14 May 1998

United Nations to Host Global Drug Summit

States to Take Unprecedented Action to Reduce Illicit Supply and Demand

VIENNA, 12 May (UN Information Service) -- Stating that "a grand alliance of nations can and will conquer the global plague of drugs", Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi today announced that government leaders from 185 countries will participate in a General Assembly special session on the world drug problem, to be held in New York from 8 to 10 June. Dubbed the "Drug Summit", the event is expected to be the largest multilateral gathering ever held on combating illegal drug trafficking and abuse.

The Drug Summit marks a critical new juncture in the global fight against drug supply and demand. For the first time, national leaders from throughout the world will gather together to agree to: the first truly global strategy to control drugs; the first international agreement on demand reduction; and the goal of substantially reducing and eventually eradicating the illicit cultivation of opium, coca and other narcotic crops in the next 10 years. They will also agree to find solutions to the problems posed by amphetamines and stimulants; and to identify specific timetables to strengthen and harmonize Member States' laws on money laundering, extradition of drug traffickers, and the sharing of information on drug cartels.

More than 30 Presidents and Prime Ministers will attend the Drug Summit, including leaders from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Colombia, Italy, Canada, Bolivia, Peru, Spain and Ukraine.

According to Mr. Arlacchi, who also serves as Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme and the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, "narcotics and organized crime are the major threats to the world in the next century. With the involvement of so many world leaders, we now have an opportunity for the first time to meet a global threat with a global response".

Leaders at the United Nations point to several reasons why the Drug Summit represents an unprecedented historic opportunity, including: the erosion of East-West and North-South barriers to cooperation, the blurring of previous policy differences between "producing" and "consuming" nations;

and a strong commitment on the part of United Nations members to attack the illicit drug trade in a balanced way, striving to reduce supply and demand simultaneously. They also cite advances in enforcement technology, including satellite monitoring, and the willingness of Member States to share the knowledge they have gained from successful domestic campaigns against drug traffickers.

"This is a fight that can be won, given the political will illustrated by the international community's participation in this Drug Summit", said Mr. Arlacchi, who previously served as a leading strategist in the Italian Government's successful campaign against organized crime. "Global coca leaf and opium poppy acreage totals an area less than half the size of Puerto Rico. There is no reason it cannot be eliminated in little more than a decade. The Drug Summit sets benchmarks for nations, and the international community will hold each State accountable for its commitments."

The Drug Summit will feature plenary sessions for the adoption of specific political declarations and operational resolutions, as well as symposiums. The latter will address such topics as attacking the profits of crime on money laundering; cutting the supply lines on judicial cooperation; children, youth and drug abuse; drugs and productivity; drug abuse and HIV/AIDS; and drugs and development. There will also be a workshop on media coverage of the global drug problem, featuring leading journalists, academics and community activists.

The summit has been organized by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), a Vienna-based agency that operates mostly through voluntary contributions. The Programme serves as a catalyst and coordinator for international efforts against illicit drug supply and demand. Headed by Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, UNDCP has been described as "a multilateral programme that works".


* Reissued for technical reasons.


This press release has been reproduced as received from the UN Office

for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

For further information, contact:

Sandro Tucci, Spokesperson for the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention

Ph: (43-1) 21345 5629 Fax: (43-1) 21345 5931

Mobile: (43-664) 210 50 28

or Bill Hass

Tel: (212) 963 0353/3771; Fax:(212) 963 1186