Venezuela's efforts have increased in the field of law enforcement, and it had taken many steps forward in prevention, he said. Young people must be made to realize that they had a future without drug consumption. They must be encouraged to have self-respect so that they could, in turn, prevent others from taking drugs.
Also stressing the need for international cooperation, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Rights Affairs of Saudi Arabia said united efforts to combat the drug problem were even more important now than in the past. The international community must also work together to find alternative crops for producers, and to eradicate the drugs culture altogether. A legal framework was vital.
Convinced that the implementation of alternative development projects was the right principal means to reduce opium production, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic said his Government had set up several drug control programmes aimed at institution-building, demand and supply reduction and the prohibition of illicit trafficking.
The Russian Federation was working to build up a reliable anti-drug barrier within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and was actively participating in the development of an inter-State programme to combat organized crime and other dangerous offences, its Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs said. The Russian leadership was taking energetic steps on social, institutional, medical and legal fronts against the drug problem. Law enforcement had been considerably strengthened. Drug-addiction treatment centres and rehabilitation programmes were being established, and media and education programmes were also being implemented.
Kenya, because of its strategic geographical location and effective communications network, had become a transit point for drugs originating in Asia and destined for Europe and America, its Minister of State said. To
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increase international effectiveness in controlling illicit drug traffic, he recommended a greater involvement of Interpol in coordinating action against international drug syndicates.
Despite its scant resources and governmental crisis, Haiti was implementing legal and practical measures to combat drug trafficking and money-laundering, its representative said. Its coast guards and drug control brigade, customs agents and law enforcement officers were working together, and had benefited from training and other programmes provided by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP).
Statements were also made by the Vice-Chancellor and Minster for Foreign Affairs of Germany; Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam; Minister of the Interior, Local Communities and the Environment of Algeria; Attorney-General of Belarus; Minister of Health of Botswana; Minister of Welfare and Co-Chairman of the Hungarian Intergovernmental Committee against Drugs of Hungary; Deputy Minister for Home Affairs of Malaysia; and the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security of Kazakhstan.
The representatives of Tunisia, Qatar, Bahrain, San Marino, Albania, Mauritius and Lebanon also spoke.
The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its general debate.
Special Session Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to continue the general debate of its special session devoted to countering the world drug problem together. (For background information, see Press Release GA/9410 of 5 June.)
KLAUS KINKEL, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany: Since the last Assembly high-level meeting on the drug issue in 1990, there has been some progress on tackling it, but the international community was not able to reverse the trend. The figures speak for themselves. Only by bending all energies to the common task, there will be a chance of success. The strategy must tackle cultivation and production, trade and consumption. Germany, since 1995 has seen a steady increase in the number of first-time users of hard drugs, a rise of 20 per cent last year alone. Germany has a three-pronged approach to its drug policy: prevention and education, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, and crime prevention and control.
This special session must clearly signal the world's strength of purpose. New alliances must be forged with prevention as the aim. Raising awareness is key. Everyone must play its part -- parents, educators, politicians and the media. Drugs and the harm they do must not be minimized. Seduction by stealth is what drugs are all about, and therein lies the danger. To combat their insidious influence, there is a need to encourage positive, responsible and caring attitudes to life. Young people need values and perspectives that will make the drug addict's pills and needles redundant. One thing is vital: those who have become dependent require solidarity and help.
PHAM GIA KHIEM, Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam: On the basis of the experience of Viet Nam's drug prevention and control activities, a number of lessons have been learned. There is a need to raise the awareness of all people about drug-related dangers so as to forge a shared determination to repulse them. There is need to strengthen the preventive approach and mobilize their participation in drug prevention and control, in which the family plays an extremely important role. Also, there is a need to broaden cooperation with other countries, especially neighbouring ones, in formulating an integrated and comprehensive plan for this struggle.
The United Nations should enhance its role in implementing international drug control programmes in various regions and subregions, increase exchange of information and experiences among nations with priority given to groups of countries with similar characteristics and countries sharing common borders. International financial institutions such as the World Bank and regional banks should design integrated projects and programmes aimed at addressing
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comprehensively the issues of drugs and AIDS/HIV prevention and control to assist countries, especially the less developed countries.
MOSTEFA BENMANSOUR, Minister of the Interior, Local Authorities and the Environment of Algeria: There is a need for global and multifaceted action to deal with the global scourge of drugs, which is a threat from which no country can feel safe. It is a particularly serious threat to the international community as a whole, attacking in particular young people, and threatening economic development. In tackling that phenomenon demand and supply must be taken into account, and the causes of the drug problem. Algeria is involved with the drug trade, as a favorite transit country for such substances. Some of those drugs, of course, stop in Algeria for local consumption.
There is a link between the drugs trade and international terrorism, through the channels that are established for drug trafficking. The drugs trade is also used to finance terrorism, and the international community must take action to combat that facet. Much work has already been done in Algeria to reduce the transit of drugs, which has been supported in many levels of the society, including the media. Laws on protecting health and other areas of legislation are also being created as a part of this effort. But Algeria recognizes that it must work in concert with other countries, and is actively cooperating with other north African countries to stop trafficking.
M.H. MADOKA, Minister of State in the Office of the President of Kenya: Kenya has become a transit point for drugs originating in Asia and destined for Europe and America. Its strategic geographical location and effective communications network make it attractive as a transit conduit. In the country itself, cannabis is the most commonly abused drug. At the national level, Kenya has established a number of agencies and instituted measures to address drug-related problems. For example, an Anti-narcotics Unit has been established, a permanent ministerial committee harmonizes, monitors and evaluates all drug control measures, and an Anti-narcotics Act has been passed. It has also ratified a number of protocols on drugs and is working to ratify the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
At the subregional level, Kenya is working closely with its neighbours in the area of drug control. It hosts the Interpol Telecommunications Station for member countries of eastern and southern Africa, and a subregional Interpol bureau for 10 member countries of eastern Africa. To increase international effectiveness in controlling illicit drug traffic, Kenya recommends providing adequate resources for drug law enforcement and demand reduction activities. Also, there should be greater involvement of Interpol in coordinating action against international drug syndicates to ensure that fugitives do not enjoy protection or immunity from prosecution in any corner of the world.
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OLEG BOZHELKO, Attorney-General of Belarus: Belarus fully supports the constructive and global approach of the United Nations towards the fight against illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking as one of the priority activities of the Organization for the coming years. The negative phenomena associated with narco-trafficking could not avoid Belarus located in the geographical centre of Europe. The favourable location of the country makes it a crossroads of illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs. Annually, law enforcement authorities of Belarus prevent scores of attempts of illicit transportation of narcotic and psychotropic substances, deter thousands of crimes linked to illegal drug trafficking. There is a dangerous trend of importing into Belarus and attempts of distribution in large quantities of opium, heroin and other potent narcotic drugs.
Alongside with devastating consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and related ecological problems, drug abuse becomes a real threat to the population's health, deteriorates the genetic fund and jeopardizes the future generation. Belarus' national legislation is being harmonized with norms and principles of international law. Strict procedures for legal drug circulation have been formulated. The accountability for offences linked to illicit drug trafficking and involvement of minors into drug-related crimes has been significantly increased. The grounds and procedures for medical treatment and social rehabilitation of drug abusers are regulated by law. The classification of drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors is being streamlined with international norms and standards. Belarus fully supports the drafts of the final documents to be adopted by the special session.
CHAPSON BUTALE, Minister of Health of Botswana: The worldwide scourge of illicit drugs knows no borders. No country can tackle it alone. It is not amenable to solutions employed so far. The umbilical cord linking production patterns in countries where crops are grown and the consumption habits in countries having a demand for end-products of the crops must be broken. A comprehensive, multilateral and multi-sectoral approach, taking into account the many social and economic implications of drug production, trafficking and abuse, must be implemented. Further, strategies should attach importance to the active participation and involvement of the general public to ensure broad-based support for national drug control activities.
Botswana is determined to stop its territory from being used as a conduit for drugs destined for international markets, and to deprive of profits those engaged in illicit drug trafficking. It has instituted acts and established agencies at the national level towards that end. It has signed regional protocols for such activities as obtaining international assistance on criminal matters and cooperation on extraditing persons accused or convicted of crimes committed within the jurisdiction of other countries. It has signed acts to participate in activities controlling money-laundering and
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corruption, and it is party to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional drug control programme of work for the years 1998-2002.
MIHALY KOKENY, Minister of Welfare, Co-Chairman of the Hungarian Intergovernmental Committee against Drugs of Hungary: Medical knowledge and courage are not enough to fight the drug phenomenon successfully. What is needed is a broad alliance of all sectors of society, a well-organized, integrated and coherent national policy, as well as large-scale international cooperation. Hungary has harmonized its national legislation with the provisions of all United Nations drug-related conventions. It is also against liberalizing access to mild drugs or even the heroin distribution techniques, and it opposes legislation of any illegal drugs. Such practices would contradict not only the spirit of the Organization's conventions but could have an adverse effect on the anti-drug educational activities aimed at young people.
Measures taken in Hungary to strengthen the capacity of national drug- related law enforcement agencies have already produced progress. Seizures of heroin, cannabis and synthetic drugs have significantly increased. Efforts to strengthen cooperation among the judicial, police and customs authorities continue and narrow the possibilities of illegal production, trafficking and money-laundering. More attention is paid to demand reduction activity. Serious efforts are made to raise awareness among the public, and in particular the younger generation, as to the dangers associated with drugs, and to encourage and promote juvenile behaviour conducive to a drug-free way of life. In spite of all this, however, consumption continues to increase, especially in light and synthetic drugs. A Drug Coordination Committee has been established to improve inter-agency coordination and promote the complex and effective implementation of a national strategy against drug abuse.
SOUBANH SRITHIRATH, Deputy Foreign Minister, Chairman of the National Commission on Drug Control and Supervision of the Lao People's Democratic Republic: The Lao People's Democratic Republic, a producing and transit country, is well-known for being a part of the notorious "Golden Triangle". The evolution of the drug problem there, however, differs from others. Opium production is carried out on a small scale in remote mountain areas by growers with no alternative crop. The pattern of larger scale trafficking seems rather dispersed. Despite lack of government financial resources, law enforcement officers have carried out a number of programmes; many drug refineries have been dismantled, and drug producers and traffickers have been arrested.
Convinced that the implementation of alternative development projects is the principal means to reduce opium production, the Government has set up several drug control programmes, aimed at institution-building, demand and supply reduction and the prohibition of illicit trafficking. It has also
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provided for much more severe penalties for drug trafficking, and is working on a general principle of the prohibition of opium production. Other legal dispositions for chemical precursors and money-laundering are to be introduced in the near future.
MOHAMAD TAJOL ROSLI MOHAMAD GHAZALI, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs of Malaysia: Given its far-reaching implications, Malaysia continues to consider the drug problem as a major threat to its national security. Hence, it is committed to combating it not only within its borders but also internationally. Malaysia joins other countries in redoubling efforts and continuing the international dialogue. It will continue to enforce stringent anti-drug laws, and is taking serious steps on prevention and rehabilitation. In a reaffirmation of its commitment to tackle the drug problem more seriously and effectively, the Malaysian Government, since 1996, has coordinated all anti-drug activities through the National Narcotics Council. The newly- created National Narcotics Agency now serves as the main implementing agency of Malaysia's national drug policies and programmes.
Malaysia has given very serious consideration to the preventive aspects of drug control. It knows that prevention is expensive. Often, it takes a long time to show results. The Malaysian Government gives the highest priority to preventive drug education in its national strategy for combating the drug menace. It believes that effective drug education should be cumulative, and makes sure that it is embodied in the curriculum and co-curricular activities in schools and universities. This programme goes hand in hand with public information programmes and activities which involve the community at large, including the private sector. Malaysia reaffirms its fullest support for mutual legal assistance among States in the fight against trafficking of illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Malaysia welcomes and fully supports the United Nations initiative to formulate an action plan against the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and their precursors. Immediate steps must be taken to curb the production and prevent the widespread abuse of such substances.
MARATKALI NUKENOV, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of National Security of Kazakhstan: The drug problem is not a new one to Central Asia. It has existed there for a long time and was facilitated by the accessibility of raw materials for drug production. In recent years, the problem has become more acute, and the States of the region have not been able to react to it adequately. The scale of drug abuse and illegal trafficking in Kazakhstan is increasing every year. Some of the factors that contribute to that are the inadequacy of legislation, lagging behind new social and political realities, and the absence of sufficient possibilities for the State to curb the growing scale of drug abuse and the activities of drug dealers.
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The fight against drugs in Kazakhstan is conducted on the basis of special government programmes drawn up in accordance with the basic United Nations conventions. The country is also seeking to strengthen its national law enforcement agencies and is placing emphasis on interdepartmental coordination of activity by State institutions. Conscious of the need to join forces in the face of a common danger, the countries of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, have adopted programmes of action and convened several meetings and conferences to address the issue of illicit drugs. The Government of Kazakhstan is seeking to expand cooperation with international organizations and is particularly interested in effective and environmentally sound ways of eradicating drug crops. The urgency of such projects is due to the fact that Kazakhstan was one of the largest raw material bases in the world for drug production. Cannabis and poppies grow over an area of 1.2 million hectares.
YURI V. USHAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation: Success of global efforts in combating drugs depends primarily on the efficiency of measures taken at the national level. This is all the more relevant for the Russian Federation, where the acuteness of the drug problem has sharply increased in recent years. The number of drug dealers is rising, and the smuggling of drugs into the country is growing rapidly. The Russian leadership was taking energetic steps on social, institutional, medical and legal fronts against this problem. Law enforcement has been considerably strengthened, centres for drug addict treatment and rehabilitation are being established, and media and education programmes are being implemented.
Russia is also working to build up a reliable anti-drug barrier within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) framework, and is actively participating in the development of an inter-State programme to combat organized crime and other dangerous offences. That programme contains a special anti-drugs section. As a result of joint large-scale operations of law enforcement agencies of the CIS carried out in recent years, hundreds of drug dealers with worldwide connections have been neutralized. Drug abuse is a global epidemic, and must be fought by the entire international community, not only with law enforcement and punitive measures, but also by addressing the social and medical aspects of the problem. Russia stands against any attempts to legalize the non-medical use of drugs.
SALEH AL-SHAIKH, Assistant Deputy Minister for Rights Affairs, Ministry of the Interior of Saudi Arabia: All countries should accede to the United Nations conventions, so that the international community as a whole can work together to combat the problem of drugs. The united efforts of all countries are even more important now than in the past. There should also be a study on the obstacles that prevent all countries from acceding to international conventions against illicit drugs, so that those obstacles can be overcome, and the international community can move forward together.
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Saudi Arabia is also deeply concerned about the trade in drug precursors, and by the considerable capital that is being laundered in some parts of the world. There should be measures to control such capital flows. The international community must also work together to find alternative crops for producers, and to eradicate the drugs culture altogether. A legal framework is vital. Organized crime and terrorists groups, which destabilize security should be controlled through international cooperation, including technical expertise and information exchange. Saudi Arabia would not support any initiatives towards the legalization of drugs. That went against religious precepts and was contrary to the dignity of human beings.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia): The formation of international cartels has made it very difficult to combat the scourge of drugs. Money-laundering is a threat to all countries, developed and developing alike. Tunisia is committed to international efforts to combat the drug problem, and reiterates its appeal for international cooperation in the fight against the drug problem. It has adopted legislation to deal with the problem. For example, the 1992 law on narcotic drugs encourages rehabilitation and provides sanctions against money- laundering; by another law, the national narcotic control bureau is entrusted with monitoring the problem. A law to enable clinics to dispense medicines to drug addicts has been introduced. National structures will be set up to help drug addicts.
The globalization of the drug phenomenon affects the international community and requires greater international cooperation. There is a recognition for shared responsibility to combat the drug problem. Wealthy countries must assist poor countries to eliminate illicit crops. Cooperation between all relevant United Nations agencies was important. Tunisia hopes the recommendations of the session would be reflected in national legislation.
NASSER BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA (Qatar): The global village is about to become a communal tomb for millions of human beings as a result of the illicit drugs trade. The problem of drugs jeopardizes all societies, rich and poor, advanced and not. All States need to cooperate to combat this problem. One particular point of view cannot be imposed on others, however, without taking into account cultural and other factors unique to different States. At the same time, the complex problem of illicit drugs cannot be combated by any State unilaterally.
Work must also be done to combat the poverty that leads farmers to produce drug crops. There should also be specific measures to protect young people from drugs, including plans to make youths aware of the dangers of drugs through the media and workshops that demonstrate the risks of drugs. Drug abusers themselves should be helped as part of a drug control strategy. The authorities in Qatar are enthusiastically participating in international efforts to combat drugs, and Qatar imposes strict penalties on those involved
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in the drug trade. It has also implemented banking procedures against money- laundering. Civil society also has a role to play in Qatar, through various community efforts against drug abuse.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain): Working hand-in-hand with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), Bahrain is following closely matters relating to the drug problem, and it is striving to prevent any further spread of the scourge. Illicit drug trafficking is a threat to our societies. It is helped by new technologies in an era of globalization of international trade. We have to strengthen control of land and sea borders and step up customs procedures. United Nations funds and programmes must help find substitutes for illicit crops and alternative development.
Bahrain is mobilizing its resources against the drug problems, ministries are working together, medical services are being provided to drug addicts, and information campaigns are being organized. We are trying to make our communities become aware of the drug problem. We are trying to find jobs for drug addicts so that they can become part of society again. Bahrain is trying to harmonize its laws on the basis of the sharia law. The Gulf Cooperation Council was harmonizing efforts to ensure reduction in demand. Bahrain has acceded to all conventions relating to illicit drugs, the latest being the 1988 Convention, and it has an agreement with the United Kingdom against drug smuggling.
GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino): It is time to stop questioning who is to blame for the drug problem. Supply and demand are two faces of the same coin. Developed and developing countries need to cooperate in breaking the cycle at any of the many points, for example, by developing alternative crops, strictly monitoring precursors and working against money-laundering.
Criminal and judicial cooperation among States is one of the fastest ways to obtain positive results. Confiscating assets is more effective in the fight against drug cartels than confiscating drugs. San Marino has an anti-money- laundering law and is an active member of the Pompidou Group, an expert body within the Council of Europe to address drug-related topics. It endorses the 1988 Convention, especially the provision calling for Member States to invest funds confiscated from illegal drug trafficking into organizations specializing in fighting drugs.
AGIM NESHO (Albania): After 1993, traffic in hard drugs has increased considerably. A part of the quantity of the traded drugs remains in the country to be distributed and sold. Presently, Albania has about 2,000 to 3,000 users, mainly among the 16 to 25 years old. The Albanian Government has established an anti-drug committee, responsible for building a national strategy and coordinating efforts of governmental structures. At the same time, priority is given to the creation and implementation of a modern legal framework in accordance with basic standards of international legislation.
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Albania strongly cooperates with international specialized bodies, and is involved with a number of international programmes. In building our strategy against drugs, Albania is of the view that more should be done for young people, and an environment that responds to the fact that drugs harm and kill people has to be created.
PIERRE LELONG (Haiti): The age of isolationism is over, and all human activities must be seen from a global approach. The phenomenon of illicit drug trafficking, whose turnover is second only to the arms trade, threatens all humankind, and cannot be overcome by any one country alone. An integrated global strategy, with the United Nations as its central force, must be developed.
The Caribbean, situated between north and south America, is popular with drug traffickers. Because of the weakness of its judicial and police system, and its lack of financial resources, Haiti is particularly vulnerable to this trade. But despite its scant resources and governmental crisis, Haiti is implementing legal and practical measures to combat drug trafficking and money-laundering. Its coast guard and drug control brigade, customs agents and law enforcement officers are working together, and have benefitted from training and other programmes undertaken by the UNDCP. There have been significant results from these efforts, in terms of arrests of drug traffickers and seizures. Haiti is also working to reduce demand, and is taking part in various international efforts in the war against drugs. Haiti reaffirms its commitment to shoulder its responsibilities in this struggle.
TAYE WAH MICHEL WAN CHAT KWONG (Mauritius): Until the early 1980s, my country was faced with only the problem of abuse of soft drugs. The situation changed radically in 1984 with the arrival of "brown sugar", a crude form of heroin. The abuse of heroin has spread to all economic and ethnic groups, triggering all the ills associated with it. Measures taken by my Government to counter this modern scourge include rehabilitation and education. In 1987, my Government set up a Health and Anti-Drug Educational Unit. Currently, an intensive programme to deter drug proliferation is being carried out by the National Agency for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers. The anti-drug and smuggling unit of the Mauritius Police Force is leading a relentless battle against both local and international drug barons.
In the face of such daunting problems and the heavily lopsided odds in favour of the drug lords, what are the chances of governments, especially in poor developing countries, of dealing a significant blow to the drug industry and reverse the seemingly relentless spread of drug use? The new global approach, which now addresses the problems of demand and supply reduction with equal prominence, gives us cause for optimism. International cooperation is critical for the success of supply reduction efforts. No country can hope to face the tremendous odds against powerful international drug traffickers on its own. With improved judicial cooperation and coordinated efforts to counter
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money-laundering among all countries, we stand a fighting chance in stemming and eventually reversing the tide of narcotic drugs. In this context, the Mauritius Government will shortly introduce an anti-money-laundering and economic crime bill in the National Assembly. The fight against drugs cannot be carried out by governments alone. Non-governmental organizations and other action groups should also join the crusade.
SAMIR MOUBARAK (Lebanon): Lebanon is a developing country needing international assistance to realize its development and to eradicate poverty. The Government has made it a priority to combat the illicit cultivation, production, distribution and sale of narcotic drugs. Lebanon is party to three international drug control Conventions, and the Government scrupulously implements their provisions. Through a strict policy about cultivators and traffickers, Lebanon disabled the distribution network and new laws are introducing even stricter sanctions against those involved in the narcotic drug business.
The country, still stooping under the burdens of a civil war that destroyed its infrastructure and paralysed its institutions, has subdued illicit trafficking of drugs. It suppresses a trade generating no less than $1 billion in annual income because it was an illegal trade. Lebanon fulfils its international commitments, and governments of friendly countries should help it both financially and technically to ensure realization of national programmes. Those countries suffering from problems of drug abuses should especially support programmes to introduce alternative crops in regions once dependent on the sale of drugs as their main source of revenue.
RAFAEL CALDERA, President of Venezuela: Venezuela has destroyed poppy crops as a symbol of its efforts against the scourge of drugs. It is also working to ensure control of its borders to provide a safe individual and public environment. In such efforts, Venezuela needs to be united with the rest of the world. I support and endorse the Declaration reached at this special session. Combating drugs requires long and difficult concerted efforts. Venezuela is prepared to shoulder its responsibilities at all levels and at all costs. International and individual efforts must be undertaken by every country.
Venezuela undertakes to pursue such efforts, while, at the same time, ensuring its own sovereignty. The proliferation of drugs, however, means that everyone must be involved. Venezuela's efforts have increased in the field of law enforcement, and the country has taken many steps forward in prevention. We must make young people realize that they have a future without drug consumption and that they will fail if they pursue such consumption. They must be encouraged to have self-respect so they, in turn, can prevent others from taking drugs.
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Venezuela places great importance on combating international drug trafficking, and has made all possible resources available to make sure this struggle is effective. Undoubtedly, the future will be difficult, and we have not been fully successful in the past. Future efforts should be directed at prevention and law enforcement. Venezuela is not a major drug-consuming or drug-producing country, but it has suffered from the scourge of drugs, and has seen how it has affected others. I am here to show my solidarity with the rest of the international community in combating this scourge against humanity.
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