The United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Fight against Drugs: Common Threats and Joint Actions
SCO Secretary-General: “Over 3 million people have overcome drug addiction in SCO countries”. The UN and the SCO have held a joint event in Vienna on combatting drug addiction

On 13 March 2017, a special high-level event on the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Fight against Drugs: Common Threats and Joint Actions was held on the sidelines of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs' 60th session in Vienna.

Addressing the event participants, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said that upon its establishment the SCO formulated the task of resisting the illegal trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors as a priority. The SCO has a comprehensive legal framework for effective cooperation in this sphere. The requisite roadmap is set out in the SCO Counternarcotics Strategy and its Action Plan adopted in 2011. Rashid Alimov pointed out that the joint counternarcotic efforts in the SCO countries had helped save over 3 million people from the deadly drug dependence in the past five years.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov focused on the effective joint actions taken by the UN and the SCO against the drug problem and the SCO's efforts to implement the UN's counternarcotic agenda. He pointed out that "based on the MoU, we are working together across a range of areas related to global health, safety and security, in particular drug trafficking, drug use, human trafficking and other forms of organised crime, and terrorism. This partnership is of even greater significance today, in view of the growing threats."

The event participants attended the screening of a documentary about the SCO member states' cooperation against narcotics, which was prepared for this event.

The debates at this side event involved participants from the UN member states and UNODC offices, regional organisations, NGOs, civil societies and the research community, who highly assessed the current cooperation between the UN and the SCO and prospects for strengthening their joint efforts against the drug problem.

Speakers at the event included the heads of the SCO delegations: First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan Marat Demeuov, Permanent Representative of China to the UN Office in Vienna Shi Zhongjun, Head of the Department of Defence, Law, Order and Emergency Situations of the Executive Office of the Government of Kyrgyzstan Damir Sagynbaev, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Oleg Syromolotov, Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the UN Office in Vienna Ismatullo Nasredinov, and Director of the National Information and Analytical Centre on Drug Control under the Government of Uzbekistan Ahmed Mansurov. The special event was moderated by Alexander Schmidt, Chief of the UNODC Regional Section for Europe, West and Central Asia.

Speakers noted that the fight against narcotic drugs should proceed on a continuous basis, in a consolidated manner and with reliance on effective cooperation mechanisms. Rashid Alimov said in this connection that "the SCO has an efficient three-level institutional mechanism for the interaction of the member states' counternarcotic agencies. They regularly hold joint operations against narcotic drugs to train in coordinated actions and achieve practical goals. In 2010-2015, the concerned agencies of the SCO member states confiscated some 69 tonnes of heroin, over 17 tonnes of raw opium, over 349 tonnes of marijuana and 28 tonnes of hashish."

During the panel discussion, the heads of the SCO member states' delegations addressed the event participants as key speakers to present detailed information on their countries' contribution to the common fight against the drug threat and on the relevant cooperation within the SCO. Delegates from the UN member states and representatives of the UNODC branches and regional organisations, who took part in the exchange of opinions, spoke highly about cooperation between the UN and the SCO and prospects for strengthening their interaction against the drug threat.

Summing up the results of the discussion, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said: "The threat of narcotic drugs knows no bounds and can be combated effectively only through the closer consolidation of international efforts. The SCO is open to this cooperation. We regard stronger counternarcotics cooperation with the United Nations, primarily its Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as a priority."

The event participants were also offered hard and soft copies of papers summarising data on counternarcotics cooperation of the SCO countries.

Relations between the SCO and the UN have developed progressively since 2004 and are an example of effective interaction between a global body and a regional organisation.

These relations are based on the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, signed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 5 April 2010, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, signed in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 14 June 2011.