Mexico, where tens of thousands of people have been murdered and mutilated in drug wars over the past five years, today called on the United Nations to help establish strict controls in producer and supplier countries on the high-powered weapons that feed the arsenals of traffickers.
“It is unjust and inhuman that the profits of the arms industry should decide the deaths of thousands of people,” Mexican President Felipe Calderón told the UN General Assembly on the opening day of its annual general debate, calling the huge profits of drug trafficking and easy access to high-powered weapons two sides of the same coin against which the world must forge a common front.
“At the United Nations we must continue to drive forward negotiations for the International Convention on Trade in Arms so as to avoid their diversion to activities that are forbidden under international rules,” he said, citing a proposed treaty that has been under discussion in various UN forums for several years.
Listing drug trafficking and transnational organized crime among three major challenges facing the UN – the other two were climate change and health – Mr. Calderón called for action by consumer countries to curb the stratospheric profits of drug trafficking, which are fuelled by an ever growing demand.
“Now, more than ever, countries with the highest levels of drug consumption must take effective action to reduce demand,” he said. “And if that is not possible, or they are disposed or resigned to seeing consumption continue to grow, these consumer countries must in any case find ways of reducing the enormous profits which criminals make on their black market.
“They are morally obliged to find solutions that cut off this source of financing and explore other options and alternatives that stop drug trafficking money from being the source of violence and death, particularly in Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Africa.”
On climate change, Mr. Calderón called on the international community to turn into action decisions taken last December’s UN talks in Cancún, Mexico, that formalized mitigation pledges for developing nations and protected the world's forests.
“I am concerned that what has been achieved so far could be lost though the lack of necessary political leadership, hence I appeal to the United Nations and its leaders to take serious responsibility for the results of Durban 2011,” he said, referring to the upcoming climate change talks in the South African city.
On public health he cited Mexico’s own system of universal coverage, calling it the basis for confronting the challenge of chronic and infectious diseases at the international level.
Mr. Calderón also referred to the Middle East crisis, the unrest shaking the Arab world, and the need for reform of the 15-member Security Council, which has remained unchanged for decades although overall UN membership has increased to 193.
In his speech to the Assembly, Guatemala’s President Alvaro Colom Caballeros, also stressed that drugs and human trafficking by trans-national groups of organized criminals remained a challenge to the country’s security and called for greater regional and international cooperation to tackle the problem.
On the Assembly’s theme of conflict mediation, Mr. Caballeros said that sanctions were acceptable if imposed by the Security Council, but rejected the idea of “coercive measures adopted unilaterally.”
“In this regard, we call on the Government of the United States of America to abandon the economic embargo applied against the Republic of Cuba. We believe that such a step would result in many favourable consequences in both countries,” Mr. Caballeros added.
Echoing Mr. Caballeros’ concern over the drug problem, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón told the Assembly that there had been successes in the fight against the trafficking of narcotics but major challenges remain.
“Colombia will keep fighting these scourges. We will achieve success only if we keep on cooperating and act together in this fight affecting all States equally,” said Mr. Santos.