UN's Drug Czar Lambastes
Taliban and FARC, Calls Myanmar Problematic, Dodges North Korea
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 26 -- The
UN's Vienna-based narcotics and crime czar Antonio Maria Costa regaled
Ambassadors and reporters on Thursday with his view of the war on
correlated drug production with the strength of rebel groups, listing
Taliban, Colombia's FARC and, in a historical footnote, Alberto
crackdown on the Shining Path and drugs in Peru. Inner City Press
asked if he
was unequivocally promoting the strengthening of all governments, for
in Myanmar and North Korea.
Costa paused while his colleague cued up some
slides about Myanmar. "It's problematic," Costa intoned, "to
deal with a country with which we have severe problems with human
He went on to say that despite an "uptick" in 2007, opium production
in Myanmar is generally down, and confined to the eastern part of the
"Let's be honest," he said," there's limited control by
government there." He said that Laos has been certified as opium free,
there are still "cohorts" of old people addicted to heroin, which is
brought in from Myanmar. The North Korea
portion of the question he did not answer as all, despite reports of
governmental involvement in the drug trade.
Costa and Sheikh from Qatar, Myanmar and North Korea not shown
Also from the audience came impassioned criticism of
Costa's UN Office of
Drugs and Crime from the Ambassador of Cape Verde, who disputed the
devoted to drug cultivation, and of Colombia, who told Costa to stop
correlating narcotics production with the strength of the government.
that the strength of the FARC has waned, even though drug production
are up. Stick with the numbers, she counseled, stick with the facts.
A representative from
the Afghan mission, on the other hand, lavishly praised Costa as a
good naturedly formed a T with his hands, signaling "time out," wrap
it up, which the Afghan envoy did. There were still piles of Costa's
and turkey and mushroom sandwiches, in the back of the Trygve Lie
Peace, Security & Development at the International Peace Institute.
Center, with a view of the UN from the 12th floor right across First
was being prepared for another event later in the evening, a farewell
head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno, hosted by IPI's (and the
Terje Roed-Larsen. This was pitched as "off the record," while Mr.
Costa's presentation was decidedly on the record, hence this brief
* * *
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