Perils of the Drug Trade: Implications and Challenges of Central Asia’s “Northern Route”

Issue & Policy Briefs May 29, 2013, No. 125

The international trade in Afghan drugs is one of the most significant transnational threats emanating from Central Asia. Exacerbated by weak border management, corruption, and lack of income-generating alternatives, the “Northern Route” is a scourge not only for the Central Asian states but also Russia and Europe, undermining a vision of a Eurasian community based on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, as well as posing attendant health risks. International efforts have so far failed to adequately come to grips with the problem. It is clear that there is no quick fix and that hope rests in a mixture of instruments, not least promoting long-term socio-economic development in the region, stemming pervasive corruption, engaging in human rights dialogues, as well as promoting more effective international cooperation—in particular involving Russia.