Press Releases

     

    GA/SHC/3741

    13 October 2003

    THIRD COMMITTEE HEARS CALL TO ADDRESS GLOBAL SOCIAL,
    ECONOMIC PROBLEMS PROVIDING “BREEDING GROUND”
    FOR ILLICIT DRUGS, TRANSNATIONAL CRIME

    NEW YORK, 10 October (UN Headquarters) -- The international community must not falter in its commitment to respond to the threats posed by the illicit drug problem and transnational organized crime, said the representative of Jamaica, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its consideration of issues related to crime prevention and drug control, including the cultivation, trafficking and consumption of drugs.  

    Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he stressed the need to address global social and economic deficiencies that provided the breeding ground for these “twin evils”.  It was an inescapable fact that drug cultivation in his region was directly linked to economic disadvantages.  The inability of people, especially the young, to find legitimate, sustainable employment had forced many to turn to illegal alternatives.

    National governments must be supported in generating alternative sources of employment to address the economic constraints that often fostered illicit drug cultivation and drug trafficking, he stated.  The CARICOM urged the formulation of comprehensive demand and supply reduction policies that acknowledged the two dimensions of the drug problem.

    Venezuela had become an international drug transit country and was therefore fully committed to combating the illicit trafficking of drugs, said a representative from that country.  Crime prevention was directly related to the quality of life, democracy and respect for human rights, and in this regard it was necessary to combat inequalities and eradicate poverty through international cooperation.

    Afghanistan’s opium economy was a consequence of the degradation of the agricultural and economic conditions after 20 years of war, said that country’s representative.  The Government was facing a legacy of drug cultivation, production and consumption.  In addition to its national strategies for drug control, Afghanistan was convinced that its drug problem could be solved with the assistance of the international community.  It was, however, essential to provide a substitute crop replacing the poppy and to ensure that the substitute had a competitive international market value. 

    The principles adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session defined the fight against the world drug problem as a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated, balanced approach between supply and demand reduction, as well as a comprehensive strategy combining alternatives development, eradication, law enforcement, treatment, rehabilitation and education, he concluded.

    Other speakers addressed the link between a lack of opportunities and trafficking in human beings.  A representative of Serbia and Montenegro said organized crime was the gravest problem faced by her country, and it had seriously impeded its transformation into a stable democracy, said a representative of that country.  Organized crime also posed one of the greatest threats to regional stability, and authorities in Serbia and Montenegro had undertaken decisive measures to combat trafficking in human beings.  Trafficking of persons was the most common form of organized crime in South-East Europe despite legislation criminalizing such offences.

    A representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the motivation of States to reduce and abolish smuggling and trafficking sprung not only from a desire to limit the number of irregular migrants entering or transiting their country, but from a desire to weaken or eliminate criminal elements engaged in various kinds of crimes, including capital crime.

    Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Mexico, Libya, Algeria, Kuwait, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ghana, Indonesia and Ecuador (on behalf of the Andean community). 

    The Committee is expected to continue its consideration of crime prevention and international drug control at 3 p.m. on Monday, 13 October.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will continue its consideration of crime prevention and international drug control.

    For further background information please see press release GA/SHC/3740 of 9 October.

    Statements

    YUNUS M. BAZEL (Afghanistan) said Afghanistan’s opium economy had grown mainly as a consequence of the degradation of the agricultural and economic infrastructure due to more than 20 years of war.  Since January 2002, the cultivation, production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs had been banned.  Afghanistan’s national drug control strategy would be implemented through vigorous enforcement against drug traffickers.  Development assistance would also be provided to opium-growing areas in the framework of national development programmes.  The Government would also try to provide treatment and rehabilitation for drug abusers and involve social organizations and individuals in prevention and rehabilitation programmes.  He stressed the importance of providing a substitute crop to replace the poppy and that the substitute crop needed to have a fairly competitive international market value. 

    Afghanistan was firmly convinced that the country’s drug problem could be solved with the assistance of the international community.  The principles adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session defined the fight against the world drug problem as a common and shared responsibility.  An integrated, balanced approach between supply and demand reduction was required, as well as a comprehensive strategy combining alternatives development, eradication, law enforcement, treatment, rehabilitation and education. 

    As elaborated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Executive Board for the Afghanistan country programme, security and economic developments were interrelated objectives that must be pursued in tandem, he said.  A favourable security environment was needed for the success of both relief and development activities.  At the same time, economic development that fostered legitimate livelihoods -- particularly alternatives to soldiering and poppy farming -- was needed for the sustainable rehabilitation of security services. 

    PATRICIA OLAMENDI (Mexico) said that while Mexico had made significant progress in combating drug trafficking and production, the challenges to eradicate drug trafficking and related crimes were still enormous.  Mexico was seriously affected by the problem, and it had allocated significant financial resources to combat it.  Mexico was dealing with the problems of drug production and transit, and demand and consumption had increased in recent years, causing a public health problem.

    The growth of drug trafficking networks and other criminal organizations in the trafficking of arms, money laundering, smuggling and trafficking in vehicles were among other illicit activities that posed additional challenges, she said.  These networks showed a surprising capacity of adaptation to the government mechanisms of control.

    The integrated approach to combating these problems had gained ground at regional and international levels, she said.  Mexico’s approach at the regional level included the adoption of recommendations to strengthen inter-American cooperation to combat drug trafficking by sea.  Reducing demand, controlling trafficking, production, diversion of chemical precursors and strengthening international cooperation was the focus of her Government’s efforts.

    The Convention against Transnational Crime was a big step forward in combating crime and would enable States to effectively tackle the illegal activities of organized groups, she said.  The first inter-American meeting held in Mexico City on 8 October to develop cooperative mechanisms against organized crime involving drug trafficking had produced encouraging results.

    Drug trafficking and organized crime thrived where governments succumbed to corruption and that is why the Mexican Government focused on that issue, she said.  Her country was pleased with the results of the recent meeting in Vienna to negotiate the convention against corruption and called on all Member States to participate at the high-level conference to be held in Merida, Mexico from 9 to 11 December to sign the convention.

    AHMED Y.Y. GZLLAL (Libya) said he appreciated the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in providing technical assistance to his country.  The drug problem was international in nature and required international, regional and national cooperation.  Efforts to halt the spread of drugs must focus on awareness raising about the dangers of drugs, particularly among young people.  Specific mechanisms must also be established to stop the smuggling of chemical precursors.

    Libya had recently become a transit area for drug traffickers due to its geographical location, he said.  The Government was attempting to combat drug trafficking; however, due to its transnational nature, cooperation was necessary.  Legislation had been enacted to prevent drug trafficking, including capital punishment for drug dealers.

    Modern technology had brought many positive factors to humanity, he said.  It was unfortunate that drug traffickers and money launderers were today using modern technologies.  In this connection, he welcomed the entry into force of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and stressed its importance in the prevention of crime.

    Corruption threatened the sovereignty of laws and stability of States, he said.  International cooperation was also needed to battle corruption, and the drafting of a convention against corruption was an important step in the right direction.

    ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said that as an international drug transit country, where in recent years there had been a sharp increase in the transit of drugs, Venezuela was fully committed to combating illicit trafficking.  Her country had developed an action plan to establish prevention and control measures to curb drug trafficking and counted on international cooperation to further its efforts.  Her Government was especially concerned about the trend in shifting drug cultivation from one country to another, a trend which had affected Venezuela.  It had also reformed anti-drug laws to include a chapter to prevent the entry of precursors used in illicit production and to curb the production and trafficking of precursors used in amphetamine-type stimulants.

    Crime prevention was directly related to the quality of life, democracy and respect for human rights, she said.  In this regard it was necessary to combat inequalities and eradicate poverty through international cooperation, which was also needed in combating organized crime, including the shared use of intelligence while respecting sovereignty of each country. 

    Corruption affected social structures in all respects, created economic distortions, undermined the legitimacy of public institutions and had a negative impact on the social and economic development of countries, she said.  Venezuela was trying to put an end to impunity for corruption and was making great efforts to strengthen democratic institutions.  Venezuela supported the draft of the convention against corruption adopted in Vienna and hoped it would be unanimously adopted during this General Assembly session.

    STAFFORD O. NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that despite positive developments, drug abuse, especially in developing countries, remained at an unacceptably high level.  The rapid and widespread increase in the illicit production and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, especially among children and young people, was particularly worrying.  Equally alarming was the ever-increasing link between drug trafficking, arms smuggling and terrorism.  Collectively, those elements threatened international peace and security.  They also presented formidable challenges to the economic and social development of the countries concerned, as they undermined respect for human rights, compromised social order and democratic institutions and resulted in the significant loss of human life.  Therefore, CARICOM urged the formulation of comprehensive demand and supply reduction policies that acknowledged the two dimensions of the drug problem.

    The CARICOM region, by virtue of its geographical location, had become a victim of the illicit trade in narcotics, he said.  It was an inescapable fact that the cultivation of drugs within the region could be linked directly to economic disadvantages.  The inability of people, especially the young, to find legitimate, sustainable employment had forced many to turn to illegal alternatives.  It was therefore imperative that the international community supported national governments in generating alternative sources of employment to address the economic constraint that often fostered illicit drug cultivation and drug trafficking. 

    There was also concern about the uncontrolled spread and use of small arms, he said.  The region’s interest in this matter had been dictated less by armed conflict and more by criminal use of those weapons by those who sought to destabilize the region through criminal networks involved in the trafficking of drugs and weapons.

    There was increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region, which had embarked on several drug control and crime prevention initiatives, he said.  The international community must not falter in its commitment to respond to the threats posed by the drug problem and transnational organized crime.  Equally important was the need for the international community to address the global social and economic deficiencies that provided the breeding ground for those twin evils, as it was only through the collective efforts of all Member States that real progress could be achieved.

    ABDELOUAHAB OSMANE (Algeria) said his country was greatly concerned about the threat of illicit drug trafficking to its population.  The use of its territory as a transit zone was contributing to an increase in drug consumption.  His Government was considering a national plan to combat drug trafficking and was counting on international cooperation to strengthen its efforts.  He reiterated Algeria’s appeal to the United Nations Drug Control Programme to provide needed support to African efforts to combat HIV and drug-related HIV in the continent.

    The Convention against Organized Crime was a major step forward for international efforts to combat crime, he said.  Algeria had been subjected to the ravages of terrorism for over a decade and supported all efforts to fight transnational crime.  It was convinced this convention would serve as an effective mechanism in that fight.

    NAWAF N.M. AL-ENEZI (Kuwait) paid tribute to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and said he looked forward to the Eleventh Congress to be held in Thailand.  Terrorism remained a threat to international peace and security, but that phenomenon could not be tied to any race, people or religion.  The previous regime in Iraq had threatened international peace and security, and it had been necessary to punish the perpetrators of such crimes.  In the occupied Arab territories, other crimes were being committed in flagrant violation of human rights. 

    The Government was treating the problem of drugs in Kuwait as a top priority, he said.  Legislation had been enacted, which considered drug addicts as sick persons, as opposed to criminals.  Work had been undertaken to implement programmes in cooperation with civil society.  He expressed concern that opium cultivation remained high in Afghanistan, despite efforts made both nationally and internationally.  The international community needed to continue in its support of the Government of Afghanistan.  In this connection, it was important to provide substitute crop alternatives, as well as to address both the supply and demand sides of the problem.   

    WANJUIKI MUCHEMI (Kenya) said that while globalization had made some positive contributions, it had also presented national criminal gangs with new illicit business opportunities that had transformed them into transnational crime syndicates.  It had especially profound implications for Africa, where there was a severe shortage of both financial and technical resources to combat the problem.

    The high rate of criminal activity in Africa had led to a substantial loss of resources for national development programmes, he said.  For that reason, his Government was fully committed to international efforts in combating international crime, and had undertaken steps to ratify the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime.  Kenya called for the provision of additional resources to the Centre for International Crime Prevention to enable delivery of technical assistance, particularly to developing countries.

    Due to Kenya’s unique position as a communication hub in East Africa, it had been a conduit for drugs from the Far East destined for international markets in the West, he said.  In recent years, his country had experienced an upsurge in the production, distribution and consumption of drugs, with youth being the most greatly affected.  To stem the tide of illicit drug proliferation, his Government had initiated numerous measures to increase border controls, impose stiffer penalties on drug dealers, and strengthen its anti-narcotics police force.

    He pointed out that for Kenya and other developing countries, the drug problem only exacerbated efforts to combat poverty.  Kenya reiterated the importance of alternative crop development programmes and increased market access for products from developing countries, as part of the fight against illicit drug cultivation and trafficking.

    Mr. AGGAD (Saudi Arabia) said terrorism could not be linked to a religion or a nationality.  International cooperation was needed to eradicate that dangerous scourge, with the participation of all members of the international community.  He looked forward to the conclusion of the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on terrorism.  Concern was also raised about the trafficking in persons, drugs and weapons, as well as the scourge of corruption. 

    Another equally dangerous crime was the trafficking in human organs -- currently on the increase -- hampering peoples’ lives and development, he said.  Saudi Arabia believed that a new international instrument must be created in order to tackle this crime.  Such an instrument would enact legislation to punish perpetrators and protect and assist victims of such crimes.  It was suggested that an optional protocol or an annex be attached to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on trafficking of human organs. 

    MARIJA ANTONIJEVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said Serbia and Montenegro welcomed the entry into force of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime.  Organized crime was the gravest problem faced by Serbia and Montenegro and had seriously impeded the transformation of her country into a stable democracy.  Furthermore, it had posed one of the greatest threats to regional stability. 

    Authorities in Serbia and Montenegro had undertaken decisive measures to combat trafficking in human beings, the most common form of organized crime in the region of South-East Europe, she said.  Legislation had been amended to criminalize trafficking in human beings, and the Government also established special teams charged with suppressing that trafficking.  With the cooperation of local non-governmental organizations, a public awareness campaign had been launched and shelters had been set up to provide assistance and protection to victims of trafficking.

    Organized crime was transnational in nature and Serbia and Montenegro attached great importance to cooperation at the regional and international levels, she said.  Cooperation within the South-East European region was a backbone of her Government’s efforts to combat this scourge.  Pointing out that various forms of organized crime still prevailed in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, she called on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo to step up its efforts to combat the problem there.

    ILHAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan) said the international fight against drugs required an integrated and balanced approach.  Full respect for territorial integrity and non-interference and respect for human rights was part of that approach.  Drugs were killing young people and entire societies and must be confronted both at the national and international levels.  Developing countries’ capacities must also be strengthened.  The African continent was not only devastated by poverty and epidemics, but was also suffering from the drug trade coming from the East and the West.  A great deal of drugs were left behind in Africa and sold to local consumers. 

    Special importance must be given to combating poverty and improving education, particularly among young people, she said.  The Sudan welcomed efforts under way to reduce the demand for drugs but was concerned about the lenient policies on drugs in some parts of the world. 

    The Sudan was currently implementing the plan of action against transnational organized crime, she said.  It was hoped that the recent Convention on Transnational Organized Crime would allow further international efforts to also tackle issues such as money-laundering and corruption.  In this regard, the Sudan was looking forward to the final drafting and adoption of the Convention against Corruption.  

    MAVIS KUSORGBOR (Ghana) said her Government, recognizing that crime denied a society peace and security, remained committed to fighting crime at both the national and international levels.  Ghana’s initiatives to combat crime included the recruitment and training of police personnel and the establishment of an endowment fund to mobilize additional resources from the public sector to strengthen law enforcement.

    Ghana had also taken necessary steps to improve its criminal justice system to address the issue of corruption, she said.  Corruption, like other criminal activities, had led to other transnational crimes, such as fraud and money- laundering.  Ghana welcomed the forthcoming conference in Mexico to sign the Convention against Corruption.

    Regarding the global drug problem, Ghana had actively engaged with other West African countries in efforts to prevent the transit of drugs through each other’s territories and to reduce the illicit manufacture and consumption of drugs.  Noting that drugs exacerbated poverty, she said many people in developing countries had resorted to growing illicit crops and drug trafficking as a source of income.  It was therefore imperative that developed countries fulfil commitments made at recent international conferences to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, with special emphasis on the eradication of poverty.

    PERWITORINI WIJONO (Indonesia) said nations were robbed of wealth that should be channelled productively into projects and activities for development because of the violence and suffering caused by organized crime and the greed of corrupt public officials.  Human resources were destroyed, and the futures of individuals and nations were put at great risk.  That was why Indonesia fully supported the Secretary-General’s appeal to Member States to sign the United Nations convention against corruption. 

    Parallel with developments at the international level, there had been a number of significant accomplishments at the national level, she said.  Indonesia had also engaged those challenges at home by adopting anti-crime and anti-corruption measures aimed at strengthening its legal machinery and enhancing governance, while safeguarding the social and economic interests of its people.  The Government had set up an independent financial intelligence unit to prevent and eliminate money-laundering.  On the global fight against illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption, Indonesia believed that the international community must optimally and continuously reinforce new and existing multilateral legal instruments and mechanisms to save future generations from drug abuse, addiction and associated crimes.

    LUIS GALLEGOS (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Andean community, said the Andean countries were aware of the serious threat to public health posed by the production, trafficking and consumption of psychotropic drugs and supported all international efforts to combat the problem.  The members of the Andean community were committed to continuing collaboration on guidelines for the Alliance of American States in confronting the illicit drug problem. 

    In a recent meeting in Bogotá, the Andean community had reiterated its strong condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations, and of drug trafficking and its related crimes as presenting grave threats to regional peace and security, human rights and democracy.  He said they had agreed on actions to deal with the global drug problem, with an emphasis on control of illegal drug production and trafficking, diversion of chemical precursors, and money-laundering.

    Continued regional and international cooperation was critical to effectively combat those problems, he said.  Multilateral strategies must take into account joint responsibilities, setting priorities for alternative development and developing an integrated approach to reducing illicit drugs supply and demand.  Equally critical were efforts by consuming countries to carry out realistic and effective policies to reduce demand.

    LUCA DALL’OGLIO, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the motivation of States to reduce and abolish smuggling and trafficking sprung not only from a desire to limit the number of irregular migrants entering or transiting their country, but from a desire to weaken or eliminate criminal elements engaged in various kinds of crime, including capital crime.  Reducing smuggling and trafficking must also be seen as an approach to secure the well-being of migrants and potential migrants, moving them out of smuggling rings which had ramifications in other transnational criminal activities.  The challenge ahead was to step up efforts leading to a true globalization of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and to support States parties in the complex legislative and administrative measures, which were necessary to implement the Convention and its Protocols. 

    These activities would continue to be strengthened; yet the IOM believed that its most relevant contribution in the fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings was to combine programmes within an overall orderly migration management context, he said.  Preliminary indications suggested that more open migration opportunities weakened the incidence of trafficking or smuggling.  This initiative was being carried out through a concerted dialogue between sending and receiving countries by focusing on the demand factors driving trafficking and smuggling. 

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