8 June 1998


8 June 1998

Press Release



The twentieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, attended by heads of State and government, opened this morning with a plea by the Secretary-General for all nations to say "yes" to the challenge of working towards a drug-free world.

Young people need their leaders to take action together to counter the production, trafficking and abuse of illegal drugs, he said. 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. Hopefully, the special session would mark the point in time when the international community found common ground in creating momentum towards a drug-free world in the twenty-first century.

The three-day special session was convened to consider the fight against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and related activities, and to propose new strategies, methods, practical activities and specific measures to strengthen international cooperation in addressing the problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

The President of the special session, Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), said Member States need to create a new international partnership, based on the principle of shared responsibility. They must also strengthen the international drug machinery and find innovative ways to fulfil, both at the national and international levels, the new ambitious commitments they would undertake at the session. The role of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) should be further enhanced, turning it into a recognized centre of competence and an international point of reference on drug control.

The angry debate between drug-supplying and drug-consuming nations about responsibility for the drug problem did not advance the fight against drugs, said President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States. In an increasingly interconnected world, the sharing of information, experience and ideas was more important than ever. In July, a "Virtual University for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse" will be launched to allow the use

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of technology in sharing knowledge and experience across borders. The programme will be inaugurated with the participation of officials and professionals of Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, who will work with United States drug abuse and prevention experts.

The fight against drug trafficking requires a balanced strategy, said President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico. Each country should assume that all countries are equally responsible, with the same rights and obligations. The individual sovereignty of each State must be respected. No country should judge others, and no country should feel entitled to violate another's laws for the sake of enforcing its own. 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 Chairman of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Alvaro de Mendonça e Moura (Portugal), presented the report of the Commission's second session, acting as preparatory body for the special session. He urged Member States to adopt as a package the Commission's recommendations, which were contained in the following texts: 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.

Also addressing the special session this morning were the Presidents of Portugal, Bolivia, France, Costa Rica, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Suriname, Brazil and Spain; the Prime Ministers of Italy and Saint Kitts and Nevis; the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (for the European Union and associated States); and the State Counsellor of China.

Also this morning, the Assembly agreed on the composition of its General Committee for the special session. According to the United Nations rules of procedure, the General Committee reviews and makes recommendations on the Assembly's agenda. It consists of the Assembly's President and Vice- Presidents, the Chairmen of its six Main Committees, and the Chairman of its Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole.

The following Chairmen of the Assembly's Main Committees for the fifty- second session were appointed to serve in the same capacity at the twentieth special session: for the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), Mothusi Nkgowe (Botswana); Second Committee (Economic and Financial), Oscar de Rojas (Venezuela); Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), Alessandro Busacca (Italy); Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), Machivenyika Tobias Mapuranga (Zimbabwe); and Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh). Craig Daniell (South Africa) will be Acting Chairman of the Sixth Committee (Legal) during the special session.

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The 21 Vice-Presidents of the fifty-second session were appointed to serve in their same capacity during the special session, as follows: 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.

Appointed as members of the Credentials Committee, which examines and reports on the credentials of the representatives attending the session, were Argentina, Barbados, Bhutan, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Norway, Russian Federation, United States and Zambia.

Also this morning, the special session established an Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole, with the same bureau as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Mr. de Mendonça e Moura was elected to serve as its Chairman. As such, he was included as a member of the General Committee of the twentieth special session.

In addition, the Assembly invited the following States to participate in the special session as observers in the debate in the plenary meetings: Cook Islands, Holy See, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Switzerland, Tonga and Tuvalu. It also decided that the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole would hear statements by the representatives of United Nations programmes and specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations.

At the outset of the meeting, Volodymyr Khandogy, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, as temporary President of the special session, announced that 23 Member States were in arrears in the payment of their dues to the Organization under Article 19 of the United Nations Charter. Under Article 19, a Member State in arrears in an amount equal to or exceeding contributions due from it for the preceding two full years shall not have a vote in the Assembly.

At the beginning of the special session, the Assembly observed a minute of silent prayer or meditation. It also adopted its provisional agenda (document A/S-20/1) and decided that the title of the special session should be amended to read, "Twentieth special session of the General Assembly devoted to countering the world drug problem together".

The special session will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its debate on the world drug problem.

Special Session Work Programme

The plenary of the General Assembly's twentieth special session devoted to countering the world drug problem together met this morning to elect its President, to hear opening statements by the Assembly President and Secretary- General Kofi Annan, and to begin debate on the world drug problem. The special session is to conclude on Wednesday, 10 June. (For background information, see Press Release GA/9410 of 5 June.)

Opening Statements

HENNADIY UDOVENKO, President of the General Assembly and Foreign Minister of Ukraine: The illegal drug trade has reached staggering proportions and, together with organized crime, now poses a deadly threat to the world in the next century. The amount of money involved in drug trafficking is assuming such great proportions that it is now capable of destabilizing global financial markets. Drugs are also tearing apart societies, spawning crime, spreading diseases and killing youth. Yet, recent years have also been marked by trends which give the international community an unprecedented opportunity to make real progress towards achieving the ultimate goal of a drug-free world. Ideological divides have diminished and are now providing a more cooperative climate for dealing with global issues; drug control activities have identified technologies that promise success.

The special session has tremendous potential for becoming another milestone in tackling the drug problem. But it will certainly be a failure in the eyes of the world if Member States do not work as hard on implementing its declarations and intentions as they did on drafting them. A new international partnership is required, based on the principle of shared responsibility. International drug machinery must be strengthened and develop innovative ways to fulfil, both at the national and international levels, the new ambitious commitments they will undertake at the session. The role of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) should be further enhanced, turning it into a recognized centre of competence and an international point of reference on drug control.

The United Nations can show the world that despite the forbidding complexity of the issues involved and the often divergent issues of Member States, it can work with determination, creativity and effectiveness of the common good.

Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN: The proliferation of drugs over the past 30 years is an example of the previously unimaginable becoming a tragic reality. Hopefully, the special session will mark the point in time when the international community finds common ground in creating momentum towards a drug-free world in the twenty-first century.

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The proposed Political Declaration before the Assembly is almost unprecedented in the history of the United Nations, since consensus has been reached on substantive, as well as political, issues months in advance of a special session. The Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Demand Reduction creates a balanced approach which, for the first time, addresses the responsibility of nations where consumption is a problem, as well as that of countries where production is a problem. The growing trend in abuse and production of psychotropic substances must be reversed, and special attention should be devoted to the rising tide of illegal synthetic drugs and their precursors.

Drug trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar industry, leaving no country untouched. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that 2 to 5 per cent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) comes from laundered money. Member States should enact appropriate national legislation covering money laundering to meet the target date of 2003.

Under the leadership of Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, the UNDCP has shaped a balanced and global strategy to implement the decisions that the Assembly will adopt during the special session. That new vision represents a quantum leap from the piecemeal and pilot projects of the past three decades. Young people need their leaders to take action together to counter the production, trafficking and abuse of illegal drugs. It is time for all nations to say "yes" to the challenged of working towards a drug-free world.

(The full text of the Secretary-General's statement is contained in Press Release SG/SM/6586-GA/9412, issued today.)

ALVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), Chairman of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the preparatory body for the special session: The deliberations of the Commission, acting as preparatory body for the special session, allowed for the full participation of all States Members of the United Nations, observers, specialized agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The work of the preparatory body was very much facilitated by the sense of common purpose and the positive and constructive approach of governments in addressing sensitive issues covered in the Political Declaration, the Guiding Principles on Demand Reduction and the action plans.

At the end of the preparatory body's 14 formal meetings and informal working group meetings, Member States were able to reach full consensus on all the issues of drug policy contained in the Assembly's agenda, as reflected in the preparatory body's report. The Declaration on the Guiding Principles on Demand Reduction represents a major step forward in the way the international community looks at the world drug problem and will complement the international drug control treaties. The Political Declaration includes specific target dates to achieve the key objectives of the special session.

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It was the wish of the preparatory body that the Assembly considers its report as a package of balanced recommendations and proposals, the result of a process of delicate negotiations and compromise. The preparatory committee was of the opinion, however, that to have maximum impact on the public opinion this package should not only be endorsed, but ought to be explicitly supported at very high political level at this General Assembly.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, President, United States: The angry debate between drug-supplying and drug-consuming nations about responsibility for the drug problem does not advance the fight against drugs. Finger-pointing does not destroy a cartel or keep a child from addiction. Drugs are every nation's problem. Attitudes drive action. A winning fight against drugs must be waged in the minds of young people. The United States Congress has launched a five- year anti-drug youth media campaign. Two billion dollars in public/private funds are pledged towards it.

Next month in New Mexico, a "Virtual University for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse" will be launched to enable use of twenty-first century technology in sharing knowledge and experience across borders. The programme will be inaugurated by a course between officials and professionals of Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, who will work with United States drug abuse and prevention experts from across the country, and the course will be accessible to anyone on the Worldnet. In addition, the United States National Institute for Drug Abuse, which funds 85 per cent of global research on drugs, will post live videotapes of drug prevention and treatment workshops on the Internet, and an International Drug Fellowship programme will enable professionals from around the world to work with United States drug-fighting agencies.

In today's increasingly interconnected world, sharing of information, experience and ideas is more important than ever. The focus of Unites States programmes are the same as the priorities of the special session, including demand reduction, money-laundering, judicial cooperation and alternative development. Programmes such as fellowships build a global network of skilled and experienced drug crusaders. That extends both the long arm of the law and the hand of compassion, to match the global reach of the drug problem.

ERNESTO ZEDILLO, President of Mexico: No nation, powerful as it may be; no society, however developed as it may be; and no family, is free from the drugs threat. We face the threat of a violent and corrupt power that neither respects borders nor respects any legal or moral code. We face the threat of a criminal power that, in the most alarming manner, has multiplied its links with other forms of organized crime, such as money-laundering, arms trafficking, terrorism and kidnapping. Drug trafficking is also a threat to national security and democratic life, social stability, and the integrity of institutions of many countries.

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In short, we are dealing with a global threat; a phenomenon of multinational criminality. And since it is a global problem, it demands a global response. We must decide now to undertake an unprecedented cooperation effort, based on a new strategy that is global, comprehensive and balanced. In this context, we must make all efforts to significantly strengthen the reduction of demand. 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.

An overwhelming proportion of world demand comes from countries with the highest economic capacity. But the highest human, social and institutional costs involved in meeting such demand is paid by producing and transit countries. It is our men and women who first die combating drug trafficking. It is our governments which are the first to divert resources needed to fight poverty to serve as the first trench in this war. That is why we have the right to demand that this strategy is a balanced one, so that each country can assume that in the fight against drug trafficking, we are all responsible, with the same rights and obligations. We must all respect the sovereignty of each nation, so that no one can become the judge of others, and no one feels entitled to violate other countries' laws for the sake of enforcing its own.

The United Nations should facilitate each country's efforts to elaborate a plan of action with concrete and verifiable targets; it should help each country to adhere to the commitments agreed upon at this meeting; and it should help each country to develop adequate legislation against money-laundering and drug-related crimes. The United Nations should periodically and objectively assess progress in each country.

JORGE FERNANDO BRANCO DE SAMPAIO, President of Portugal: The international community's joint response to the world drug problem must reflect an authentic solidarity on the assumption of a shared responsibility. The problem is fundamentally one of safety, democratic stability and health. The policies designed to confront the problem should reflect a fair balance in order to avoid widening the gap between drug addicts and the rest of society, and the greater difficulties in their recovery and social integration. Therefore, a new policy is required that will necessarily be socially preventive, particularly regarding youth. That new policy will have to confront risk-reducing programmes seriously and conscientiously from a public health perspective. It should also be based on objective information and multidisciplinary research, and address the reduction of supply and demand in a balanced way.

The Assembly has a unique opportunity to make decisions that will lead to drastically limiting the scope of the drug problem in Member States. The aims the Assembly proposes to reach in the next 10 years are ambitious but essential. The strong points that will emerge are the continued eradication of illicit crops; the strengthening of international cooperation; reduction of

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demand; better money-laundering controls; increased judicial cooperation; and the control of precursors and synthetic drugs.

Financial resources are fundamental to help countries that are committed to the eradication and replacement of illicit crops, within the framework of an integrated economic development. Portugal recently increased its contribution to the UNDCP and will also give a financial expression of its political will to cooperate with the United Nations in that field. There can be no efficient fight against drugs without a firm, determined political will. That will require Member States identify drugs as one of the major evils which must be confronted by an unequivocal notion of shared responsibility.

ROMANO PRODI, Prime Minister, Italy: The global threat of drugs to societies is convincing evidence that national strategies can only work within a framework of international cooperation based on a globally concerted approach. The UNDCP must have adequate resources. Financial contributions are the true test of determination to launch a concrete, substantive attack on illicit drugs. The Political Declaration approved during the special session will unequivocally demonstrate the determination of both industrialized and emerging countries alike to combat the global plaque.

An important part of the domestic side of the global drug problem is the need to guarantee a capacity to evaluate and test the effectiveness of policies for reducing both supply and demand, in the context of local, regional and continental realities and within the framework of treaties and conventions signed by individual nations. An equally important component is development of a network of public and private services to rehabilitate former addicts, which means going beyond a punitive, repressive approach based on imprisonment. That approach has been proven to be ineffective. It makes it harder to reach drug users and increases social and health risks. The initiatives adopted at the special session should send a clear signal to all national public opinions that as individual States and members of the international community, decisive action is being taken to fight the profiteers all-out, while victims would receive solidarity and support.

HUGO BANZER SUAREZ, President of Bolivia: Bolivian society is mobilized against this evil. Bolivia is doing its part; it has assumed its responsibility and it has done so with the knowledge of its limitations, but also aware that we do not want our society to be destroyed by drugs. We have designed and adopted a national strategy to combat drug trafficking, based on four pillars: alternative development, prevention, eradication and interdiction. We are convinced of the need to tackle all of the tasks with the same vigour, without emphasizing one against the others.

The financing required for the five-year period totals $952 million, of which $108 million are earmarked for eradication, $700 million for alternative

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development, $129 million for interdiction, and $15 million for prevention and rehabilitation. Bolivia's resolve is to contribute at least 15 per cent of the financing. With this, its requirement of the international community is $809 million, which represents approximately an average of $161 million per year. Today, at this specialized conference, Bolivia officially submits to the United Nations the document "With Dignity", which is the Bolivian strategy to combat drug trafficking. The amounts are detailed in operational programmes and plans for specific action. Bolivia trusts that the international community will contribute to this battle, because it is a comprehensive one. If Bolivia wins, the international community stands to gain.

Bolivia proposes the creation of multilateral consultative group for evaluation, coordination and control, to serve as the forum to secure and assign resources and programmes needed in support of those countries that have resolved, with defined policies and plans, to combat drug trafficking. Bolivia also proposes that the United Nations, through its specialized agency, promote meetings of donor countries and organizations, to make it possible to carry out the Bolivian strategy against drugs.

JACQUES CHIRAC, President of France: I expect the special session to give impetus to the war on drugs. The spread of this scourge is alarming. An awakening to this fact is vital. An all-out offensive must be waged. International action is making strides, but the curse has progressed even faster. The consumption of opiates has increased by 20 per cent in 10 years. Drugs are becoming more varied and their use is spreading round the globe. Drugs are reaching an even larger and ever younger population.

The time has come, in the face of this worldwide menace, to demonstrate our countries' determination. In every corner of the globe, it must be realized that the United Nations is battle-ready to fight against drugs. We must counter-attack on every front -- production of illicit substances, the drug trade and drug profits, and not least, the human misery upon which the traffickers feed. Our strategy must be grounded on clear principles. The first one is co-responsibility. Drug elimination cannot be left to a single category of country, whether it be producer or consumer. Supply and demand must be reduced simultaneously. France proposes that we equip ourselves with an impartial and universal tool for appraising the situation and ensuring that our decisions are followed up. International legitimacy has its home in the United Nations. It is there, within the framework of existing institutions, that we must fashion this vital instrument.

The second principle is solidarity. Bilateral and multilateral funding must be mobilized to help producing countries follow the path of truly alternative development. Grabbing up grants is not enough. What is needed are coherent region-wide programmes. The third principle is firmness at home and abroad in the action of the judiciary, the police and the customs services,

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while respecting individual rights. There must be no safe oasis for the syndicates of crime. The efforts of each of us in our lands must not be frustrated by the laxity of certain States. Anti-drug legislation must be harmonized. We need to strengthen and modernize our legal and police cooperation systems.

MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ, President of Costa Rica: Drugs are threatening democracies worldwide, causing all kinds of damage, from destroying the social fabric to monopolizing economies and destroying standards of excellence in society. The path forward is clear. The slippage from excellence must be stopped by keeping the world's youth from sliding into drugs, through an emphasis on prevention and on the rehabilitation of those already afflicted. Relevant non-governmental organizations must be involved in the process. The important question is: Why has the danger of drugs found fertile ground? Why has society become so vulnerable? The general answer is that modern life has been emptied of meaning. The breakdown of the moral structure and of the family, under the cultural and moral influence of the developed countries, demands their acceptance of responsibility.

Can morality come before politics? Can responsibility come before profit, give meaning to community and link the individual to something higher than his own life? An existential revolution is needed, a new human order capable of replacing profit. The fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right occasion to develop that new ethic, which will require international strategies as the framework for national action. In Central America, the main threats to peace changed in the past 10 years from global dangers to those arising from the drug trade. Central American countries should turn their armies into civilian police forces to fight drug cartels, since that is less expensive and easier to manage. Industrialized countries, the major users, should recognize such efforts. For a small country like Costa Rica, international cooperation is essential, because it cannot afford the training and rehabilitation required.

CARLOS SAUL MENEM, President of Argentina: We must recognize that drug trafficking and use have been rising dramatically. This phenomenon has become globalized, and so, the response to it must be globalized. Divisions among producing and consuming countries in the approach to dealing with the problem have led to mutual recriminations. However, the principle of shared responsibility means that it is everyone's problem, and each country has a role to play. To be successful in the drug war, we must be clear in our goals. While addressing the issues of control, demand and supply, there should be emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation. For us, each trafficker is an enemy, and each addicted person is a human being who should be brought back into society.

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It is also necessary to develop international legal cooperation to ensure that there is no haven for traffickers. Consideration should be given to making drug trafficking an international crime that may be prosecuted in an international criminal court. At the western hemisphere, we adopted guidelines on money-laundering at a meeting in Buenos Aires in December 1995. In November 1996, an anti-drug strategy for the hemisphere was adopted. Legislation enables us to control the manifestations of crimes relating to drug offences, including legislation to combat money-laundering.

LEONEL FERNANDEZ REYNA, President of the Dominican Republic: Emphasis on the reduction of demand and control of supply are necessary in order to successfully confront the world's drug epidemic with adequate international cooperation. The Dominican Republic is not, and has never been, a cultivator nor producer of narcotic drugs. In addition, its consumption level does not exceed 2 per cent of the population. Yet, given the country's geographical location in the centre of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic constitutes a bridge for the traffic of drugs from the producer countries of South America to the consumption market of the United States. One unfortunate aspect of global interdependence is that if the United States is successful in reducing its internal drug consumption, the Dominican Republic will become more vulnerable to drug traffickers searching for new or alternative markets.

The Government of the Dominican Republic is combating the threat of drugs with the cooperation of the international community, because it is a task that no country can accomplish alone. The UNDCP and the Dominican Republic coordinate the execution of a project for the reduction of demand, covering all levels of society. At the same time, steps have been taken to prevent financial institutions from being used to laundry money. The Government has also been collaborating with the authorities of other countries and international organizations, particularly in the exchange of information and in joint operations.

The Dominican Republic's armed forces and National Bureau of Drugs Control have taken measures to increase the level of surveillance along the country's vulnerable border with Haiti. The presence of military troops and narcotics agents has been reinforced, and military personnel in charge of the detection and identification of narcotics have received specialized training. In addition, his Government has maintained contact with that of Haiti in order to coordinate their actions to confront the problem together.

JULES ALBERT WIJDENBOSCH, President of Suriname: Suriname has developed an Anti-Drug Strategy Plan for the next five years to address the problem in a structural manner. A Monitoring Commission against Drug Abuse and a National Anti-Drug Council have also been established. Together with the private sector, activities are carried out to enhance drug awareness and encourage resistance to drug abuse among the youth. Suriname has also become party to

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the various global anti-drug conventions and regional anti-drug programmes, and is contributing to the establishment of the multi-regional evaluation mechanism.

Suriname has identified a number of impediments to the effective combat of the world drug problem. International and regional anti-drug conventions and programmes are not implemented concurrently. While those conventions and programmes are comprehensive and integral, there are differences in their implementation with respect to the areas for special attention and regarding priorities. The desirable alliance between the States and regions in the fight against drugs is often abandoned. The political aspects of cooperation or assistance between States and international organizations in the field of drug control sometimes cause delays in effective, swift and purposeful action.

Effective measures are required to tackle the drug problem. However, globalization, regionalism and the creation of the common market economies throughout the world also demand a greater liberalization with respect to border controls. The free movement of goods and persons requires deregulation in that area.

FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO, President of Brazil: Increasingly permeable international borders should encourage the circulation of people, goods, services, technology and information, not the dissemination of criminal activity nor the tolerance of impunity. Governmental initiatives to repress the latter have proven insufficient. Prevention campaigns and rehabilitation are now first priorities. International cooperation is vital in the fight against transborder crime and in the various dimensions of the drug problem, including production, traffic, trade and consumption. The special session is a consensus pointing to solutions to help all countries in the common struggle.

Brazil's fight against drugs brings together all the nation's political forces. Updating legislation combats facets of organized crime, from money- laundering and the control of chemical precursors to protection of the national airspace and the regulation of small arms. Even more resources are dedicated to prevention and rehabilitation, sending a clear message to youth that addiction to drugs is slavery. The message to profiteers is that Brazil will not tolerate the perverse trade in drugs. Its anti-drug secretariat defines national policy and coordinates governmental activities in prevention, repression and rehabilitation. Solutions are to be found in the coordination of such national measures at the multilateral level, not in isolated or unilateral actions.

DENZIL DOUGLAS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis: The scourge of drugs imposes a very daunting challenge on small island developing States. Only because of geography does Saint Kitts and Nevis find itself being placed squarely between the unfriendly theatre of supply and demand. The illicit

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drug trade is demand driven, and all efforts will be in vain if the market for illegal drugs is not eliminated. How can small poor countries be expected to defeat the wealthy drug lords if the rich countries, with their wealth of resources, are unsuccessful in limiting demand? In the face of tremendous criticism from several quarters, his Government reconstituted its National Defence Force so as to enhance and strengthen the crime-fighting capability of the police. The Government has also enacted and amended laws to deal more effectively and swiftly with persons found guilty of engaging in activities that sacrifice the lives and progress of its people. Saint Kitts and Nevis will continue to work even more closely with the international community to ensure that persons found guilty of drug crimes under due process are punished to the fullest extent of the law of the land. Countries must work together to make it uncomfortable for drug traffickers; they should not be able to enjoy their ill-gotten gains or find a safe haven anywhere in the world.

Drug trafficking is a transnational crime with annual revenues that stagger the imagination. With such resources, traffickers can afford to devise sophisticated means to legitimize their work and surround themselves with the mechanisms to protect them from judicial penetration. Although conferences like the current special session are welcome, action and cooperation are required. Member States cannot afford to quibble over methodology when there is a need for immediate results. The drug trade cannot be eradicated by pointing fingers or passing judgements on national governments. Any country that is alienated becomes a resource partner that has been lost. Political indignation and national pontificating will not facilitate what is wanted by all -- a decisive victory in the war on drugs.

JOSÉ MARIA AZNAR, President of Spain: A meeting of heads of States and government cannot be portrayed as powerless. Member States must be bolder and more creative than drug traffickers if they are going to beat them in the streets, homes and schools. That firmness against drug criminals must be accompanied by solidarity with those who suffer from drug abuse, particularly those who suffer from AIDS. States must spare no effort in making them feel they are being shepherded towards social integration and the recovery of their health and economic capacities.

International cooperation should be the main means for combating illicit drug trafficking. Respect for territorial sovereignty, shared responsibility and reciprocity will guide Member States towards their common objective of a drug-free society. The UNDCP must keep its lead role to avoid unilateral actions. The international drug control policy should be based on global and comprehensive plans. It should empower State cooperation through a flexible policy enabling States to address to shifting trends in organized crime. Effective action is only possible based on complete respect for international law and norms, coordinated with national legal systems.

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The Spanish National Drug Plan rejects unilateralism and stresses alternative development. His Government has developed policies in the three main areas of schools, the family and media. It is also active in those neighbourhoods which are most at risk. Spain is committed to applying the agreements that will be reached at special session. It endorses the Political Declaration and the documents on synthetics drugs, money-laundering, demand reduction, judicial cooperation and alternative development. Particular attention should be given to the production, trafficking and consumption of new synthetic drugs, as a priority area for concerted action in the near future.

LUO GAN, State Counsellor of China: The Chinese Government has established a national-level drug control coordinating agency. It has formulated an anti-drug strategy featuring a reinforced ban on the illicit use, cultivation and trafficking, a blocking of illicit drug resources and supply, strict enforcement of the laws relating to drug control, and an effort to address the roots of the drug problem. It attaches equal importance to the reduction of both demand and supply. China has also implemented the United Nations Global Action Plan. From 1991 to 1997, Chinese law enforcement organs seized 26 tons of heroin trafficked from the "Golden Triangle" area.

China is the first country to ban amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), and it has cracked down on the illegal processing and smuggling of methamphetamines. From 1991 to 1997, Chinese law enforcement organs also seized a total of 923 tons of precursor chemicals bound for the Golden Triangle. Since 1990, the Chinese Government has cooperated with relevant parties to develop substitute crops in the traditional opium planting areas in Myanmar and the Lao People's Democratic Republic, through technical assistance, agricultural aid, tourist development and other methods. The Chinese Government considers it imperative to adhere to the principle of extensive participation and shared responsibilities, to implement an integrated and balanced international drug control strategy, and to pay attention to alternative development.

JOHN PRESCOTT, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus): The twentieth special session of the General Assembly offers an opportunity to show the world that here is a real spirit within the United Nations to counter illegal drugs. There is a need for commitment to stifle the availability of drugs on the streets to reduce the demand for them. Action must be taken through education, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. The United Kingdom presidency of the European Union has urged all States to ratify and implement their obligations under the three major United Nations anti-drugs conventions.

The European Union, a large funder of the UNDCP, urges the governments represented at the special session to do all they can to give this crucial

General Assembly Plenary - 13 - Press Release GA/9411 Twentieth Special Session 8 June 1998 1st Meeting (AM)

programme both moral support and financial backing, so it may achieve its full potential. The guiding principles on demand reduction to be adopted at the session represent a remarkable step forward for the Organization, but there is no single blueprint which will work everywhere, and none have a monopoly on wisdom. The panels to take place over the next few days provide an excellent forum for the sharing of experiences and lessons learned.

In a constantly changing drug scene, with new trafficking routes and new trends in abuse, strategies at every level must provide flexible and effective responses. The United Kingdom has learned that tackling drugs successfully means taking a holistic look at such social issues as housing, unemployment, poverty, crime and family life. The first-ever United Kingdom anti-drugs coordinator has been appointed, and a new European-wide intelligence network, known as Europol, will also shortly come into being. This network will ensure the sharing of intelligence and information and effectively hamper drug trafficking and money-laundering. Next week, the European Union heads of government will endorse key elements of its new anti-drug strategy for the years 2000-2004.

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