Fighting drug abuse, trafficking must be part of the battle against poverty, Ban says

26 June 2010
With UN help, Liberian police stop and search a car suspected of carrying drugs

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking hold back achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and should be fought as part of an overall policy to wipe out social ills, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“Our work to achieve the MDGs and fight drugs must go hand-in-hand. In seeking to eradicate illicit crops, we must also work to wipe out poverty,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed each year on 26 June.

Under this year's theme of “Think Health, Not Drugs,” Mr. Ban noted that significant health challenges stem from drug abuse – including the spread of HIV through injecting drugs. One of the eight MDGs includes reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The MDGs also target environmental sustainability, which is threatened by drug trade effects such as coca cultivation in the Andean Rainforest or chemical runoffs from cocaine labs.

In his message, Mr. Ban noted that illicit drug trade undermines governance, institutions and societal cohesion. Drug traffickers typically seek routes where the rule of law is weak, and as a result, drug-related crime “deepens vulnerability to instability and poverty.”

Mr. Ban called on Member States in his message to become parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which adopted in 2000, includes three protocols against human trafficking and illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.

The convention and protocols fall under the jurisdiction of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which announced in its new World Drug Report 2010 that amphetamine-type stimulants and prescription medications are increasingly becoming the drugs of choice globally.

In the report, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa also cited the rise of cocaine in West Africa and South America.

In his speech today, Mr. Ban linked the booming trade of cocaine and other drugs to increased corruption and insecurity which threaten the sovereignty of States.

“That is why the United Nations is putting a stronger emphasis on enhancing justice and fighting crime in peace-building and peacekeeping operations,” Mr. Ban said.


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