A top United Nations official today called on countries to rethink the global strategy on drug control in light of the diverse and complex challenges that drugs pose for public health, security and development.
“We must build on widespread recognition among Member States and UN entities that drugs, together with organized crime, jeopardize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The MDGs are a set of eight globally agreed targets that seek to halve world poverty by 2015 by combating hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.
“Drug control must become an essential element of our joint efforts to achieve health, security and development,” Mr. Fedotov told the opening of the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN’s policy-making body for drug-related matters, which is meeting in Vienna through Friday.
He noted that in some countries and regions, the financial value of the illicit drug market exceeds by far the size of their legitimate economies. Drug traffickers and those involved in organized crime are forming transnational networks, he added.
“As a result, we are witnessing more and more acts of violence, conflicts and terrorist activities fuelled by drug trafficking and organized crime.”
Mr. Fedotov highlighted the need to ensure that supply and demand reduction efforts work together rather than in parallel, and that more effective use is made of the various international legal instruments available.
He also stressed the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach in confronting the threat from drugs more effectively, citing Afghanistan as a good example of UNODC’s integrated strategy in action.
“We have to realize that drug control is a shared responsibility. The resources of the countries on the frontlines are stretched to the limit and they need the international community’s help,” he pointed out.
Building new partnerships is also crucial to be more effective in confronting the global drug problem, added Mr. Fedotov, who also cited the need for the UN to have a system-wide approach to tackling both drugs and crime.
“Such a step reflects the spirit of One UN, but it is also a practical necessity if we are to make real headway against this global, hydra-headed threat,” he told delegates.