UN Drug Chief Offers In-Depth Analysis of Afghan Opium and Heroin Production on Fourth Anniversary of September 11th Attacks

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On the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, UN Drug Chief Antonio Maria Costa will explore links between heroin production in Afghanistan, the Taliban, and terrorism . In 2005, opium cultivation is down by 21 percent, but roughly 400 tons of heroin are still expected to flood out of Afghanistan this year Â? the same amount produced in 2004. Can we beat the trend?

The National Press Club and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime cordially invites the press and the public to a briefing on the Opium Situation in Afghanistan 2005.

Who:     UN Drug Czar Antonio Costa: 2005 Afghan Opium Production

Where:    National Press Club, Washington, DC

When:    Monday, September 12 at 10 AM “Newsmaker Session”

Contact: Kathleen Millar, UNODC, (43+1)(0)699 1459 5629 (cell) or 202-438-9780 or Peter Hickman, NPC, 202-662-7540

On the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, UN Drug Chief Antonio Maria Costa will explore links between heroin production in Afghanistan, the Taliban, and terrorism .

In 2005, opium cultivation is down by 21 percent, but roughly 400 tons of heroin are still expected to flood out of Afghanistan this year – the same amount produced in 2004. Can we beat the trend?

In some provinces, cultivation has almost disappeared . . . in other places, it’s exploding. —Cultivation increased by 1370% in Nimroz; 383% in Badghis; 334% in Balkh – but decreased by 96% in Nangarhar—who or what is responsible?

Does eradication work?

How much of the profit does the farmer get? How much goes to traffickers?

Can Alternative Development persuade poppy farmers to grow other crops?

Is the religious fatwa against drug cultivation in Afghanistan working?

What really determines price? Supply, demand, or purity?

Are corrupt provincial governors manipulating cultivation?

Can the central government gain control of opium cultivation in outlying regions?

Which regions are under the influence of the Taliban, organized crime, and unreformed traffickers?

Why has opium cultivation shifted to the North and South? Where are the processing labs?

The policy of the government in Afghanistan has been to move governors in charge of high production areas to provinces where cultivation is declining. Is this good enough, or should corrupt governors be removed from office instead of just moved around?

Is there a chance former drug traffickers may win seats, and parliamentary immunity, in the September 18th elections? Who are they? Who supports them?

Are Afghan opium profits funding terrorism? Subsidizing bin Laden?

Are Afghan traffickers expanding their operations? Building alliances with organized crime? The Colombian cartels?

Can the Karzai government disarm Afghanistan’s militias and eliminate the involvement of provincial leaders in drug refining and trafficking?

Is U.S. and U.K. counter-drug policy in Afghanistan succeeding or failing?

So far, the U.S. is the only country that has successfully extradited an Afghan trafficker? Why?

What percentage of Afghan heroin ends in Europe? Should Europe be doing more to counter the threat? Which nations are contributing most to fighting drugs in Afghanistan?

Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, will offer participants a detailed presentation on Afghan Opium Production in 2005 and distribute charts, statistical tables, maps, and other information at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on September 12 at 10 AM.

For one-on-one interviews or meetings following the presentation, or to make broadcasting arrangements, please call (43+1) (0) 699 1459 5629 or contact Peter Hickman at the National Press Club, 202-662-7540.

Antonio Maria Costa

Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna,

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Antonio Maria Costa (Italy) was appointed Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in May, 2002. He is also Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV). Costa was born on 16 June, 1941, in Italy. He holds a degree in political science from the University of Turin (1963), a degree in mathematical economics from Moscow State University (1971), and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley (1971).

Costa began his career as senior economist in the United Nations Department of International Economics and Social Affairs in New York. In 1983, he was appointed Under-Secretary-General at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where he served until 1987. He was also member of the OECD Working Group for financial transactions—a “Founding Father” of the organization that later came to be called the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)—a member of IMF/World Bank Interim Committee, and of the G10 Group for the coordination of economic policy. Costa has a broad and diverse background in the development of strategies aimed at eliminating money laundering and financial crimes.

Between 1987 and 1992, Mr. Costa served at the Commission of the European Union as Director General for Economics and Finance. In that capacity, he served as EU Sherpa for the G8 meetings. He then joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD, London) as Secretary General, where he oversaw political issues, institutional affairs, corporate governance and questions relating to shareholders.

In his present role as Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Costa travels regularly to Colombia, Afghanistan, the Golden Triangle and other major drug-producing regions to meet with national and local leaders, and to discuss counter-drug strategies and alternatives to drug production. In 2005, he has visited Kabul, Bangkok, Bogota, Karachi, Moscow, and Nigeria to offer support to governments struggling to combat crime, corruption, and narcotics trafficking. Costa supports operations against major traffickers and clandestine labs in Afghanistan, and has advocated the extradition of drug traffickers for prosecution outside developing countries. He also supports the introduction of a negative lending clause in loans and assistance to drug-producing countries as a means of stopping aid in cases where growers continue or resume cultivation of drug crops.

Costa is a strong advocate for the Rule of Law and the construction of effective judicial systems in developing countries, and is particularly interested in working with Member States ready to implement the UN Conventions against Transnational Crime and against Corruption. The UNODC is the custodian of both the Convention against Transnational Crime, and the Convention Against Corruption.

Costa speaks a number of languages fluently, including Italian, English, French, and Russian. He is also a fiction writer, an equestrian, and a wine aficionado, having been raised in a family known for more than two centuries for the production of fine Italian Barolo. Costa is married to a U.S. citizen, and he and his wife are the proud parents of three adopted children, each born in a different region of the world. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Kathleen Millar
UN
43+10699 1459 5629
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