|UNITED NATIONS OFFICE|
FOR DRUG CONTROL AND CRIME PREVENTION
Address to Empower America Congressional Breakfast
|Washington, D.C., USA|
23 February 1999
Check Against Delivery
Introduction: Always believed in solutions to the drug problem
Good morning. I want to thank Empower America and Secretary Bennett for hosting this breakfast. I am very pleased to see Members of Congress and the Administration. Support for international drug control and crime prevention is -- and always has been -- a bipartisan issue. And your backing of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has been crucial to our success.
The drug control landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Not so long ago, some skeptics had given up. Some started tp call for decriminalization and legalization policies. But a core group of international policy makers never accepted this. And at a Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly last June, one hundred and eighty-five countries, along with 32 Heads of State, pledged to significantly reduce drug abuse and production by the year 2008.
I have always believed there is nothing immutable about the widespread abuse and production of illegal drugs. There are solutions to these phenomena. And today -- there is the belief that if countries can sustain their drug control commitments and improve judicial cooperation, a better 21st century can be achieved.
Many people don't know that the United Nations has a drug control body. For more than half a century, we have been bringing countries together to work on the issue. Today we have field offices on five continents and projects in more than 70 countries. Nevertheless, we are a small organization in comparison to the problem, with a budget of 70 million dollars. Today I want to tell you about what we are doing to eliminate drugs and attack the criminals who profit from their sale.
The balanced approach -- Americans share the view:
We believe in a balanced approach to the drug issue. One that views a combination of law enforcement, demand reduction and alternative development measures as the way to achieve results. I know Americans share this view because your experience has proven there is no silver bullet cure.
The U.S. makes up 4 percent of the world's population, but still consumes close to half of the planet's illegal drugs. It is estimated that the drug cartels are making 52 billion dollars a year in profits from narcotics in the United States. According to a University of Michigan study, almost half of graduating high school students say that they have tried marijuana. A recent DEA report says that close to 4 thousand Americans have died in each of the last three years from heroin-related overdoses. The domestic production of amphetamine-type stimulants has also emerged as a problem.
The American response has been a balanced one. Over the past five years, federal money for prevention has increased by 33 percent and resources for treatment have gone up by 38 percent. USAID and UNDCP projects in South America have been successfully helping farmers move away from coca leaf production. And U.S. law enforcement officials -- from the DEA, the FBI and State Department share their expertise with their counterparts in every part of the globe.
And it is working in the U.S......
The balanced approach is bearing fruit in the U.S. A little more than ten years ago I was a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York. Since I joined the U.N. last year, I come to Manhattan on business all the time. And you can tell, New York is different than it was a decade ago.
The statistics are clear. In 1990, at the height of the "crack wars" almost 2300 people were murdered in New York City. A significant number were drug-related homicides. But in the last eight years, education, law enforcement and treatment programmes have worked. The popularity of crack and cocaine has declined in New York and nationwide. In 1996, seven percent of American high school seniors said they had tried cocaine -- down from 17 percent in 1985. The growing age disparity among abusers is notable. For example, among males under 21 years old arrested in Washington, D.C. last year, only 5 percent tested positive for cocaine, compared with 53 percent of those over 35 years old.
The crime rate has come down along with the reduction in demand for drugs. The Justice Department reported that fewer people in the U.S. were the victims of violent crimes last year than at any time in the last twenty-five years. Drug-related homicides are down forty percent nationwide since 1992. And the murder rate in New York City was down by 70 percent from 1990. Of course, there are lots of reasons for the decline. A robust economy certainly helps. But innovative drug control and crime prevention are at the heart of the American success.
.....And all around the world
There are similar stories of achievement around the world. UNDCP is working in Bolivia and the successes there have been tremendous. The Bolivian Government eliminated eight thousand hectares of coca leaf production in just one year. Their previous reduction record was about two thousand hectares. Through the use of the balanced approach, there is every indication that Bolivia will meet its goal of eliminating the coca bush by 2002.
This is not only my opinion. It is something that even the strongest critics of our position are beginning to realize. I was surprised to read in "The Economist" the other day, the following sentence about the drug war in Bolivia: "The Government [of Bolivia] may be really on the way towards its goal: the eradication of all 40 thousand hectares of coca over the next four years. The growers have few influential supporters, and public opinion is largely hostile - especially among those who travel abroad."
And in Peru, UNDCP has supported the government's policy of close cooperation with other countries within the framework of "shared responsibility." 1998 marked the third straight year that cultivation has dropped significantly -- Peruvian land under coca production is down more than 50 percent since 1995.
Colombia has also turned a corner. They are dealing with the "balloon effect" -- in which coca previously grown in Peru and Bolivia has moved across the border to Colombia. I have met several times with President Andres Pastrana. I admire his dynamism and I know he is fully committed to liberating Colombia from its drug shame. A better future must be grounded in a balanced approach. A combination of alternative development projects -- to be undertaken on a large scale -- the peace process, and strong law enforcement will achieve the elimination of coca crops. It is important that the international community continue to help Colombia.
And I ask your support to initiate a large, effective alternative development process in Colombia -- as an indispensable companion to strong law enforcement.
In the Andean region, we have developed business plans for each country which map out the resources needed to slam the door on coca production. We have also been working with international financial institutions to make sure long-term resources will be available. The Inter-American Development Bank has already pledged credits for Peru worth half a billion dollars for the construction of roads, schools and health centres, to make sure alternatives to coca production are self-sustaining. Under an agreement UNDCP signed with the IDB last month, the bank will give higher lending priority to programmes which address the drug problem. And, in return, we will provide the bank with information concerning money laundering and regional abuse trends to help the bank target its lending.
What makes the role of the U.N. unique?
Trafficking, abuse and production of drugs are global issues. No society has been left untouched. We work in a world which can be brutal. To get at the heart of the drug problem -- to save lives -- you cannot sit still and wait for the situation to change.
Ninety percent of the world's opium poppy -- used to make heroin -- comes from two countries -- Myanmar and Afghanistan. I don't have to tell you that heroin abuse among teenagers is rising in America. A recent issue of the medical journal, Pediatrics, said that the proportion of American high school seniors who had used heroin doubled between 1990 and 1996 -- to almost 2 percent.
In Myanmar, with the financial support of the United States and other countries -- UNDCP is on the ground -- with a small alternative development project. But our experience is primarily for future benefit. Until political conditions in the country allow us to expand operations and eliminate opium poppy production, our project in the Wa region will remain in the pilot phase.
And in Afghanistan, UNDCP is appealing to all parties to exert their best efforts to dissuade farmers from planting opium poppy. But our patience is wearing thin. Although the total amount of opium poppy grown decreased by 25 percent in 1998, the area under cultivation increased by 9 percent. The Taleban now controls 96 percent of the country where poppy is grown. They say they are on a mission to create the world's purest Muslim state, and that opium growing will not be tolerated, but they cannot continue to turn a blind eye to its export. Our strategy for the moment is to build a security belt around the country by strengthening border control measures. But there is no doubt that the long-term solution must be the elimination of illicit crops -- with or without the Taleban.
In recent years, we have helped eliminate opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. These are major achievements that show how well grounded our strategy is to eliminate illicit crops worldwide in ten years. Unfortunately, these success stories are almost unknown. The public at-large and the media have largely ignored them. But they were due to the blend of law enforcement measures and alternative development that is the key to effective supply reduction.
Attacking the Underpinnings of Organized Crime:
The international web of illegal drugs -- and the criminals who profit from their sale -- is multi-faceted. But today's political climate offers the international community a chance. There is a glaring need for better judicial cooperation among nations.
It is simply not true that the fight against organized crime has been a failure. If I were to single out the most important development in the last fifteen years, I would say it was the breaking of the myth of invincibility of criminal cartels. Powerful Italian-American mafia groups are declining; the Cali and Medellin cartels have been destroyed when nobody believed it could be done; and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra is in pieces. But other small and middle-sized criminal groups have filled the gap.
These new associations are more modest in comparison to their brazen predecessors, but in some ways they are more insidious. The time has come to attack the structural underpinnings of organized crime. And we need to make a quantum leap if we are going to make progress. Because -- we face a big problem of inadequate domestic and international anti-crime measures.
Consider that even a very advanced country -- like Japan -- has insufficient legislation to counter one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world -- the Yakuza. This secret society trafficks drugs, particularly amphetamines, runs prostitution rings and engages in gun smuggling. But the Japanese judicial structure doesn't have enough tools to fight back. Two weeks ago, I was there. And I was asked by the Minister of Justice and the chief of the Japanese police to help them get a bill passed that would allow law enforcement officials, under the proper judicial authorization, to intercept communication between criminals. You may find it hard to believe, but Japan has no provision on this issue. This is an example of the challenge we face.
In a good year, law enforcement will recover about 500 million dollars -- or less than 1 percent of laundered drug money. And organized crime continues to use this dirty money to accumulate wealth, corrupt public officials and undermine the stability of whole countries. The recent financial crisis in Asia and Russia demonstrate that the combination of corruption, organized crime and money laundering -- what is called, crony capitalism -- can upset political and social systems. These are the major non-military threats of the next century.
It is time to extend to all countries the benefits of measures like confiscation of criminal assets, witness protection programmes and enhanced judicial cooperation. We have to reach the goal of abolishing bank secrecy in criminal investigations world-wide. And it is time to consider strong actions against the off-shore financial centres that host illicit financial flows. We must overcome the current situation, in which a group of countries are making financial transactions more transparent through a set of innovative measures. At the same time, other jurisdictions are moving in the opposite direction. There should not be safe havens for dirty money.
We need a new instrument which spotlights today's problems and builds upon the lessons learned of the past twenty-five years of international law enforcement. This tool is already in our hands. At the U.N. in Vienna, countries are negotiating an international Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. A strong Convention will give all countries the means to address money laundering, asset forfeiture and judicial cooperation.
Conclusion: The U.S. has always been a leader
The United States has always been a leader in the international drug control and crime prevention and it continues to be one today. But more than ever before, these issues have become global. In the 21st century, everyone has a political and economic stake in reducing drug abuse and production and combatting organized crime. Cooperation among nations is the only way we will make progress. The world has much to learn from American expertise and vice-versa. And as the U.N. official responsible for drug control and crime prevention, I will do my best to encourage this process.
Thank you for your support in the past and I look forward to working with you in the future. I am now open to your questions.