STATES PLEDGE TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE DEMAND FOR AND SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS BY 2008, AS ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES SPECIAL SESSION
STATES PLEDGE TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE DEMAND FOR AND SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS BY 2008, AS ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES SPECIAL SESSION
STATES PLEDGE TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE DEMAND FOR AND SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS BY 2008, AS ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES SPECIAL SESSION19980610 Political Declaration, Guiding Principles on Drug Demand Reduction, Measures For International Cooperation Adopted without Vote
Member States pledged to significantly reduce the demand for and supply of illicit drugs by the year 2008, as the General Assembly concluded tonight its twentieth special session devoted to countering the world drug problem together.
They took that action by adopting, without a vote, three action-oriented resolutions contained in the report of its Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. The resolutions cover a Political Declaration, a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction, and measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem.
The Declaration on the Guiding Principles contains standards to guide States in establishing demand reduction, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. It also calls for the provision of adequate resources for such programmes.
The five-part resolution on measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem includes Action Plans against Illicit Manufacture, Trafficking and Abuse of Amphetamine-type Stimulants and Their Precursors, and on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development. Other measures concern the control of precursors, the promotion of judicial cooperation and countering money- laundering.
The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the special session, Alvaro de Mendonça e Moura of Portugal, introduced the report recommending the texts adopted tonight. (For more information on those texts, see the round-up Press Release GA/9423.)
In other action this evening, the Assembly took note of a joint statement by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) (document A/S-20/3), and of the report of the expert group convened to review and to strengthen the United Nations machinery for international drug control (document A/S-20/2).
General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
In statements in general debate, a number of speakers stressed the financial implications of the fight against drug use and trafficking. Some emphasized that drug use and trafficking is related to poverty and the lack of viable economic alternatives. Many called for increased support for the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) as the central coordinating mechanism for international efforts against drugs. It was stressed that developing countries require resources to implement legislation and conventions, and that drug abuse and trafficking -- and efforts to counter them -- drained human and financial resources that could otherwise be used for development.
Statements in general debate were made this evening by the Solicitor- General of Canada; Sierra Leone's Minister for Internal Affairs and Local Administration; Zambia's Minister of Defence; Yemen's Vice-Minister of the Interior; and Madagascar's Director-General in charge of the Inter-Ministerial Campaign against Drugs. The representatives of the Gambia, Lesotho, Liberia, Czech Republic and Oman also spoke.
Also this evening, statements were made by observers for Switzerland, Holy See, European Community, International Criminal Police Organization, Organization of the Islamic Conference, League of Arab States, and the Organization of African Unity.
Closing statements were made by UNDCP Executive Director, Pico Arlacchi, on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and by Assembly President Hennadiy Udovenko.
Special Session Work Programme
The General Assembly met this evening to conclude 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.)
It was also scheduled to adopt the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole (document A/S-20/11). In that report, the Committee recommends that the Assembly adopt three draft resolutions: a political declaration (draft resolution I); a declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction (draft resolution II); and measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem (draft resolution III).
In addition, the report contains a draft decision recommended for adoption by the Assembly. By that draft text, the Assembly would decide to take note of the joint statement by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) (document A/S-20/3), and the report of the expert group to convene to review and strengthen the United Nations machinery for drug control (document A/S-20/2). (For more information on the final documents of the special session, see the round-up Press Release GA/9423 of 10 June.)
ANDREW SCOTT, Solicitor-General, Canada: A key goal of the country's balanced drug strategy is to reduce or eliminate the harm to individuals, families and the community associated with drugs and alcohol. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Canada, followed by cocaine and heroin, with a moderate use of synthetic drugs. Canada is also concerned about the availability of raw material used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs and the fact that information about their manufacture is freely available on the Internet. The Canadian Government has established a number of priorities within the national drug strategy. Those include development of responses to address the significant harm associated with injection drug use. In that regard, the country is experiencing a particularly serious health crisis in Vancouver with a high level of overdose deaths and one of the highest rates of HIV infections in developed countries.
Canada is also enhancing its focus on large-scale trafficking and the seizure of the proceeds of crime. Through the introduction of key legislation, it has provided the police with the tools required to deal effectively with organized crime. It is also working on a national strategy on such crime. This fall, legislation dealing with suspicious monetary transaction reporting will be introduced into the Canadian Parliament. Demand reduction is an essential part of the balanced Canadian approach to the drug problem and has long been practised in the country. Regional cooperation is also a crucial tool for dealing with the global drug problem. Last month, Canada was elected Chair of the Working Group
General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
within the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission. The group has been mandated by leaders in that hemisphere with developing a multilateral evaluation mechanism to evaluate national and international drug efforts. Canada is also pleased to announce that it has increased its financial support to the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) by 35 per cent over the last two years.
CHARLES MARGAI, Minister for Internal Affairs and Local Administration, Sierra Leone: Rebel rule since 1991 has encouraged widespread cultivation and abuse of dangerous drugs country-wide. Farmers once engaged in rice farming are cultivating cannabis to quickly enrich themselves. Illicit trafficking by sea is posing a major concern, especially in trans-shipment of consignments from larger vessels. The method of trafficking exploits Sierra Leone's expansive coastal areas and numerous rivers, which are porous and susceptible as entry points. Most distressing is the forcible conscription of children into the rebel junta. The consequences are a clear manifestation of how drug abuse undermines democracy and the socio-economic fabric of society.
Sierra Leone has ratified all United Nations Conventions relative to control of illicit drugs. It needs technical assistance from the UNDCP and other agencies to harmonize the Conventions with national legislation. The UNDCP and other agencies should encourage bilateral agreements between developing countries in the area of drug trafficking, addressing the question of extradition. The technical skills, logistics and financial resources of all Member States and institutions are urgently needed to combat the trafficking and abuse of drugs.
CHITALU M. SAMPA, Minister of Defence, Zambia: The problem of drugs needs to be an integral part of all development policies. It is a well established fact that organized criminal groups, the drug lords and their cartels, are spreading their operations around the world. Developing countries become prime targets, especially in relation to money-laundering activities. Such countries are restructuring their economies and making every effort to attract private investment. They unwittingly become exposed to international crime because their institutions are weak and their justice systems are not sufficiently developed to prevent and control organized transnational crime.
The framework for international cooperation against the drug problem must include the assurance of assistance to governments in drafting and implementing national drug control laws. This should include training for law enforcement personnel, judges, magistrates and prosecutors, and it should include the provision of technical expertise and equipment. Reducing the demand for drugs is key to solving the global drug problem. Social deprivation and poverty in most parts of the world are a breeding ground for drug abuse. A sense of helplessness and isolation makes youth vulnerable to
General Assembly Plenary - 4 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
drug abuse and drug-related risk-taking behaviors, which leaves them open to exploitation by drug lords.
HUSSEIN ALI HAITHEM, Vice-Minister, Ministry of the Interior of Yemen: Drug-related problems are not regional or culturally specific. Illegal drug use and trafficking are worldwide problems which move in step with the development and progress of all countries and peoples. No State can be sheltered from this dangerous epidemic. There were few drug-related problems in Yemen before 1985, but today traffickers have made the country a transit point. However, despite its limited means, Yemen has been able to frustrate many attempts to transfer drugs through its territory. No State, despite its endowments, can succeed in eliminating the dangerous phenomenon of drugs alone. Yemen has worked to include the provisions of the Convention against drugs and psychotropic substances in its legal framework.
Yemen also engages in technical efforts to address the problem. Training courses are being organized for personnel working in related areas. These courses are held both inside and outside the country. Such efforts reflect Yemen's interest in combating the problem. The Assembly's special session is a point of departure for the international community. All States should join ranks and support those that lack the technical and material means for the struggle. There is need for a single united front against the criminal gangs lacking in human values and responsible for the scourge of drugs.
MAURICE RANDRIANAME, Director-General in charge of the Inter-Ministerial Campaign against Drugs, Madagascar: International cooperation, based on partnership and active solidarity, could put an end to the scourge of drugs. The special session should provide fresh momentum which hopefully will translate words into concrete action at national and international levels, particularly in the fields of money-laundering and corruption. The distinction between drug producers and drug consumers no longer existed; both were equally affected by the same problems. All States must accede to the relevant legal instruments, which provide a valid structure that is necessary for successful efforts to combat the world drug problem.
In Madagascar, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations have undertaken anti-drug activities, with the cooperation of regional organizations. The Government has also brought national legislation in line with the various anti-drug international Conventions. In December 1997, the Government, with the legal assistance of the UNDCP, promulgated a law on the control of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors. That was necessary to stem the flow of drugs, beside cannabis, that are starting to stream into Madagascar.
Recently, Madagascar has begun the preparation of a national plan based mainly on demand reduction in order to identify drug abuse trends and the best
General Assembly Plenary - 5 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
target groups for prevention programmes. One major concern of the Government is poverty eradication. Under dire circumstances, a poor man can be prompted to commit criminal acts. The national anti-drug plan of Madagascar will stress a programme of substituting illicit crops with viable and profitable crops. That programme requires a considerable mobilization of human and financial resources to ensure that the new crops are channelled to the market, which will require road construction and other transportation projects.
BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia): Many countries have been used as transit points by drug traffickers in their extensive networks. The Gambia was no exception, but with the advent of the new Government in 1994 and its immediate declaration of a war on drugs, the problem has been drastically reduced. The National Drug Squad stepped up its activities, despite a lack of resources. Hopefully, with the momentum generated by the special session, the Gambia will be able to count on the assistance and cooperation of other countries to help with logistics, including training and material support.
A national drug control programme has also been established to control drug trafficking and to strengthen the institutions associated with the treatment of drug addicts. An integral part of that programme is the drug control laboratory, set up with the active support of the UNDCP, where samples of seizures are analysed. The laboratory was set up primarily for the quality control of pharmaceuticals, but due to an acute shortage of resources, "we are compelled to try and kill two birds with one stone".
PERCY METSING MANGOAELA (Lesotho): The efforts of the international community to combat the escalating problem of drug abuse are being undermined by the production of new drugs. Drug trafficking continues to pose a threat to the health and welfare of peoples, and adversely affects the economic, cultural and political foundations of societies. Profits made from illicit trafficking are being used to destabilize governments, corrupt officials and influence government decisions. As a party to the existing treaties on drug control, the Government of Lesotho wishes to renew its commitment to give effect to the provisions of those Conventions and to reaffirm its commitment to achieving concrete results.
The age of initiation into drug abuse is falling almost every year. The participation of all nations, communities and families is essential if we are to successfully protect our children and win the fight against drugs. The extended family system, which occupies a central position in African societies, is rapidly disintegrating due to factors such as poverty, drought, civil war and conflict. The erosion of the African family structure has lead to the drift towards drug abuse, especially among children and young people. Of equal concern is the link between illicit traffic in drugs and organized crime. Economic crime is increasing in Lesotho, involving senior officials in the civil service and other government institutions. The Government of Lesotho has also realized that
General Assembly Plenary - 6 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
its control strategies cannot succeed without legislation against money- laundering, and is thus in the process of enacting such legislation.
WILLIAM BULL (Liberia): It is regrettable that over the years appeals for international action against drugs have not received the support they deserved. However, the current special session reflects a growing awareness of the complexity of the problem and the need for global action, which is having a detrimental impact on millions of lives in this one world. A comprehensive approach must address both demand and supply, as well as the impact on socio-economic development and infrastructures of countries, particularly those in the developing world. In Africa, the problem of drug abuse must be addressed to prevent scarce resources from being diverted from socio-economic development to law enforcement. In view of this necessity, various forums have been concerting their efforts aimed at drug control. The 1996 plan of action of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) established guidelines to ensure coherence in drug control at national, subregional and regional levels. Many States have entered into bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements aimed at drug control.
In Liberia, where seven years of war was only ended with the holding of democratic elections last July, the incidence of drug abuse had reached alarming proportions. Many efforts have been made to redress the situation, including the development of a two-year recovery plan aimed at increasing anti-drug awareness. A strategy for rehabilitating ex-combatants who are addicts has been designed, while the Ministry of Education includes anti-drug courses in the curriculum of all students from primary through high school. Despite these modest efforts, however, only concerted international action can reverse the trend. Adequate support must be given to the UNDCP and to countries, such as Liberia, which lack the resources to fully implement national programmes to combat the drug problem.
VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic): Political will is the prerequisite for effective action against drugs, at both domestic and international levels. In February, the Czech Republic adopted a new anti-drug strategy for 1998- 2000, consisting of a balanced approach to reduce demand and supply through efforts at the central and community levels. Responsibility is delegated to district anti-drug coordinators. Experience shows that involving the local community in drug control projects is a vital ingredient in their success. In recent years, the Czech Republic has introduced legislation consistent with the relevant United Nations Conventions and laws of the European Union. Among these are laws against money-laundering and the illegal use of precursor chemicals. In other efforts, the Government's cooperation on regional and sub-regional levels is being strengthened. In this context, the role of the UNDCP is greatly appreciated, as the main coordinating body for the world community to implement its far-reaching goals.
General Assembly Plenary - 7 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
One does not need a degree in economics to see that drugs are an economic problem. It is alarming that the international drug trade now accounts for about 8 per cent of world trade, and that the AIDS epidemic among addicts has become a major public health issue that will have ruinous effects on national budgets. Some say the chronic problem of drugs is due to the new social context or the biological and psychological inclinations of the addict. However, with a realistic and balanced approach, there is hope that the problem will be brought under control. Sustained international cooperation is necessary, since no country can overcome the problem alone. The current session offers the international community the chance to reaffirm its determination to honour international drug control commitments, and to take at least a small step towards solving the problem.
MOHAMMED AL-SAMEEN (Oman): The drug scourge affects all peoples and is a catastrophe for society. It inflicts damage on the development strategies of countries and threatens international peace and security. International cooperation is necessary to face the threat of illicit drug trafficking. States must coordinate actions in order to achieve tangible results aimed at the elimination of the world drug problem in all its dimensions. International Conventions have contributed to promoting efforts to fight the drug problem. All Member States must implement those Conventions and promote them through national mechanisms.
Oman is firmly committed to joint cooperation to eliminate drug trafficking because it is fully aware of the danger of drugs and their negative impact on health and prosperity throughout the world. Oman has worked to promulgate strict laws to address drug abuse and to prevent it from getting worse. The Government has established a specialized agency to fight the drug problem, carry out training and promote the results of scientific research and studies aimed at fighting the problem.
Oman stresses the importance of participation and shared responsibility, the application of which should respect national sovereignty and integrity. The measures recommended by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the principle of shared responsibility, and the proposed legal framework to coordinate national efforts will only be successful when actions are made to reduce the supply and demand of drugs in all countries.
RUTH DREIFUSS, Federal Councillor and Vice-President of Switzerland: The Swiss Government has adopted a pragmatic and coherent policy to reduce drug addiction and its consequences. That policy is comprised of four elements -- prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. Preventive measures required a long-term commitment to the youth, as they were increasingly confronted with illicit drugs. Prevention activities should take place in all societal structures, including the family and schools.
General Assembly Plenary - 8 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
The area of treatment and social rehabilitation is essential in offering a wide spectrum of care. It is in an attempt to find new options for the treatment of drug addicts that Switzerland undertook in 1994 scientific research studies with the medical prescription of narcotics of severely dependent individuals. Those studies were a small component of treatment measures. The prescription of heroin, morphine and intravenous methadone is only one of the elements of an extended medical and social care. The results of the scientific studies indicate that the medical prescription of narcotics allows governments to reach severely dependent drug addicts who have tried all other forms of treatment without success. Their state of health, as well as their social situation, has improved.
Harm-reduction measures for drug-dependent persons during the active phase of their addiction are undertaken to prevent their physical or psychological deterioration. Needle-exchange programmes are meant to prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus and hepatitis. Swiss law enforcement measures are aimed against the illicit production, sale and consumption of drugs, as well as against the laundering of drug-related money. The Government has also increased its efforts to control psychotropic substances and precursors.
Archbishop JAVIER LOZANO BARRAGAN, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Holy See: The lack of a clear convincing motivation in life and the absence of values are two of the biggest causes for drug abuse in adults and youth. Economic ambition also takes possession of many people and turns them into drug traffickers. That ambition is associated with major economic and political interests. Drug abuse is totally incompatible with Christian morality, and drug traffickers are merchants of death. Drugs are an evil and concession should not be made to evils. Experience has shown that liberalization is not a solution, but a surrender. In addition, drawing a distinction between heavy and light drugs only leads into the blind alley of drug addiction. Prevention, control and recovery are needed to combat the scourge of drugs
Prevention is necessary to restore the values of love and life, which are the only values able to give meaning to human existence. Control is necessary, but insufficient by itself. The drug trade must be combated by a solid front in order to eliminate the components of social and moral disintegration. An effective check must be placed upon the market of addictive substances. In addition, the instruments and mechanisms used by the market must be identified in order to dismantle it. The Holy See invites civil authorities to intensify their efforts to perfect legislation at all levels against drug addiction, and to oppose all forms of the drug culture and drug trafficking.
General Assembly Plenary - 9 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
Regarding recovery, States must understand the inner world of those who take drugs in order to help them and bring about the re-emergence and growth of their personal capacities. Governments must detect in their youths a cry for help. That plea must be taken into account so the world will radically modify its values and lifestyles. The people who overcome drugs should represent a hope that victory is possible. The international community must commit its energies and goodwill towards that victory.
MANUEL MARIN, Vice-President of the European Commission, European Community: The problems of drug production and consumption can only be solved by reducing economic and social marginalization. As such, they must be addressed as part of the social and economic dimension of sustainable development. Furthermore, the best hope for stopping the cultivation of drug crops is by helping to ensure viable livelihoods for rural communities in developing countries that often lack other economic alternatives.
The European Community's strategy is embodied in a number of initiatives and approaches. Firstly, the Community is putting its house in order through growth and employment-generating opportunities; through its fight against social exclusion; through the prevention of drug dependence; and through its global action plan against drugs. That plan allows the Community to react quickly to new trends in drug production and consumption. Secondly, in its external action, the Community is a firm supporter of both regional and multilateral approaches and supports United Nations institutions, particularly the UNDCP. Thirdly, political dialogue and other external policies help strengthen the Community's fight against drugs. That dialogue is particularly important in relation to Central and Eastern Europe -- both a producing and transit region. Dialogue with Central America and the Andean countries has resulted in the establishment of a special drug regime and encourages those economies to diversify away from drug cultivation. The European Community also supports alternative development efforts. In its dialogue with Asian, African and Caribbean countries, growing attention has been given to drugs. In the Caribbean, the action plan will strengthen the fight against money-laundering and maritime cooperation, which is essential for reduction in drug trafficking.
RAYMOND E. KENDALL, Secretary-General of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol): The main objective of Interpol is to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities. The organization has played a leading role -- and has invested the greater part of its resources -- in the fight against drug trafficking. During the last 10 years, it has spent $20 million to ensure that its 177 member countries have the communication services necessary to conduct investigations outside their normal jurisdiction and across borders. Consequently, law enforcement services are able to instantly transmit photographs and fingerprints in order to identify suspects and criminals operating internationally.
General Assembly Plenary - 10 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
Intelligence is another requirement for successful transnational organized crime investigations. Interpol conducted a intelligence operation that unmasked a major trafficking organization that operated in virtually every region of the world. Many of its members were also arrested. In its efforts to provide an appropriate response to the drug problem, Interpol has always cooperated closely with other international and regional organizations.
The world drug problem also needs to be addressed in social, medical and educational terms. While opposed to any type of legalization of drugs which would confer the status of legitimacy to illicit drugs, Interpol does support the notion of removing the abuse of drugs from the penal realm. Instead, the organization favours other forms of regulation, such as psycho-medical-social treatment. That kind of multifaceted approach is likely to wean the drug users from crime, disease and misery. It will also ensure the better deployment of scarce resources and give law enforcement authorities a reasonable chance to deal with the drug barons and their illicit activities.
MOKHTAR LAMANI, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC): Member States unity in the current special session is welcome, as it indicates the importance that the international community places on addressing the problems stemming from illicit drugs. The development of modern techniques and the globalization of the world economy render the control of drugs beyond the capacity of one country. The United Nations and regional organizations play an important role in bringing about concerted action.
The OIC favours an international approach. Financial institutions should take bolder action to address the problem of drugs, while countries with large drug-consuming populations should make greater efforts to assist countries in the South. The OIC will spare no effort to participate in measures to address the problem, such as the development of technical assistance programmes. Drug abuse and illegal trafficking encourage the rise of crime, violence and corruption, and drain human and financial resources that could otherwise be used for development. Drugs have spread to countries that lack the means to combat it, making these countries more susceptible to the problem. On the eve of the twenty-first century, the international community must give shape to its determination to combat drugs.
AHMED AL-SALEM, Secretary-General of the Arab Interior Ministers' Council, speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States: The Council of Arab Ministers of Interior was established in 1982 as a regional security body, with all 22 Arab countries as members. Its objective is to develop and coordinate actions in the field of internal security and crime control. The Council has developed strategies and programmes, including an Arab Strategy for Illicit Use of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, adopted in 1986, through which its members established specialized drug control units, while voluntary associations were created to increase awareness of the harmful effects of drugs.
General Assembly Plenary - 11 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
Local and national efforts must be accompanied by policies and actions at the regional and international levels. Arab States have implemented a number of measures in this regard, including bilateral and multilateral agreements, as well as the accession of 18 Arab countries to the three anti- drug Conventions. Arabs and Muslims stand firmly against crime in all its forms; Islamic principles reject corruption and ill behaviour. The international community should cooperate and coordinate to advance together.
CHRISTOPHER J. BAKWESEGHA, Organization of African Unity (OAU): To remain effective in the struggle against the drug menace, the international community must pool together. Existing drug mechanisms must be strengthened and dovetailed into international drug control strategies. Cooperation and participation offer the best prospects for the eradication of the drug menace and due regard must be given to the new and emerging patterns of cooperation at subregional level and at the level of civil society.
The African Plan of Action on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Control, adopted in 1996, addresses the issues of demand reduction; suppression of illicit drugs; international, bilateral and multilateral cooperation; as well as community mobilization. It also highlights the role of regional economic communities and the OAU in monitoring international drug treaties. It further provides a framework for a coordinated, comprehensive and concerted international approach to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Africa and helps to raise the commitment of governments to identify priority action for drug eradication and related problems. The African common position which was formulated during the African experts group meeting underscores the multifaceted drug problems of the continent and makes recommendations which should be implemented within the African context. The Assembly is urged to consider those issues which are peculiar to Africa or which affect it more than other continents. As African States establish national drug control administrations for coordinating, monitoring and controlling drug activities, the international community and, in particular the UNDCP, are called upon to assist those administrations in devising drug control programmes and in providing technical assistance for their implementation. Also, the OAU Secretary-General, Salim Ahmed Salim, has accepted the invitation to be a member of the "committee of wise men" established by the United Nations Secretary-General, in his endeavour to eliminate the drug scourge.
PINO ARLACCHI, UNDCP Executive Director, delivering a statement on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the end of the session marked the start of a new chapter in global drug control. "We have sent the world a message of hope this week. The decades of nations pointing fingers at each other are finished."
General Assembly Plenary - 12 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
He said the international community was not starting a new "war on drugs". Instead, the better analogy for the international community was that of a doctor facing a deadly disease. Drugs killed people. And it was the responsibility of the international community to help find the cure. With the adoption of the Political Declaration and the Action Plans, further steps forward towards a drug-free world had been taken.
Stressing that "the real work begins tomorrow", he said the international community must meet the deadlines of 2003 and 2008 to eliminate or significantly reduce the consumption and production of all illegal drugs. "And we must foil the money launderer and the drug trafficker at every turn."
The work accomplished by the session could not simply be left on a piece of paper, he said. There was always more that could be done. That meant continuing to listen carefully to those who provided constructive criticism on how a drug-free world could be created. "The responsibility to keep moving forward now relies upon your commitment to take full ownership of these plans and your desire for concrete results. Pledges must turn into implementation, actions and results. The eyes of the world are upon us; this is not the time to sit on the sidelines. We intend to fully succeed, we will never give up."
The drug control issue had now been raised to the top of the world's agenda, he said. That meant building on the political momentum while constantly remembering the framework of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty as embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. At the international level, the UNDCP would continue to be there every step of the way, assisting governments and non-governmental actors in meeting goals and working towards a more civil society.
"Let us all go forward with resolve that the commitment we have made to work towards a drug-free world will be met with actions and the resources needed to ensure real and measurable results. Together, we can meet this challenge. Now -- let's get to work", he concluded.
HENNADIY UDOVENKO (Ukraine), President of the twentieth special session, said the session's spirit of togetherness had been set from the very beginning and, as a direct result, the preparatory process had 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 had also demonstrated the unswerving commitment of Member States to the task of eradicating the peril of narcotic drugs from the face of the earth, he said. The strong political showing of world political leaders was bound to give an impetus to international drug control efforts. The presence at the session of senior government officials
General Assembly Plenary - 13 - Press Release GA/9422 Twentieth Special Session 10 June 1998 9th Meeting (Night)
directly involved in the fight against drugs had benefited greatly the work of the session. A total of 158 speakers had taken part in the general debate, including 23 heads of State, eight prime ministers, one vice-president, as well as seven observers. 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.
The past three days had provided 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, he said. Many speakers underscored the need for a more coordinated approach among various United Nations bodies to address the drug problem effectively. They had given full backing to the strategy pursued by the UNDCP, which was based on a balanced and multi- disciplinary approach with an increased focus on demand reduction.
Noting that the word "globalization" had been mentioned numerous times during the general debate, he said that if anything, the success of the twentieth special session reflected the growing realization throughout the planet that "we are all indeed in the same boat". That had 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 just adopted represented 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 signified a global consensus on the shared responsibility of all countries for the successful outcome of the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, spelling out the obligations for all groups of countries, setting clear target dates to take action in agreed-upon areas.
The special session had adopted a well-designed strategy and a package of measures and goals to be achieved within precise time-frames, he continued, adding that they were three agenda-setting political documents that enjoyed 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", he concluded.
* *** *