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Annual Thematic Discussions of the CND 2020 (thematic discussions) were held on October 19-21, 2020 in Vienna during the 3rd inter-sessional meeting of the CND.

The event of 2020 under COVID-19 conditions was held at the Vienna International Center in a hybrid format (with partial personal participation of delegates combined with virtual participation via videoconference).

Representatives of CARICC took part in the thematic discussions as observers in videoconference mode.

Annual thematic debates share best practices, challenges and lessons learned by Member States in implementing all international drug policy commitments and are a key part of the forward-looking process led by the CND.

In the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, Member States, while recognizing the tangible progress made over the past decade, noted with concern the persisting and emerging challenges posed by the world drug problem and committed to accelerating the response to meet all commitments, operational recommendations and set goals.

In the analytical part of the 2019 Declaration, Member States identified a number of challenges to effective implementation of international commitments, and in discussions held in 2020 they brought them to the attention of delegates. The Commission's thematic discussions were preceded by opening speeches and presentations by UNODC representatives.

The three-day format of the event, designed to reach a global audience, included discussions with participation of experts from each regional group, experts from other relevant United Nations organizations, international organizations and specialized agencies, including representatives of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as experts from civil society.

In particular, they discussed drug treatment, increasing number of deaths from drug use, adverse health effects and risks associated with new psychoactive substances (NPS) that have reached alarming levels worldwide, etc.

The discussion touched upon the topic of mechanisms and deadlines for establishing international control over NPS. The necessity of introducing mechanisms for early warning of the properties and harm of the first-time detected NPS, introduction of accelerated methods of collection, analysis of relevant information and development of methodologies for their research was especially emphasized.      

Speakers and delegates stressed the need to strengthen mechanisms for cooperation and speedy information exchange, to establish and expand public-private partnership mechanisms at national and international levels, to make efforts to address problematic issues in a timely manner and to remove obstacles to practical interaction.

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On 19 October 2020, a staff member of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors joined an online meeting of the Regional Working Group on Precursors hosted by the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia, which is held on a regular quarterly basis as part of the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries.

The meeting was attended by delegations from the Regional Programme countries and experts from the International Narcotics Control Board, CARICC and UNODC global programmes such Paris Pact initiative.

The event discussed recent trends in precursor control in the West and Central Asia region and national priorities in this area.

CARICC staff member made a presentation on “Information on situation with illicit trafficking of precursors in CARICC Member States”.

The Regional Working Group concluded with a decision to develop a regional response, including a strategy and joint action plans.

Participants highlighted the importance of events in this format and opportunity to share information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Major-General Rustam Miralizoda, Centre Director, met with Mr. Michael Nowacoski, Assistant Regional Director of the US DEA Middle East Region Office on 2 October 2020 in CARICC.

In the course of the meeting the parties discussed current topics of the Center's work in the context of coronavirus infection pandemic and assistance in implementation of joint counter-narcotics operations.


Furthermore, the parties highlighted the importance of developing international and regional cooperation despite difficult situation with coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to organize similar meetings at least once a quarter.

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Second regional working meeting of Steering Committees established under the Border Component of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia was held on September 30, 2020 within the framework of the Sub-Programme 1 “Countering Transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking and preventing terrorism” of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia.

The meeting was moderated by Mr. Yusuf Kurbonov, UNODC International Programme Coordinator. In her opening speech, Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative, thanked all beneficiaries of the regional project for their strong commitment and expressed her readiness for a continued partnership in combating drug trafficking in the region.

Project beneficiaries from all participating countries in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who took part in the working meeting, presented update on achieved results, as well as planned activities under the Border Component.

CARICC was represented at the online meeting by Mr. Yury Chikalov, Acting Head of IAP. In accordance with agenda, he delivered a presentation on “Illicit trafficking of drugs in Central Asia before and during COVID-19 pandemic” and provided details on the Centre's engagement in implementation of the component in recent years.

During the meeting, national programme managers and UNODC partners from each member country informed the meeting about the progress made so far in implementing the project amidst the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the region and in countries. They also touched upon the project work plan, which needs to be reviewed with regard to quarantine restrictions. In addition, project team drew participants' attention to national and regional events and trainings planned for October-December 2020.

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Mr. Rustam Miralizoda, CARICC Director, and Mr. Eser Çengel, Director of the Regional Office for Institutional Development of the Regional Office for Capacity building for the World Customs Organization Europe Region (ROCB Europe), met on September 24, 2020 in the format of videoconference.

The meeting was also attended by staff members of the regional centers, Mr. Naweed Riaz, UNODC international coordinator and CARICC project coordinator, and authorized representatives of national competent authorities of CARICC Member States.

During the meeting parties made presentations on following topics: “CARICC as a platform for international and regional cooperation” and “Foundation, mission, focus areas and activities of the Regional Office for Capacity building for the World Customs Organization Europe Region”.

After learning about goals, objectives and work of organizations it was decided to strengthen cooperation and practical interaction.

CARICC plans to implement this direction of action within the framework of the UNODC initiative on “Networking the Networks" - to establish and expand ties between regional organizations.

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On 19 September 2020 the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors hosted a meeting of Major-General R. Miralizoda, Director, with Lieutenant-General Ye.Turgumbayev, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The meeting discussed practical cooperation in combating drug trafficking, information exchange, international joint operations, and challenges related to CARICC work.

Mr. R.Miralizoda expressed his gratitude to the Kazakh side for the support provided to the Centre, including financial, and also stated his hope for further support in addressing matters of development of the Organization's activity.

In his statement, the Minister of Internal Affairs remarked that “Kazakhstan attaches the utmost importance to CARICC efforts. Today the Centre is a unique project that has not only achieved certain results, but also has great prospects in expanding counter narcotics. We firmly believe in effectiveness of CARICC as a regional anti-drug entity. Therefore, Kazakhstan has assumed responsibilities of a host country and is making voluntary contributions to CARICC”.

Mr. Ye.Turgumbayev also added that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan is an active user of the CARICC Central Database and uploads essential information regularly.

The meeting concluded with agreements reached on further development of constructive and balanced international cooperation in combating drug trafficking.

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In the format of videoconference, on September 14-15, 2020, a meeting of the Working Group of Experts of the Participating States on Improving the CARICC Regulatory Framework to consider the draft Agreement between the participating States on the exchange and protection of classified information was held.

The meeting of the Working Group was attended by experts from the competent authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, representatives of CARICC, as well as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as observers.

Taking into account that the meeting was held in the format of videoconference, the representative of CARICC was appointed as its moderator.

Based on the results of the discussion, the participants in the meeting reached an agreement on sending the draft Agreement to the CARICC member states for approval, with the subsequent submission to the next meeting of experts of the Council of National Coordinators of the CARICC member states.

Director of CARICC Miralizoda Rustam Aziz and Head of the UNODC Program Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Naweed Riaz in their speeches noted the importance of reaching consensus on the draft Agreement considered, as well as the importance of adopting this document for the full functioning and development of the CARICC potential.

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An online expert meeting was hosted within the Inter-Regional Network of Customs Authorities and Port Control Units (Inter-regional Network) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization Global Container Control Programme on 10-11 September 2020.

The meeting brought together representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, CARICC, the World Customs Organization, diplomatic missions of donor countries and other international organizations, and customs authorities and customs control services of member countries of the Inter-regional Network (the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Georgia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the Republic of Uzbekistan), and the Republic of Azerbaijan, which expressed its interest in joining the Network.

Foundation of the Inter-regional Network, established upon signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on Network foundation by heads of customs administrations on May 22, 2019 in Tashkent, contributed to establishment and strengthening of practical interaction between customs services of the mentioned countries. A simplified mechanism of information exchange between national focal points of customs services and port control units is implemented within the Inter-regional Network.

Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, Mr. Ketil Ottersen (Vienna), Senior Coordinator of UNODC Global Container Control Programme, and Mr. Peter Timmermans (Brussels), WCO Technical Expert, addressed the meeting with welcome remarks.

The event was moderated by Mr. Batyr Geldiyev, Regional Programme Coordinator, and Mr. Peter Timmermans, and key speakers included international coordinators of UNODC programmes in Central Asia and representatives of customs authorities and customs control services of the countries participating in the Inter-regional Network.

Ms. Tatiana Evdokimova, CARICC representative, presented a report on the Center's work under international and regional cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. Participants were introduced to results of a study on the use of container transportation for cross-border drug trafficking in 2018-2020 that was performed by CARICC Information and Analytical Unit personnel. Moreover, the CARICC representative emphasized the importance of analytical efforts aimed at addressing challenges of operational and strategic response to drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.

Participants underscored the need to strengthen mechanisms for cooperation and rapid information exchange, to establish and expand links, to address in a timely manner problematic aspects of practical interaction between national customs contacts and port control units of the countries participating in the Inter-regional Network, and to share information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the results of the UNODC meeting, recommendations will be developed for the countries participating in the Interregional Network.

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