Iran and Pakistan Forge Stronger Regional Cooperation in Fight Against Drug Trafficking with UNODC
06 July 2023
UNODC’s Triangular Initiative and Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries will be the framework of this cooperation.
Tehran, 14 June 2023 – UNODC, in close collaboration with the Governments of the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan, facilitated the 14th Senior Officials Meeting and the 9th Ministerial Meeting within the framework of the UNODC-facilitated Triangular Initiative in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran on 13-14 June 2023.
The geographical position of the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan, as neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, the main producer of opium at the global level, remains critical. To tackle the challenge of Afghan opiates trafficking more effectively, UNODC had brokered the Triangular Initiative (TI) among drug control authorities and counternarcotics authorities of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in June 2007. This UNODC-facilitated TI umbrella of regional cooperation aims to operationally engage the three countries in finding field-oriented solutions to the transnational threat posed by the global trafficking of Afghan opiates, as well as the diversion and smuggling of associated precursor chemicals. The response agreed and implemented by the three member states under the TI umbrella aims to target, at the source, the trafficking and smuggling of Afghan-origin opium, morphine, and heroin, two-thirds of which is trafficked through Iran and Pakistan to regional and European markets and the rest of the world.
The Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan have been closely planning and collaborating to implement mutually agreed technical cooperation such as regular information sharing and simultaneous counternarcotics operations under this UNODC-facilitated regional framework over several years. For instance, according to the World Drug Report 2022, Iran made 47 percent of the global heroin and morphine seizures originating from Afghanistan during 2020, while Pakistan made 29 percent of the global heroin and morphine seizures during the same period.
Thus far, under the facilitation of UNODC, the three parties have held 13 sessions of the TI Senior Officials Meeting and 8 sessions of the TI Ministerial Meeting. On the margins of the recently held 66th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria (13-17 March 2023), the Secretary General of the Drug Control Headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Federal Minister of Narcotics Control of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan met and they agreed to hold the new round of discussions in Tehran.
On 13 June 2023, the 14th Session of the TI Senior Officials Meeting was organized in Tehran. This Senior Officials Meeting aimed at (i) brainstorming the existing and the emerging counter-narcotics threats and challenges, such as rising trends in illicit production and trafficking of opiates, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and new psychotropic substances (NPS) from Afghanistan and (ii) formulating a joint Iran-Pakistan counternarcotics strategy to address those threats and challenges more effectively. The Head of Anti-Narcotics Police of Iran and the Head of the Anti-Narcotics Force of Pakistan came together, and their respective delegations had technical exchanges to draft recommendations on the way-forward for 2023-2024, for approval at the TI Ministerial Meeting held on the next day. For instance, the senior officials recalled the steps taken since June 2007, under the TI framework, to tackle the challenges posed by the cultivation, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs originating from Afghanistan, based on the principle of common and shared responsibility. They stressed the importance of enhanced regional and international cooperation to counter the trafficking of drugs in the region that originates from Afghanistan and the smuggling of precursor chemicals from producing countries into Afghanistan.
On 14 June 2023, the 9th TI Ministerial Meeting was opened by the Secretary General of the Drug Control Headquarter of Iran and the Federal Minister of Narcotics Control of Pakistan. Endorsing the set of recommendations as proposed by the TI Senior Officials Meeting, both heads of delegations recalled the steps taken since June 2007, under the framework of the TI, based on the principle of common and shared responsibility. They stressed the importance of enhanced regional and international cooperation to counter the trafficking of drugs in the region that originates in Afghanistan and the trafficking of precursors from producing countries into Afghanistan. Furthermore, both high-level authorities encouraged the international community to enhance their financial and technical assistance and provision of needed relevant technologies to the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan, as the front-line countries for more effective interdiction of drug trafficking emanating from the region to the rest of the world.
In his remarks, Mr. Eskandar Momeni, Secretary General of the Drug Control Headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran highlighted the importance of border patrolling and valued regional and international cooperation to enhance the response against drug trafficking emanating from Afghanistan. He stressed that while the authorities of Iran and Pakistan remained committed in their joint response, it was important to hold the governing authorities in Afghanistan accountable for cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs from Afghanistan to Iran, Pakistan and beyond. The Federal Minister Nawabzada Shazain Bugti of the Ministry of Narcotics Control of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan highlighted the commitments of the Government of Pakistan in border patrolling and pinpointed the need to reduce drugs supply, as well as appealed to the international community to increase their support to UNODC’s Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries, for sustaining regional cooperation under the UNODC-facilitated TI framework.
In the margins of the main events, the Federal Minister of Narcotics Control of Pakistan had two separate field visits to the Iran National Center for Addiction Studies (INCAS- Regional Capacity Building and Research Centre) and the Soroush Rehabilitation and Treatment Center. During the visits, he was provided with detailed information on the developments of the counter-narcotics plans, programmes and projects at the national and regional levels by the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition, Mr. Bugti also met Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Radan, the Chief Commander of the Police services of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both leaders reviewed the developments of the international borders of Iran and Pakistan with Afghanistan and outlined the needs of the law enforcement bodies and border forces, to curtail the menace of Afghan-origin drug trafficking and smuggling through those borders.
These meetings were facilitated by the UNODC Country Offices in Iran and Pakistan, in close coordination with the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries. They collaborated and engaged with the respective sides, i.e., the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Drug Control Headquarters and the Anti-Narcotics Police of Iran, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Narcotics Control and the Anti-Narcotics Force of Pakistan.