High Level Panel discussion

"Sustainable Development and the World Drug Problem:

Challenges and Opportunities"

ECOSOC Chamber, 15 July 2014, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Organized crime and illicit criminal activity undermined essential institutions like the rule of law and delivery of education and health, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told the Economic and Social Council, opening a high-level panel discussion entitled "Sustainable development and the world drug problem: challenges and opportunities".

The United Nations leading expert on drugs and crime further said that drug cultivation hindered growth of legitimate economies and businesses. Alternative development strategies promoted by UNODC had reduced cultivation, but farmers also needed infrastructure in order that the new crops they produced could be marketed and income generated.

Joining Mr. Fedotov in making opening statements were United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Economic and Social Council President Martin Sajdik. On the panel were Khaled Abdel-Rahman Shamaa, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations in Vienna and Chair of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs; Norachit Sinhaseni, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations; Mary Chinery-Hesse, Commissioner, West Africa Commission on Drugs; Lochan Naidoo, President, International Narcotics Control Board, Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive-Director, UNODC; and Alberto Otárola Peñaranda, Executive Director of DEVIDA.

Mr. Ban agreed on the negative impact drugs and organized crime could have on people's lives and on societies. Drugs and crime were corrosive and harmed justice systems, State institutions and communities. "That is why it is so important to help farmers choose alternative crops," he said, stressing the need to stabilize markets and create decent jobs. "When we take these measures, we do more than fight drugs and crime - we promote progress and peace."

Panellists shared their experiences in addressing the drug problem from the State and regional level, as well as from within international institutions.

Mr. Shamaa said alternative development featured heavily in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation, which promoted an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem. In preparations for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (www.ungass2016.org), he had seen the link between sustainable development and the drug problem repeatedly raised. There was also broad international agreement on the need to tackle the problem, even if differing views remained on how the issue should be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda.

A concept note on the discussion providing more background information can be found here.