On World Day, UN says efforts to combat illicit drugs must be linked to development

26 June 2015

Marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, top United Nations officials focused on the need for alternative development for farmers who cultivate illicit crops and for leaders to address drug trafficking and drug abuse that pose as obstacles to sustainable development for the world.

Marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, top United Nations officials focused on the need for alternative development for farmers who cultivate illicit crops and for leaders to address drug trafficking and drug abuse that pose as obstacles to sustainable development for the world.

Also today, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its 2015 World Drug Report, which estimated that 246 million people - slightly over 5 per cent of those aged 15 to 64 years worldwide - used an illicit drug in 2013. Some 27 million people are problem drug users, almost half of whom are people who inject drugs, and an estimated 1.65 million of people who inject drugs were living with HIV in 2013.

The report says that men are three times more likely than women to use cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines, while women are more likely to misuse prescription opioids and tranquillizers.

It also focuses on alternative development, “a long-term strategy aimed at developing alternative sources of income for farmers dependent on illicit drug cultivation.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message on the Day, said efforts against illicit drugs must be connected to work to promote opportunities through equitable and sustainable development.

Mr. Ban said that in September, when leaders from around the world will meet at the United Nations to adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda to eradicate extreme poverty and provide a life of dignity for all, they must address various obstacles, including the deadly harm to communities and individuals caused by drug trafficking and drug abuse.

He said that “we must address the nexus between illicit drugs and violence, corruption and terrorism.”

“A balanced approach recognizes the close connections between those who traffic in drugs and criminal networks involved in firearms smuggling, kidnapping, human trafficking and other crimes,” the UN chief said. “This work must also include redoubling efforts to prevent the supply of the precursor chemicals that are the foundation of so many illicit drugs.”

Looking ahead, he said that the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem, to be held in April 2016, can advance this cause, with countries sharing knowledge and forging common solutions.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, upon release of the report at UN Headquarters, said “links between transnational organized crime, terrorism and armed violence are growing, with wide-ranging negative effects on security, governance and development, not to speak about the devastating effect on people and communities.”

Mr. Eliasson also noted that “alternative development can change lives, and in doing so promote greater economic and social opportunities.”

In his message, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov noted that Africa, particularly West and East Africa, remains vulnerable to the trafficking and the consumption of illicit drugs.

“These trends are part of organized crime’s attack on the security, health and development of an already-fragile region,” he said. “The nexus of organized crime and terrorism-including the apparent role of drug trafficking-is a serious threat. Opium cultivation in Afghanistan remains a formidable challenge, as is the production of cocaine in Latin America.”

He also said that at present, “only one in six people who use drugs globally has access to treatment. Women face numerous barriers to treatment-while one in three drug users globally are women, only one in five drug users in treatment are women.”

“Alternative development for farmers who cultivate illicit crops also has a major role. Alternative development promotes environmental protection, supports communities affected by other forms of crime, including wildlife and forest crime, and empowers women,” he said.

But he said, “unfortunately, this year’s World Drug Report also shows that widespread political support for alternative development has not been matched by funding,” and urged for shared responsibility against illicit drugs. Funding allocated by OECD countries to support alternative development declined by 71 per cent between 2009 and 2013, amounting to only 0.1 per cent of global development assistance.

Established by the UN General Assembly in 1987, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26, serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by Member States of creating an international society free of drug abuse.

 

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