Ministerial Segment of the
Drug Commission Concludes Ministerial Segment with Adoption of Measures to Enhance Drug Control Efforts
VIENNA, 17 April (UN Information Service) -- Recognizing that the drug problem was still a global challenge and constituted a serious threat to health, development and security, the Ministerial Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs concluded its two-day session with the adoption of recommendations to enhance the implementation of drug control measures.
The Commission, the central policy-making body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters, analyses the world drug situation and develops proposals to strengthen the international drug control system.
Adopting the "Joint Ministerial Statement and further measures to implement the action plans emanating from the twentieth special session of the General Assembly", ministers and government representatives reaffirmed their commitment to the outcome of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly on drugs, held in 1998.
At that meeting, over 150 Governments adopted a Political Declaration, committing themselves to achieving significant and measurable reductions of the illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008. The current ministerial segment constituted a mid-year review of progress in achieving those goals and targets.
Also in the Ministerial Statement, representatives expressed grave concern about policies and activities in favour of the legalization of illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that were not in accordance with the international drug control treaties and that might jeopardize the international drug control regime.
They also recognized that progress had been uneven in meeting the goals set in the Political Declaration. Furthermore, they were deeply concerned by the serious challenges and threats posed by the continuing links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism and other criminal activities, such as money laundering and human trafficking.
To be successful, they agreed, action to address the drug problem must be supported by strong international cooperation, and required a balance between supply reduction and demand reduction. In the spirit of the principle of common and shared responsibility, it was recommended that financial and technical support continue to be provided for the fight against illicit drugs.
The Statement proposes further measures in the following areas: national drug control strategies, demand reduction, illicit synthetic drugs, control of precursors, judicial cooperation, countering money-laundering, and international cooperation in illicit crop eradication and alternative development.
In closing remarks, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said that everyone had recognized that the struggle was to be long, and the approach integrated. Despite achievements, there was still unfinished business, including reducing drug cultivation and drug abuse, and the issues of synthetic drugs and cannabis.
Commission Chairperson Patricia Olamendi Torres, Under-Secretary for Global Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, noted that despite differences of opinion, everyone was united by the common desire to combat and eradicate the world drug problem. The work done during the ministerial segment would constitute a new watershed in international cooperation for the fight against drugs.
Also during the ministerial segment, four round tables were held on the following themes: challenges, new trends and patterns of the world drug problem; countering illicit drug supply; strengthening international cooperation in countering the world drug problem, based on the principle of shared responsibility; and demand reduction and preventive policies.
Presenting the outcomes of those round tables were Petr Mares, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic; Kembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs of Zimbabwe; Achmad Sujudi, Minister of Health of Indonesia; and Costas Stefanis, Minister of Health and Welfare of Greece.
Statements were also made this afternoon by the representatives of Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Djibouti, Seychelles, Oman, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Angola, Libya and Ethiopia. The representative of the Vienna NGO Committee also spoke.
The forty-sixth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs met this afternoon to conclude its ministerial segment. The two-day high-level meeting provided Member States an opportunity for a mid-term review of the progress achieved in meeting the goals and targets for the year 2008 set out in the Political Declaration, adopted in 1998 by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session, devoted to countering the world drug problem. (For further background, see press release UNIS/NAR/787 issued on 16 April.)
AFIF HENDAOUI (Tunisia) said that his country had adopted a comprehensive national strategy to combat drugs, which incorporated the guidelines contained in the Political Declaration adopted at the 1998 special session, as well as set up a system to combat drugs at all levels. The strategy enjoyed the participation of the police, customs agents, non-governmental organizations and various departments dealing with youth, sports and family affairs. Great importance was given to prevention in combating drug abuse. Campaigns targeting young people in particular were among the measures undertaken. There was also a centre for medical and psychological assistance to drug users, as well as programmes for rehabilitation and reintegration.
In the legislative field, Tunisia had laws and decrees covering the full range of actions, including prevention and confiscation of proceeds from drug trafficking, he said. In addition to other efforts, the Government had adopted a programme on mental health to combat drug abuse. The country was working to strengthen ways and means to avoid precursor abuse. It was doing its utmost to achieve its drug control aims. He proposed exporting countries be required to have licenses for companies importing substances, so that an effective method for combating drug trafficking was in place.
KURMANBEK KUBATBEKOV, Chairman of the State Commission on Drug Control of Kyrgyzstan, said the close link between the drug trade and terrorism was obvious. As a transit country, Kyrgyzstan had been on the front line of the struggle. In May 1999, Kyrgyzstan's President had spelled out the concept for establishing a drug-free zone in the Silk Road. A new stage in global development required the solving of numerous tasks, including the need to combat the roots of terrorism.
Continuing, he said he supported the continued United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime action to strengthen the safety belt around Afghanistan. The task of enhancing security and stability could only be solved through an integrated, balanced approach. A broad set of measures, including not only law enforcement, but also social rehabilitation, was needed. The globalization of the poor required an appropriate response by the international community. In that regard, strengthening international cooperation on the basis of shared responsibility would guarantee future success. Only joint efforts could build a barrier against international terrorism and the drug trade.
ABDUL RAHIM MOHAMED HUSSEIN, Minister of the Interior of Sudan, stressed that no country alone could combat the drug problem. The United Nations Development Programme, in a 1999 report, had indicated the annual trade in illicit drugs had reached US$ 400 billion. Also, countries had recorded growth rates in drug abuse, and illicit traffickers were using some of the most sophisticated means available.
According to the action plans to combat drugs in Africa, his country had focused on demand and supply reduction at the national and regional levels. It had set up mechanisms for data collection and analysis, and encouraged universities and institutes to carry out various drug-related studies. Sudan also had a specialized centre for drug treatment and reintegration.
The Government had taken a series of measures regarding drug supply, he said. These included: national measures to combat money-laundering; a commission to combat drug trafficking; and a national commission for combating drugs, which coordinated NGO activities.
Sudan, he said, had prepared a draft convention to eradicate cannabis cultivation with several countries in Africa. He called for greater efforts to combat cannabis cultivation. Most farmers cultivated cannabis because it yielded more earnings than other crops. Noting that the fight against cannabis cultivation had never been taken seriously, he thought it necessary to proclaim one year, prior to 2008, a special year for combating drugs in Africa. In this way, the international community could focus on the issue.
OTBAN GOITA MOUSSA, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Recreation and Tourism, Vice-President of the National Committee in the Fight Against Drugs of Djibouti, said his country had ratified several conventions to battle the scourge of drugs in close cooperation with the international community. It had also established a central office to trade information. A number of seizures had taken place, and a national committee had been created. A special anti-drug unit had been created to encompass justice, police and border authorities to prevent drug trafficking. Customs offices had been equipped with special scanning ability. Specialized training for police and customs authorities had also been undertaken.
The mid-term assessment was important in that it would allow the Commission to adopt an integrated approach for the rational use of available funds, he said. While awaiting the elaboration of a national strategy, his Government had created an action plan, which included provisions for a vast information campaign, as well as measures to control drug trafficking and to intensify law enforcement in regions frequented by drug traffickers.
WILLIAM E. HERMINIE, Chairperson of the Drug and Alcohol Council of Seychelles, said that the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was a hard one and must be fought on all fronts. His country, as a small island state with a population of 82,000, was committed to winning that fight. Its main concern was cannabis, the abuse of which was a matter of economic and national development. It was more than a health or a social issue. With its small population, the Seychelles could not afford to lose even one or two people to the scourge of drugs, especially young people.
His country's vision, mission and action plans were embodied in its National Drug Control Master Plan 2002-2006, he said. The action plans were grouped under three main themes - demand reduction, care and treatment, and supply reduction. In demand reduction, emphasis was placed on primary prevention - getting to children and youth before they started using drugs. Activities in care and treatment were pursued with the same vigour as with prevention. Supply reduction was perhaps the most difficult part of drug control activities. The Master Plan addressed supply reduction by emphasizing training, supporting and equipping the Anti-Drug and Maritime Squad of the Police Department, among other things. The fight against drugs could only be won, he added, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation between various entities at all levels.
SUHAIL AMUR, Director-General, Royal Oman Police, Oman, confirmed his country's support for the international efforts against narcotic drugs. The rising trend in illicit drug demand and trafficking was endangering human health and welfare, cultural and social values, as well as economic and political arrangements. In that regard, a special department to implement drug-related legislation had been created. Within the Royal Oman Police another unit had been established to deal with drug-related crimes. One of its duties was to control, observe and follow-up the application of drug-related laws. The Unit was also tasked to carry out national strategies for the prevention of all types of drug-related crimes.
Oman was committed to reducing drug demand in accordance with the charter of the World Health Organization and relevant United Nations resolutions, he said. He was convinced that the problem of money-laundering stemmed from drug trafficking. To reflect its political resolve, Oman had instituted a special body to fight against money-laundering and economic crime.
CLAUDE BEKE-DASSYS (Côte d'Ivoire) said that despite the war affecting his country, it had convened a special meeting from 6-11 May 2002 at the request of the African Union. It was the first conference on drugs involving African ministers, and had addressed fighting illicit trafficking, among other things. Presided over by Côte d'Ivoire, the conference's purpose was to revisit and update the action plan adopted by the former Organization of African Unity in 1996 to combat drugs, as well as to elaborate a common African position on the issue. At the conference women and drugs, solutions suitable for Africa, and drug abuse in situations of conflict, inter alia, were discussed.
Regarding the latter, he mentioned the phenomenon of child soldiers, who during wars were taken from their families, drugged and forced into conflict. In Côte d'Ivoire, child soldiers from other countries could be seen. He urged donors to provide the means to eradicate cannabis, rather than to seek ways to legalize it. The fight against drugs in Africa had to intensify. In that regard, concerted action was taking place at the regional and continental level.
He said the desire to stem the tide of drug abuse had encountered a number of obstacles, including conflict, insufficient resources, lack of follow-up mechanisms and the debt burden. He invited everyone to strengthen efforts for Africa by supporting economic reforms and good governance, providing sustainable technical and financial assistance, supporting improvements in education and providing debt relief.
ABABACAR DIOP, Coordinator of the Interministerial Committee of the Struggle against Drugs of Senegal, said that while all drugs posed a real danger and deserved to be fought in an equally determined way, cannabis remained a major concern for the African continent. Cannabis was the most used and trafficked drug. In areas of Senegal, cannabis was actively cultivated. Populations in those areas faced isolation, drought, lack of crop storage capacity and inability to market agricultural products. Senegal was deeply concerned by trends for the liberalization of cannabis, which would bring to nought the Continent's efforts to control drug supply.
On the issue of precursors, he said a rigorous training cycle had been undertaken in 2003 for customs authorities, border police and airport officials. Simultaneously, in 1995, a permanent drug prevention structure had been established. Early on, Senegal had fully realized the dangers posed by drugs and passed drug-related legislation. The first laws to suppress drug trafficking were adopted in 1963. In 1965, a national narcotics commission was established, whose mandate was later expanded. As no country could tackle the problems of drugs alone, he advocated close cooperation at all levels.
FAHAD AL OTAIBI, Colonel, Manager of the International Control Section in the General Administration of Narcotics Control of Saudi Arabia, said that his country attached great importance to combating the scourge of drugs. That fight was based on the Sharia, or Koranic law, and was aimed at maintaining people's physical and mental integrity. Drugs were a global phenomenon that required serious tackling. This included supply reduction and imposition of harsh penalties against traffickers. Law enforcement powers needed strengthening, and training courses for improving national and regional capabilities required development.
Saudi Arabia had signed various bilateral and multilateral conventions in the drug control field, he said. It was active in preventing and limiting precursors. It had also set up structures and rules of conduct for the distribution of medicinal drugs. On demand reduction, the country ran information campaigns through the media, and seminars and courses on the dangers of drugs. It also had three special hospitals for drug treatment, which were handled on a confidential basis and were followed by reintegration programmes. Over 5,000 people had been treated.
According to the 1998 Political Declaration, his country had passed legislation against money-laundering, and it was presently elaborating a global strategy to fight that scourge. He was against the emerging trend which favoured a lenient approach to "soft drugs", and stressed the need for full cooperation at the international level to combat that scourge.
AHMAD MOHAMAD AL-HOURY, Director, Department of Drug Prevention, Ministry of the Interior of Syria, said Syria had joined all the conventions in the struggle against drugs. Consultations were currently underway to conclude a partnership between Syria and Europe in the drug field. Syria also participated in all related international conferences. His country was a party to a number of bilateral conventions, including one recently signed with Austria on the struggle against organized crime. Syria was also party to numerous regional agreements, including agreements with Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. It was also a signatory to numerous conventions with Arab countries.
Syria remained a transit country, he said. The situation, however, was under control. Syria had no crop cultivation or manufacture. A rigorous punitive system, which potentially included the death penalty, was in place. In Syria, drug addicts were considered as ill and needing treatment. Addicts could avoid punishment by undergoing treatment in clinics. Special units to combat drugs had been created throughout the country. There had been a number of successful seizures of drug substances, including that of some 57 kilograms of cocaine. Seizures illustrated the importance Syria attached to the problem. All of the drugs seized were in transit to other countries. The scourge against drugs could not be fought by a single country.
PAULO TJIPILICA, Minister of Justice of Angola, said that until the end of the 1980s, the magnitude of production and trafficking of narcotics were not so vast that they posed a serious problem to the authorities. The drug problem was limited to localized crime and the production of cannabis, which was and continued to be used in treating livestock, as well as illnesses, such as bronchitis and asthma. After the 1990s, with Angola's moves towards democratization, together with globalization and migration, drugs took on alarming proportions in Angola. They had become a source of concern for the authorities. Also, cannabis began being grown for internal and external trafficking, and other drugs emerged on the Angolan market.
In the last decade, drugs began to affect all social groups, particularly the young, blue-collar workers and the military. Therefore, the Government recently approved a national anti-drug plan (2003-2007). It included increasing the efficiency of the police in drug-related crimes, creating laws to combat excessive drug consumption, preventing the proliferation of HIV/AIDS as a result of drug abuse, and creating public services to treat and reintegrate of addicts.
To achieve those goals, his Government had received support from the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) regional committee, he said. Despite the large-scale drug problem, current resources were insufficient to implement Angola's national drug plan. He urged the wealthy nations to provide aid to the poor and underdeveloped nations, so they could implement their anti-drug programmes.
MOHAMD ALI EL-MUSRATI, General Secretary of the People's Committee of Justice of Libya, said his country was not a producing or manufacturing country. Libya was a victim of the drug scourge, which had extended to all countries, cities and villages. Libya's geographical position meant it had become a transit zone. In the past, drugs had not been a major problem. However, at the end of the 1980s, the transit phenomenon had dangerously increased. Today, Libya had a higher number of addicts and traffickers. Young people, including women, were now affected by drugs.
Libya was a one of the pioneer countries in combating the abuse of narcotic drugs, he said. Drugs were seen as a crime against humanity. Under national laws, the scourge of drugs was equated to arms of mass destruction. Drug crimes were fought as if they were a powerful enemy threatening the country's peace and stability. Various laws and measures had therefore been adopted, including those to combat money-laundering. Libya's laws on psychotropic substances had also been amended. Prevention programmes were the basic foundation for the fight against drugs. Libya had spared no effort in establishing a balanced programme to combat narcotic drug abuse. While Libya supported drug addicts' rehabilitation and reintegration, support was not given to treatment such as drugs substitution programmes.
ABRAHAM GIORGIS, Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, said that, in general, progress had been made towards achieving the goals and targets set out in the special session. His Government was implementing a strategy of a balanced approach to reduce drug demand and supply. Greater attention had been accorded to developing policies and strategies, and in forging partnerships for their implementation with civil society, non-governmental organizations and others. Ethiopia's strategic location in the Horn of Africa made it most vulnerable to drug trafficking. Heroin, originating in some Asian States, destined for Europe and North America, was transited through Addis Ababa.
Regarding consumption, Ethiopia's major problem, like other African countries, was the abuse and illicit trafficking of cannabis, he said. In accordance with the Political Declaration, his Government had been tracking down drug traffickers, especially of heroin, and cannabis cultivators. Regarding demand reduction, the Government had concentrated on youth and substance abuse education. All of Ethiopia's programmes had benefited from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's financial and technical support.
THOMAS LEGL of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs said his organization, which had celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year, continued to bring together general and specialized non-governmental organizations to provide a channel for collaboration between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the non-governmental organizations community. While progress had been made, the world situation with regard to illicit drugs had shown limited improvement. The non-governmental organizations he represented were committed to supporting effective measures to counter the world drug problem, not only within the framework of drug control treaties, but also within that of other international treaties and charters.
Those who experienced the most damaging consequences of drugs were found at the extremes of the supply and demand spectrum, he said. At one end were peasant communities, whose only viable income was from illicit drug cultivation. At the other end were the drug users, their families and communities. The non-governmental organizations were engaged directly with both ends of the spectrum. At the national level, non-governmental organizations provided programmes for primary prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation. Strengthening the commitment to work with non-governmental organizations included the need to understand and map the different contributions non-governmental organizations could make.
Presentation of Roundtable Outcomes
PETR MARES, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, chairperson of the roundtable on challenges, new trends and patterns of the world drug problem, said that participants had highlighted the growing and alarming threat of synthetic drug use. They agreed that more should be done to share information and best practices on tackling new drugs. It was also necessary to address both the supply and demand side of the drug problem. Improved international cooperation remained a key to addressing drug trafficking and other criminal activities, such as money laundering and human trafficking.
KEMBO MOHADI, Minister of Home Affairs of Zimbabwe, chairperson of the roundtable on countering illicit drug supply, said that among the issues discussed were alternative development. Success in decreasing drug cultivation would depend on providing sustainable alternative development programmes, which, among other things, targeted poverty alleviation. Much had been achieved in preventing the smuggling of precursors thanks to national controls and international cooperation. Governments must endeavour to bring together various entities to address that issue. Effective drug control would depend on enhanced international cooperation, as well as adherence to the principle of shared responsibility.
ACHMAD SUJUDI, Minister of Health of Indonesia summarized the outcome of the round table on strengthening international cooperation in countering the world drug problem based on the principle of shared responsibility. In 1998, there had been agreement that the world drug problem was a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated and balanced approach. The United Nations should maintain its leading role in promoting multilateral, regional, subregional and bilateral cooperation among law enforcement agencies and judicial bodies. States had to spare no effort to combat the spread of the drug scourge. He did not attain any illusions that the meeting would change the world, but it would send a political message to the international community that delegates were united to achieve common objectives.
COSTAS STEPHANIS, Minister of Health and Welfare of Greece, briefing delegates on the round table on drug reduction and preventive policies, said polydrug use was a common problem in most countries. A definition of polydrugs included tobacco and cannabis. Policies should address both licit drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, as well as illicit drugs. The role of civil society in demand reduction had focused on prevention. Prevention should start with the basic unit of society, the family, and continue in schools and at the community level. Media campaigns should inspire, not scare, individuals. Risk reduction to prevent the transmission of HIV should be based on a pragmatic approach. Substitution treatment had proven effective and there was an urgent need to expand treatment to all in need. The United Nations could facilitate all demand reduction processes.
The Commission then adopted the Joint Ministerial Statement, without a vote.
In his closing remarks, ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that everyone recognized that the struggle was to be long, and the approach integrated. Despite achievements, there was still unfinished business. Further improvement was needed in reducing drug cultivation and in putting an end to the increase in drug abuse, among other things. The issue of synthetic drugs, which he liked to refer to as "public enemy number one", had also come up, as did the issue of cannabis. In that regard, he said that his heart cried out for Africa, which was not only underdeveloped and ravaged by HIV/AIDS, but was now also subject to drug trafficking from other countries.
PATRICIA OLAMENDI TORRES (Mexico), Commission Chairperson, thanked everyone for their efforts. She said there was no doubt that, in spite of differing views, everyone was united by the common denominator of wishing to combat and eradicate the world drug problem. The work done at the meeting would turn into a new watershed in international cooperation for the fight against drugs.
Summary of Ministerial Statement
The Commission had before it the Joint Ministerial Statement and further measures to implement the action plans emanating from the twentieth session of the General Assembly (document E/CN.7/2003/L.23/Rev.1). In the statement, government representatives reaffirm their commitment to the outcome of the Assembly's twentieth special session, which had made a significant contribution to a new general framework for international cooperation to address the growing drug problem. They renew their commitment to the Political Declaration adopted at the special session, including that action against the world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated and balanced approach. Delegates welcome the fact that international drug control treaties enjoy near universal adherence.
In their general assessment, delegations note the uneven progress in meeting the goals of the Political Declaration. The drug problem, still a global challenge, constituted a serious threat to the well being of humankind, in particular young people. Strong international cooperation is needed to counter the threats posed by the continuing links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism, as well as other transnational criminal activity. Gravely concerned about policies favouring the legalization of illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, they note that such polices are not in accordance with the international drug control treaties and might jeopardize the international drug control regime.
In general recommendations, representatives call upon all States to become parties to international drug control conventions. Emphasizing the need to address the world drug problem at all levels, representatives call for strong international action supported by development cooperation. Action required a balance between supply and demand reduction, as well as a comprehensive strategy that combined alternative development. Member States should continue to provide financial and technical support for the fight against illicit drugs. New and additional support, in particular to drug producing and transit countries, was also needed.
Delegations also call upon States to continue to contribute to the balance between the licit supply of and demand for opiate raw materials used for medical and scientific purposes. The drug control issue should continue to be included among the key priorities of the United Nations medium-term plan.
The statement also addresses specific measures for the implementation of action plans emanating from the special session, including national drug control strategies. To further develop sound, evidence-based drug control policies, analysis and evaluation of ongoing policies were essential tools. On demand reduction, delegates note their concern at the rapid increase in the illicit production and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including amphetamine-type stimulants and other synthetic drugs.
Concerning illicit synthetic drugs, delegates note that special efforts should be made to counter the abuse and recreational use of amphetamine-type stimulants, especially among young people. On the control of precursors, States should support international operations to prevent diversion of chemical precursors used in the illicit manufacture of cocaine, heroine and amphetamine-type stimulants, by exchanging information with other States. States should also strengthen international cooperation among judicial and law enforcement authorities to prevent illicit drug trafficking.
On the issue of countering money laundering, delegates note progress in adopting legislation that makes money-laundering a criminal offence. States should strengthen action to prevent the laundering of proceeds derived from drug trafficking. They should also develop comprehensive international regimes to combat money laundering.
Regarding international cooperation in illicit crop eradication and alternative development, States recommend that adequate help be provided to Afghanistan, in the framework of the comprehensive international strategy carried out under the auspices of the United Nations, in support of the commitment of Afghanistan's Transitional Government to eliminate illicit cultivation of opium poppy. That should help the fight against illicit drug trafficking and precursors within the country and in countries along trafficking routes, including the strengthening of "security belts" in the region. Extensive efforts must be made to reduce the demand of drugs globally in order to contribute to the elimination of illicit cultivation in Afghanistan.
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