23 April 2015

Illicit Drug Trafficking Fuels Terrorism, Undermines Development, Says Secretary-General in Message to Ministerial Conference

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, as delivered by Yury Fedotov, Director General of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to the second Ministerial Anti-Drug Conference on the Influence of Drugs on Global Security and Sustainable Development, in Moscow today:

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the second Ministerial Anti-Drug Conference, and I thank the Russian Federation, particularly the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, for hosting.

The influence of drugs on global security and sustainable development is high on the international agenda this year as the world strives to forge a new set of sustainable development goals amid complex and interlinked threats to stability.  The stakes are high, with illicit drug trafficking generating some $320 billion annually — funds that fuel violence and terrorism while undermining development.

Countries of the world have accepted shared responsibility to address this problem in a manner that balances law enforcement with an evidence-based approach.  Through integrated activities, we aim to ensure that drug users have access to life-saving medicines and proper treatment; that farmers who grow illicit crops are offered an alternative livelihood; and that criminals are prevented from exploiting the weak.  In all efforts, we strive to promote human rights, the rule of law and fair criminal justice systems.  The UN also supports an innovative humanitarian response to the world drug problem that seeks to give a voice to the vulnerable, sharing good practices in accordance with the International Drug Control Conventions, which have near-universal ratification.

Drug trafficking exploits fragile nations and regions.  I am particularly concerned about methamphetamine production, cocaine consumption and trafficking, and heroin use in West Africa.  In both West Africa and the Sahel, criminal groups involved in drug trafficking and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have joined with terrorists attracted by vast criminal profits.  Boko Haram in Nigeria has also been directly involved.

The problem goes beyond regions, representing a global challenge.  The nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, directly threatens peace and security.  We need interregional cooperation linking United Nations efforts to those of Governments, the scientific community, civil society and the public.  They will have to join forces in addressing key areas, including capacity-building in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement; reforming prison systems; cutting financial flows of terrorists and criminals; and ending improper use of the Internet.

I wish you success as part of our global push to ensure a life of dignity for all.

For information media. Not an official record.