Following is the closing statement by the President of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly, Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), at its final meeting:
We are about to conclude the twentieth special session of the General Assembly. When it opened three days ago, by one of its first actions the Assembly approved the official title of the special session as "devoted to countering the world drug problem together". Stylistically, this represents a welcome departure from some of the longer and more formal sounding United Nations names. Substantively, however, this title I think expresses the key motif that characterized this session: the United Nations membership's togetherness in confronting a common menace.
Significantly, this spirit of togetherness was set from the very beginning and, as a direct result, the preparatory process yielded a crucial agreement on all underlying political issues despite, sometimes, the divergence of views and the sensitivity of some of the problems. We have witnessed an involved and pragmatic discussion of future action, follow-up and implementation.
The three days of intensive and businesslike work has also demonstrated the unswerving commitment of Member States to the task of eradicating the peril of narcotic drugs from the face of the earth. The strong political showing of world political leaders is bound to give an impetus to international drug control efforts. At the same time, the presence at the session of senior government officials directly involved in the fight against drugs has benefited greatly the work of the session. A total of 158 speakers took part in the general debate, including 23 Heads of State, 8 Prime Ministers, one Vice-President, as well as seven observers. Meanwhile, in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole, joining in the discussion were several United Nations agencies and programmes, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations designated by their constituencies.
- 2 - Press Release GA/SM/46 10 June 1998
The past three days have given us a rich and thought-provoking picture of the state of national efforts in different parts of the world to tackle the drug problem as the speakers described their programmes, offered perceptive analyses and made sound suggestions. Many delegations not only spoke about their own experience of dealing with the drug menace, but also offered to share it with others in combating this dangerous phenomenon. At the same time, while acknowledging the primary responsibility of national governments, they have stressed the importance of enhancing concerted international actions in this sphere, first of all under the auspices of relevant United Nations agencies. In this context, many speakers underscored the need for a more coordinated approach among various United Nations bodies to address the drug problems effectively. They gave full backing to the strategy pursued by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, which is based on a balanced and multidisciplinary approach with an increased focus on demand reduction.
The globalization in today's world has been mentioned numerous times in this Hall, but the fact that the term may have already become a cliche should not in any way diminish the true significance of the concept itself. If anything, the success of the twentieth special session reflects the growing realization throughout our planet that we are all indeed in the same boat. This has compelled a fundamental rethinking and growing convergence of views on measures to combat drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. The Political Declaration and other documents we have just adopted represent a new departure for a comprehensive global strategy to tackle simultaneously all aspects of the drug problem. By putting forward a bold objective -- a drastic reduction of both supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008, the Political Declaration signifies a global consensus on the shared responsibility of all countries for the successful outcome of the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. It spells out the obligations for all groups of countries, setting clear target dates to take action in agreed-upon areas.
So as the result of this special session we have before us a well-designed strategy and we have a package of measures and goals to be achieved within precise time-frames. We have three agenda-setting political documents that enjoy unanimous support. What is needed then for this session to go down in history as a truly watershed event is to make sure that all of these plans are translated into practical deeds. By working together we can launch a new period in countering the drug problem and send a strong positive message that the United Nations is capable of successfully tackling one of the most dangerous threats of today's world.
Before closing, let me once again extend my sincere appreciation to all delegations for your cooperation during the past three days. I would like to express special gratitude to the bureau of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole and the distinguished Vice-Presidents of the Assembly whose constant support made my task much easier. I think it is also very symbolic that addressing
- 3 - Press Release GA/SM/46 10 June 1998
the General Assembly this evening on behalf of the Secretary-General was Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, who has made a valuable contribution to the success of this session.
And finally, I would also like to pay tribute to the United Nations Secretariat, its General Assembly Division, as well as to interpreters, translators and all conference service officers and other staff who often remain unseen, but without whom the smooth functioning of the session would have been impossible.
I thank you all.
* *** *