Can the World Win the War Against Illegal Drugs?

Can the World Win the War Against Illegal Drugs? Can the World Win the War Against Illegal Drugs?

Iran has called for a more effective global strategy to check drug trafficking via the Balkan route, including active cooperation among countries in preventing money laundering, identifying the drug cartels, unearthing assets of the drug mafia and sharing information on their illegal activities.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Friday criticized the international community’s inaction towards the growing scourge along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, IRNA reported.

Fazli, who also doubles as secretary general of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters was in New York to take part in the UNODC General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the global drug problem held April 19-21 in the United Nations headquarters.

He met several of his counterparts from other countries as well as senior UN officials.

  Scheme for Afghans

In a meeting with Salamat Azimi, Afghan minister of counternarcotics, both sides agreed to launch a joint pilot scheme on alternative means of livelihood across the border region as part of UN-sponsored efforts to curb narcotics production and sale.

Proposed by Fazli, the pilot project will be carried out in cooperation with the international community in regions along the Iran-Afghanistan common borders.

Iran will help the neighboring state to bring about a shift in the cropping pattern to reduce poppy cultivation through the initiative. Fazli also urged Afghan organizations to cooperate with Iran by providing specific and accurate information on the drug smuggling cartels, identities of major ringleaders as well as introducing the key trafficking routes.

Azimi thanked Tehran for supporting Kabul, and asked Iran to share its experience in various fields of combating narcotics and trafficking including in addiction treatment, special medications, and harm reduction.

In a meeting with Cuban Minister of Justice Maria Esther Reus Gonzalez, Fazli said, “Countries affected by drug trafficking do not support Iran which is in the frontline of fighting the illicit trade.”

The Cuban minister briefed him on the new systems her country is using to control drug trafficking and abuse. The two officials discussed ways of expansion of Tehran-Havana ties particularly in the campaign against narcotics.

Alain Berset, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs in a meeting with  the Iranian minister said, “Swiss strategies for fighting drug trafficking hinge on four main aspects of ‘prevention’, ‘treatment’, ‘damage reduction’ and ‘countering and controlling drugs distribution,” while hailing the measures taken by Iran in this regard.

The two sides agreed to exchange expert delegations and work on a framework for cooperation. Iran reaffirmed the need to create the conditions for joint collaboration to control the illicit drugs, particularly in the areas of information exchange and sharing experience on prevention, treatment of addicts, and reducing the social costs of drug abuse.

  Sharing Experience

In a meeting with Vladimir Timoshenko, head of the Ukraine State Service on Drug Control, Fazli stressed that only a concerted global campaign can address and tackle the problem of drug trafficking.

Timoshenko lauded Tehran’s measures and expressed eagerness to share Iran’s experiences. Both officials agreed to open new avenues of cooperation in production of medication for addiction treatment through joint ventures.

Iran also finalized the general outlines of an MoU on joint action against narcotics with Ukraine.

Although not a major drug producing country, Ukraine is an important conduit for smuggling drugs into Western Europe.

“Iran provides treatment and rehabilitation services to a large number of addicts; tackling addiction entails effective prevention and prioritizing resources for plans to foster healthy lifestyles among individuals,” Fazli said in a separate meeting with Singapore’s minister of foreign affairs and law, K. Shanmugam.

“My country pursues a comprehensive national strategy to combat the scourge of drugs, comprising a high-profile public education campaign, treatment and rehabilitation of drug offenders, as well as stringent laws and stiff penalties against those involved in the drug trade,” Shanmugam said.

The two sides agreed to form a joint committee of experts to study ways and means for future cooperation.

  Crop Substitution

Earlier, the minister made a call to fight drug trafficking in a meeting with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

He called for an alternative plan for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. “Crop substitution and providing poppy farmers with an alternative means of livelihood and promoting sustainable development among societies involved in the drug business can help reduce the threat of drug trafficking.”

Every year, Tehran launches large-scale operations against drug smuggling and the transit through Iran of large quantities of narcotics from neighboring Afghanistan bound for Europe and the US, which accounts for 40% of global seizures.

Around 3,800 Iranian policemen have been killed and 12,000 injured in the fight against drug traffickers in the past two decades, he said. In 2015 alone, 620 tons of various types of drugs were seized.

Fazli also called for a more active United Nations role to restore sustainable peace and security as well as balanced development and removal of global poverty.

“Today, the people in various parts of the world are waiting for the UN’s active role in restoring peace and sustainable security and to that end, the Islamic Republic is ready for any cooperation,” he said in a meeting with President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, on Thursday.

Appreciating Iran’s efforts in fighting drug trafficking, Lykketoft said, “Fighting the threat of international terrorism needs mutual cooperation by all member countries.”