|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Deputy Secretary-General, at Launch of ‘World Drug Report 2013’, Urges New
Approaches in Seeking Interconnected, Multidisciplinary Solutions
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks as prepared for delivery at the launch of the World Drug Report 2013, in Vienna on 26 June:
I am pleased to be here on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and for the launch of the World Drug Report 2013.
Let me also recall that today marks the anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1946. The United Nations Charter laid down the foundation for our determination in the post-war period to establish peace and security, protect human rights and promote economic and social progress. As the 2005 World Summit clearly articulated, these three fundamental pillars are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
There is no peace without development; no development without peace; and neither without respect for human rights and the rule of law. Illicit drugs and the criminal networks that traffic them hinder progress across all three pillars of our work. They promote violence and insecurity. They threaten human rights. And they have a devastating impact on economic and social well-being, especially that of the poor, women and the young.
Criminal markets span the planet and constantly adapt to changing circumstances. As the “World Drug Report 2013” makes clear, while heroin and cocaine use is declining in some areas, other threats are emerging. These include the abuse of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances.
Every country knows the menace of illicit drugs ‑ whether as a point of origin, transit, or destination. The billions of dollars generated each year by drug trafficking breed systemic corruption. They undermine legitimate economic activity, the rule of law and the political process.
In Latin America, the cocaine market is expanding and is spreading to the emerging economies in Asia. In these regions, and in Africa, criminal networks are fuelling violence, conflict and terrorism. Between 2004 and 2011, the average homicide rate in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras was more than double the rate of deaths from post-conflict violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan.
Africa ‑ especially West Africa ‑ is an increasingly worrying target for the trafficking and production of illicit drugs. In Guinea-Bissau, organized crime is undermining respect for the rule of law, impeding economic and social development and threatening to subvert democratization.
There are no easy solutions. Tackling organized crime and the illicit drugs trade is a shared responsibility. It will require long-term commitment from Governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. We must combine our efforts, guided by the three international drug control conventions, as well as those related to transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism. Together, the United Nations drug control conventions form the basis of an effective, fair and humane criminal justice response, implemented within the framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Solutions to the world drug problem must be interconnected and multidisciplinary. The West Africa Coast Initiative highlights a possible approach. This joint United Nations programme is working in the region to establish national inter-agency transnational crime units to gather and analyse information and to support investigations. We are also developing integrated approaches that bring together our expertise and experience across the areas of development, security, governance, the rule of law and human rights.
Seeing drug use also as a health issue is pivotal to our overall strategy. Public health measures deserve a strong focus. We must also continue to focus on reducing HIV transmission from unsafe injection practices. Prevention and treatment are vital, as well as awareness-raising among youth and children.
In some regions, not least Latin America, there is an active debate on the consideration of new approaches. There are calls for strategies that encompass a wider range of options, including a greater focus on public health, the well-being of users and the demand side of the drug problem. We should be prepared for an open, transparent and forward-looking debate on these issues.
Recognizing the evolving threat of illicit drugs trafficking, the international community has created a platform to discuss the different aspects of the problem. In 2014, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will conduct a high-level review of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem. This will be followed, in 2016, by a very important United Nations General Assembly special session on the issue.
I urge Member States to seize these opportunities to exchange ideas and lessons on what has and has not worked in the fight against drugs and crime, and pursue an open and comprehensive debate.
Drug trafficking and organized crime are giant obstacles to security, social well-being, economic development and a life in dignity for millions and millions of people around the world. As we work to shape a global agenda for peace, development and human rights, let us address these drug and crime threats coherently and effectively for the benefit of all.
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