From Afghanistan to Italy, crossing Latin America, the “war against drugs” is sacrificed everyday in the altar of demagogy and irrationality. While the “war against drugs” in Afghanistan is marking the time, and mortgaging dramatically the future of the country, the Italian government is taking advantage of the Olympic Games to force the Senate to pass a repressive and dissolute anti-narcotic law. Generally, across the world, the mafia and crime international cartels have good reasons to support this new law.
Fortunately, another type of music begins to sound in Europe. In January, the European Parliament voted for a resolution on Afghanistan that would pave the way to a totally new approach in the fight against drug trafficking worldwide. On my part, I urge the participants of the International Conference on Afghanistan, scheduled for next Tuesday in London, to take into consideration the proposal to grant licenses for opium production for the legal drug market, as done already in other countries like India, Turkey, Australia, France and Spain. It is practically an innovative proposal regarding the orthodoxy of the “war against drugs”. In Afghanistan, this so-called war, mainly based on destruction of poppy and food alternative crops, has been totally ineffective. The outcome is, according to the UNODC (United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime), that Afghanistan has achieved 87% of opium production worldwide in 2005 – roughly 4 100 tons – thus generating 2.7 billions of illegal profits, that is, 50% of its GDP. The “2005 Afghanistan Opium Survey”, released in November, estimated that the global value of such production, once transformed into heroin and distributed in world markets, exceeds 40 billion dollars.
Over the past few years, small transformation labs have emerged in Afghanistan, and had a production last year of 420 tons of heroin. The increase of domestic production of heroin has created a local consumption market which is expanding very rapidly, thus favoring the increase of HIV/AIDS in a country without proper infrastructure and where there is no health service. On the other hand, the roads used by traffickers’ convoys are no longer limited to the so-called “golden road” through Pakistan and Iran, but have multiplied instead, especially through the former Soviet republics, thus contributing to increase instability in a political context which is already tensed.
The risk ran by Afghanistan is to live on illegal revenues that would increase corruption, thus enabling armed groups to remain operating and further increase instability in the region. This might take Afghanistan to stay far from the Rule of Law. The major threat of an economy based on illegality for stability and democracy in Afghanistan should make the authorities think of regulated poppy crop with medical purposes, especially for analgesic. The United Nations estimates that six countries prescribe 78% of the legal production of opium components, which shows there is a supply crisis for the rest of 185 UN member countries. The UN also estimates that there are 45 million people infected with HIV/AIDS virus in countries where the health system hardly exists, and where in the next 20 years there will be 10 million new cancer cases in developed countries. Therefore, the potential possibilities of legal opium production for analgesic, morphine, codeine, etc, are huge. We will not be stuck in the terrible contradiction of a producer country of opium components whose hospitals lack of morphine. I wish that governments, international organizations and personalities participating in London’s Conference did not ignore the response of the European Parliament that provides Afghanistan with a valid and realistic alternative for an anti-drug strategy which has proven to be a disaster for the country.

Jordan Times (Jordan)
Korea Herald (South Korea)
Daily Times (Pakistan)
L’Unita (Italie)

Afghanistan’s opium future ”, by Emma Bonino, Korea Herald, January 25, 2006.
Poppy power”, Jordan Times, January 25, 2006.
Poppy power″, Daily Times, January 27, 2006. “Le Mafie ringraziano l’Italia″, L’Unita, January 30, 2006.