Secretary-General's Message for 2019

The world drug problem is one of the most challenging issues we face. It has wide-ranging impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as on the security and sustainable development of nations.

Therefore, preventing and addressing drug challenges in all their complexity is essential to delivering on a fundamental global pledge, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind.

National priorities may differ, but the international community shares a common goal to protect people’s security and well-being, while striving for the progress and dignity of all. I welcome the theme of this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – “health for justice, justice for health” – underlining the importance of a holistic approach involving health, human rights, criminal justice and social service institutions.

This comprehensive response guided the drug policy launched by my government when I was Prime Minister of Portugal two decades ago.

Earlier this year, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Member States committed to “working together for rights- and health-based responses to drugs so that people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity”.

I call on all governments to live up to this pledge. This means cracking down on drug trafficking and those who profit from human misery, including by enhanced international cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the entire drug supply chain. It also means human rights-based, gender- and age-sensitive prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug use and HIV, offered without stigma or discrimination. It also means law enforcement approaches that protect people from violence and criminal exploitation.

Families, schools and communities play a crucial role, especially in supporting youth who may be affected by drug abuse with terrible and long-lasting consequences. Let us work with and for young people to prevent drug use and help young people lead healthier lives and navigate life choices with strength and resilience.

On this International Day, let us show our commitment to fulfilling our promise to ensure health and justice for all.

António Guterres