Positive power of sports highlighted on UN Day against Drug Abuse

Positive power of sports highlighted on UN Day against Drug Abuse

UNDCP's newest Goodwill Ambassador for Sports,  Eduardo Nájera of the Dallas Mavericks
The United Nations system today seized the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking to highlight the positive power of sports in reducing the demand for illegal drugs.

As part of the annual observance, the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) -- the UN's lead agency fighting illicit drugs and international crime - sponsored a wide range of activities around the world. The agency's headquarters in Vienna organized a "day of fun and sports" for 300 children at the city's International School. In Thailand, Myanmar, Colombia, Bolivia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Kenya, UNDCP offices engaged the local communities in sporting events and live entertainment.

In a message marking the Day, UNDCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi pointed to the agency's use of sports to help children build lives on the playing fields, away from dangerous streets where drugs can be a temptation. "Anyone who has participated in sports knows the exhilaration of scoring a goal in football or hockey, smacking the ball in cricket or baseball or sinking a game-winning basket," Mr. Arlacchi said. "Sports bring out the best in young people by building teamwork, camaraderie and friendships that can last a lifetime."

Calling attention to the important role played by renowned athletes in the agency's "Sports, Not Drugs" media campaign, he urged all athletes to "stand up and help UNDCP to shape a future where goals, baskets and match points count more than drugs."

Athletes' contribution to raising awareness about the dangers of drugs was also flagged by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message for the Day. "I look forward to working as a team with them and all anti-drug abuse campaigners to achieve our common goal of encouraging young people to cherish their bodies, hone their minds and build fruitful lives in which there is no place for drug abuse," he said.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need for communities to become involved in reaching young people. "If we are to promote alternatives to drug-taking lifestyles, entire communities - civic groups, businesses, teachers, doctors and parents - must be involved in the effort to reach into young people's lives and grasp their concerns," he said.

The anti-drugs Day has been marked annually following a December 1987 decision of the UN General Assembly. The Assembly made its decision on a recommendation of the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which, on 26 June 1987, had adopted the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control.