This year marks the 50th anniversary of the drug control system. Some critics say this convention is out of date, but I disagree. I urge the international community to rejuvenate the convention and implement its provisions. The Political Declaration and Action Plan was adopted two years ago and called for a balanced and comprehensive approach to drug control. It contained ambitious objectives, but it is important to aim high to work towards health and security.
Although illicit cultivation of coca and opium is limited to few countries, production remains high. The cocaine market has not reduced. We have many tools at our disposal, including programmes on alternative livelihoods. Crop eradication can also play a role with international assistance, and the promotion of the production of licit crops.
We must also focus more on the demand side. Users destroy their own lives and their families suffer from it. Drugs generate crime and street violence, and they create dangerous problems to public health. Abuse of prescription drugs is also growing. Demand reduction receives more attention today. Drug dependence is a disease, not a crime, and treatment works better than punishment. More attention is being paid to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment and care. We must conduct public awareness campaigns.
We should also not ignore that we must ensure availability of drugs for medical and scientific purposes, and the UNODC is making available a range of recommendations in this domain.
The process of globalisation is contributing to the growth of crime, which generates billions of dollars each year. In some countries, the value of illicit drug trafficking is far higher than the licit economy. In the face of these challenges we must rethink our strategy:
1- We must work on the recognition that drugs and organise crime goes against MDGs
2- We must ensure that supply and demand reduction work together
3- We must make use of powerful legal instruments at our disposal to fight against organised crime.
4- A comprehensive and integrated approach can help as well. Afghanistan is a good example of UNODC’s interventions: it helped launch a wide range of interventions with solid country programmes. We implement these programmes in partnership with local and regional organisations. Illicit drugs and organised crime should be tackled through the principle of shared responsibility.
5- I welcome the French government’s initiative to tackle the global cocaine market. West Africa is becoming a major transit point for cocaine en route to Europe. This demands urgent attention from the international community. In order to be more effective, we need to build new partnerships. Governments and civil society MUST work together. The UN needs a system-wide approach to tackling illicit drugs. This is a practical necessity. Two weeks ago, this was discussed in the policy committee of the Secretary General. UNODC has already begun to integrate our work with other partners, including WHO, UNAIDS, etc. We also need to work closely with the World Bank and other regional organisations.
6- More research needs to be conducted by UNODC about illicit drugs.
7- The dilemma of UNODC’s governance must be addressed to make it more efficient. On the financial side, the UNODC faces a dangerous situation – we are striving to do more with less money. Human dimension of our work: we must rely on local organisations and situation.
We must reinforce our commitments to health and human rights. We must strive for a better world to be free from drug related crime