Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

International Conference on Afghanistan—1 April 2004


Executive Summary

    —  Elimination of opium production in Afghanistan is a key objective for the Afghan Government and the International Community. It threatens the stability, reconstruction and licit economy of Afghanistan as well as international security.

    —  This can be achieved through implementation of Afghan National Drug Control Strategy and the five Counter Narcotics Action Plans in the areas of law enforcement, judicial reform, alternative livelihoods, demand reduction and public awareness. However more effort is required by the Afghan Government and the International Community.

    —  The Afghan Government reaffirms its commitment to tackle opium production and the drugs trade in Afghanistan as a top priority and confirms that it will tackle corruption and involvement with drugs at the highest level.

    —  The UK as lead nation on Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) both reaffirm their commitment to support implementation of the Afghan Strategy and Action Plans.

    —  The Afghan Government, the UK and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together urge the International Community to take on specific activity from the five Counter Narcotics Action Plans—Afghanistan needs both human and financial resources to tackle this problem and it requires the engagement of international partners.


  In 2002, Afghanistan accounted for almost three-quarters of global opium production. UNGDC reported an 8% increase in poppy production for 2003 over 2002, despite a decline in cultivation in some of the traditional growing areas. In 2003, the UN estimated that the illegal income from the drug trade was equivalent to more than 50% of Afghanistan's GDP.

  Drug cultivation thrives in an insecure environment, fuelled by the poverty that many rural communities live in. Drug money underpins instability by providing funds to warlords and extremist groups who challenge the authority of central government. It fuels the corruption that undermines public and donor confidence in Afghan institutions such as the police and judiciary.

  But drugs are not simply an Afghan problem. Whilst drug abuse in Afghanistan is rising rapidly, particularly amongst the young, most of the opiates produced in Afghanistan are consumed beyond its borders in neighbouring countries, Russia, Western Europe and beyond.

  Afghanistan has a strategy to tackle drugs and it is through implementation of this Afghan National Drug Control Strategy that, the objective of elimination of opium production from Afghanistan will be achieved. Greater, and more co-ordinated, effort is required from the International Community to implement the Counter Narcotics Action Plans (Annex 1-5) agreed at the February 2004 International Counter Narcotics Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul. This is how the international Community can support the Afghan government in delivering on its objective of eliminating of the illegal drug trade.

  Without sustained, co-ordinated and considered action by the Afghan government, supported by the international community, the illegal drug trade will continue to threaten Afghanistan's future. Sustainable elimination of the problem requires a broad-based approach which considers all of the factors which support the trade: rural poverty, criminality; institutional weakness and domestic (and international) demand. And it cannot be tackled in isolation. Counter narcotics needs to be a strand fed in to all mainstream reconstruction and development work. A solid start has been made, but much more remains to be done.

Accomplishments since the Bonn Conference

  The approval of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy (ANDCS) by the Afghan Transitional Authority in May 2003 was the key development. The ANDCS, drafted in consultation with line ministries and the international community, set the overall objective of eliminating the production, trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs in Afghanistan. The five key elements of the strategy are: the provision of alternative livelihoods for Afghan poppy farmers, the extension of drug law enforcement throughout Afghanistan, the implementation of drug control legislation, the establishment of effective institutions and the introduction of prevention and treatment programmes for addicts. The February 2004 International Counter Narcotics Conference on Afghanistan jointly hosted in Kabul by Afghanistan, the UK and UNODC assessed achievements to date and developed action plans for each thematic area to carry work forward. Achievements up to March 2004 included:

    —  A new Drug Law, compliant with the relevant UN Drug Conventions, was signed by the President and is now in effect.

    —  The Counter Narcotics Directorate (CND) was established in October 2002, Reporting to the National Security Adviser, CND is responsible for overall drugs policy formulation and co-ordination. Based in Kabul, the CND also has a regional presence.

    —   A number of national and area-specific programmes that have the potential to create alternative livelihood opportunities have been initiated. These include the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), which supports local governance structures, develops rural infrastructure and provides income generating opportunities for vulnerable groups; the National Emergency Employment Programme (NEEP), co-ordinating labour-intensive schemes which provide employment opportunities, as well as restoring essential infrastructure; the Micro-finance Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), that makes micro-credit accessible to the poor and promotes micro-business opportunities as alternatives to poppy; the Rebuilding Afghanistan's Agricultural Markets Programme, and a suite of integrated rural rehabilitation projects largely focused on developing agriculture, off-farm business and employment, credit and agri-processing in rural areas, and the Research In Alternative Livelihoods Fund, a competitive funding facility to promote the testing of innovative and practicable ideas and technologies to create additional livelihood opportunities.

    —  The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) was created as the specialist counter narcotics law enforcement department of the Ministry of the Interior (MoL) in January 2003. CNPA units have been established, trained and supported in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz and Fayzabad. A specialist CNPA drug detection team has been established in Kabul.

    —  An Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) has been created within the Ministry of the Interior to conduct sensitive interdiction operations.

    —  The Mol has established a national eradication planning capacity to impartially direct eradication against poppy growing areas where farmers can be expected to have access to alternative sources of income, and areas where eradication will not upset the security balance.

    —  The CND conducted a national public awareness campaign in 2003.

    —  Establishment of a Drug Demand Treatment Centre focusing on community-based motivation, treatment and rehabilitation projects in Kabul.

Plan for the future

  The February 2004 International Counter Narcotics Conference on Afghanistan set out the areas where future action is required to implement the ANDCS. The Conference agreed action plans in broad thematic areas: alternative livelihoods, law enforcement, judicial reform, drug demand reduction and public awareness. These documents are attached as annexes. There will be a need to update these action plans regularly on the basis of lessons learned and any changes in external circumstances. Effective implementation can be achieved only through increased and more co-ordinated input from international stakeholders in partnership with the CND and UK.

Inputs and resources

  Counter narcotics is a cross-cutting issue. Progress in key areas (such as police and judicial reform, anti-corruption and rural livelihoods) and on general economic reconstruction will have positive effects on the Afghan government's counter narcotics programmes. International donors should consider whether existing or planned programmes not specifically targeted at counter narcotics could have knock-on effects (both positive and negative) on counter narcotics objectives. With a little adjustment, many programmes could have a positive counter narcotics impact whilst continuing to fulfil their original objectives.

  Some projections of the costs of reconstructing Afghanistan in the medium (seven year) term are given in the Afghan Government document "Securing Afghanistan's future", a summary of which will be presented at the Conference. However it is difficult to separate out the costs of achieving specific counter-narcotics objectives from the wider costs of reconstruction and development. The commitment of human resources is as important as that of financial resources.

  Coalition and ISAF military forces need to incorporate counter narcotics activity into their regular operations. The Coalition's and ISAF's profile, as well as their access to areas outside of Kabul, will provide a real opportunity for them to support the Afghan government's efforts to interdict the processing and trafficking of illegal narcotics. PRTs, whilst not getting actively involved in specific drug enforcement activities, could still be a valuable source of support in developing alternative livelihoods and promoting the rule of law.

Pillar over Next Three Years (2004-06)

  By 2006 there should be:

    —  An effective Counter-Narcotics Directorate (CND) as the sole organisation responsible for co-ordinating national policies and programs on drug control with an effective presence in Kabul and the regions and with clear lines of accountability to the National Security Adviser;

    —  A strong Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) as the lead drug enforcement agency under the Ministry of Interior with an effective presence in 13 provinces;

    —  An effective Afghan Special Narcotics Force capable of undertaking national interdiction operations with clear lines of accountability to the Interior Minister;

    —  The establishment a national eradication planning capacity and a single national co-ordinated program of poppy eradication;

    —  Effective rural or community development programs to cover all opium poppy growing districts;

    —  Effective drug demand reduction programs in Kabul and the regions;

    —  Mechanisms for the safe and fair prosecution of drugs offences;

    —  There will be increased access for opium poppy farmers, including sharecroppers and farm labourers to legal sources of income, resulting from ongoing and completed rural development programmes;

    —  An active institutional mechanism will be in place for the co-ordination of alternative livelihood programmes, including promotion of counter-narcotics objectives in rural and agricultural development programmes, and to support related data collection and knowledge management;

    —  The central government will be able to conduct effective national information campaigns in support of all counter narcotics activity using a variety of methods for disseminating information;

    —  Enhanced co-operation with neighbouring countries across all counter narcotics themes based on a signed agreement under the Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration framework.


  Afghanistan has a strategic framework to implement and co-ordinate counter narcotics activities to eliminate the opium economy. The priority now is to accelerate the implementation of sustainable drug control measures, particularly in the provinces. The Action Plans for the key areas need to be implemented. This will require large additional human and financial resource inputs from the international community. It should also be recognised that tackling the drugs trade in isolation will be futile unless there is a strong economy, a robust judiciary and a stable environment to enforce the laws of the Afghan government and to develop alternatives to the opium poppy trade.

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Prepared 29 July 2004