Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/SHC/302
      5 October 2000
     Links between Terrorism, Drug Trafficking, Illegal Arms Trade
    Stressed in Continuing Third Committee Debate on Crime
     

     NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime should make clear reference to the relationship between organized crime and terrorism, Turkey's representative told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it met to conclude consideration of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.  The Convention to which he referred is to be signed in Palermo in December.

    Drug trafficking constituted one of the largest sources of illegal proceeds, he continued.  It created a strong financial base for terrorist organizations to conduct illegal traffic in arms.  Recognizing the role of terrorist organizations and organized criminal groups in illicit narcotics production and trafficking would make the Convention and its protocols even more significant in combating the multifaceted scourge of drugs.  It should cover all manifestations of transnational crime, including terrorism. 

    The representative of Haiti said that only the arms industry surpassed the profits gleaned from the illegal drug trade.  Further, the crimes associated with drug trafficking were all intertwined.  Terrorist activities were included in those crimes.  He called for an adequately effective penal system that would also address the issue of impunity.

    Speaking on behalf of the GUUAM Group of States (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova), the representative of Azerbaijan noted that conflict zones created the right climate for producing and trafficking drugs because they were beyond the reach of national and international control systems and beyond the rule of law.  Also, countries with economies in transition had social and economic obstacles that hampered drug control efforts. 

    Anti-drug activities at Iran's border resembled a full-scale war, the representative of that country said in describing the situation of drug transit countries.  He said military operations against smugglers using sophisticated military equipment were not enough.  International cooperation should target major drug traffickers by combating money laundering, terrorism, arms trafficking and corruption.  In addition, major consuming countries should stand by their international responsibilities and lower their domestic demand.

    Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Libya, Nepal, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Brazil, Myanmar, Bahrain, Cameroon, Brunei Darussalam, India and Venezuela.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 6 October, to begin considering issues related to the advancement of women, including implementation of the outcome of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and the 2000 special session of the General Assembly on women. 

    Committee Work Programme

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

    Statements

    HANAN ZOGHBIA (Libya), speaking on the issue of drug control, said that although her country was not a drug-consuming nation, it had become a drug transit zone.  Libya had instituted the strongest laws against drug trafficking.  Drug traffickers were considered to be murderers.  Libya was also pursuing drug demand reduction, based on treatment and rehabilitation for those who fell victims to addiction.  At the same time, programmes to combat drug trafficking were being implemented at the national, regional and international levels in her country.  Agreements had been made with Arab, African and Mediterranean countries.

    DIL BAHADUR GHARTI (Nepal) said there was no doubt that the problems of organized crime, drug abuse and trafficking posed serious threats to modern society.  Those crimes had now been transformed to become transnational organized crimes, which included international terrorism and other criminal acts beyond the reach of national jurisdictions.  As such, those crimes rightly deserved international attention.  Combating them successfully called for the concerted and determined efforts of the international community.  In that regard, his delegation was encouraged by the adoption earlier this year of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice.  He was pleased with the ad hoc Committee’s progress towards elaboration of the Convention on transnational organized crime and its three protocols, as well as that Committee’s recommendation to elaborate an international instrument against corruption.

    Turning to drug control, he said Nepal fully endorsed the concerns expressed in the outcome of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly on tackling the world drug problem.  While Nepal was not considered a major drug producing country, he continued, its close proximity to the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle -- the source of a considerable portion of the world’s heroin supply -- meant that it was not immune from drug-related problems.  Although the number of drug abusers was low, Nepal recognized the fact that continuous drug traffic could damage the country’s social fabric. 

    Nepal was committed to the fight against drug abuse and trafficking, and the country had strengthened its judicial and legal systems to better cope with those problems.  What was required to address them was an attempt to reduce demand and control supply.  In order to reduce demand, employment opportunities needed to be provided for youth.  Youth should also be educated about the adverse impacts of drugs.  To control supply, economically rewarding crop substitution programmes should be implemented, and alternate employment opportunities for poor farmers needed to be offered.  Also, stringent measures needed to be taken in order to bring manufacturers, suppliers and traffickers to justice.

    KHENTHONG NUANTHASING (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that although a balanced approach to tackling the world’s drug problem had been endorsed at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly, drug problems still posed a major threat to societies all over the world.  About 4 per cent of the world’s population abused drugs on a regular basis.  As part of that world, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic had been severely affected by both drug production and consumption.  The persistence of opium production in the country proved that highlanders had not been offered alternatives to persuade them to give up their traditional crops and cultivation practices.  Poverty and hunger were rampant in isolated areas, particularly in areas where opium was produced.  It was also important to note that the labour force had been weakened because many otherwise able men were addicted to drugs. 

    In light of those factors, he believed that opium cultivation, which perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty, could be eradicated through three macro-economic policy programmes:  ensuring food security, enhancing opportunities to generate income, and developing physical and social infrastructure.  Successful implementation of those types of policies had so far proved that local populations were eager to participate in development, which provided alternatives to opium production and improved access to sanitation and health-care services that could replace the need for opium as a “painkiller”.  In order to further address its drug problem, the country had signed a historic agreement with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) last year to end opium cultivation and demand by 2006. 

    ELDAR KOULIEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the GUUAM Group States  (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova), said the route across Central Asia, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe was widely used by drug dealers to move drugs westward.  Conflict zones created the right climate for producing and trafficking drugs because they were beyond the reach of national and international control systems, and beyond the rule of law.  Also, countries with economies in transition had social and economic obstacles that hampered drug-control efforts. 

    The fight against illicit drug trafficking required a complex and multifaceted approach, he said.  Both supply and demand had to be addressed, along with related organized crimes that were an integral part of drug trafficking, including money laundering, corruption and terrorism.  The UNDCP activities aimed at elaborating and implementing new strategies played an important role in that multifaceted fight.  The broadening of international law to counter illicit drugs and assist in alternative crop cultivation was equally important.

    MOHAMMAD HASAN FADAIFARD (Iran) said the eradication of drug cultivation in Afghanistan also required a balanced and multifaceted approach.  International and regional cooperation in setting up a security belt around Afghanistan was a vital factor in halting the flow of drugs from southwest Asia to other parts of the world.  The same kind of cooperation should be shown towards the increased narcotic production in that country.  However, alternative development schemes were undeniably a more important and critical aspect of the question.

    The counter-drug activities at Iran's borders were similar to a full-scale war, he continued.  They involved military operations against caravans and smugglers, carried out with sophisticated military equipment.  Every year, substantial amounts of narcotics were seized from the smugglers.  Yet, despite the huge cost to Iran in terms of resources and human lives to carry out the fight, the trafficking was difficult to stop.  Young people inside Iran were succumbing to drug use.
    Since the drug problem was international in scope, efforts should be channelled into international support for national and regional efforts to stop drug trafficking.  Equal importance should be placed on reducing drug demand.  In addition, there should be regional and international cooperation in targeting major drug traffickers by combating money laundering, terrorism, arms trafficking and corruption.  The UNDCP should have the leadership role in the effort, because lack of coordination and limited resources were the biggest handicap in responding to the drug scourge in developing countries.  At the same time, he concluded, major consuming countries of the illicit drug that was the object of trafficking should stand by their international responsibilities.  They should lower their domestic demand.

    MOHAMED ISSA (Lebanon) said that while he could indeed confirm that his country, in cooperation with the UNDCP, had been successful in totally eliminating illicit drug crops, it was important to realize that further assistance was needed to identify and incorporate crop replacement development techniques to help further the success of that initiative.  In that regard, although the UNDCP had been extremely helpful in providing such assistance, there was much more that could be done.  The creation of artificial dikes and irrigation facilities was urgently needed and for that, UNDCP’s funding should be increased.  Lebanon’s commitment to the curbing production of illicit crops was firm, but the spirit of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly needed radical solutions, the least of which was ensuring adequate resource allocation to ensure that its commitments could be implemented.

    He went on to say that discovering the source of illicit crops would be most instructive.  That, too, would mean increasing resources to identify and subsequently totally eliminate such crops.  In that regard, Lebanon’s Interior and Agricultural Departments were working together.  He also noted that drug addicts were offered treatment and exonerated on condition that they accepted that treatment.  He hoped that Lebanon would further receive the assistance it needed in all those areas.  The drug scourge threatened the very existence of humankind, particularly youth.

    He said that there was also an urgent need to address the issue of money laundering and profits derived from the drug trade.  Lebanon’s free economy was largely based on bank secrecy, designed to provide protection against illegal financial interference.  However, banks and specialized agencies were working together to ensure that no money laundering was being carried out. 

    LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that the globalization of crime was an unfortunate by-product of the growth of markets, and stressed the need for strengthening international technical assistance in the struggle against criminal activities, both at the national and international levels.

    At the regional level, Brazil had been actively involved in discussions of the issues in different forums, such as the first Summit Meeting between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union (Rio de Janeiro, June 1999).  During that meeting, participating countries had included among their priorities the determination "to cooperate in the fight against organized transnational crime and related criminal activities".  At the national level, he drew attention to a draft bill banning the sale of all firearms and ammunition, except to the armed forces, public security and private security firms.  Other legislation included the Federal Programme of Assistance to Victims and Threatened Witnesses.

    He was convinced that effective actions and strategies could be defined only by taking into account the fundamental concept of a responsibility shared by all nations, and a balanced and comprehensive approach to all the problems associated with drugs.  International cooperation required a multidimensional strategy that must consider all aspects of prevention, rehabilitation and the fight against related criminal activities, in addition to all repressive activities.

    U WIN MRA (Myanmar) said that in his country the cultivation of the poppy plant was inherited from the colonial administration.  Since independence, successive governments had made relentless efforts to eradicate the problem of the drug.  The problem in Myanmar was linked to the questions of peace, stability and armed insurgency.  Myanmar believed that the root causes of the narcotic problem could also be traced to ignorance, lack of development and poverty.  The country's strategy, therefore, was to enhance law enforcement on the one hand, poverty alleviation and all-round development of the regions concerned on the other.  Myanmar's sustained efforts to combat the problem of narcotic drugs had resulted in a noticeable drop in poppy cultivation and production.

    The Government of Myanmar had begun the implementation of the Fifteen-Year Narcotic Drugs Elimination plan starting from 1999/2000.  The plan entailed an estimated budget of $150 million.  Implementation of the plan would be accelerated if national efforts were supported and complemented by international assistance and cooperation.  The UNDCP had provided Myanmar with $15.5 million for a project to reduce the illicit cultivation of the poppy.  Furthermore, socio-economic development works, as a remedy for poppy growers, had also been introduced in the poppy-growing regions with the assistance of non-governmental organization groups from China and Japan.  His country's goal was to declare a drug-free Myanmar by the year 2015.

    Myanmar was encouraged by the successful conclusion of the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, held in Vienna in April.  In this era of globalization, transnational crime had become increasingly pervasive, diversified and more organized. Myanmar was constantly vigilant against transnational crimes, and recently the Association of South-East Asian Nations Special Senior Officers Meeting on Transnational Crime was held in Yangon, Myanmar.

    HAKAN TEKIN (Turkey) said his country held a key position geographically as a bridge between East and West.  That made it prone to transit trafficking.  Law enforcement agencies were doing their utmost to fight the threat that affected and threatened Turkey's youth.

    Turkey's strategy revolved around two important points, he said.  First, the export of precursors and acetic anhydride should be brought under strict control, as already stipulated in international documents and instruments.  Second, the international community should recognize the role of terrorist organizations and organized criminal groups in the illicit production and trafficking of narcotics.  Drug trafficking constituted one of the largest sources of illegal proceeds, creating a strong financial basis for illegal arms trafficking by terrorist organizations.

    International cooperation was essential if domestic measures were to work, he said.  The Convention on transnational crime and its protocols would be a significant step in combating the multi-faceted scourge -- provided that all manifestations of transnational crime were covered, including terrorism.  There should be a clear reference to the relationship of terrorism and organized crime in the Convention.  Terrorists should not be allowed immunity from justice.  They should not be able to escape justice by claiming political motives.

    MOHAMMED AL SUWAIDI (Bahrain) said that the spread of narcotics was now a global problem.  It was up to the entire international community to work towards drug control and to reduce demand for narcotic substances.  In spite of awareness of the negative effects of narcotics, people were increasingly abusing and producing drugs.  Violent gangs, drawn by the profits derived from the illegal drug trade, had been organized and were actively promoting the spread of drugs, mainly to the young.  Also, revolutionary scientific and medical progress had seemingly sparked an increase in drug consumption and production, quite the opposite of what one might think such progress would bring.  Continued drug use created dangerous social consequences whose deterrence might require additional resources. 

    He went on to say that Bahrain was actively seeking to control the drug scourge, and all competent authorities were devoting their utmost efforts to that end.  At the national level, Bahrain had provided modern equipment at road, sea and air checkpoints, as well as established programmes for those working in the inspection field to raise awareness of the latest advances in drug smuggling.  Faithful to the idea that prevention was better than a cure, the country had also organized a series of educational programmes in schools and adjusted its penal code.  At the regional level, Bahrain was actively coordinating with the Gulf Cooperation Council to control border regions.  At the international level, the country had acceded to all international instruments aimed at combating the global drug problem. 

    PAUL-PROMPT YOURI EMMANUEL (Haiti) said only the arms industry surpassed the profits gleaned from the illegal drug trade.  Describing the debilitating situation of victims undermined by drug use, he outlined national and regional efforts to curb the drug trade in the transit region where his country was located.  Material resources to combat the drug trade were scarce, however, and regional narcotics agents were inexperienced.  The responsibility must be shared in a multilateral framework.  The reach of the specialized United Nations agencies must be strengthened in the field.

    The crimes associated with drug trafficking were all intertwined, he said.  Terrorist activities were included in those crimes.  Only an adequately effective penal system would help curb the network of crime.  However, the penal system also had to assist in the fight against impunity.  Many in his country had been involved in heinous actions.  Many records were missing in connection with those acts.  Those documents should be returned, and those who had committed the crimes should not be allowed to escape justice.

    MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that the Committee’s current discussion on the prevention of crime and the promotion of criminal justice was very important because it focused on saving lives -- saving lives of human beings, societies and even of States.  The consumption and trafficking of drugs yielded disastrous consequences in the socio-economic sphere, particularly affecting families as well as health-care mechanisms.  And with its corollary, organized crime, drug trafficking also posed a threat to peace and the security of States. The assault of that combined threat also weakened political institutions and compromised prospects for the future.  His delegation was, therefore, pleased with the Vienna Declaration, and counted that instrument as one major milestone in the international communities long march aimed at tackling criminal activity.  It also reaffirmed the will of the international community to take resolute measures against offenders. 

    He said that the struggle against crime and drug abuse should be strengthened by a common effort by all to create a more peaceful and prosperous world that respected human rights.  In that regard, his delegation welcomed the elaboration of the Convention on transnational organized crime and its three protocols.  Accessing the ways in which the negative effects of globalization exacerbated the arms trade and transnational criminal activity should be given the highest priority.  This was a complex issue which could be successfully tackled only through sustained international cooperation.  To that end, the situation in Africa should be addressed promptly.  Indeed, Cameroon had adjusted its national legislation to address those issues. 

    KASMALATI DATO HAJI KASSIM (Brunei Darussalam) said her country was increasingly aware of the danger of drug misuse to small traditional societies where human resources development and social stability were vital for the future.  The reported effects of drug abuse on physical and mental health in other countries, and its frequent association with criminal activities -- especially among young people and even children -- were extremely disturbing.  Globalization had unfortunately given the problem a new and more worrisome dimension.

    One of the most unwelcome consequences of the opening up of the global market was the ease with which trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances could be conducted.  The existence of transit points was a matter of considerable concern to her country, and she was pleased that efforts were made at the regional and international levels to tackle the issue, since no single country could handle it alone.  Brunei’s own efforts were intensifying, with Government and non-government bodies working together on anti-drug activities.

    S. RAMACHANDRA REDDY (India) said that a significant initiative in combating crime this year was the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice.  The Declaration asked Member States to take effective, resolute and speedy measures to prevent and combat criminal activities carried out for the purpose of furthering terrorism.  That Declaration had been recommended for adoption by the General Assembly, and he hoped that it would become a road map for international cooperation against transnational crime and terrorism. 

    Significant agreements, relating to paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Political Declaration of the General Assembly at its twentieth special session, had Member States affirm the need for a comprehensive approach to the elimination of illicit narcotics crops.  They also committed themselves to working closely with the UNDCP to develop strategies with a view to eliminating or reducing significantly the illicit cultivation of the coca and cannabis plants and the opium poppy by the year 2008.  Regrettably Afghanistan, under the Taliban, defiantly remained the home to 75 per cent of the world's drug output.  Drug money welded well with the rogue ideology of war and terror, directly contributing to ethnic and sectarian cleansing.

    The proximity of India to major producers of illicit drugs exposed it to the dual danger of drug abuse and international narcotic crime and terrorism.  Nearly 45 per cent of India's population was below 19 years of age.  Demand reduction programmes were being directed towards that especially vulnerable section of the population.  Efforts were being made to ensure that drug abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation schemes were available for children and youth, especially those in high-risk groups. 

    LUISA KISLINGER (Venezuela) said that it was necessary to strengthen economic and legal institutions to help in the fight against drugs.  Currently there was a draft law under consideration in Venezuela’s National Assembly, aimed at combating organized crime and corruption.  She hoped that law would function in concert with other international conventions.  Venezuela would also work actively within the international community to ensure implementation of the provisions of the Convention on transnational organized crime, which will be signed in Palermo in December.

    Venezuela centred its strategies for combating the world drug problem not only on prevention, but on education and research as well.  She said that there was an urgent need for the problem to be addressed by concerted action, shared by all.  Criminal activity must be dealt with on a global basis, in a balanced fashion and encompassing social, economic and developmental aspects.

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