June 26 is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking that has been observed annually since 1988. Established in 2011, the EastWest Institute’s Joint U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghan Narcotrafficking has helped bridge the divide between the United States and Russia by addressing a key security threat of mutual concern to both countries—the trafficking of Afghan drugs—and helping to improve the bilateral relationship through positive momentum, confidence-building and policy impact.
While mounting tensions in recent years have caused U.S.-Russia relations to deteriorate—and as a matter of course, bilateral channels of communication to freeze—EWI has managed to sustain dialogue on this common threat. As a forum for cooperative engagement, the working group regularly brought together U.S. and Russian technical and policy experts to share knowledge, make consensus assessments and deliver innovative and concrete policy solutions to counter Afghan narcotrafficking that would have traction in both countries, as well as in the larger relevant policy communities.
In the course of its implementation, the working group engaged and consulted with a number of experts and officials from key stakeholders, including Afghanistan, Iran and the Central Asian states. The working group also garnered positive feedback and support from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation (FSKN), in addition to various multilateral organizations/agencies such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Published in April 2013, the working group’s first report, Afghan Narcotrafficking: A Joint Threat Assessment, provided a summary of the experts’ consensus findings on the scope and threat of Afghan narcotrafficking. In subsequent years, the working group also prepared issue-specific reports on the following: (1) an assessment of the post-2014 security, political, and economic situation in Afghanistan and the expected impact on narcotrafficking and counternarcotics efforts; (2) border protection against narcotrafficking around Afghanistan and in Central Asia; (3) alternative poppy-free development strategies for Afghanistan; and (4) flows of Afghan drug money and laundering in the international financial system. A sixth and final report, a joint policy assessment, will comprise a compendium of the group’s key recommendations and updated assessments on the overall narcotics situation in Afghanistan and is expected to be released in July 2017.
Afghan Narcotrafficking: A Joint Threat Assessment, April 2013
Afghan Narcotrafficking: Post-2014 Scenarios, February 2015
Afghan Narcotrafficking: The State of Afghanistan’s Borders, April 2015
Afghan Narcotrafficking: Finding an Alternative to Alternative Development, July 2016
Afghan Narcotrafficking: Illicit Financial Flows, June 2017
Afghan Narcotrafficking: A Joint Policy Assessment
Anticipated release date: July 2017