UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Central Asia
Ashita Mittal - UNODC Representative for Central Asia
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated by international conventions and UN resolutions, to assist Member States in implementing UN treaties on drug control, transnational organized crime, corruption and criminal justice reform. It also works to suppress terrorism and human trafficking. The Regional Office for Central Asia ROCA) assists the five Central Asian states in reducing the use and trade of illicit drugs, in fighting organized crime, and in preventing and prosecuting terrorism. The Regional Office is located in Tashkent and has sub-offices in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Astana and Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Baku (Azerbaijan). With a population of over 27 million, Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia and its role in the region's stability is pivotal. Reflecting this, the UNODC has been in Uzbekistan since 1993, and has since helped to develop the country by addressing issues that affect the security, safety and health of its population, particularly its young people. Development is unsustainable unless issues of drug trafficking and abuse, organized crime, corruption and terrorism are effectively addressed.
Crime Prevention and Human Trafficking
UNODC ROCA provides assistance in strengthening the criminal justice response to trafficking in persons in Uzbekistan. This has been achieved by implementing a national project aimed at
strengthening the capacities of Uzbek legal mechanisms and law enforcement institutions, in order to prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking. The project also intends to bring Uzbekistan’s response to trafficking in persons in line with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. The project activities work to support the government in its efforts to strengthen anti-human trafficking legislation, while training law enforcement and criminal justice officials to establish a human trafficking database. It also works to facilitate regional and international cooperation.
UNODC has also assisted the Government of Uzbekistan to strengthen its legal regime against terrorism, by promoting the ratification and implementation of the UN Conventions and Protocols and relevant Security Council Resolutions against terrorism. The scope of the assistance provided by UNODC in the terrorism prevention area has included expanding the legal knowledge base of criminal justice officials and law enforcement personnel dealing with counter-terrorism issues. It has also involved the development and updating of technical assistance tools (Model Laws, Legislative Guides etc.), while providing the legislative drafting assistance needed to incorporate universal provisions into national legislation.
Overcoming these challenges requires an effective legal and institutional framework. To this end, UNODC has provided expert policy recommendations on law and infrastructure improvements, in line with the UN Conventions on drugs, transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism. UNODC has supported national partners in their development of strategies for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and HIV. It has also supported laws that prevent drug trafficking and prosecute related offenders, in addition to laws that prevent money laundering, while addressing issues involving extradition and international legal cooperation. In tandem with promoting the Conventions through legislative processes, UNODC has provided trainings to criminal justice officials and law enforcement personnel regarding legislative drafting. These trainings help to ensure that individuals will have a better understanding of the purposes served by these Conventions.
Drug Demand Reduction and HIV Prevention
In addition to the trafficking of illicit opiates from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan also faces the challenge of increasing drug abuse, especially injecting drug use, which has in turn fuelled the spread of HIV and other blood borne infections. In order to address the problems of drug abuse and HIV, UNODC has initiated programmes designed to enhance national capacity in the prevention of drug abuse. These programmes also help to provide treatment and support services to drug-dependent persons, and to reduce the spread of HIV among injecting drug users and individuals in prison settings, in order to ensure conformity with relevant international conventions and UNODC’s established mandates. The training programmes in this area have provided personnel with the ability and expertise to establish and provide a broad range of services, including outreach interventions for the prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections among injecting drug users, and the treatment of drug dependent persons. UNODC also provides training and educational materials aimed at preventing drug use and HIV infection, especially among young people.
Effective data analysis
UNODC issues authoritative reports based on drug crop surveys, drug addiction data and trend analysis, which are relied on by parties including governments, experts and the media. The Regional Office for Central Asia has developed this expertise to a high calibre, contributing to powerful knowledge-based policy analysis.
Drug Supply Reduction
A substantial portion of the heroin produced in Afghanistan transits Central Asia. To help Uzbekistan tackle the negative effects of this illicit trade, UNODC has assisted national law enforcement agencies to improve border control and increase their operational anti-trafficking capacity. Projects provide equipment and training tailored to the specific challenges faced by Uzbekistan in dealing with international and indigenous drug smuggling, and are also used to promote inter-regional operations involving the region’s countries. The Hayraton Friendship Bridge to Afghanistan is a prime example of this assistance. Through a UNODC project, the bridge and its border control personnel have been equipped with modern equipment that enhances trade while guarding against illicit trafficking. UNODC has also assisted Uzbekistan in the development of drug information collection and analysis. This has been achieved by installing national drug trafficking intelligence analysis systems in agencies with drug control responsibilities, and by linking the country to the regional information collection and dissemination centre (CARICC).
CARICC, or to use its full title, "the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre" is a further example of UNODC's work in the region. Established along the lines of the EU’s Law enforcement agencies Europol, the centre’s purpose is to facilitate information exchange and analysis while assisting the coordination of the operational activities of the region’s various law enforcement agencies. These agencies include the police, drug control agencies, customs, border guards and other services of the countries involved.
UNODC Regional Office’s project portfolio for 2008 comes to around 9 million dollars. The most active donors supporting UNODC’s programs in the sub-region include the governments of Austria, Finland, Italy, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA, as well as the NATO-Russia Council and the European Commission. UNODC often partners with other UN agencies including UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the OSCE and local authorities, in order to effectively address the region’s different drug and crime related issues.
In the prevention of drug abuse:
• The Ministries of Public Education in CA countries; Ministries of Health in CA countries;
• Narcological dispensaries in CA countries;
• AIDS centres in CA countries;
• World Bank.
In the fight against illicit drugs and international crime:
• The United nations Development Programme (UNDP);
• The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);
• The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol);
• Drug Control Agencies in CA countries;
• Customs committees in CA countries;
• The Ministries of Internal Affairs in CA countries;
• National Security Services in CA countries;
• Border services in CA countries.
In terrorism prevention:
• The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure/Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO);
• The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO);
• The CIS Anti-terroristic Centre;
• The Parliamentary committees on defence and security;
• National Security Services;
• The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE);
• The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW);
• The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)/Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC);
• The Offices of Public Prosecutor in CA countries;
• The Supreme Courts in CA countries;
• The Departments of Justice in CA countries.
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