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    Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1650
    Release Date:  23 June 2000
    “The Problem Belongs to All of Us” Says General Assembly President
    In Message on International Day Against Drug Abuse

     NEW YORK, 22 June 2000 (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of the President of the General Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia) on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is observed 26 June:

     Today, 26 June, we observe the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1987 as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

     Despite that determination, the drug problem continues to ravage individuals, communities and even whole countries.  Its linkages with a range of other problems -- crime, corruption, pornography, violence and HIV/AIDS, to name but a few -- underline how pervasive the drug problem has become in today’s world.  The theme for this year’s observance, “Facing reality: denial, corruption and violence”, is, therefore, most appropriate, given the scope of the problem of drug abuse and trafficking.

     No country is immune.  The highest rates of abuse of some drugs are now in developing countries, and drugs are produced in both industrialized and developing countries.  The problem belongs to all of us.

     Two years ago, the Assembly met in special session to consider the drug issue in depth.  An unprecedented number of heads of State or government came to New York to urge global action against what has become a global problem.  Equally unprecedented was the degree of consensus that emerged as to how the world community should address this complex issue.

     In the Political Declaration which they adopted, governments went so far as to establish concrete targets -– with deadlines -– for action in different areas of drug control.  Consensus was also reached on a set of Guiding Principles to be applied in reducing the demand for drugs.  Strategies were adopted to address amphetamine-type stimulants and precursor chemicals.  Measures were agreed upon to promote judicial cooperation and to counter money laundering.  An Action Plan was adopted to eliminate illicit drug crops through alternative development measures.

     This proactive approach was a marked contrast to the voices of defeatism that are sometimes heard in the drug control field.  It gave a strong impetus to governments, and many of them have already made significant progress in implementing the agreed strategies.  It also provided a boost to the work of the United Nations in drug control, and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme benefited from a 37 per cent increase in income during the just completed biennium.
     
     We must not allow ourselves to become complacent at what can only be described as a strong political and strategic advance.  On this International Day, therefore, let us renew the commitment we made two years ago to act in concert to protect our citizens and the very institutions of government and society from drug abuse and trafficking.

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