September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Country: Afghanistan
Committee: SPECPOL
Topic: International Drug Trade
Delegate: Caroline Munson
School: Williamston High School

The complex drug trade impacts all countries of the world. Whether that be a producing, middle-man, or consuming country, it is a global issue. Past committees have been called for to bolster change but this trade has been overtaken by many larger criminal networks that are difficult to control. Some countries have severe punishments based on what stage of production and amount, while others have an illegal trade network on such a massive scale it is impossible to defeat. In more developed countries, demand and addiction is more of an issue than supply. The consumer countries may not see the effect it has directly of the government of the producing countries, because to a consumer country it is seen as an outside problem they have a very little part in. The distribution to different countries is what makes it a truly global issue. Latin and South American producing countries will keep product in the Americas. The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia focuses more on China and maritime trade. The Middle-eastern producing regions have the most expansive network reaching north through Kazakhstan and Russia, into Eastern Europe spreading all the way to Portugal, and the resurgence in demand in Africa achieved through the Balkan region and maritime trade.

The main sources of Afghanistan’s legitimate economy are foods such as fruits and nuts, wool, and illegally, opium. Afghanistan is one of the top illicit opium producing countries in the world. It produces over 90% of the world’s non-pharmaceutical opium, and supplies over 95% of Europe’s opium. From 2016 to 2017 the area of opium poppy cultivation increased by 63% to 328,000 hectares. This is almost entirely controlled by the Taliban or is cultivated and exported in Taliban controlled areas. It is not solely done by Taliban members, but also ordinary citizens because it is the highest paying source of income an Afghan could have. It is a vital lifeline for many Afghans that establishes some sort of security. There is nothing that creates more jobs than the opium poppy economy. It provides a daily wage labor that helps both Afghans and migrants. This is a major source of funding for the Taliban as they place a tax on farmers for cultivation, labs converting opium into heroin, and smugglers. The Taliban could earn anywhere from $100 million to over half a billion. The prices vary and increase based on where it is in the world and how far it traveled to get there. The northern route through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is the main heroin trafficking path linking Afghanistan to the markets in Russia with an estimated market value of $13 billion. The Balkan route through Iran, Turkey, and Greece reach South-East Europe with a market value of some $20 billion. Afghanistan has strict punishments for those involved in any part of the trade including cultivation, selling, smuggling, orchestrating, using, being in possession of, and knowing such matters are happening. Depending on amount and stage of trade, there could be a minimum jail time of a few months and going up past ten years. This is of course if a person involved is caught, which is difficult if Afghanistan because of the threat posed by the Taliban. 


Across the globe the laws, legalization, and punishments of drug use, possession, or sale differ greatly. Numerous countries have legalized cannabis, some European countries like Germany and the Netherlands have more relaxed laws regarding drugs, while the US has very strict, black and white laws. More developed countries will focus on the reduction of supply, to lessen the amount of illicit drugs into the country, while less developed countries hope for a reduction in demand. Afghanistan wants a decrease is demand of opium, because if no one is buying, the Taliban cannot sell and therefore loses funding and power. The manual eradication of poppy opium has been largely unsuccessful in Afghanistan. Consuming countries, particularly in the regions that create the strongest demand, need to strengthen their efforts to reduce consumption within their borders. Border control is difficult, especially in the southern provinces, as it is heavily controlled by the Taliban. Another way it spreads is obviously maritime trade. Only some 2 percent of the millions of containers shipped across the globe can be physically searched. The further drugs move away from their source, the more widespread drug shipments become, making it harder to detect and intercept. This is why Afghanistan and other major producing countries cannot be alone in trying to stop this illicit and dangerous trade that has become a worldwide epidemic.

  • Caroline Munson

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