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Drug Control in Central Asia Essay

This video talks about Central Asia’s drug control problem and how they are not very well equipped to deal with this issue. This video addresses policy issues. These countries do not have the means to control their drug problem. One major factor is heroin coming from Afghanistan. Countries surrounding Afghanistan have a very high rate of heroin abuse. These abusers could be a productive part of society, but instead are doing drugs. The video talks about an agency that works in these countries to try to control the drug problem. They have mostly worked to limit supply. They also check borders for security and to gather information. Antonella Deledda of the United Nations Drug Control and Crime Program in Uzbekistan plans a trip through three countries to try to strengthen their cooperation. There were some budgetary or financial issues discussed. This drug control agency pays officers working for them more than three times the salary of local officers.

They do this to try to prevent corruption, to convince officers not to pocket drugs, accept bribes, or otherwise become corrupt. The very high pay these officers receive is an incentive to keep clean and prevent the drug problem. Another issue they discussed is that the program is mostly funded by the United Nations, rather than the countries. They also discussed that there are rehabilitation services available, but usually only to those who can afford to pay for them. Future implications of this program are the countries working together more to try to prevent drug trafficking and abuse across Central Asia and the lessening of drug trafficking and abuse in these countries. An article from Osh and Brussels (2001) talks about the worsening drug problem in Afghanistan and Central Asia. According to their article, “opiates have fuelled conflict throughout the region and are likely to have been a significant source of financial support for terrorist organizations with a global reach” (Osh & Brussels, 2001).

Nations neighboring Afghanistan experienced serious security and social problems due to drug trafficking as well as severely increased drug use. They also say that “Afghanistan is generally regarded as the world’s largest exporter of heroin” and that “there are direct links between the drug business, arms purchases for the country’s civil war, and the activities of terrorists” (Osh & Brussels, 2001). They believe that efforts should be made to stop drug production, trafficking and use. Opium cultivation in Afghanistan increased greatly during and after the Soviet-Afghan war and “by the middle of the decade all the former Soviet Central Asian republics, as well as Iran and Pakistan, were seeing steep increases in the amount of narcotics confiscated along their borders” (Osh & Brussels, 2001).

This seems to imply that the war may have had a hand in the increase of drugs being produced in and trafficked from Afghanistan. Because of how cheap and abundant the supply of opiates is to Iran and Pakistan, they grew to have the largest proportion of drug users in the world. Central Asia, however, was catching up to them. The drug trade produced a health epidemic as well as a weakening of political and legal institutions. They tightened border patrols in order to hinder drug trade. Afghanistan also became a major contributor to Europe and Russia’s drug problems as well (Osh & Brussels, 2001).

Their recommendations to Central Asian governments are “consolidate agencies dealing with drugs to ensure consistent policies and develop a wider range of anti-drug strategies, including harm reduction and anti-poverty programs,” to “empower and instruct law enforcement agencies to cooperate with their counterparts in neighboring states,” to “cease treating drug users and HIV-infected individuals as criminals, pass anti-discrimination laws, and carry out public education programs to change attitudes,” and to “make harm reduction measures such as needle exchanges and methadone therapy a top priority to reduce the threat of HIV” (Osh & Brussels, 2001).

Their recommendations to donor nations are to “develop, as an essential component of efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and the region, a comprehensive, long-term, well-funded program that moves beyond interdiction to tackle all problems associated with drug production and trafficking including both the general problems of poverty and conflict and the more specific ones of crop substitution, corruption, and HIV/AIDS,” to “provide longer-term funding for United Nations drug control bodies and strengthen their efforts to expand regional cooperation,” to “encourage Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian nations to step up regional cooperation by making it clear that combating drugs is an essential component of the fight against terrorism and a vital part of efforts to stabilise the region,” and to “consider, when designing anti-drugs programs, the impact on human rights, the repressive capacity of regimes, the impact on women and the poor and the risks to minorities” (Osh & Brussels, 2001).

To the European Union, they suggest increasing funding and emphasizing harm reduction. The main crime here is drug trafficking which also involves the production of drugs first then the consumption of drugs afterwards by those who purchase them. All these crimes together are a part of the drug problem in Central Asia. The occurrence of this crime can likely be explained, as it mainly became worse during war, as a way to fund the war. Afterwards, there are just too many drug users that it is very profitable for those who produce and traffic the drugs.

Osh, ., & Brussels, . (2001, November 26). Central Asia: Drugs and Conflict. In International Crisis Group. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/central-asia/025-central-asia-drugs-and-conflict.aspx

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