Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan during the Security Council “Public Briefing on combating drug trafficking in the Sahel and West Africa” (18 December 2013)

Thank you Mr. President,

We thank you for this initiative to hold this public briefing on combating drug trafficking in the Sahel and West Africa.

We also thank the UN Secretary General, the UNODC Executive Director Fedotov and Special Representative Said Djinnit for their very comprehensive and insightful briefings .

We are all acutely aware of the enormity and gravity of the problem of drug-trafficking and transnational organized crime in West Africa and their impact on the regional and international security and stability. What is more, illicit narcotics ruin the lives and security of millions of people across the globe. The drug industry is strong and its estimated worth is hundreds of billions of dollars . Countries and region of origin, transit and consumption all are suffering form the harmful consequences of the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of drugs.

Facing numerous capacity and governance challenges, the West Africa and the Sahel regions are particularly vulnerable to the destabilizing impact of the entire cycle of drugs production, trafficking and consumption. For instance, as Executive Director of UNODC told us today, in 2010, 18 tons of cocaine amounting to $1.25 billion transited through West Africa in 2010. This is staggering.

The region is a transit route for the drugs headed to the Mediterranean coasts, Middle East, Europe, Latin America and East Asia. In addition, drug consumption has increased in the region, which is also a major producer of synthetic drugs.

Drug trafficking breeds corruption and undermines state institutions and authority. In some instances, it has undermined the constitutional order. The strong nexus of drugs trafficking with terrorism fuels and finances conflicts and asymmetric warfare. It also undermines or reverses the tentative gains made in the ongoing peace-building efforts in several countries. In short, drug trafficking poses a direct threat to peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel.

Mr. President,

Against this backdrop, the enhanced focus of the Council on this issue in the Security Council is important and timely. Discussions around this problem, however, should continue to move forward from the normative aspects to practical and tangible initiatives to address both the problem and its root causes.

The frameworks to respond to this threat must be based on a comprehensive and integrated approach that gives due weight to development, governance and capacity building. Measures to respond to drug trafficking should be integrated into the national, regional and the UN development agenda.

Mr. President,

Dealing with the fallout of the drug problem in Sahel and West Africa is a shared responsibility. National actions should be buttressed by increased cooperation, coordination, support and resource mobilization at the regional and international levels.

To combat illicit drug trafficking, the countries of the region need to especially focus on institution building in order to strengthen judicial systems, security sector, and police. Steps must also be taken to fight impunity and corruption and promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. This all boils down to addressing huge capacity deficits.

Cooperation among regions and sub-regions , in line with the principle of common and shared responsibility, for simultaneous reduction of supply and demand will guarantee success of strategies to root out the illicit drugs trade.

More effective and result-oriented coordination is therefore required amongst the countries in the Sahel and West Africa for effective border management, as well as harmonization of legal and judicial responses to deal with drug trafficking and its illicit proceeds.

Cooperation and coordination among all UN entities and peacekeeping missions in the Sahel and West Africa should be further strengthened and streamlined.

Mr. President,

Pakistan recognizes and welcome many steps taken by the regional countries as well as organizations to fight drug trafficking. We also recognize the crucial role of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in this regard.

Thankfully, we are not starting from scratch. Strategic thinking and planning has been done which culminated in the finalization of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

We support Strategy's objectives to assist the Sahelian countries and regional mechanisms to enhance national capacities for effective border management and economic governance, inter alia, to fight drug trafficking. In this regard, the roles the African Union, Economic Commission of Africa, ECOWAS, UNODC, and UNDP, DPKO, and Peace-building Commission are extremely important.

Pakistan has chaired the Liberia Sanctions Committee for the past two years. The UN Office for West Africa is developing a regional security strategy in cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and regional organizations such as the Mano River Union to curtail transnational organized crime including arms and drugs trafficking.

In this context, I want to bring to the Council's attention the Panel's recommendation to t Member States to reinforce the capacity of UNODC in Liberia.

We fully support the Presidential Statement steered and presented by France on this issue.

I thank you Mr. President.