NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO COMBAT DRUG PROBLEM, FOR STRONG FAMILY UNITS, FOR PROMOTING SELF-ESTEEM OF YOUNG PEOPLE STRESSED BY SPEAKERS19980608 General Debate of Assembly's Special Session on Drug Problem Continues
Without money-laundering, drug trafficking would not exist. Without explosive arms, organized crime wold not exist. Without consumers, the supply of drugs would be extinguished. Those principles are clear, Uruguay's Minister of State this evening told the General Assembly's special session on countering drugs together.
Stressing the need for cooperation by the international community, he said it must act with full respect for national sovereignty, and without fear, which leads to irrationality and failure. The pillars of such cooperation must be full respect for the principles contained in the United Nations Charter, as well as the principles of international law, non-intervention in domestic affairs, respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
The world has witnessed a globalization of public behaviour and youth culture, Estonia's Minister of Social Affairs said. She called for more emphasis on creating positive values, and said the renaissance of moral and ethical values and a strong family unit would help to reduce the addiction, diseases and violence associated with drugs.
The escalation of drug-related problems has coincided with modern development, the Minister of Health of Maldives said, adding that the problem of drugs is the result of failure to address the spiritual dimension of development. Young people are guided today by rebellious desires rather than moral values.
Drug use is not only the problem of disenchanted young people in developed nations, Andorra's Minister of Education, Youth and Sports said. Rather than sweeping governmental programmes, the solution lies in decentralized community action. Sports, education and the promotion of self- esteem and a sense of belonging can help people resist peer pressure to try drugs.
General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
The consumer base for drugs is spreading to children, women and young people, Benin's representative said. Drug abuse and trafficking, which have spread to Africa, carry with them devastating consequences, including increased crime, juvenile delinquency and social decay. The revitalization of family structures can have a considerable influence on the struggle against drugs.
Other speakers this evening stressed the need for economic resources to combat the scourge of drugs. Iraq's representative cited the impact of economic sanctions on his country's effort to participate in international endeavours to combat drugs. Guyana's representative said the campaign against drug-related activities diverts scarce resources that would otherwise be used for development. Palau's President said special strategies are required for small island nations, whose resources are often limited and borders relatively unprotected.
The Minister of Justice of Iceland reviewed a comprehensive Action Plan introduced by his Government in 1996 as part of its fight against tobacco, alcohol and drug use, which is based on a comprehensive governmental policy adopted at the same time. The focal points of that policy are directed towards prevention, discouraging initial use of drugs, decrease of drug- related crimes, elimination of tolerance towards teenage drinking and early intervention strategies.
The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that all members of the international community bear responsibility for stemming the flow of illicit drugs. Through the shared recognition and common pursuit of that paramount objective, the potential exists to uproot the drug problem once and for all.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 June, to continue its general debate.
Special Session Work Programme
The General Assembly met this evening 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.)
TIIU ARO, Minister of Social Affairs of Estonia: Estonia welcomes all efforts by the United Nations in preventing the traffic of illicit drugs in the world. The Organization has achieved important results in evaluating the spread of drug addiction. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme are the most important organizations mandated to deal with drug-related issues. These bodies provide common standards and legal instruments, thereby ensuring stable cooperation among States. They also support the global balancing of harm caused by drug addiction. Estonia aspires to meet all the requirements of the United Nations drug conventions. Last year, its parliament passed the new narcotic drugs act. The national programme for the prevention of alcoholism and drug addiction is also being implemented.
In Estonia, problems with narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances will increase in the near future. Some of the country's difficulties are caused by the social and demographic heritage of the last 50 years, and by the fact that Estonia is now more open to outside influences, including negative social aspects. Over the past decades, the world has witnessed a globalization of public behaviour and youth culture. Within certain groups there is ignorance and a refusal to abide by international and national legislation on narcotic drugs. To avoid this, more emphasis should be put on striving for positive values, such as health, social welfare and social security. The renaissance of moral and ethical values and the importance of a strong family, will help to reduce drug addiction and the diseases and violence associated with it.
ALBERTO SCAVARELLI, Minister of State of Uruguay: It is up to the sovereign States of the international community to create an environment where persons everywhere without distinction will be free from the risk of drugs. The drug problem has global proportions and complex external components. Uruguay supports the political declaration and the plan of action without reservation. It served as Vice-President of the Preparatory Committee. The documents to be adopted for the first time established guiding principles for reducing demand for illicit drugs. Further, States have pledged to establish effective inspection mechanisms and apply the principle of "know your client" regarding the sale of precursor chemicals. States should commit themselves to adopting measures against money-laundering, which threatens the security of
General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
financial systems. To defeat money-laundering crimes, the traffic of chemical precursors and small arms trafficking, there is need for cooperation of legal commercial enterprises, with efficient State control.
Without money-laundering, drug trafficking would not exist. Without explosive arms, organized crime would not exist. Without consumers, the supply of drugs would be extinguished. Those principles are clear. To achieve the objectives of alternative development, clear deadlines and procedures have been established. The international community must act with full respect for national sovereignty, and without fear, which leads to irrationality and failure. The pillars of such cooperation must be full respect for the principles contained in the United Nations Charter, as well as the principles of international law, non-intervention in domestic affairs, respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The problem of drugs affects liberty, peace, human rights, environment, quality of life, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
THORSTEINN PALSSON, Minister of Justice of Iceland: In December 1996, the Icelandic Government introduced a comprehensive Action Plan in the fight against tobacco, alcohol and drug use which is based on a comprehensive governmental policy adopted at the same time. The focal points of this policy are directed towards prevention, discouraging initial use of drugs, decrease of drug-related crimes, elimination of tolerance towards teenage drinking and early intervention strategies. One of the main elements of the Action Plan is the Project "Drug Free Iceland" that was formally launched in February 1997. The aim of the project is to mobilize Icelandic society as a whole and reach a nation-wide agreement on the goal of a drug-free Iceland. By launching specific activities and demand-reduction strategies, the Icelandic Government plans to raise the public consciousness about the hazards of drug use and receive active support at all levels regarding the measures that need to be taken.
During its first year, the project: actively supports research work in the field of drugs to improve the effectiveness of preventive work; is increasing budgetary allocations to both customs and the police to strengthen their work against drug trafficking and distribution; in cooperation with parents' organization is raising parents' awareness of dangers of teenage drug use; is actively involving youth in the preventive work against drinking and drugs; focuses on the special needs of youths who have become drug abusers; and forges partnerships by collaborating with the various official and private bodies who work in the preventive field. The Icelandic Government reaffirms its support for the United Nations and its drug control organ as the global forum for multilateral cooperation.
General Assembly Plenary - 4 - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
CARME SALA SANSA, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of Andorra: Youth who have lost hope became vulnerable to the use of drugs and other forms of escapism. In Andorra, the birthrate is higher than in the neighbouring regions. The country therefore accords great priority to finding ways to prevent youth from wasting their lives. The age of initiation of drug use is falling every year -- in both developed and developing countries. The solution lies more in the decentralized action at the community level than in sweeping governmental programmes which might not reach their targets. The encouragement of sports activities at the amateur level, education oriented towards productive skills, and the promotion of self-esteem and a sense of belonging can help people resist peer pressure to try drugs. Helping addicts return to a drug-free life is more difficult than preventing drug use in the first place, for drugs alter people's personalities and addictions are hard to eradicate.
Shortly after adopting the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances, the seven existing Andorran banks, working closely with the Government, adopted an internal code of conduct. In 1992, these provisions were integrated into Andorran criminal law. To this day, the country has been free of drug-related money-laundering. When talking about drugs, one tends to think only of disenchanted young people in developed nations. However, it is important to not forget the ways the scourge of drugs affects developing countries. Eradicating illicit drugs and replacing them must not be left to developing countries alone, especially when criminal gangs and armed persons control drug production and trade. Developed countries must bear their burden of responsibility. Andorra will consider this year contributing funds to the eradication of small arms. Andorra will help youth combat this enemy of mankind. It fully endorses the aim of the special session.
AHMED ABDULLAH, Minister of Health of Maldives: The escalation of drugs has coincided with modern development, but it is naive to conclude that the problem is a result of development. Rather, it is the result of failure to achieve balanced growth and reduce the growth inequities and deprivations that characterize societies. The widening gap between the haves and the have-nots has resulted in social disruption and the escalation of crime. Drugs are one of the symptoms of this widespread malady. The problem of drugs is also the result of failure to address the spiritual dimension of development. Young people are guided today by rebellious desires rather than moral values.
The globalization of crime is another cause of serious concern. Illicit growers of narcotics, traffickers, money launderers and drug dealers in the end-user countries are joined by a global network using high-speed communications. As a result, major drug traffickers are doing their nefarious business with impunity; living in indescribable luxury while their victims
General Assembly Plenary - 5 - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
continue suffering in shame. In the Maldives the drug law was amended in 1995 to address the escalating drug situation. The President has set up a special department to implement a comprehensive national drug control programme. The most important change in the revised law is that drug suppliers have been prescribed harsher punishment, while the law looks at simple users with a benevolent eye. The latter are given all opportunities to reform and return to the mainstream of society.
The problem of drugs calls for a comprehensive solution. Bold initiatives and action of courage are the needs of the hour. The problem should be addressed at its roots, namely the social evils that foster a conducive atmosphere for drug abuse. Every effort must be made to keep young people out of this dangerous path. A comprehensive solution requires active participation among all sectors, non-governmental organizations and the community.
SHAWKI MARCUS, Minister of Health of Iraq: In spite of Iraq's economic and financial difficulties, it is participating in the drug summit, which shows how much it wants to participate in the struggle against narcotic drugs. Illicit drugs are a pervasive phenomenon whose roots undermine countries' economic, social and moral underpinnings. Iraq wants to cooperate with specialized agencies to combat drugs. It adheres to the three United Nations conventions against drug trafficking. Iraqi legislation and measures taken by the Ministries of Health and Interior, as well as the national commission against alcohol and drugs, have had great effect. There is no case of precursor chemicals being used for illicit purposes in Iraq. The country also engages in programmes aimed at raising public awareness.
The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq cause material damage and human suffering in all areas, including the fight against drugs. Iraq is prevented from participating in conferences and anti-criminal activities because it cannot fulfil its financial obligations. Further, it is prevented from benefiting from workshops organized outside Iraq. In the autonomous areas in the north of Iraq, there are irregularities; those regions are being used for contraband activities. Iraq is committed to cooperating to eliminate the scourge of drugs. The sanctions should be lifted, as they ran counter to the objectives of the United Nations.
S.R. INSANALLY (Guyana): Situated close to some of the world's major drug producers, Guyana is becoming a major transshipment point for illicit drugs to markets in the developed world. With most of its 215,000 square kilometers uninhabited and consisting of dense forest, anti-narcotic operations face great challenges. Guyana lacks the communication equipment and transportation facilities it needs to counteract illegal operations. Nor does it have the resources to put in place adequate legislative or legal
General Assembly Plenary - 6 - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
machinery to deal with drug-related matters. The campaign against drug- related activities diverts scarce resources that would otherwise be used for development. In addition, Guyana's financial institutions' inexperience in dealing with money-laundering heightens the risk of corruption.
The proposed international criminal court should be given jurisdiction over the crime of narco-trafficking. Guyana has put into place a national plan to curb the use and trafficking of illegal drugs, and is committed to the Barbados Programme of Action, and is forging international alliances. To be acceptable and effective, such cooperation must be based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. There should be enlarged assistance programmes to reduce demand and sustain strategies for alternative development. Funds confiscated from criminal activities can be used for such activities. Education and public awareness are the most important weapons in the fight against drugs. Governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups should unite in this endeavour. Yet such efforts will succeed only if they are accompanied by steps to remedy poverty and social degradation which provide fertile ground for the spread of pernicious vices.
LEE SEE YOUNG (Republic of Korea): Today all members of the international community bear responsibility for stemming the flow of illicit drugs. Through the shared recognition and common pursuit of that paramount objective, the potential exists to uproot the drug problem once and for all. Although a balanced approach between supply control and demand reduction has long guided the work of the Organization, it must be recognized that efforts to reduce demand still fall well short of their desired effect, due primarily to the emphasis placed on suppressing illicit manufacturing and trafficking. The adoption of the declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction can remedy the shortcomings of the past, thereby facilitating a collective capacity to simultaneously address supply and demand.
It is also both timely and appropriate for this session to take up the issue of amphetamine-type stimulants and their precursors. In responding swiftly to this newly emerging threat, this session can set another positive example in the continuous adaption of drug control strategies to the changing trends of drug abuse. The Republic of Korea has consistently stepped up its efforts to control the increasing use of drugs and their illicit manufacture and trafficking. It has come down hard on the manufacture of methamphetamine. The Republic of Korea has engaged in bilateral consultations with neighbouring countries, and has played an active role in promoting regional and subregional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
FASSASSI ADAM YACOUBOU (Benin): With the changes occurring in the world scene, it is regrettable that drug abuse continues to spread. The report of the International Narcotics Control Board indicates that drug abuse and
General Assembly Plenary - 7 - Press Release GA/9415 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 3rd Meeting (Night)
trafficking have spread to new regions, including Africa. The devastating consequences include an upsurge in crime and juvenile delinquency and an exacerbation of social decay. Benin adheres to the three United Nations conventions and has established a national data bank to collect and disseminate information on drug abuse and trafficking.
In the context of strengthening regional cooperation, the United Nations must attach greater importance to the area of technical cooperation towards eliminating the increasing illicit demand for psychotropic substances. While recognizing that the international community has a complete arsenal to combat drug abuse and trafficking, there is now need for innovation. The consumer base for drugs is spreading to children, women and young people. There is need to revitalize family structures; this can have a considerable influence on the struggle against drugs. Drug control measures promulgated by governments can only succeed if all States comply with international agreements. More than ever before, global action is an imperative. For that reason, Benin supports the texts to be adopted at the summit.
KUNIWO NAKAMURA, President of Palau: Even in the island paradise of Palau, the horror of illegal drugs is being experienced. Palau is a small, unpopulated and closely knit society, and the drug problem is escalating. Over recent years, a new methamphetamine drug called "ice" has become a major problem, in addition to the ongoing problem of marijuana use. Although Palau's law enforcement is well trained, it lacks the technology and expertise to combat the problem of illegal drugs. Large numbers of individuals arrested for burglary and similar crimes are seeking money for drugs. While the overall number of these cases is low, their pervasiveness indicates the impact of illegal narcotics in society.
The fight against drugs is accorded highest national priority in Palau. The country's law enforcement capabilities have been increased, as have its penalties for offenses involving controlled substances. Illegal drugs and the damage they cause are not limited to places that suffer economically or lack high levels of education. Leaders of countries must admit the realities and reach of the problem. The traffic and trade in illicit drugs is multinational; it operates without regard to political or geographical boundaries. No one country can win the fight against illegal drugs alone; particularly in small island States.
The Assembly should consider the following elements in making a joint determination. Smaller nations need training, technology and assistance to help deal with internal drug problems in order to be part of the international effort to combat drugs. New and improved mechanisms are needed for communication and coordination across borders in regard to illegal drug activities. Special strategies are required for small island nations, whose resources are often limited and borders relatively unprotected. These countries need assistance from larger countries, particularly to help combat the flow of drugs into or through them.
* *** *