Nato-Russia Council

Counter-Narcotics Training Project looks to the future


NATO-Russia Council representatives and the NRC Counter Narcotics Training Project's participant countries - Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan marked the Project's achievements and looked to future development at a High Level Steering Session meeting in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. 

The participants also attended a drugs burning ceremony organised by the Government of Uzbekistan on the UN's World Drugs Day. In what was a fitting acknowledgement of the project's success in training Counter-Narcotics officers, the Uzbek government destroyed more than 1,600 tons of drugs seized in the region, including hauls made by officers trained by the NRC project.


Technicians load the drug's haul into a furnace in Tashkent

The meeting was an opportunity for the 21 NRC donor nations and the participant countries from the region to share views on the current status of this longstanding NRC Project. In particular, the NRC nations providing the training were given the opportunity to hear at first-hand the needs of the beneficiary countries to further develop their counter narcotics officers' skills:  ranging from general courses to more specialist workshops such as investigation techniques. Training officers with sniffer dogs to search out drugs was also a new area that beneficiary countries highlighted. Going forward, the UNODC will be working with NRC nations and the beneficiary countries to develop next year's training programme based on these requirements. 

UK representative Dave Harry said the High Level Steering Session was: An excellent opportunity to meet and listen to key partners in the region.  It was good to hear our Central Asian partners speak of the positive benefits of counter-narcotics programmes offered by the international community including the NRC-CNT and the UNODC and to hear their views over how such programmes could be improved.

The ceremony organised by our hosts was a wonderful way to mark UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking; it was a great illustration of the successes achieved to date and it set a positive tone for the discussions which followed.  Excellent briefings from many delegations including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Russia clearly demonstrated that nations know these achievements are there to be built on; we must continue with our efforts to prevent drug trafficking


Uzbek Government & NRC marked UN World Drugs Day with drugs burning ceremony

The Project's longstanding success

The NRC Counter-Narcotics project was launched in 2006 in order to build regional capacity against the threat of drug trafficking. 21 NRC nations are involved in the project as well as non-NRC contributors Finland and Ukraine, who is a new member of the Project. The training takes place at fixed training centres in Turkey, Russia, and the US, as well as on location in the region itself. The project is run in co-operation with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) who act as the implementing agency. 

The project is unique because it brings together source and transit countries for narcotics trafficking with the nations that are ultimately targeted as markets for drugs. Due to its success, the project has expanded several times. In 2010 Pakistan joined the project as a beneficiary country and has since become the first country to receive a mentor through the NRC CNT Project - at Pakistan's Anti Narcotics Force Academy in Islamabad. In 2008, the Project's first Independent Evaluation concluded that the pilot project had been successful and was having a positive impact on improving operational efficiency.  In 2012 the project's second Independent Evaluation concluded positively that the project remains highly relevant, responding to counter narcotics training requirements in the region, as well as promoting professional networks among different nations' counter narcotics agencies. April 2012 saw the 2000th officer from the region trained. The most significant sign that the project is having an impact is that many of the counter narcotics officers trained have since been involved in the most significant drugs hauls in the region.

The NRC Counter-Narcotics Training Project demonstrates the NRC's track record of successful cooperation on shared security concerns. Radoslava Stefanova, Chair of the NRC Executive Steering Committee for the Project commented:NATO and Russia have demonstrated in the Counter-Narcotics Training Project, we can better address the threat of narcotics trafficking by working together. The Project has gone from strength to strength and is having tangible results against the illegal narcotics trade.

Counter Narcotics Officers' Drugs Haul

Drugs seized by NRC trained Counter Narcotics Officers

The threat of narcotics trafficking 

The threat of narcotics is not just a threat to the security and stability in Afghanistan, but to all the nations involved in this NRC project as well. The trafficking of illegal opiates from the region continue to be a significant source of concern, that affects all of the member countries of the NRC and demonstrates the need for counter narcotics training in the  region to address the problem directly at the source of many opiates trafficking routes. The NRC project is designed to address this specific need. The work done in the NRC demonstrates the benefits of practical cooperation, sharing resources and expertise to combat common challenges.