Fight against drug trafficking and terrorism is main goal – UNODC Russia head

Recently appointed head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Russia, Yury Fedotov says he wants to advance the agency’s work in drug control and terrorism prevention through comprehensive strategies.

RT: Mr. Fedotov, thanks for speaking to RT. What targets have you set for the agency?

Yury Fedotov: I took over just 3 weeks ago and I believe that it is possible to give impetus to this work. The UNODC, under my predecessor, has accumulated a wide range of activities, including drugs, crime and prevention of terrorism, but there’s always room for improvement, and after having consulted our major stakeholders, member states, and partners in other international organizations, at some point I will be in a position to come up with solutions how to make our efforts more productive, and more cost effective. Our budget is impressive, composed of contributions from member states. We need to deliver, to produce results felt by the entire international community.

RT: The world’s main opium producer, Afghanistan, halved production this year. Why do you say there’s “no room for false optimism”?

YF: We need to excel, to enlarge our activities, as far as illicit drug trafficking is concerned, we need to set comprehensive programmes for different regions.

In Afghanistan, just last week we issued an Afghan drug report for 2010. It contains both good news and bad news. The good news is that production of opium decreased almost 50%, but that is due only to natural factors, diseases that affected the crop. But the cultivation hasn’t changed and since prices are growing, farmers have additional stimulus to cultivate poppy. So we need to have a comprehensive strategy, which would include everything from eradication to alternative cultures, participation of regional states and extra-regional states, so there should be a comprehensive strategy. The UNODC is doing that, but we believe it could be done even more.

That’s also applicable to other regions such as Central and South America, West Africa and many other parts of the world. They’re quite sophisticated, the main route in terms of opium is Afghanistan, it’s about 90% of all world production and cultivation, and there are 3 major routes, through Iran; Tajikistan Central Asia and Russia; and through Pakistan, to West Europe.

And of course, in terms of cocaine, it’s Central America and particularly South America.

In terms of what is now unfortunately becoming more spread in all parts of the world are synthetic drugs. There are no routes because they can be produced anywhere, any time, by anybody. So the threat is multi-faceted with multi-components, and that’s why the reaction of the international community should also be comprehensive.

RT: Your office has helped prosecute some Somali pirates, but there’s still no globally accepted response. When will we get that?

YF: The problem is that the international community is still unable to come to an agreement on the forms of the prosecution of the pirates. In the absence of such an agreement, we’re helping regional countries like Kenya, Seychelles, and even parts of Somalia, like Somaliland, to organize prosecutions and even to organize jails for convicted pirates. It’s not easy because the regional countries are facing enormous problems, the penitentiaries are overloaded and the jails are overcrowded. In Kenya, for instance, capacity is 5 times more than planned at the beginning, so there’s a great deal of positive response from the neighbouring states, but still there are a lot of practical problems.

RT: You say almost every country in the world plays a part in human slavery and trafficking for sex. That’s a key issue for you?

YF: That is something the UNODC is taking very close to its heart, and we are creating a new global trust fund in New York next month which would assist the victims of trafficking. It’s a good illustration of how international cooperation is informed, because it’s impossible without the cooperation of all countries, upstream and downstream. The UNODC will continue to pay the utmost attention to this.

RT: Transparency International puts Russia in 146th place in corruption next to Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. You don’t think that’s fair?

YF: There are different assessments, different data. I hope the new mechanisms established within the framework of the international review of corruption will provide a more objective picture of the overall situation. Because it’s fair, it’s balanced, and it could be reliable.