10 June 1998


10 June 1998

Press Release


19980610 Adopts Political Declaration, Guiding Principles on Demand Reduction, Measures to Enhance International Cooperation to Counter World Drug Problem

Targeted commitments to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, the manufacture of psychotropic substances and the diversion of precursors were adopted this evening by Member States as they pledged themselves to drastically reduce the demand for and supply of illicit drugs by the year 2008.

That action was taken at the conclusion of the General Assembly's twentieth special session on countering the world drug problem together, as it adopted, without a vote, a Political Declaration, a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction and a resolution on measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem -- the first ever international agreements aimed solely at examining individual and collective problems arising from drug abuse.

In a closing statement, delivered on his behalf by Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the end of the session marked the start of a new chapter in global drug control. "We are not starting a new 'War on Drugs'. In fact, there never was one. Instead, the better analogy for the international community is that of a doctor facing a deadly disease. Drugs -- quite simply -- kill people. And it is our responsibility to help find the cure. With the adoption of the Political Declaration and the Action Plans, we took further steps forward towards a drug-free world."

In his closing statement, the President of the special session, Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), said the meeting had adopted a well-designed strategy and a package of measures and goals to be achieved within precise time-frames. There were now 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 the international community 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."

In addition to reducing supply and demand, the Political Declaration calls on Member States to take a number of actions to control the world drug problem. By the year 2003, Member States were asked to:

-- establish new or enhanced drug reduction strategies and programmes;

-- establish or strengthen national legislation and programmes to combat the illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and their precursors;

-- adopt national money-laundering legislation and programmes; and

-- strengthen multilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation among judicial and law enforcement authorities to deal with criminal organizations involved in drug-related crimes.

By the year 2008, Members States committed themselves to:

-- eliminate or significantly reduce the manufacture, marketing and trafficking of psychotropic substances and the diversion of precursors;

-- achieve significant and measurable results in demand reduction; and

-- achieve significant and measurable results in the reduction of illicit cultivation of the coca bush, cannabis plant and the opium poppy.

The Declaration on Guiding Principles contains standards to assist governments to establish drug demand reduction programmes by the target date. It also contains standards to guide governments to set up effective prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes and calls for the provision of adequate resources for such programmes.

By a five-part resolution, the Assembly urged Member States to adopt measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem. Those include action plans to combat ATS and their precursors, and to promote 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.

Also by the resolution, Member States expressed their resolve that the commitments made would be met by practical action and the resources needed to ensure real and measurable results. The international community and the

- 3 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

relevant United Nations organizations, in particular the UNDCP, should provide drug-producing countries with financial and technical assistance for alternative development. Agencies of the United Nations system and relevant financial institutions should support rural development for regions and populations affected by illicit crop cultivation. International financial institutions and regional development banks also should be encouraged to provide financial assistance for alternative development programmes.

The Assembly took note of a joint statement to the special session by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), made up of executive heads of agencies and programmes of the United Nations system. In the statement, transmitted by the Secretary-General in a note (document A/S-20/3), the executive heads encouraged the inclusion of alternative development measures in United Nations system programmes to promote sustainable development. The ACC also reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate closely with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme.

The Assembly also took note of the report of the expert group convened to review and strengthen the United Nations machinery for international drug control (document A/S-20/2). The 13-member expert group stressed that the effectiveness of the UNDCP should be enhanced through institutional changes and improvements in its funding arrangements. It also assessed the operations and functioning of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the main policy-making body for international drug control matters. The expert group, convened by the Secretary-General, will hold two more sessions -- later this month in Vienna and in New York next November -- before submitting its final report in 1999.

The special session, also known as the "Drug Summit", was convened to assess the international drug problem and develop a forward-looking strategy for the next century, based on a balanced approach between demand and supply reduction. The Assembly approached the world drug problem by focusing on the following crucial issues: elimination of illicit crops and alternative development; amphetamine-type stimulants; precursor chemicals; money-laundering; and judicial cooperation.

A high-level debate on the world drug problem was held in plenary. Simultaneously, an Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole met to finalize negotiations on the texts, which were then submitted to the Assembly for adoption. 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.

The Ad Hoc Committee, in addition to approving the session's final documents, reviewed adherence to and implementation of international drug control treaties and the international drug control regime. It also heard

- 4 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

statements from representatives of United Nations programmes and agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Among the several events held parallel to the session were a panel discussion on drugs and money-laundering moderated by Mr. Arlacchi, and a round table on children, youth and drug abuse organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UNDCP.

The convening of a special session of the General Assembly to confront the world drug problem was suggested in resolution 1996/17 adopted by the Economic and Social Council in 1996. The theme proposed was international cooperation against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotics and psychotropic substance. At its fifty-first session, the Assembly decided to convene the session for three days in June 1998 (resolution 51/64). It also determined that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs should be the central intergovernmental forum for the preparations for the special session. That process was carried out during the Commission's second preparatory session, held in Vienna from 16 to 21 March. It resulted in the draft final outcome that was then submitted to the special session to be finalized.

A summary of the special session's general debate and of the documents adopted follows.

General Debate

At the opening of the session, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on all nations to say "yes" to the challenge of working towards a drug-free world. Young people needed their leaders to take action together to counter the production, trafficking and abuse of illegal drugs. The growing trend of abuse and production of psychotropic substances must be reversed, and special attention devoted to the rising tide of illegal synthetic drugs and their precursors.

Many speakers said the fight against drug trafficking required a balanced strategy. Global action in the fight against drugs should be based on joint responsibility, comprehensiveness and multilateralism. The international community should accept that the drug market has both supply and demand, and that only by addressing all those aspects will real solutions be found. Demand reduction should be seen as a public health issue, as well as a problem of social behaviour and values, which must be faced with medical, educational, training and cultural programmes. The President of Colombia called for a world fund for the fight against drugs to be created with some of the money obtained from seizures of property acquired with criminal profits.

- 5 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

International cooperation was necessary to combat drug-trafficking, many speakers said. The highest human, social and institutional costs involved in meeting such demand for drugs is paid by transit countries, whose men and women are the first to die combating drug trafficking. The borders of many transit countries are vulnerable, and those States require financial and technical assistance to deny access to heavily armed traffickers. Alternative development programmes should incorporate provisions that address the situation of small-scale farmers, carriers and fishermen in transit countries. Those people are led by poverty, and the lack of adequate alternatives resulted in their joining the traffic in illicit drugs.

Several speakers condemned the use of unilateral measures which offend the individual sovereignty of a State. No country should judge others, and no country should feel entitled to violate another's laws for the sake of enforcing its own. All measures taken by States should be based on a common and shared responsibility, which demands a global and balanced approach in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.

Speakers also criticized the policy of unilateral "certification", by which nations, according to the results of an assessment of their anti-drug efforts made by certain countries, lose trade privileges or face other economic and political sanctions. Using certification procedures counters the concepts of cooperation, multilateralism and respect for the sovereignty and independence of States, it was stressed, as the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the only organ in charge of international control and evaluation.

The linkage between arms and drugs has resulted in an escalation of violence and violent crime that will continue to undermine international peace and security, several speakers told the Assembly. States that produce arms were called on to exercise the same degree of control over arms that small countries were called on to exercise over the production, cultivation and export of illicit drug crops. Some political forces used weapons bought with drug money to destabilize ruling governments, it was noted. International measures should prohibit and sanction the banking institutions involved in drug money-laundering, speakers stated.

Moreover, money-laundering also threatens the security of financial systems, many speakers pointed out. It also threatens the international trading system and provides vast financial resources to international drug cartels. The money-laundering provisions in the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances should be implemented and the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention should provide training, advice and technical assistance.

- 6 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

The global drug situation has been exacerbated by the recent changes in the world economic system, many speakers said. Globalization, the liberalization of international markets and the suppression of borders have allowed the drug trade to flourish. The development of satellite communications and other technical advancements have endowed trafficking networks with new and efficient working tools to adapt, and better exploit, the world economic system.

Several speakers from developing countries noted that the world drug problem would continue until some of the billions of dollars spent in the fight against drugs were devoted to poverty alleviation, human development, education and health care. The prerequisites for combating the drug problem were overwhelming and exceeded the capability of most developing countries, many of which were grappling with the consequences of poverty. Given market access, stable prices for crops and fair trade, most of the millions of people involved in producing, trafficking and consuming would choose alternative lifestyles.

The consumer base for drugs is spreading to children, women and young people, several speakers stated. The problem of drugs is the result of the failure to address the spiritual dimension of development. Rather than sweeping governmental programmes, the solution lies in decentralized community action. A renaissance of moral and ethical values and the revitalization of family structures would help to reduce the addiction, diseases and violence associated with drugs. Sports, education and the promotion of self-esteem and a sense of belonging can help young people resist peer pressure to try drugs.

A 43-year-old recovering addict with HIV told the Ad Hoc Committee that the desire for a drug-free world was unrealistic and the criminalization of drug use was counter-productive. Criminalization caused higher prices, leading users into opportunistic crime to pay for their habits. It was time to reconsider the repressive drug policy paradigm which had been the norm for decades all over the world. Some of the most useful strategies in combating addictive drug use had been designed by drug users themselves.

A representative of Project Outreach decried the marginalization of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the war on drugs, as those organizations were the ears, eyes and heart of the thrust towards national solutions, and had led the way in demand reduction work through community programmes. Governments should also alter their policies to allow them to deal directly with NGOs, which had established themselves as unquestionably serious and committed to the resolution of such issues.

- 7 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

Texts Adopted

By the Political Declaration, Member States committed themselves to achieving significant and measurable results in demand reduction by the year 2008. They also committed themselves to establishing the year 2003 as a target date for new or enhanced drug demand-reduction strategies and programmes set up in collaboration with public health, social welfare and law enforcement authorities. In addition, they decided to give attention to demand reduction by working with youth through education, information activities and other preventive measures.

Member States also called for the establishment or strengthening by the year 2003 of national legislation and programmes, giving effect to the Action Plan against illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse of ATS and their precursors, adopted at the special session. They further decided to establish the year 2008 as a target date for States to eliminate or significantly reduce the illicit manufacture, marketing and trafficking of psychotropic substances, including synthetic drugs, and the diversion of precursors.

In addition, the Declaration recommended that States that have not yet done so adopt by the year 2003 national money-laundering legislation and programmes in accordance with relevant provisions of the 1988 Convention. They also committed themselves to working closely with the UNDCP to develop strategies in order to eliminate or significantly reduce the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008. Member States were encouraged to review and strengthen by the year 2003 the implementation of multilateral, regional, subregional and bilateral cooperation among judicial and law enforcement authorities to deal with criminal organizations involved in drug offences and related crimes.

States which have not already done so were called upon to become a party to and fully implement the three international drug control conventions. They also reaffirmed their support for the United Nations and its drug-control organs, especially the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and resolved to strengthen the functioning and governance of those organs.

The Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction contains four sections: the challenge, the commitment, the guiding principles and call for action. An appendix to the Declaration includes supplementary reference material for governments considering national drug control strategies.

By the Declaration, Member States pledged a sustained commitment to investing in demand reduction programmes that would contribute towards reducing public health problems, improving individual health and well-being, promoting social and economic integration, reinforcing family systems and

- 8 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

making communities safer. They agreed to promote interregional and international cooperation to control supply and reduce demand. Member States pledged to adopt the demand reduction measures provided for in the 1988 Convention.

The text states that demand reduction programmes should be based on a regular assessment of the nature and magnitude of drug use and abuse and drug-related problems in the population. Demand reduction efforts should be integrated into broader social welfare and health promotion policies and preventive education programmes. Such reduction programmes should also address the needs of the population in general, as well as those of specific population groups, with special attention paid to youth. Programmes should be accessible to those groups most at risk, taking into account differences in gender, culture and education. Member States should develop within the criminal justice system capacities for assisting drug abusers with education, treatment and rehabilitation services.

The resolution on measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem contain an Action Plan against illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse of ATS and their precursors (Part A); measures to control precursors (Part B); measures to promote judicial cooperation (Part C); a text on countering money-laundering (Part D); and an Action Plan on international cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops and on alternative development (Part E).

The Action Plan concerning ATS contains the following five sections: raising awareness of the problem of ATS; reducing demand; providing accurate information; limiting the supply; and strengthening the control system for ATS and their precursors.

The plan calls for a number of actions to ensure that the international community gives higher priority to combating the problem, including making it a regular item on the agenda of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. In addition to efforts by States, the mobilization of the private sector and NGOs should be sought in achieving awareness of the problem of ATS. States are also asked to take a number of steps relating to the social, economic, health and cultural dimensions of abuse of ATS.

The text advocates the positive use of information technology, such as the Internet, for educational and training purposes. States should use technology to disseminate information on adverse health, social and economic consequences of abuse of ATS. The principal supply control strategies are to target trafficking, stop illicit manufacture and prevent diversion of laboratory equipment and precursor chemicals. The close cooperation of industry was required in preventing the diversion of ATS from legal international trade into illicit channels.

- 9 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

Part B of the resolution -- addressing the control of precursors -- contains the following three sections: measures to prevent the illicit manufacture, import, export, trafficking and distribution of precursors used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances; towards more universal international cooperation in precursor control; and substitute chemicals.

States should establish a legislative basis that allows them to monitor the movement of precursors, the text states. In order to establish effective control systems, States need to identify national authorities and their specific roles and to share that information with other States. States, in cooperation with international and regional bodies and the private sector, should also improve their mechanisms and procedures for monitoring trade in precursors. More uniform action is required by all States to limit the availability to traffickers of the precursors required for illicit drug manufacture and to ensure that diversion attempts are identified. States should also apply monitoring measures, in cooperation with the chemical industry, to prevent the diversion from licit channels to illicit traffic of substances included on the special surveillance list.

Part C of the document -- addressing the measures to promote judicial cooperation -- recommends that States take action in the following seven areas: extradition; mutual legal assistance; transfer of proceedings; other forms of cooperation and training; controlled delivery; illicit traffic by sea; and complementary measures.

States are asked to simplify procedures for extradition in domestic legislation and considering extradition of their nationals for serious drug offences. The document recommends that States designate an authority to make and to execute requests for mutual legal assistance. States are also asked to consider entering into agreements with other States that have similar legal systems to transfer or receive proceedings in criminal matters and to develop or expand programmes for the exchange of law enforcement personnel. In addition, the text recommends that States ensure that their legislation, procedures and practices allow for the use of the technique of controlled delivery at both the domestic and international levels.

By Part D, on countering money-laundering, the Assembly urged all States to implement the provisions against money-laundering contained in the 1988 Convention and the other relevant international instruments. In that context, States were urged to establish a legislative framework to criminalize the laundering of money in order to provide for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of that crime. States were also urged to establish a financial and regulatory regime to deny criminals access to national and international financial systems.

- 10 - Press Release GA/9423 10 June 1998

The Action Plan on international cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops and on alternative development, Part E, contains the following six sections: the need for a balanced approach to confront high levels of illicit cultivation; strengthening of international cooperation for alternative development; improved and innovative approaches to alternative development; enhancing monitoring, evaluation and information-sharing; the need for law enforcement in controlling illicit crops; and follow-up.

The plan advises States in which illicit cultivation of drug crops exists to develop national strategies for the reduction and elimination of illicit crops, including measurable goals and objectives. States should also implement national plans for alternative development, creating institutions and a suitable legal, economic and social framework. States should cooperate to avoid displacement of illicit cultivation from one area, region or country to another. States with problems of illicit drug crop cultivation are also asked to ensure that alternative development programmes are complemented by law enforcement measures.

The international community and the United Nations system, in particular the UNDCP, should provide financial and technical assistance for alternative development. The United Nations system and financial institutions should also cooperate in supporting rural development for regions and populations affected by illicit crop cultivation.

Special Session Officers

The President of the special session was Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), who is President of the Assembly's fifty-second session. The following were Vice-Presidents: China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guinea, Ireland, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Panama, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Viet Nam.

Alvaro de Mendonca e Moura (Portugal) was elected Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. Alberto Scavarelli (Uruguay), N.J. Mxakato-Diseko (South Africa), Daniela Rozgonova (Slovakia) and N.K. Singh (India) were elected Vice-Chairmen. Mr. Singh also served as Rapporteur.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.