Despite challenges inherent in tackling world drug problem, we are on the right path, says UN Chief on International Day

Despite challenges inherent in tackling world drug problem, we are on the right path, says UN Chief on International Day. Image: UNODC26 June 2017 - On the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said the international community must honour the unanimous commitments made to tackle this global problem.

While describing the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) 2016 as a ground-breaking moment that provided a detailed and forward-looking blueprint for action, UN Chief underscored: "Together, we must ensure that our approach promotes equality, human rights, sustainable development, and greater peace and security."

Recalling his experience as Prime Minister, Mr. Guterres said, with the allocation of greater resources to prevention, treatment and social reintegration programs, including harm reduction measures, Portugal now has one of the lowest death rates for drug use in Europe.

Mr. Guterres expressed hope that this experience would contribute to the discussion and encourage Member States to continue exploring comprehensive and evidence-based solutions. The UNGASS, in that regard, follow-up process provides the international community with an institutional framework to learn from each other and share best practices.

"Despite the risks and challenges inherent in tackling this global problem, I hope and believe we are on the right path, and that together we can implement a coordinated, balanced and comprehensive approach that leads to sustainable solutions," he added.

In a statement in commemoration of the international day, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, pointed to the statistics: "Around 190,000 people die due to illicit drugs every year, but the damage visited upon lives and communities does not stop there."  

"Drug use damages health in the form of debilitating HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis, while drug trafficking nourishes money laundering, and deadly terrorism," he continued, adding: "Corruption, the great enabler of organized crime, exists throughout the drug supply chain."

Once viewed as a marginal actor on the development stage, drugs and crime are now viewed as a disturbing obstruction to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 3 on health and Goal 16 on peaceful societies. 

On that point, he reiterated UNODC's commitment to peacefully and effectively addressing the challenge of illicit drugs based on the international drug control conventions, and their key principle of protecting the health and welfare of humankind.

"Our response is to work closely with partners to prevent drugs and crime not simply profiting from, but also fuelling, the instability that undermines development, peace, and human rights," he underlined.

Supported each year by individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society.

The theme for 2017 is 'Listen First - Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe'. It is a UNODC initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities.

Further information:

Secretary-General's message on World Drug Day 2017

UNODC Executive Director's message on World Drug Day 2017

World Drug Report 2017: 29.5 million people globally suffer from drug use disorders, opioids the most harmful

2017 World Drug Report