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Drug Commission Begins Ministerial-Level Meeting to Review Efforts to Tackle Global Drug Problem
|Ministers Assess Implementation of Action Plans Adopted at 1998 GA Special Session|
VIENNA, 16 April (UN Information Service) - The global drug scene had changed since the 1998 United Nations "Drug Summit", which had called for even greater understanding, imagination and flexibility, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said this morning at the opening of the ministerial segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
The Commission's current session provided Member States with an opportunity for a mid-term review of the progress achieved in meeting the goals and targets for the year 2008 set out in the Political Declaration, adopted in 1998 by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session, devoted to countering the world drug problem together. At this special session more than 150 Governments committed themselves to achieving significant and measurable reductions of the illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008.
Continuing, Mr. Costa added that it was necessary to accompany the reduction in drug supply with an equal reduction in drug demand. Otherwise, prices of narcotics would go up and "the game never ends". The presence of more than 75 ministers reaffirmed that the international drug control system enjoyed strong political endorsement. The basic principle of shared responsibility - in a context that was integrated, balanced and based on full knowledge - remained the blueprint for collective action.
P. Emafo, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, said significant reduction in the illicit demand for and supply of drugs continued to be the international community's goal. That would only be possible when governments demonstrated a strong commitment in addressing the drug problem. Governments should develop objective and reliable mechanisms for making effective assessments of the impact of drug policies, and implement sustainable drug supply and demand reduction programmes with short- and longer-term outcomes.
Opening the meeting, Commission Chairperson Patricia Olamendi Torres (Mexico) stated that drugs had weakened the security of nations and national institutions, attacked the health of people and caused States to divert crucial economic resources. The ministerial segment provided an opportunity to seek a consensus in combating the drug problem. It was necessary to strengthen the political will and commitments to continue taking action at the domestic and national levels in order to tackle the scourge.
During the discussion, speakers overwhelmingly emphasized the principle of shared responsibility in addressing the global drug problem. They also reiterated the need for strong bilateral, regional and international cooperation to counter the threats posed by the linkages between illicit drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime, including terrorism and money-laundering. The importance of alternative development, especially for those countries that had adopted measures to reduce and eradicate illicit drug crops, was also stressed.
The representative of Brazil, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the reaffirmation of shared responsibilities implied a renewed commitment to multilateralism and international cooperation, particularly in the form of increased technical and financial assistance to developing countries. International cooperation must address the needs of producer and transit countries, as well as the requirements of developing countries affected by growing demand and a surge in drug-related crime.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Greece's Minister of Health and Welfare, noted that despite the progress made, further action was required in the fight against drugs. Efforts to tackle the drug problem could not be constructive unless there was international cooperation and a strong commitment to promote action. Such action should be guided by a common vision to tackle the drug problem through a balanced approach between supply and demand reduction and the shared responsibility principle.
The Commission, the central policy-making body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters, analysed the world drug situation and developed proposals to strengthen the international drug control system.
Also addressing the meeting this morning were high-level government officials from Mexico, Brazil, Iran (on behalf of the Asian Group), Greece, Bolivia, Italy, Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Peru, Pakistan, Croatia, Ecuador, Australia, Tanzania, Algeria, Guatemala, Cuba, Indonesia, Colombia, Argentina, Switzerland, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Hungary, China, United Kingdom. Statements were also made by the representatives of China and the United Kingdom.
The Commission will continue its ministerial segment at 3 p.m. today.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs met this morning to begin its two-day ministerial-level segment. This year's forty-sixth session of the Commission is significant since it provides Member States an opportunity for a mid-term review of the progress achieved in meeting the goals and targets for the year 2008 set out in the Political Declaration, adopted in 1998 by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session, devoted to countering the world drug problem together.
In June 1998, more than 150 States committed themselves to achieving significant and measurable results in the reduction of the illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008. The Assembly's special session, better known as the "Drug Summit", adopted three action-oriented resolutions: a Political Declaration; a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction; and Measures to Enhance International Cooperation to Counter the Global Drug Problem.
Those international cooperation measures included two action plans against the illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), their precursors, as well as the eradication of illicit drug crops and alternative development. Other measures focused on promoting judicial cooperation, countering money-laundering and the control of precursors.
The theme for the ministerial segment is "The assessment of the progress achieved and the difficulties encountered in meeting the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session". Over two days, the Commission will take stock of the extent to which the goals adopted by the Assembly have been met, the obstacles and challenges encountered, and the prospects for more effective international drug control.
PATRICIA OLAMENDI TORRES (Mexico), Chairperson of the Commission, welcomed all the participants to the ministerial segment. In 1998, the international community, motivated by the need to overcome the fragmented picture of international cooperation against the global drug problem, had recognized the comprehensive nature of the approach required to effectively tackle the issue. The ministerial segment provided an opportunity to seek a consensus in combating the drug problem. It was necessary to strengthen the political will and commitment to continue taking action at the domestic and national levels in order to address the problem.
Drugs, she said, had weakened the security of nations, weakened institutions, attacked people's health and obliged States to divert economic resources from other areas to tackle the issue. They had also led to other forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, arms trafficking, terrorism, corruption and money-laundering, all of which had transnational repercussions.
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the Assembly's special session was a milestone on the long road towards a more effective drug control policy for three reasons. Firstly, it brought a breath of fresh air, as governments unanimously reiterated the importance of a balanced approach. While previous relevant international conventions had focused on cultivation, production and trafficking - the supply side of the drug equation - the 1998 meeting gave more prominence to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, thereby adding value to the demand side.
Secondly, he said, governments had recast drug policies into a broader mould by capitalizing on the inter-sectoral nature of issues at stake, among other things. Thirdly, the special session had called for improving knowledge on drug matters. It sought to promote more determined international efforts to collect and systematize information for more accurate mapping of the illicit drug problem. Meetings, resolutions and action plans were fine, he noted, but did drug control work? He believed that the next two days would prove that it did.
On the positive side, he noted a significant reduction of opium and coca cultivation in Southeast Asia and the Andean countries had taken place, as well as a reduction in cocaine and heroin abuse in major markets in North America and Western Europe. Turning to the future, he said that the presence of 146 delegations and more than 75 ministers reaffirmed that the international drug control system enjoyed strong political endorsement. The basic principle of shared responsibility - in an integrated balanced context and based on full knowledge - remained the blueprint for collective action.
Furthermore, since 1998, the drug scene had changed, calling for even greater understanding, imagination and flexibility. Policy was being adjusted accordingly, building on the foundations provided by United Nations conventions and goals adopted in 1998. The world drug situation could no longer be viewed in isolation. In addition, governments must rigorously pursue the scientific review of the possible medical uses of cannabis. It was necessary to accompany the reduction of drug supply with an equal reduction in drug demand, otherwise prices of narcotics would go up and the game would never end.
P. EMAFO, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, said governments had met the goals of the special session on drugs to varying degrees. Significant reduction in the illicit demand for and supply of drugs continued to be the international community's goal. The Drug Summit had addressed aspects of drug control that had been featured in drug conventions. Drug policies adopted in one country had consequences on others. Unilateral action could compromise the integrity of the entire drug control system. There was a consensus that cannabis was a harmful drug. The Board was concerned over debates on its decriminalization and legalization. Such debates fostered dissemination of misleading messages and ignored public health concerns.
The drug problem depended on international cooperation and collaboration in the quest for long-term solutions, he said. Existing international drug control treaties must remain the overall framework around which national drug policies were developed. Long-term economic development was hampered by ineffective drug control. Sustainable economic development was a precondition for achieving sound drug control. Development assistance should take into account those interdependencies. Significant reduction in the demand for drugs was possible when governments demonstrated a strong commitment in addressing the drug problem. History demonstrated the fact that the enforcement of international national drug laws had succeeded in preventing the illicit supply and use of drugs.
Some governments had made significant progress in action taken against money-laundering, improved judicial cooperation and precursor control, he said. The Board was pleased with the successful interdiction of precursor chemicals used for the illicit manufacture of cocaine, heroine and amphetamine-type stimulants through both its Operations Purple and Topaz and its Project Prism. The international community should continue to build on such successes, and demonstrate a collective will to rid societies of illicit drug supplies and drug use. Governments should develop objective and reliable mechanisms for making effective assessments of the impact of drug policies, and implement sustainable drug supply and demand reduction programmes with short- and longer-term outcomes.
JORGE ARMANDO FELIX (Brazil) on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China said the meeting represented a defining moment in the struggle against the scourge of drugs. The reaffirmation of shared responsibilities implied a renewed commitment to multilateralism and international cooperation. International cooperation must address the needs of producing and transit countries, as well as the requirements of developing countries affected by a surge of drug-related violence and crime.
He said that in developing countries, the problems posed by drugs impinged on societies already struggling against the enormous repercussions of poverty and social exclusion. International cooperation could only be effective if it reinforced developing countries' efforts to promote sustainable development. The Group reiterated the need for strong bilateral, regional and international cooperation to counter threats posed by the linkages between illicit trafficking of drugs and terrorism, and various other forms of transnational organized crime.
The Group also reiterated the importance of alternative development, especially for those countries that had adopted measures to reduce and eradicate illicit drug crops. Greater international cooperation was needed to support alternative development. He called for greater market access for products originating from alternative development programmes. There was also a need to maintain the balance between licit supply of - and illicit demand for - opiates and opiate-derivatives for medical and scientific purposes. The control of cannabis cultivation was an important issue with negative social and economic consequences. The Group was alarmed that decriminalization policies of cannabis use in certain developed countries might hamper efforts in supply reduction.
Speaking in his national capacity, he emphasized his Government's firm commitment to global efforts to address the drug problem. Brazil's President had stressed his determination to build a new national agenda integrating sectoral public policies into the national anti-drug policy.
ALI HASHEMI, Adviser to the President and Secretary of the Drug Control Headquarters of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Asian Group, said the Group was concerned that two of the least developed countries in the region were producing the highest level of opium in the world. The Group had both the political will and commitment to counter poppy cultivation and other illicit drug production. On the basis of shared responsibilities and partnership, the international community must provide additional financial resources. While appreciating measures taken by Afghanistan's transitional authorities, the international community must help Afghanistan achieve its commitment to eliminate the illicit cultivation of opium poppy by 2013. Adequate support should be provided to neighbouring and transit States in their fight against drug-trafficking and in strengthening the security belt around Afghanistan.
He stressed the importance of having a comprehensive and balanced approach towards drug control measures, both as they related to geography and themes. The Group was deeply concerned about the linkages between illicit drug production and trafficking with terrorism, organized crime, arms trafficking and money-laundering. The growing threat posed by the illicit manufacture and abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants required firm action. Law enforcement agencies should improve their capacities to counter the diversion of precursors used for the production of amphetamine-type stimulants. Dissemination of information on their adverse health effects, as well as their social and economic consequences, was vital.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that Iran, which bordered on one of the largest sources of opium production in the world, had spared no effort to fight drug-trafficking and to promote drug demand reduction. The cost of such efforts had resulted in heavy human and financial losses. A comprehensive solution to drug cultivation in Afghanistan called for an international undertaking to ensure the continued flow of assistance to Afghanistan and its neighbours. Iran had agreed to provide financial and material assistance for the building of border control posts in Afghanistan, as well as for the training of law enforcement officers and crop substitution.
COSTAS STEFANIS, Minister of Health and Welfare of Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the biennial report of the UNODC Executive Director showed the substantial progress made by the international community in addressing the drug problem. Efforts had been invested in a balanced approach, combining law enforcement and control measures in the supply reduction field with health and social measures in the demand reduction field.
Despite the progress made, he said drugs continued to threaten societies both due to their links with organized crime and their impact on public health. Further action, therefore, was required. Efforts to tackle the drug problem could not be constructive unless there was international cooperation and a strong commitment to promote action. Such action should be guided by a common vision to confront the drug problem through a balanced approach between supply and demand reduction, based on the principle of shared responsibility.
Significant progress could be noted, he said, in the EU member States in the demand reduction and risk reduction fields. Much, however, remained to be done, mainly in putting research findings into practice. Efforts should further concentrate on early interventions for young people experimenting with drug use. The EU, he added, considered the provision of treatment to all those in need as a major priority.
CARLOS SAAVEDRA BRUNO, Ministry of External Relations and Education of Bolivia, said the country had reduced production of coca leaf from 40,000 hectares to 8,000 hectares. As a result, some 2,000 tons of drugs had been removed from the American and European markets. Few countries had made such efforts to combat drugs. Bolivia understood the great cost of the fight against drugs and the economic and social costs of that fight had been great. Poverty and lack of opportunities had caused some peasants to produce coca leaf. Although it had been the decision of the Bolivian people to fight drugs, it did not make the cost of that decision any less dramatic. Producers of illegal coca saw it as their only source of income.
Since it had begun to eradicate coca production, Bolivia's democracy had come under permanent threat, he said. The fight against drugs could not be separated from the fight against poverty. The country's new commitment to combat drugs sought to consolidate what had already been achieved, and included a new target entitled "The alternative to development strategy". While Bolivia was fully committed to the fight against drugs, the international community's commitment was essential. Progress had been made, but the journey must be completed. More help was needed in inter-sectoral programmes to combat poverty. Community incentive programmes for peasant groups were also needed to move them away from the vicious cycle of coca production.
GIANFRANCO FINI, Deputy Prime Minister and Vice-President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, said that the fight against drugs had revealed new aspects, calling for renewed efforts and means to combat them. Over recent years, a disturbing growth of new synthetic drugs, which had evaded rigorous control, had been seen. Also, labs for drug production were proliferating in many countries. The joint ministerial statement to be adopted tomorrow was a clear, loud political message to be conveyed to the international community, establishing the essential channels to be followed for attaining the objectives set in 1998. The three United Nations conventions on drug control stood as an adequate response to the problems in that area. While encouraging progress had been made, targets remained distant.
The drug phenomenon in Italy was grave, he noted. The Government had established an aggressive policy to tackle the problem on all fronts. It had taken into account that measures for demand prevention were essential to control the spread of the drug problem. Italy was convinced that it was not feasible to ignore the possibility of total recovery, and that the drug problem should be tackled on all fronts. It was also necessary to address the links organized crime had with the drug problem. He was also convinced that actions aimed at demand reduction should work in conjunction with efforts for supply reduction. He added that the fight against drug production was fundamental for Afghanistan. The drug component should be taken into account by organizations active in that country. He appealed to all donors to contribute generously to the fight against drugs.
VLADIMIR V. NAUMOV, Minister of Interior of Belarus, said the number of drug-related crimes was growing in his country. The number of drug users was also increasing. Drug abuse affected the most employable segment of the population. In 2002, there had been an increase in the number of seized drug products. Belarus was a transit country for the dissemination of narcotics from Afghanistan through Central Asia and the Russian Federation. The trade from Western Europe had also seen a significant increase. In 2003, three drug trafficking routes had been cut off from the Russian Federation and Afghanistan. Solving the drug trafficking problem included improving the modern methods used to identify drug suppliers. The drug problem could only be solved by mutual cooperation among countries. Special attention should be given to the laundering of criminal proceeds. Preventive measures were also needed to increase awareness of the drug problem. Substitution therapy was an effective way to reduce the availability of illegal drugs on the market.
He said international narcotic measures must be comprehensive. Belarus supported the main recommendations of the special session and attached high priority to countering the spread of narcotic drugs. In that regard, the potential capacity of the UNDCP must be fully tapped. The programme must have a steady source of funding. A more significant share of the UN budget should be appropriated for the struggle against drugs. He called on all States to ensure that various drug control conventions were globally applied.
AREVALO MENDEZ ROMERO, Vice-Minister for External Affairs of Venezuela, said that his country had taken on the fight against drugs, examining it in all its forms. He was concerned and alarmed at the escalation of violence and the growing economic powers of criminals involved in the crime chain, as well as the growing transnational links of the drug problem. He commended the Executive Director of UNODC for his presentation of the report, which offered an adequate framework for an assessment of the progress made by Member States in working towards the objectives agreed upon in 1998. The report had also taken into account obstacles identified by governments to achieving those objectives, and showed that additional efforts would be required through international cooperation.
On international cooperation, he believed that cooperation programmes were of utmost importance in combating illicit trafficking, based on the principle of shared responsibility and a balanced approach. It was necessary to make simultaneous attacks upon all links in the drug chain. He attached importance to international, regional and bilateral cooperation programmes. Also, he highlighted the cooperation that countries in the Andean Community had received from the European Union, and called for the extension of the tariff preference system. Such a system could help developing countries in their fight against drugs. Extension of this tariff preference system would be a tangible demonstration of the belief in the shared responsibility principle.
KEMBO MOHADI, Minister of Home Affairs of Zimbabwe, said his country remained committed to countering the drug problem on the basis of the 1998 Political Declaration. The ability of the international community to combat drugs depended on continued international cooperation and increased financial assistance to producer and transit countries. While the drug problem had not reached astronomical levels in Zimbabwe, it was fast becoming a cause for concern as recent seizures indicated that the country was being used as a transit zone. Cannabis was the most widely used narcotic drug in the country. Zimbabwe was concerned about the emerging tendency to decriminalize the drug, which might hamper efforts towards supply reduction.
One of the challenges faced by his country was the lack of technologically advanced detection equipment at airports and other points of entry, he said. Zimbabwe was taking the threat of drug trafficking seriously. An integrated approach to the problem of drug abuse had been put in place under the National Drug Control Master Plan. The police had involved youth, who were most vulnerable to drugs, in policing programmes. Drug laws in Zimbabwe were adequate for applying controls in accordance with international drug control treaties. The Government had enacted various laws in that regard. Countries acting on their own, however, could not deal with the drug problem. For that reason, Zimbabwe was participating in South Africa's Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, which had proven effective in information exchange.
NILS ERICSON CORREA, President of the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs of Peru, said that his country had a national agreement, signed by all the country's political parties, which stressed that the fight against drugs was a national priority. It was necessary to adapt to new threats and identify critical areas to be strengthened. It was also necessary to ensure that reduction in one country was not offset by increases in other countries. The drop in the coca price was a fundamental element in the reduction of Peru's cultivated areas. However, success in that sphere was followed by an increase in the coca price, generating a source of opposition to eradication. To address that, Peru had redoubled its efforts and increased seizures.
Nevertheless, he continued, the price of coca leaf remained high. Only through regional cooperation could concrete results be achieved. Also, it was crucial to attack the entire drug chain and not focus solely on eradication. The origin of the drug problem was poverty. Peru invested US$160 million annually in coca growing areas, but the sum had been insufficient to assist the thousands of farmers abandoning coca production. The Government had also given priority to road infrastructure, the issuance of land titles, and the accordance of loans to peasants, in order to create conditions for development and the creation of economic programmes.
Also crucial was the EU tariff preference system, he said. Consideration should be given to increasing the competitiveness of products from countries, such as Peru. The main obstacle in achieving the set objectives was the exclusively "ad hoc" approach to the crisis, which had contributed to illegal crops. It also prevented the consolidation of eradication efforts and the promotion of development. "Let us not wait for a crisis to happen, with its potential for disaster, before we take action."
FAISAL SALEH HAYAT, Minister of the Interior of Pakistan, said that in the fight against the drug problem the international community had come a long way since 1998. With unswerving political resolve and efforts at the national and international levels, positive results could be achieved in a relatively short period of time. Areas that called for enhanced emphasis at the national and international levels must be identified. Pakistan had been cited as a success story in terms of its achievements to eliminate illicit crops through a combination of law enforcement and alternate development initiatives. Political will, coupled with balanced policies and appropriate implementation structures, were prerequisites for affirmative action against the drug problem.
While there were reasons to be optimistic, new patterns and trends called for timely action, he said. While developing countries were exerting efforts for the elimination and control of illicit cultivation, they were also facing the spectre of increasing drug abuse. The problem of drug addiction in developing countries was generating serious socio-economic and health repercussions, placing additional demands on already limited resources. Amphetamine-type stimulants were proliferating across the globe without discrimination, he said.
The categorisation of States as drug-producing, transit and consuming countries was no longer valid. Today, all countries were falling victim to that common enemy. In that regard, countries had to commit to strengthening the UNDCP as the primary body for international action against the global drug problem.
Regarding Afghanistan, he stressed the importance of alternative development for farmers and landless labourers. The imperative for international assistance could not be overemphasized. Pakistan was already cooperating with the Afghan authorities to rebuild its economy.
ANTE SIMONIC, Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, said that his country was fully committed to tackling the drug problem and was making all efforts to achieve the objectives agreed to in 1998. Among other efforts, the National Strategy on Combating the Narcotic Drug Abuse was adopted by Parliament in 1996. In addition, the Law on Combating the Narcotic Drug Abuse was approved in November 2001. The purpose of the law was to efficiently fight the growing danger of increased drug abuse.
Croatia, he said, strongly supported cooperation with international organizations and institutions that dealt with drug control, especially the UNODC, INCB and the CND, as well as with the EU and the World Health Organization. To expand its contribution to the global war on drugs, Croatia had submitted its candidacy for membership in the CND from 2004 to 2008.
Further international cooperation and the strengthening of regional efforts were necessary to destroy international crime organizations, since no country could efficiently face that problem alone. Croatia was willing to share its positive experiences in implementing the relevant UN conventions, as well as in combating the drug problem with other countries in the region. International cooperation and coordinated efforts were essential to achieving common goals, namely international peace and stability, economic and social prosperity, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and a drug-free world.
JOSÉ MARIA BORJA, Prosecutor General of Ecuador, said the Political Declaration was a milestone in the process of launching a frontal attack against drugs and drug trafficking. Joint efforts to combat the negative effects of drugs were essential. Ecuador was committed to the objectives of the 1998 Declaration and had elaborated a national strategy to combat the drug problem. That plan contained systems of research and study, prevention of consumption, treatment and rehabilitation, production control, management and funding. The strategy had already led to a number of achievements, including the operation of an Ecuadorian network of institutions that promoted community participation in social welfare, health and preventive education programmes.
Ecuador, through its ratification of various legal instruments, had demonstrated its commitment to the fight against drugs, he said. The time had come to strengthening this fight by emphasizing the importance of preventive measures. Effective control strategies must encourage the creation of dialogue and mechanisms to carry out eradication projects in vulnerable areas must be consolidated. Programmes for reduction of illicit production must be devised by countries themselves with local participation. Ecuador had worked intensively on a programme for prevention and social rehabilitation. His country had sought to contribute to the fight against drugs through innovative initiatives. The fight against drugs required shared responsibility and international cooperation.
CHRISTOPHER ELLISON, Minister for Justice and Customs of Australia, said that his Government had done much in the five years since the special session to implement agreed measures. Its National Illicit Drug Strategy, "Tough on Drugs", was the largest single initiative ever undertaken in Australia to combat illicit drugs. The Strategy involved a governmental approach in the fight against drugs and included law enforcement, education and health. Australia's notable achievements included reduced heroin availability, fewer drug users, increased seizure of illicit drugs, as well as the successful National Illicit Drug Campaign.
On international cooperation, he said that Australia continued to contribute to global, regional and bilateral efforts to combat the abuse, trafficking and manufacture of illicit drugs. International cooperation in tackling the global drug problem was vital to advancing international development. Australia recognized its shared responsibility with other countries to address both the causes and impact of drug abuse and trafficking. Australian law enforcement had developed particularly strong relationships with partner agencies across the Asia Pacific region. Those relationships had led to significant operational successes, enhanced law enforcement cooperation, and bilateral agreements with a number of countries in the region.
OMAR RAMADHAN MAPURI, Minister for Home Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, said his country had developed a national drug control master plan and was party to the 1988 drug convention. Among its achievements, the country had enacted the Drugs and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking and Drugs Act in 1995, which prescribed severe punishments for the production and trafficking of narcotics. The Tanzania Police Force cooperated with other foreign drug enforcement agencies in efforts to apprehend drug barons, control deliveries and exchange information.
Noting some of the challenges facing his country, he said that more support was needed to implement the newly-adopted National Drug Control Master Plan. There was an urgent need to develop an integrated formal and informal preventive drug abuse education curriculum for youth. His Government would continue to strengthen its judicial systems. Whenever necessary, laws would be amended to ensure that those found guilty of dealing in the production, trafficking and distribution of narcotic drugs received the appropriate punishment. Tanzania was fully committed to the fight against narcotic drugs and would fully support organizations, countries and regional cooperation in addressing the problem.
MOHAMED CHARFI, Minister of Justice of Algeria, said that the ministerial statement to be adopted at the conclusion of the segment would be a new milestone in the collective desire to harmonize drug control standards, and provide a new impetus to the international cooperation required to tackle such a transnational scourge. The report of the UNODC Executive Director had noted that cannabis was the most consumed drug in Africa and the most trafficked drug. The report also noted that certain developed countries had policies which risked undermining drug control measures.
To address that situation, the member States of the African Union had adopted an anti-drug plan for the period 2000-2006, to integrate sustainable development policies, particularly those for poverty reduction. He welcomed the similarity in approach taken by the African Union and the UNODC in their integrated handling of the drug problem. He called for the socio-economic tier of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to be part of the priorities of the UNODC's plans.
Due to its geographical location, Algeria was a transit country and it needed to step up efforts to tackle international drug trafficking, he said. Algeria, neither producer nor consumer, found itself facing the challenge of criminal activities by drug networks. That had led the Algerian authorities to establish a national office to combat drugs, in October 2002, as well as an office to fight the financing of drug trafficking and money-laundering. The globalization of the drug scourge required the integrated handling of all issues, based on the principle of shared responsibility. He was convinced that the strengthening of international cooperation to implement the relevant United Nations conventions was the best bulwark in the joint struggle against the trade in and use of illicit drugs.
RAFAEL MACEDO DE LA CONCHA, Prosecutor General of Mexico, said Mexico's commitment to combating drugs and trafficking was relentless. Because of its geographical situation, Mexico's airspace and waterways were used by criminals. Its socio-economic situation and the high profits of drug trafficking had caused Mexico to become both a drug producing and consuming country. It was also affected by increasing trends in designer drug consumption. Drug trafficking and consumption were both the cause and origin of other crimes, such as human and arms trafficking and money-laundering.
Mexico committed human and economic resources to the drug problem, resources which could be used for badly needed development programmes, he said. Its 2001-2006 national programme against drugs included the themes of the Political Declaration, such as prevention of drug consumption and combating money-laundering. Mexico had signed numerous drug-related treaties, including an Inter-American Treaty for Cooperation. Mexico's borders could not be used with impunity, but should be key areas in the fight against terrorism. He called on those States that had not done so to ratify related instruments. Since 1998, the notion of shared responsibility had inspired greater cooperation efforts. Member States must do their utmost to assist in the costly struggle against drugs.
EDGAR ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that Guatemala was greatly affected as a transit country for illicit drugs. While enormous resources had been used, human lives put at risk, prevention programmes carried out, and an entire institutional and legal architecture created, the problem remained just as intense. Among other things, the drug problem had caused delays in establishing peace, crucial for a post-conflict country such as his and future development.
Something must be lacking in the strategy, he said. For countries like his, three aspects must be taken into account. Firstly, poor economic development alternatives strengthened drug trafficking and production. Secondly, young democracies must have a prevention system for governance crises. Thirdly, to be effective, international cooperation must occur at the political, economic and cultural levels of countries like Guatemala.
Recently, Guatemala had made great efforts to carry out its obligations in the fight against drugs, he said. The results had been encouraging. The Government had established a service for anti-drug analysis and information, among other things, and had confiscated thousands of kilos of cocaine and over US$ 20 million in 2003. It had also increased legislation on chemical precursors and had passed model legislation on money-laundering. He was convinced that, working together, the international community would overcome the scourge of illicit drugs.
ROBERTO DIAZ SOTOLONGO, Minister of Justice of Cuba, said that while progress had been made since 1998, illicit drug abuse and trafficking continued to pose grave global problems. The Caribbean region accounted for some 40 per cent of drugs transit and about 50 per cent of marijuana production. While it was not a producer or a transit country, Cuba's greater participation in trade and economic relations meant that it was not immune to the dangers posed by drugs. Drug traffickers were interested in using his country. Since 1995 there had been some 175 attempts to transport drugs through Cuba's airports to Europe. Cuban criminal law established serious punishment for drug related activities. All ways and means were used to combat the phenomenon. A comprehensive national prevention programme established in 1999 was now in place.
He said Cuba welcomed new strategies by the UNDCP and his country was committed to cooperating with it. The legalization of cannabis could prove to be a historic error. He supported regional maritime cooperation based on the principle of non-interference in the matters of sovereign States. The strength of Cuba's people was the main guarantee of preventing drugs from penetrating Cuba's families and ruining their lives.
ACHMAD SUJUDI, Minister of Health of Indonesia, said the rising trend of drug abuse, illicit production and illicit trafficking remained one of Indonesia's most serious problems. The transformation of Indonesia from a transit point to a destination country was also a concern. Drug abuse was increasing and there had been a threefold increase in the number of drug users within the past five years. More than ever, Indonesia was facing more serious drug and organizational problems. While it was aware of the constraints of pursuing a drug-free country, Indonesia would not stop pursuing its strong commitment in fighting drug abuse.
Indonesia had intensified efforts to confront the challenges posed and continued to pursue comprehensive and multidisciplinary strategies. A concrete plan of action to implement political decisions of the Drug Summit had been formulated in prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and law enforcement. Indonesia had strong drug control legislation. It attached great importance to concerted efforts in combating regional drug problems, and would continue to play an active role in fostering regional cooperation in drug demand and supply reduction. Indonesia fully supported efforts to increase international assistance to needy countries, as such assistance would strengthen the national capacity in combating the problem.
CAROLINA BARCO ISAKSON, Minister for External Relations of Colombia, said the colossal challenge posed to the international community by illicit drugs required a commensurate response. The manufacture and trafficking of illicit drugs had led to other criminal activities, such as trafficking in arms and humans beings, money-laundering and terrorism. The commitments undertaken in 1998 constituted a road map to tackle the problem. Efforts could not be limited to mere statements, but must take concrete form involving specific actions. In the 1998 Declaration, States undertook to spare no efforts to tackle the issue, based on the principle of shared responsibility and the non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
Colombia had been and remained a victim of the drug problem and of terrorism, which were closely linked since terrorist groups were fuelled by the drug trade's resources, she said. One should question the role and responsibility of consumers in the tragedy, she noted, since it was their demand which fuelled illicit drug production and trafficking. Considerable resources, equivalent to 1.48 per cent of Colombia's GNP, had been directed towards fighting criminal organizations, destroying illegal factories and strengthening legal and prison systems to punish those involved in illegal undertakings. Up until today, coca production had destroyed 1,700,000 hectares of tropical rain forests in her country.
It was not sufficient to have solidarity with nations to overcome the scourge, she said. It was also necessary to jointly assume the commitments and undertake the requisite actions. It was necessary to open international markets to licit products and extend tariff preference systems. Colombia was undertaking consistent action to tackle all aspects of the problem. While the Government had made progress in reducing areas under coca cultivation, this was not sustainable without a reduction in the demand for illicit drugs. Colombia would continue its fight, hoping the international community would continue to shoulder its responsibility in fighting the problem.
WILBUR RICARDO GRIMSON, Secretary of Programming of Argentina's "Prevention of Drug Addiction in the Fight against Narco-Trafficking" (SEDRONAR) said that families, churches, schools and other elements of society must face the drug problem individually. If schools, for example, failed to deal with the crisis of adolescence, children would turn to drug abuse. If the church focused only on specific dogmas, they would be left out of the drug debate. Families could also be marginalized unless they were open to discussing the drugs issue. Argentina was devoted to community mobilization and prevention. Each municipality had the responsibility of mobilizing resources to address the drug problem. At the beginning of the 1998 conference, there had been much talk of drug prevention. The problem of drugs could not be dealt with unless individual aspects of the problem were addressed. The question went beyond the medical field.
Drug control meant reaching the addict, he added. Regarding the question of interrupting drug consumption, there was a need to look at what made individuals need drugs. Drugs were often part of the addict's identity. He had been pleased to hear of the actions taken by countries such as Brazil to combat the drug problem. Opening schools on weekends, for example, would keep children occupied and reduce the likelihood of their turning to drugs.
THOMAS ZELTNER, Secretary of State of Switzerland, said that his country's policy had been based on a law that was revised in 1975. The objective at that time was not only to reduce the consumption of narcotics, but also to address their trafficking. That twofold objective had not been achieved, unfortunately. At the end of the 1980s, the clear signs of the failure of that policy could be seen. In that context, the four-pillar drug policy was born. The former practice was based on the three pillars of prevention, therapy and law enforcement. Harm reduction had been added. Even a drug addict must be helped, and whoever wished to turn a drug addict into a drug-free individual must begin with ensuring his survival.
The success of the new strategy was felt immediately, he said. The number of drug-related deaths had decreased and continued to decrease. Crimes linked to the acquisition of drugs had also decreased. The health of addicts and their reintegration into society had significantly improved. That had led to the need to elaborate a new law, which had been submitted for public consultation. The result of the consultation had strengthened the belief that Switzerland had not only chosen the right path, but also needed to continue on it. He did not believe that Switzerland's path was the one which others must necessarily adopt. Every country had to follow the path that best suited it. At the same time, Switzerland was willing to share its experiences with those interested.
JEAN-CÉDRIC JANSSENS DE BISTHOVEN (Belgium) said his country would contribute nationally and regionally to the achievements of the Political Declaration. Belgium had sought to reduce both supply and demand, including through the treatment of drug-dependent individuals and actions against drug traffickers. Belgium had set up measures to detect heroine imports. Its actions were targeted at the European Union's external borders. Belgium's greatest concern was the increase of trafficking in synthetic drugs. A recently-created police unit, the "synthetic drugs bureau", was responsible for sharing information on synthetic drug production and use. Belgium had developed an early warning system, making possible wide dissemination of information on the development of chemical precursors. Belgium also participated in the Prism, Topaz and Purple projects.
Belgium paid particular attention to the problem of drug abuse, he said. The prevention component of drug abuse was a priority of its actions in that regard. In addition to prevention, the Government had also increased care for drug addicts. Increased attention had been paid to the risks of substitution treatments. Regarding the criminal aspect of the drug problem, Belgium had recently approved two bills, which introduced a distinction between cannabis and other drugs, and treatment for cannabis use. Belgium had in no way opted for a policy of tolerance or liberalization, but was opting for a policy concerning the private use of cannabis.
KASSYMZHOMART TOKAEV, Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that the scale of the drug problem and its linkages with other crimes were a matter of great concern. There was no way to effectively respond to the situation without consolidating the efforts of the international community. Despite the fact that international cooperation had been deepened and broadened, the global drug situation was still far from being totally addressed. Drugs were the primary source of financing for terrorist activities.
Despite the success of military operations in Afghanistan and the efforts of President Karzai's Government, the country was still one of the major producers of drugs. There was no hope that that situation would change drastically in the near future. It was well known that around 75 per cent of world's drugs were produced in the territory of Afghanistan. Therefore, he supported the contents of the ministerial statement referring to assistance to that country. It was necessary to begin the implementation of special programmes for alternative development in Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan had become a transit country for smuggling drugs from South Asia to European markets, he noted. The volume of illicit drug trafficking and drug use continued to grow, threatening the political and economic situation of the country. The Government had focused on prevention and rehabilitation measures and on efforts to counter illicit drug trafficking. It was concerned about the spread of HIV/AIDS among the general population as a result of increased drug abuse. A number of agreements and treaties had been concluded, and the country had participated in a number of regional organizations. The Central Asian States had the right to expect adequate assistance to effectively tackle the issue. In addition, he was closely following the dispute on the legalization of so-called "soft" drugs. He believed cannabis was a dangerous drug and opposed efforts to legalize its use.
ATTILA MESTERHÁZY, Political State Secretary, Ministry of Children, Youth and Sports of Hungary, said it was a historical day for Hungary. Last week, Hungarians had voted for accession to the European Union by an 84 per cent majority. The Government was today signing the accession treaty with the Union in Athens. That event made Hungary responsible for undertaking joint actions based on shared values.
He said that to meet the goals of the Political Declaration, Hungary had set up a National Drug Strategy, which addressed the drug problem in a balanced and integrated manner. His Government was determined to provide treatment, therapy, and social reintegration for drug users to reduce the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse. Legal measures focused on synthetic drugs and their precursors. Special efforts were also being taken to address money laundering. Hungary fully supported the Declaration's call for strengthened international and regional cooperation as an essential tool in combating the drug problem.
ZHANG YAN (China) said that during the past five years, Member States had further strengthened both domestic drug control efforts and international drug control cooperation. While international drug control had registered notable achievements, the situation remained grave. While the harm of traditional drugs, such as heroin, had yet to be eliminated, new types of drugs, such as ATS, had become rampant. Developing countries continued to need financial resources for drug control. The growing tendency towards the legalization of illicit drug use was very disturbing. International drug control was still a heavy responsibility and had a long way to go.
His Government had developed an integrated and balanced national drug control strategy, mobilized all government agencies and sectors of society to participate in drug control and had achieved remarkable success. In the past five years, in accordance with the provisions set out by the special session, the Government had continued to perfect its system of drug control laws and regulations, developed an effective national drug control strategy, and promoted international drug control cooperation. It attached great importance to solving problems, such as the lagging of drug control legislation, inadequacy of financial, technical and human resources, and enhancing coordination between agencies. Fully aware of the enormous difficulties facing the international community in conducting drug control activities, he stressed the need to further strengthen international drug control cooperation.
PETER JENKINS (United Kingdom) said that tackling drug misuse was one of the most important social issues today. The United Kingdom was a major target country for the world's illicit drugs producers. Some four million people in the United Kingdom used at least one illicit drug each year. To address the challenge, his country had developed a clear strategy and made provisions to increase annual drug-related expenditure. Part of the strategy was to prevent young people from becoming tomorrow's problematic drug users. The country's policy towards cannabis was a part of the picture. It would remain illegal, and the punishment for trafficking in it would continue to be severe. Cannabis, however, was not as immediately dangerous and damaging as highly addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine. For that reason, the United Kingdom had reclassified cannabis as a "class C" substance.
Other measures included expanded provisions for substance misuse treatment within the youth justice system, and giving courts the power to include drug treatment as part of community sentences, he said. The United Kingdom would be focussing on the some 250,000 users of heroine and cocaine, and would work to reduce supply both through domestic interdiction and by working closely with countries on key supply routes. It would work closely with the Transitional Administration of Afghanistan to eliminate opium poppy.