including through training, intelligence, transport and military support for counter-narcotics officials in imminent danger.