2005 Afghan Opium Production Figures Announced by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime National Press Club Washington, DC September 12, 10 AM.

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UN Drug Chief Antonio Maria Costa launches Annual Report on Opium production in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the largest supplier of opium to the world - last year 430 tonnes of heroin flowed out of Afghanistan and onto the streets of Europe, Asia, and America. Given the upcoming elections in Afghanistan on 18 September, the effort to free the nation from drug cultivation is a critical political issue. Has current drug policy failed? Can democracy and drugs co-exist? Will this year's yield be higher or lower than production in 2004? What do the numbers really mean? Are growers moving poppy fields into regions controlled by the Taleban? Are traffickers forging new routes? Do drugs still account for more than half of Afghanistan's national economy?

UN Drug Chief launches 2005 Opium Survey. Are the seeds of terror sown in the drug fields of Afghanistan?

Who:     Antonio Maria Costa, Director General of the United Nations, Vienna, and Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime

When:    September 12, 2005, 10 a.m.

Where:     National Press Club "Newsmaker Session"

529 14th Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20045

Phone: (202) 662-7511

Breaking News:

  •     2005 Opium Survey: latest cultivation, eradication, and production numbers for Afghan heroin...in 2004, poppy cultivation grew by 64% to 131,000 hectares...almost 500 tonnes left Afghanistan...will 2005 be better or worse?
  •     What impact will the 2005 statistics have on the Karzai Administration and the September 18th elections in Afghanistan?
  •     Will drugs subvert democracy in Afghanistan?
  •     Is US/UK policy in Afghanistan a success or a failure?
  •     Can eradication work?
  •     Reports are the Taliban is still in residence in Afghanistan – insurgents man checkpoints on the northern border - trafficking routes through Afghanistan into Europe and Asia
  •     Counter-drug efforts underway on the northern border: Khyber Pass sees new influx of troops
  •     Extradition: Can it work? Why the US leads the way
  •     Organized Crime connections: Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Afghanistan and Africa
  •     Farmers, traffickers, and clandestine labs – who do we hit hardest?
  •     Weak States magnets for Organized Crime – Developed Nations collaborate via growing demand for drugs

ALSO . . .

  •     Africa's Criminal Commodities: Drugs, Guns, and Slaves . . .new drug trafficking routes in West Africa
  •     Child militias in Africa: how drug traffickers and gun dealers victimize thousands of the world's most vulnerable citizens
  •     Success in Laos and the Golden Triangle a long time coming – can it be sustained?

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the custodian of the UN Convention against Transnational Crime and its protocols against trafficking in women and girls, human trafficking for the purposes of forced labor, and the illegal manufacture and trafficking of small arms. The protocol against trafficking in small arms entered into force in 2005. UNODC is also the custodian of the UN Convention against Corruption – with 29 ratifications by member States, only one more is needed for this Convention to enter into force – "an imminent achievement."

Antonio Maria Costa is both the General Director of the United Nations, Vienna, and the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Costa works closely with counter-drug organizations across the world, and with drug enforcement and prevention agencies in Member States. In 2005, he has visited leaders and officials in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Golden Triangle, Thailand, Colombia, Brazil, and Africa to work toward providing governments with the assistance they need to institutionalize the rule of law, to build effective counter-drug strategies, and to combat organized crime, corruption, and terrorism.

Costa was a Founding Father of what is now called the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has an extensive background in the area of money-laundering, as well as counter-drug strategy and crime prevention. At the time of this news briefing, the Executive Director will have just returned from Kabul, where he plans to meet with President Karzai to discuss the country's counter-narcotics strategies and the upcoming elections. The 2005 Opium Survey, published by the UNODC, contains detailed cultivation, production, and eradication figures for Afghan heroin.

One-on-one interviews with Executive Director Costa arranged by emailing Kathleen.Millar@unvienna.org or by telephone, 011 43+1 26060 5629. Broadcast arrangements through Peter Hickman, NPC, 301-530-1210 or 202-662-7540.

Contact:    

Kathleen Millar

Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC

Kathleen.Millar@unvienna.org

011 43+1 26060 5629

(cell) 0699 1459 5629

Peter Hickman

NPC

301-530-1210

202-662-7540

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Kathleen Millar (UN)/ Peter Hickman NPC
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