September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Special Political and Decolonization Committee

International Drug Trade

Republic of Azerbaijan

Emma di Pretoro

Forest Hills Eastern    


The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of illicit drugs. With an annual worth of 435 billion USD, the international drug trade poses a threat to states across the globe and has undermined socio-economic and political stability throughout history, from the opium trade in ancient China to the current opioid crisis in the United States. Addressing this ongoing problem is crucial to maintaining international peace and security. 


In Azerbaijan, there is a limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for consuption in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). 90% of the drugs in Azerbaijan come from Afghanistan through Iran. Such data was noted by Guloglan Muradli, the head of the customs violations and combat smuggling of the State Customs Committee. Government agencies and officials are behind drug trafficking. According to the chairman of the Popular Front Party, Ali Kerimli, combating drug trafficking requires the participation of the whole society. “No one can stay away from this tragedy, as in every fifth families there is a drug addict, and their number is growing rapidly,” he said. There is a strong link between organized crime and illicit drugs and the need for regional cooperation is more important than ever. Only by dealing with these issues as a collective and not on their own can we see the difference. Since establishing a presence in the country in 2007, UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) has cooperated closely with Azerbaijani officials on a number of fronts. Action to counter drug trafficking remains one of the key collaborative efforts of Azerbaijan and UNODC. Azerbaijan and other countries in the region are used as transit countries for the smuggling of heroin from Afghanistan to Europe, as a result of which increasingly advanced surveillance is needed. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan began participating in the joint UNODC-World Customs Organization Container Control Programme, the aim of which is to develop a network of border control cooperation units at various land and sea ports to stem the flow of drugs, precursors and other illegal goods. CARICC (Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre), initiated by UNODC, brings together law enforcement agencies from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation and facilitates cross-border information-sharing and enhanced coordination and implementation of counter-narcotic operational activities.


Recognizing the challenges of tackling the threat caused by that trade, Mr. Fedotov, the Executive Director of UNODC, noted three crucial steps that need to be taken: first, further acknowledgment is needed that tackling the drug trade is not the responsibility of only a handful of countries, but rather a joint problem requiring the collective action of the international community; second, while drug-related crimes are often local in nature, the solutions must be global, particularly given the nature of drug trafficking, which is at the centre of a shifting web of transnational organized crime; and lastly, the causal connections between drug trafficking and insecurity must be taken into account, specifically with regard to the production and trafficking of drugs, which undermine security and promote corruption, crime, terrorism and instability. 

  • Emma di Pretoro

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