26 June 2012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Illicit Drugs, Organized Crime Today ‘Clear Global Menace’ Says Secretary-General,


Now Threaten ‘One of Our Most Important Goals’ — Ensuring Sustainable Development


Following are the remarks of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the General Assembly thematic debate on drugs and crime as a threat to development, in New York on 26 June:

Let me begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly, as well as Member States, for organizing this debate at this important time.

I am certain that today’s discussions will serve as an important resource for the Thirteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Doha in 2015.

Today is International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the day on which the United Nations launches its World Drug Report.

Illicit drugs bring misery to millions of people around the world, while generating billions of dollars for the criminal networks that feed on their despair.

In recent decades, our perception of illicit drugs and organized crime has changed.

These issues may have once been seen as largely social and economic challenges for police, judges and communities.

Today, drugs and crime are a clear global menace.

The local has become the global; the national problem has become a transnational challenge for the world.

Drugs and crime threaten one of our most important goals, to ensure sustainable development around the world.

I have just returned from Rio+20 summit meeting, where we renewed that commitment.

But to make good on our promises, we must recognize the effect of illicit drugs and crime on our ability to deliver sustainable development.

Criminal networks exploit fragile countries.  Drugs and crime thrive where the rule of law and other institutions are weak.

Corruption is a natural outgrowth — draining as much as $40 billion from developing countries.

Every dollar lost to corruption is a dollar denied to communities for health care, to families for food security, to children for education.

And, of course, illicit drugs and crime fuel violence.

Today, Central America has some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Development in Afghanistan and parts of Myanmar is being undermined by poppy growing and opium and other illegal drug production.

Governance in West and Central Africa is severely undermined by the growing drug trade through these regions.

We cannot afford to cede ground to those who thrive on lawlessness and who use countries as stepping stones for the delivery of illicit drugs.

We must work together to promote the rule of law and help countries bring criminals to justice, while fully respecting human rights and ensuring proportionality in our law enforcement responses.

The foundation for our shared action is the United Nations Conventions on drugs, crime and corruption.

We must also ensure that the sustainable development pillar contains elements combating illicit drugs and crime, while also ensuring that drug control and anti-crime strategies are sensitive to the needs of development.

And we cannot reduce supply without also reducing demand.  We must make sure that countries are supported through preventive, educational and cultural measures that help to reduce demand.

In January, as I started my second term, I set out a five imperatives for collective global action: how to chart a new path of sustainable growth and development; how to enhance our efforts in prevention; how to create a more just, secure and equitable world grounded in universal human rights; how to support nations in transition; and how to give the world’s women and young people greater voice and opportunity.

Illicit drugs and crime are a severe impediment to progress in meeting all of these vital goals.

Let us work together to remove this obstacle from the path to a world of security and prosperity for all.

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For information media • not an official record