23 October 1996


23 October 1996

Press Release


19961023 States would pledge to combat cross-border crimes, including terrorism and trafficking in drugs and arms, when the draft United Nations Declaration on Crime and Public Security went into effect, the representative of Poland said this afternoon. He was addressing the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), as it concluded its general debate on crime, criminal justice, the elaboration of an international convention against organized transnational crime and international drug control.

The provision to prevent criminals from finding a "safe haven" was especially important, he said. The theft of motor vehicles should be better reflected in the programme of work of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, he added.

He went on to introduce a draft resolution on the question of the elaboration of an international convention against organized crime. By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to invite Member States to submit their views, including their commitments to the proposed convention, not later than two months before the start of the sixth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

There had been intensive negotiations on the draft text, a significant number of amendments and substantial concessions to meet the concerns of certain delegations, he continued. It now reflected their position as well as those of other Committee members. He "deeply believed" the draft would be adopted by consensus and he encouraged all States to consider co-sponsorship.

The Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), Under-Secretary-General Giorgio Giacomelli, said during the debate a common "jargon" and an understanding of the problems had been

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established and governments had taken a consistent and coherent position on all issues, including financial matters. The attitudes of African regional groups and the countries in transition were examples of globalization in the best sense of the word.

Statements were made by the representatives of Kazakstan (on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)), Myanmar, Morocco, Iran, Belarus (on behalf of Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), Libya, Cameroon, Norway, Indonesia, Nigeria and Burundi.

The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of their right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m., Thursday, 24 October, to begin its consideration of the advancement of women and implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995).

Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to conclude its several discussions on crime prevention and criminal justice, international drug control and the question of the elaboration of an international convention against organized transnational crime. (For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/3357 of 18 October.)


AKMARAL KH. ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakstan), speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said illegal trafficking in narcotics was one of the most dangerous manifestations of organized crime threatening the health and dignity of people and the economic and social stability of States. The CIS supported the focusing of efforts of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) on the most timely and high priority areas, including fighting money laundering, seizing drug profits, tightening the control of drug use, production and trafficking and upholding previous United Nations Conventions.

The CIS countries were strengthening cooperation against the drug trade, both multilaterally and bilaterally, she said. However, the tremendous profits from the narcotics business allowed criminals to operate in a more and more professional way and divert profits away from governments. Problems created by the scale of drug addiction and the scope of drug trafficking had caused States to strengthen the cooperative actions of organizations in CIS countries. One of the products of this cooperation had been a general data bank on drug crimes and persons committing drug crimes. Government leaders have also established inter-state cooperative measures to combat drug and organized crimes, in accordance with an agreement to fight the narcotic and psychotropic substances trade.

PE THEIN TIN (Myanmar) said his Government had a national two-pronged strategy for dealing with drug abuse, which conformed with the country's prevailing social, economic and cultural conditions. Under the programme, drug eradication and prevention would be carried out with sustained momentum and the eradication of poppy cultivation would be implemented along with a comprehensive social and economic plan for national races in the border areas. For over a century, these groups had depended totally on those crops for their livelihood. The Government had improved infrastructure in the border areas by building and repairing bridges, schools, hospitals and clinics. Since 1994, the newly named and organized Ministry for Progress of the Border Areas and National Races, has been implementing an 11-year master plan for poverty alleviation and eradication of poppy cultivation. It also aimed to preserve the culture of national races by establishing alternative economic enterprises and by preserving law and order and security in the border areas, which represented 33.2 per cent of the country's total area and 17.5 per cent of its

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population. Development projects and the improved socio-economic conditions in those regions would contribute towards international efforts to combat the drug menace.

Citing positive results, he said one armed group after another had "returned to the fold" to participate in development projects, including the surrender of the Mong Tai army of some 20,000 men led by U Khun Sa. That development would have a positive impact on the fight against illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotic drugs. As a result, poppy cultivation and drug trafficking in the Loilang and Homong areas along the Myanmar-Thai border, which had been important drug producing centres, had been totally eradicated. Myanmar also sought to cooperate more closely with UNDCP.

AICHA EL KABBAJ (Morocco) said the globalization of the economy and the opening of borders had allowed the drug trade to become an unprecedented phenomenon, with a scope and depth which could eclipse other causes of social decay. As it existed today, drug trafficking was the origin of a broad range of scourges that afflicted most societies, including organized crime, terrorism, corruption of public officials and HIV/AIDS. In order to remedy the drug problem, the international community must focus its efforts on limiting both supply and demand, and development programmes must be implemented to ensure that sufficiently profitable replacement crops were available. Morocco had implemented a comprehensive drug control strategy based on three important principles: fight solicit trafficking; increase international cooperation; and limit the demand for narcotic and psychotropic substances.

The collective responsibility of all States -- producers and consumers - - must be recognized, and these parties must be willing to work together. However, as long as the demand for illicit drugs continued to increase, no solution was feasible. The Assembly's 1998 special session on drug-related issues would be an appropriate moment to increase international cooperation and to gather financial support. An international response to the threat of money laundering was particularly vital, because money laundering had the power to corrupt financial markets and threaten the stability of States, she added.

MOHAMMAD SABAGH-AMIRKHIZI (Iran) said in order to achieve real progress in combating the drug problem, the Global Programme of Action adopted by the Assembly at its special session in 1990 must be fully implemented by Member States. It was a model framework for individual countries to tackle domestic drug problems, but also a solid foundation for furthering international cooperation. His Government had been cooperating with its neighbours to coordinate actions mostly in the regional framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which had been given technical assistance and support by UNDCP. His Government recognized the importance of a balanced

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approach to both demand and supply reduction. The decriminalization and ultimately the legalization of non-medical use of drugs was incompatible with international conventions. Such an approach would lead to increased drug abuse and damage to public health. There was no poppy cultivation in Iran and his Government's efforts had focused on preventing the illicit trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan and Pakistan en route to Europe. The UNDCP should make greater efforts to end the production in Afghanistan.

His Government fully supported efforts of UNDCP, and was concerned with the erosion of its funding by some countries, which had a high level of consumption and demand for illicit drugs, he continued. They should continue to carry their fair share of UNDCP's increasing financial burden and support and contribute to its funding. The role of transit countries in confronting the inflow of drugs from supplier States to consumer markets should be examined. They should not be marginalized or neglected. Because of its geographical position, Iran was suffering from a spillover effect of transit traffic. It had invested huge amounts of money as well as human resources to deal with the problem and was involved in a full-scale war to annihilate caravans and smuggling bandits in its eastern border areas. Iran's harsh anti-drug policy mostly benefited consumer countries some of whom seemed not so enthusiastic in meeting their responsibilities.

ALYAKSANDR SYCHOU (Belarus), speaking on behalf of Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, said today the criminal world had created a challenge to international peace, security and stability. Only through joint efforts by the international community would the scourge of drug trafficking disappear. Important milestones in this direction included the World Ministerial Conference in Naples on Organized Transnational Crime, the Ninth United Nations Congress on Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. It was important for all international efforts to be consistent and practical as possible in scope. The United Nations should continue to create standards and norms in prevention of crime and criminal justice, illegal banking operation, environment protection.

The regulation of the firearms trade and the prevention of automobile theft were timely issues for the countries, he said. The governments of the region supported proposals aimed at strengthening the United Nations programmes in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice, especially in the area of financial assistance. The efforts of the United Nations in fighting crime should also be strengthened by increased cooperation at the regional level. The Governments were currently drafting measures to fight crime, corruption, computer crime, money laundering and drug trafficking and establishing coordinating mechanisms.

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SERGIWA (Libya) said every efforts should be made to combat the drug menace especially among the young. Illicit drugs had a disastrous effect on the social fabric, causing a decline in health standards, and the general well-being of communities. As a result social, economic and political systems were threatened. Demand and trafficking in drugs had increased worldwide and was a genuine threat to all countries. The international community should increase its technical assistance on both a bilateral and multilateral level. The emphasis should be on limiting demand and increasing awareness of the dangers of drug use through media campaigns. Programmes to eradicate drug crops should include plans to implement alternative income strategies. It was also important that all international conventions dealing with drugs be ratified and laws implemented to allow for the property of drug traffickers to be seized. There should be more cooperation between producer countries and consumer countries. However, international efforts should not be used as a pretext for contravening national sovereignty.

His Government supported the 1998 General Assembly special session on drugs and had taken part in national forums and signed all relevant United Nations conventions on drug control, he continued. It had also promulgated two new laws to deal with drug producers and traffickers. The UNDCP had contributed greatly to global efforts.

MESSOBOT SEP (Cameroon) said that with the scourge of drugs being visited on unsuspected areas and the wars between traffickers and consumers, his Government had been deeply afflicted. At the regional level, Cameroon had participated with great interest in African meetings on narcotics issues, most recently in South Africa in 1994. At the national level since the 1960s it had been in the forefront in the fight against drug consumption, particularly with repressive legal measures.

Cameroon like many developing countries was ill-equipped to fight the spread of drugs alone, he said. The Government had been forced to fight against the drug scourge while facing unprecedented economic difficulty, and hence it sought help in the international community, including with the International Control Commission. With the cooperation of France, United States, Egypt and the Republic of Korea, training workshops on fighting drugs were regularly organized, legal reform was currently being undertaken and a rehabilitation centre had been set up to serve citizens of all Central African countries.

STEN ARNE ROSNES (Norway) said organized crime represented a threat to political and economic structures of States and threatened their stability. The fight against organized crime could only be carried out with international cooperation. In the past, Nordic states had undertaken cooperative efforts against organized crime, including breaking up motorcycle gangs in their region. Norway was closely examining the Polish proposal of a convention against organized transnational crime.

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YASRIL A. BAHARUDDIN (Indonesia) said the anti-drug activities of the United Nations were essential for the international community to undertake comprehensive and effective measures to combat the production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Although the international community recognized the risk and vulnerability of all societies to drug-related crime, greater effort must be taken to translate that recognition into action. The discrepancy between proclamations and actions must be eliminated. Countries that had the available resources should be at the forefront in working with and supporting the efforts of UNDCP and other anti-drug organizations. Additional financial and technical support for developing countries was essential in ensuring that they become effective allies in an international strategy and not fall victim to drug cartels.

While Indonesia did not have a large-scale drug problem, it has been identified as a transit country for heroin trafficking to Europe, Australia, and the United States. The Government was working to tackle the problem through education, creating awareness within communities and religion. Additionally, therapy and rehabilitation was available for drug addicts along with vocational training courses that will facilitate their reintegration into society.

ZBIGNIEW M. WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said the draft United Nations Declaration on Crime and Public Security, which his Government had sponsored, contained a mutual commitment to protect citizen's security against crime. Once brought into effect by the Assembly, it would have States pledge to combat cross- border crimes, including terrorist and trafficking in drugs and arms, which had all provoked increasing alarm among Governments in recent years. Especially important was the provision to prevent those who committed crimes from finding a "safe haven". He shared the view of some States that the theft of motor vehicles should be better reflected in the programme of work of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Poland would host the United Nations European conference on the subject in December.

He then introduced a draft resolution by which the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to invite Member States to submit their views on the question of the elaboration of an international convention against organized crime, including their commitments to the proposed convention, not later than two months before the start of the sixth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also request the Commission as a matter of priority, to consider the question, taking into account the views of Members, with a view to finalizing its work as soon as possible. It would further request the Commission to report the results of its work to the Economic and Social Council at its fifty-second session. The Assembly could decide to continue consideration of the question at its next session.

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The present text was the result of intensive negotiations by a large number of States, he continued. There had been a significant number of amendments and substantial concessions to meet the concerns of certain delegations and the text now reflected their position as well as other members of the Committee. He "deeply believed" the text would be adopted by consensus and he encouraged all States to consider cosponsorship.

SAM OTUYELU (Nigeria) said his Government had always held the strong view that the drug issue was complex and multi-dimensional in nature. Shared responsibility by the international community was needed to address the problem effectively. Name calling, which divided instead of strengthening concert action, should be avoided when considering international cooperation. His Government was sadly aware of the international media's portrayal of Nigeria as a major drug trafficking country. Nigeria did have its share of bad elements but it was a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the good majority. The Government had initiated strong measures to deal with the bad elements involved in the unacceptable anti-social activity of drug trafficking. While Nigeria did not need any praise for combating the drug menace within its borders, it would appreciate the cooperation of members of the international community. It also appreciated the expression of solidarity and cooperation from many quarters, which were genuinely committed to the fight against illicit drugs without any preconditions.

Nigeria was a party to all the international covenants on drugs, he continued. Its National Drug Law Enforcement Agency had been established with statutory responsibility to develop drug policies and coordinate necessary activities for their implementation. On the use of courier services to transfer illicit drugs, the Agency had collaborated with other countries, and implemented controlled delivery operations very successfully. Arrests and sizeable seizures had been made through that strategy. His Government supported increased cooperation in the implementation of the Naples Political Declaration and the Global Plan of Action against organized transnational crime, including recommendations on the trafficking of women and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It hoped the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division would receive necessary resources to carry out its work.

BALTHAZAR HABONIMANA (Burundi) said that, given the current situation, his Government recommended to the Secretary-General that material and financial means be mobilized to support the implementation of the action plans of developing countries which were facing the scourge of drug trafficking and drug abuse. In Burundi's civil war, the militia often used drugged youths as a part of their fighting force because they made pliable killing machines.

The reintegration of drug-addicted people was a very difficult process, and they often become targets of reprisals, he said. Psychological imbalances could mark them for the rest of their lives, and many became illiterate drop- outs. Drug addiction was a tragedy that undermined the future of the young and destroyed the health of society. Education and training for young people to instill them with positive values, along with the establishment of cooperatives, apprenticeships and professional placement programmes were vital components of the preventative drug programme in Burundi.

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GIORGIO GIACOMELLI, Under-Secretary and Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, said he derived satisfaction from the evolution in the content of the general statements presented to the Committee. While the prepared statements were often informative and illuminating, they reflected the past rather than the future, and did not open new avenues of debate. A new vitality was introduced into the work of the Committee through the open and frank debate. It reflected the evolution that had taken place in the Commissions in Vienna and was a good omen for the 1998 special session of the Assembly.

Mr. Giacomelli said the Committee had also witnessed three interesting developments: the establishment of a common "jargon"; the formation of a common understanding of the problem, which was a necessary foundation for the Committee's work and would lead to a common perception of the level of priority of the subjects under consideration; and the adoption of a consistent and coherent position of governments in all forums, including positions on financial matters. The attitudes of African regional groups and the countries in transition were examples of globalization in the best sense of the world.

Right of Reply

The representative of Armenia, speaking in his exercise of the right of reply, said the characterization of the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh as being between Armenia and Azerbaijan and references to the "Armenian aggression" by the representative of Azerbaijan were misleading. The conflict was between the people of Nagorny Karabakh who were striving for self-determination, and the Government of Azerbaijan, which refused to address their rights. The self-defence by the Armenian population of Nagorny Karabakh was the only means to avoid mass deportation and genocide.

It was difficult to respond to the nonsense, namely the references to the "illegal production, sale, circulation and transit of narcotic drugs" by Nagorny Karabakh, and the unnamed media sources describing it as "a centre of illegal production and further distribution to European countries" and the dozens of hectares of poppies and hemp. He said he could only surmise that the author of that part of the Azerbaijani statement had first-hand knowledge of the subject, as those allegations could only be the product of a mind under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.

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The representative of Azerbaijan said the Committee was not the place where political questions were discussed and he asked the representative of Armenia not to bring the problem up again. Each country had spoken of the particular problems it faced on drug abuse and trafficking. There was a vacuum of authority in the 20 per cent of Azerbaijan's territory which was occupied and a negative impact from narcotic substances there. As for references to a "sick mind" he asked the Armenian representative to refrain from such talk. He reminded him that narcotics were being transferred through Armenian territory as well.

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For information media. Not an official record.