World Customs Organization2004-10-04 11:12:40

Drug Trafficking Issues along the Silk Route :

Meeting of Heads of Customs Administrations of WCO Members

The Meeting of Heads of Customs Administrations of WCO Members on Drug Trafficking Issues along the Silk Route was held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) on 27 and 28 September 2004. The final objective is to obtain from the region's Member administrations an analysis of the problems encountered and a statement of their needs in this respect, with a view to devising strategies for combating this trafficking at national, regional and international level.

"This meeting provides the starting-point for examining and assessing the situation in your countries�, said WCO Secretary General Michel Danet in his opening address. "The strategies we will develop from that point should enable your enforcement services to co-operate more closely on the basis of objectives and principles which you have agreed upon together.� Following on from Conferences held in Tashkent and Baku, in October 2002 and January 2004 respectively, the WCO has brought together representatives of the Customs Administrations of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The Secretary General took this opportunity to reaffirm the WCO strategy comprising several steps, starting by obtaining a needs assessment from the Customs Administration of Afghanistan, and then from Customs administrations of States bordering Afghanistan, with a view to finally helping these States gain adequate funding for capacity building.

"Enhanced co-ordination between countries sharing a border with Afghanistan and regions affected by illicit drug trafficking, whether as transit countries, user countries or producer countries, is a prerequisite if we are to successfully fight this ever-growing trafficking� stressed Michel Danet. The Secretary General also intended to consult Customs administrations of States where the various strategic crossing points that should form the European Union's future line of defence had been identified, in order to build their Customs capacities.

At the end of the Conference, the participants adopted the Almaty Declaration, under which the Signatories undertake to exchange more information using the existing networks (particularly the CEN[1]), and to promote co-operation and technical assistance at national, regional and international level.

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