Transatlantic Cocaine Trafficking
Group of Eight Ministerial Meeting
Paris, 10 May 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First I would like to thank the French Presidency of the G8, and especially Claude Guéant, Minister of the Interior, Overseas, Local Authorities and Immigration, for this key initiative aimed at strengthening the fight against transatlantic drug trafficking, and for organizing this ministerial meeting to discuss this issue today.
With your permission, I will begin with some facts.
The last decade has witnessed major changes in the international cocaine market.
While the North American market was four times larger than the European market ten years ago, today we are witnessing a complete rebalancing. The value of the cocaine market in Europe is currently estimated at $33 billion, almost equivalent to that of the U.S. market which is about $37 billion.
The diversification of the cocaine market in Europe led us to consider this problem in the same way as that of Afghan heroin, which is to say, as a global threat to stability and prosperity.
The illegal profits at stake are enormous. UNODC estimates that in 2009 global traffic in cocaine produced an estimated $84 billion, equivalent to the gross domestic product of many developing countries.
At the same time, traffickers have changed their delivery routes, including the use of West Africa as a new transit hub to the European market.
The impact of cocaine trafficking on the stability of countries of origin and transit are unfortunately well known.
Overall , cocaine trafficking affects the stability of Governments by promoting corruption, armed violence, an influx of illegal money that contaminates the legal economy, and the establishment of urban gangs or local criminal networks operating as subcontractors of the drug cartels.
In West Africa, a significant percentage of the cocaine left in the hands of illegal organizations in the region is re-exported to Europe, but it also fuels the development of markets for local consumption. Africa, which-so far-has never been a region of high cocaine use, is running the risk of becoming one in the medium to long term.
In Central America, cocaine trafficking is generating violence without precedent. Homicide rates in the countries of the northern triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) are among the highest in the world. Again, the combined efforts of States and the international community have failed to contain the scourge that blights the region.
The response to this critical situation requires above all a renewed political pact between States from both sides of the Atlantic, based on the principle of shared responsibility.
The stability and economic and social development of countries affected by drug production, trafficking and consumption are at stake. The consensus on this issue is becoming broader.
As proof I can cite the UN Security Council's regular review of issues related to organized crime and drug trafficking, or the recent discussions by the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General on the need to integrate the fight against transnational crime into the development work of all United Nations agencies.
We will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals that we set for ourselves if we do not also act against transnational organized crime, corruption and their devastating effects.
Tools to implement this political commitment exist. They include, in particular, the 1961, 1971 and 1988 United Nations Drug Conventions, as well as the more recent United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and Corruption. These international conventions provide an appropriate and effective framework for international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, organized crime and related crimes such as money-laundering.
On this basis, what should be our priorities for the future?
The fight against transatlantic drug trafficking is a joint responsibility and all States must work together to give life to this political commitment.
North American and European States must continue the combined implementation of policies to reduce cocaine demand, intercept illicit drug flows and confiscate the corresponding criminal assets.
In terms of markets, we need to track consumer trends in the countries of origin and transit in order to anticipate and block new markets for cocaine, such as South America.
In terms of production, we can only applaud the efforts made by the Colombian authorities to reduce illicit coca cultivation through ambitious alternative development programmes, and to dismantle the groups linked to transnational organized crime.
It is also worth pointing out and supporting similar efforts made by the Peruvian and Bolivian authorities. UNODC supports these policies through its programmes in the region. I would like to pay tribute today to the memory of four UNODC staff and two Bolivian pilots who lost their lives last week in a routine flight of our coca monitoring programme in Bolivia. I would like to once again express my sincerest condolences to their families.
With the international community's support, countries in West Africa have begun to contain the onslaught of drug traffickers.
Over the last two years, cocaine seizures have declined. It could be good news for this region if the techniques and methods of traffickers were not evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated. It is important to continue to strengthen, with the support of the international community, the West African States' ability to anticipate and react.
These last few years have witnessed a decline in the use of the Caribbean route to the North American market. These signs are encouraging, but I urge you not to lower your guard and to keep supporting regional efforts by Central American countries to fight transnational drug trafficking and its powerful destabilizing effects.
The transnational market for cocaine remains extremely dynamic. It is essential to maintain detailed tracking of trends and provide regular risk analysis to ensure the conception and implementation, as far upstream as possible, of effective prevention and interdiction policies.
In view of the priorities I have mentioned, I can only welcome the adoption of a Political Declaration and an Action Plan that set guidelines and provide operational elements to improve the fight against transatlantic drug trafficking.
This Action Plan addresses important elements such as intelligence sharing, increased maritime interceptions and illicit asset recovery. It also promotes a comprehensive, concerted and coherent strategy against drug trafficking.
It is a global approach because the plan aims at strengthening all the actors of the judicial chain: from proactive investigation to convicting traffickers.
It is a
global approach because it acknowledges the need for drug use prevention measures, and for measures to support alternative development policies, without forgetting the necessity of policies to reintegrate former criminals.
Fighting this hydra of the 21st century certainly requires significant resources, which in these times of economic crisis are not unlimited.
However, to cope with the extent of organized crime, we must demonstrate a spirit of innovation.
In this context, the idea of creating a trust fund for the fight against transatlantic drug trafficking, partially funded by a percentage of seized assets, appears attractive in many ways.
On the one hand, the establishment of such a fund would demonstrate the common will of States to fight drug trafficking by pooling their financial resources.
On the other hand, the symbolic impact would be strong since the fund would hit the traffickers using their own resources and confiscated assets.
I know that some countries do not support such an option.
However, I hope that we can collectively think of it as a way to match the capacities of agencies responsible for enhancing the fight against transnational criminal groups to the capacities of these same groups.
A few words about the work of UNODC.
I take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the organization I have the honor to lead and offer our most complete assistance in the implementation of this Action Plan.
UNODC will continue its analytical work by developing regional studies of organized crime trends, as it has in the past, particularly for Central America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
UNODC will continue to assist producer countries in the development of ambitious alternative development policies and capacity building of law enforcement agencies.
UNODC will also pursue its efforts in Latin America through political and other initiatives to coordinate the fight against organized crime, such as the Santo Domingo Pact and Managua Mechanism ( SICA - UNODC) or the establishment of the hemispheric programme against the misappropriation of precursor chemicals used in the production of cocaine.
In West Africa, UNODC is implementing a regional programme based on the Political Declaration and Action Plan of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) as adopted by the Heads of States and Governments in Abuja in December 2008.
In this context, the West African Coast Initiative covering Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone currently allows the creation of specialized units to investigate complex cases of drug trafficking and organized crime.
The AIRCOP initiative aims at establishing a real-time communication system between key airports located on drug trafficking routes, whether in Latin America, Africa or Europe.
Finally, and as part of an integrated and comprehensive response, UNODC will continue to provide programmes for drug demand reduction, and treatment and care initiatives for drug dependent people.
Can we do more against cocaine trafficking? The answer is undoubtedly yes, and I am hopeful that this Action Plan will contribute to it in a conclusive way.
Thank you for your attention.