Director General/Executive Director
Remarks at the 30th Annual International Drug Enforcement Conference
5 June 2013, Moscow
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would very much like to thank the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation and the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States for the invitation to attend this forum.
At the outset, before making my own remarks, allow me to convey to you the warmest greetings from the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
He asked me to tell you that he attaches great importance to your work, and thanks you for your partnership, and looks forward to learning about the results of your gathering.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The purpose of this conference is to discuss the development of new, efficient mechanisms to combat the complex threats caused by illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs.
We know the size and the scale of the world's drug problem: every year illicit drugs kill around 200,000 people all over the world.
Illicit drugs do untold damage to families, communities, and societies; all of which suffer from the loss of life, as well as health issues such as the spread of HIV and other diseases such as hepatitis.
In fragile countries, drugs undermine security, jeopardise social and economic development, fuel corruption and compromise the rule of law.
Quoting from UNGA Resolution 67/193, adopted last December, "the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health and safety, and well-being of humanity, in particular children and young people and their families. It also threatens the national security and sovereignty of states and undermines socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development."
No country is immune from these transnational threats. Every country must share in the responsibility for delivering solutions to assist the estimated 27 million problem drug users around the world.
The departure point for today's discussion is the three international drug control conventions for which UNODC acts as the guardian.
The conventions were adopted almost universally to protect the "health and welfare mankind".
For this reason, law enforcement, and all our work on the supply side, has a purpose that goes far beyond mere seizures and arrests.
It is intimately bound to the demand side, and supports the valuable work undertaken in preventing and treating drug use.
Just as importantly, and using the conventions as our bedrock, there is a need for unity among nations on how to approach this global challenge.
Fortunately, the unanimous decision of Member States to hold a high level review of the implementation of the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action in 2014, as well as a Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 2016, has clearly defined our view of the road ahead, within the well-established UN institutional frameworks: GA, CND, UNODC.
Against this international background, UNODC's own role includes working in partnership to provide technical assistance and to build capacities in the area of law enforcement, as well as drug prevention and treatment.
Our emphasis has been on such touchstone concepts as innovation, but, above all, better cooperation and greater coordination.
To achieve this, we are strengthening links among regional and thematic programmes.
The application of these approaches can be seen, in particular, through the implementation of our Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, as well as the Afghan Country Programme.
Working with such bodies as the Paris Pact, with 58 Member State partners, the Triangular Initiative of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, the CARICC, the Gulf Cooperation Information Council, and numerous other bodies, we are helping to build political commitment against illicit drugs.
In doing so, we work closely with our partners throughout the UN System to ensure the effective delivery of the full range of the UN's unique capabilities.
Our work is vital in West and Central Asia, as 2014 is approaching. We must be ready to provide greater assistance to Afghanistan and its people.
There are also new initiatives for the region such as the illicit financial flows programme and one specifically designed to interrupt drug trafficking by sea.
A programme for South Eastern Europe has also been launched focusing on the "Balkan Route" for Afghan heroin.
In West Africa and the Sahel region, the recent UNODC threat assessment shows that illicit drugs and crime continue to create instability and fuel terrorism.
Illicit trafficking, especially in amphetamine-type-stimulants is also growing in South East Asia. UNODC is working closely with Myanmar as it broadens its international engagement.
In Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean we now have a UNODC regional hub in Panama. Mexico and Brazil also have re-profiled and upgraded offices.
Our integrated regional programmes are the platforms for building the necessary tools to counter the problem and for delivery in the field.
Creating connectivity among our programmes is also key. This is being carried out worldwide through the Global Container Control Programme, which we co-manage with the WCO, and AIRCOP, a similar project for airports.
Another innovation is our work on "networking the networks" and the promotion of cooperation, joint operations and the sharing of information about illicit trafficking among various regional partners.
But much more needs to be done. I would mention three additional areas.
Information is the foundation for action. We must work in global, regional and local partnership to improve the quality of the information, as well as its assessment and analysis.
On 26th June, UNODC will release the World Drug Report 2013, which forms part of our commitment to help States understand the global drug problem.
Precursor chemicals continue to represent a tremendous threat. The international community must enhance its ability to control and interdict the illicit shipments of these chemicals.
We should also support professionalism among our law enforcement agencies and prosecution services in order to maximize successes against the drug dealers.
Such capacity building would include specialized training, networking, and opportunities to learn new techniques.
And these skills will be necessary as we confront signs of production and increased consumption in ATS.
Just as importantly, we need more cooperation to confront emerging threats such as New Psychoactive Substances that currently inhabit the grey borders between legal and illegal.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Illicit drugs represent a serious threat to public health and the safety and wellbeing of countries and people, especially children and youths.
Together with treatment and prevention, law enforcement forms part of our balanced approach to solving these global problems.
If we are to achieve long term success, innovation and still more innovation, must be our goal; but we must also cooperate across borders, share information and undertake the joint operations that disrupt the trafficking of drugs.