Home » UNGASS: Thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem (5th plenary meeting)

UNGASS: Thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem (5th plenary meeting)

The full statements delivered by member states during the UNGASS general debate are available here

President of Peru: The new government has increased development in our country and has made a big difference in terms access to drinking water and other factors. We have diversified the crop growth in our country and increased crops such as cocoa and coffee. However, we need to keep in mind coca is being grown because there is a demand for cocaine in developed countries; therefore we need to keep in mind the concept of shared responsibility.

Coca is our culture and our Identity, said President Morales
Coca is our culture and our Identity, said President Morales

President of Bolivia: I recall that since the 1980s, the misnamed war on drugs has led us to scenario which has systematically violated the sovereignty of countries, becoming a mechanism for intervention and destabilisation of our people. In Bolivia, there used to be only 4700 hectares of coca grown before the 1988 convention, but this multiplied by more than a thousand since. The rate of cocaine consumption in the US is much higher than the world average. With what basis does the US decertify countries if we all know most of these substances are being consumed in their countries? It is important to keep in mind the geo-political background of the war on drugs. At the end of the Cold War the United States saw less opportunities to organise coups d’états, but this hypocritical war gave them an opportunity to interfere in the affairs of other states. The war on drugs has increased the privatization of states and the corruption of the police. We have decided to free ourselves by adopting new policies. We have been able to decreased 34% of the coca leaf production reaching a net surface of 30,000 hectares. The UN has confirmed this decrease. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a shared responsibility and should consider the different realities in different countries and regions. Let me show you the coca leaf. This is the coca leaf, green, simple, traditional. It is part of our culture of life, not of death. Thank you.


President of Colombia: Madam President, distinguished delegates. In 1912, in De Hague, the International Convention on Opium was adopted with the intention to continually oppress the production of opium, morphine and cocaine. This is over a century. In 1961 the convention on narcotics was adopted in this place. Ten years after that, Richard Nixon, the President of the country with the highest consumption of drugs, declared war against drugs. I am here to speak to you on behalf of a country that has paid the highest costs of this war. After so many leaves that have been destroyed, so much violence and corruption, after so many young people have been marched off to jail, can we say that we have won the war, or at least are winning it? The answer is no. Logic and common sense force us to rethink things. If we have been using an approach of repression without solving the problem, surely we should rethink things. At the Cartagena Americans Summit, I spoke of the need to have a solid review of the global drugs strategy. We are moving ahead in that respect within the organisation of American States. With Guatemala and Mexico, on a global level, we proposed to this session. The document we are adopting is a step in the right direction, but this is not enough. There is a great deal still to be done. Our main achievements have been that we can adapt the conventions due to their flexibility; we are ensuring the access to medical substances, and are trying to limit the damage of consumption. But much is still left to be done. We need to agree that human rights cannot be subordinated to the drug conventions. Many states including Colombia do not have the death penalty; there should at least be a moratorium on the use of the death penalty for drug related crimes until there is agreement to eliminate it fully. We have also agreed the need for proportionality and alternatives to sentencing. We still need to state clearly that drug use is a public health problem and should not be treated as a crime. I suggest something each of you can do. Ask a mother if she would prefer a drug addict child to spend five years in jail or to receive treatment and rehabilitation. Not one mother would prefer the jail option, jails are for criminals, not for addicts. Addicts often become criminals whilst in jail. Criminalization has affected the weakest ones in the chains- farmers, mules, and consumers. How do you explain to a humble Colombian peasant he is going to jail for growing marijuana if anybody in Colorado etc. is free to do so. We need to focus our efforts against those strongest in the chain. We have hit the mafias where it hurts them most. We need to move against their gains and assets, recognize honestly that we do not have a world free from alcohol, tobacco or violence and that we will not have a world free from drugs. There is a huge range of actions we can look into to protect human beings and rural communities by drug traffickers. We are not advocating legalisation; Colombia will continue to attack organised crime and to replace illicit drugs with lawful ones. Combatting drugs is not just a matter of moral imperative but of national security. We crushed the main cartels and are working to sign a peace agreement with guerrilla groups so that they become our allies. If we are able to do this, it will be a history turnaround for the whole world and a step in the right direction. We are working against the small cartels today and cannot let down our guard. We are taking brave steps forward today but need to continue to move ahead. The discussion has barely begun. By 2019 we must bring together the different positions so that we can have a new global consensus on drug policy and new goals. This must involve the secretary general, Eco-Soc Council, the CND, the UNDP, the UNODC, civil society and academia. We need support from a group that will be committed to review global policies and goals. We agree with the proposal made by various countries that we ask the Secretary General to set up a high-level group that will evaluate policies. Colombia will continue to do its utmost in this respect and collaborating with other countries so they can benefit from our experiences. We have begun an irreversible process


Cyprus: Cyprus highly believes that this is a great opportunity to address the drug problem which must be addressed with a focus on human rights and in an integrated approach. Cyprus with the EU believes that the death penalty undermines human dignity and that sanctions provided should be proportional to the offense. Policies should promote evidence-base measures that have proven to be effective including OST, needle exchange programs and other harm reduction measures. Cyprus would also like to stress the following measures: the access to controlled substances should be increased. The recognition of the different needs of men, women and children should be implemented on the grounds. We regret that a drug-free world is not realistic. But all of us have the obligation to strive towards improving this issue. We are here to voice the concerns of our respective governments and the demands of our citizens. Never before have the benefits of harm reduction measures been clearer. We need to work towards improving the health and safety of the people in our countries. Thank you.


Algeria: Madam President, I would like to say in behalf of Algeria that we align ourselves with the statements of the speak of Sudan on behalf of the African group. Drug harms are no longer conventional risks but are linked to the financing of terrorism which threatens democratic processes across the world. The increase in drug trafficking is also occurring by taking advantage of instability and organised crime as well as linked to the selling of oil and taking hostages. Algeria is a transit country and we are concerned about decriminalization for recreational purposes is a step backwards from the gains achieved in the past. The president of the Algerian Republic is trying to strengthen the role of civil society by raising hazards of this scourge of drugs and giving consideration to treatment. Regarding drug trafficking, we are adapting out legal framework continuously and developed specialized judicial entities to look into organised crime as well as protecting witnesses. We also support the strengthening of shared intelligence collection to improve cooperation. Algeria is in support of the document at hand and would like to welcome the consensus we have arrived at. We look forward into implementing this document to combat the scourge of drugs.


Chile: I come from Latin America, one of the regions most heavily affected by the world drug problem as you have heard from some of our presidents. We see everyday in our streets the most tragic outcomes of this problem. We have implemented a variety of policies to respond to these challenges. Chile has made the commitment to observe the conventions and to make progress. It is not an easy task. The problems of illicit drugs varies from country to country. The search for effective, consistent is necessary. We believe that problems associated to consumption such as corruption, violence and money-laundering have a deep impact on the social, economic and political climate of our countries. These challenges constantly reinvent themselves and know no borders. We must act in unison with full respect for human rights. There are five methods we can do this; we need balanced strategies focus on demand and supply, cooperation etc. Second we must understand that human rights are always indisputable, yet there are still countries implementing the death penalty. Third we must set public health as a priority to respond to this phenomenon. Fourth, we must focus on sustainable development geared and equality and progress. And finally, we must include women in our policies and have gender-balanced measures. We hope the measures accepted here will make the world more peaceful, safe and equal for all.


Mongolia: Let me reaffirm my government’s full support for the three conventions which we have signed and are trying to implement, as well as the plan of action in 2009. Mongolia also support the outcome document of this UNGASS. Drugs are linked to organised crime, and in Mongolia, drug related crime has increased by 60% especially with the involvement of women. The government of Mongolia has responded to this by implementing rigorous laws. We support the abolishment of the death penalty for all crimes. The law against money-laundering and terrorism in Mongolia has been revised recently. We are determined to do our utmost to counter the problem of drugs by implementing a balanced approach. In 2004 our government has approved programs to increase awareness and has established a national committee involved cross-ministerial stuff to tackle this issue in each province to promote activities on the grounds involving youth. It is essential to have skilled law enforcement, particularly police, and Mongolia has improved border police and training. Despite this there are problems with lack of skills and resources to counter this problem effectively. One of the best ways of solving this problem is by improving bilateral cooperation and agreements between countries and partners. I would like to reiterate the government of Mongolia’s full commitment to solving the world drug problem. Thank you.


Nicaragua: Nicaragua is fully in support of those comments made by the representative of CELAC. We are a transit country in the heart of Central America, and we fully support the conventions. Decriminalization is not the solution to solving the world drug problem as it undermines the conventions and the efforts made in the past. There are high levels of insecurity in many areas of the world, and may I reinforce the importance of shared responsibility so that we can forward together. The agenda for SDGs is an important part of our efforts to progress with regards to drugs and other factors, with a focus on human rights and family, and a respect for sovereignty. In Nicaragua, we have taken steps in improve the systems in place to respond to the problem. We do not have the death penalty in place in Nicaragua and we think this is an important part of showing respect for human rights. We support the bodies in Vienna and the conventions and are fully commitment to solving this issue together.


Finland: We fully align ourselves with the comments made by the EU. We know that several important issues have not been addressed in the outcome document but we still see it as an achievement. We believe that the health, wellbeing and security of the people are the main goals of all drug policies. This means that the death penalty for drug crimes must be abolished. In Finland, our commitment to harm reduction measures has not been a decrease in our commitment to fight the world drug problem. We have managed to decrease some of the problems linked to drug crime including HIV and other illnesses. Our measures have included OST and others, and have been proven effective at improving the health and wellbeing and decreasing criminality in the vulnerable groups. We are trying to take into account gender balanced views, and need to further our efforts at improving the opportunities for sexual minorities. In Finland, we have a strong cooperation between the police, border and other security forces to improve intelligence. We are also aiming to improve connection across borders, as this can be a successful step into fighting trafficking. We hope to promote overall participatory cooperation and progress between states, grassroots movement and civil society. The outcome document can be implemented into progress towards the SGDs. Following discussions leading up to these discussions, Finland feels that there is still room for improvement regarding the commitment and efforts to solving the world drug problem. Thank you.


Bangladesh: Madam Chair, I am delighted to address this Special Session which is an important opportunity to address this large challenge of our time. All countries are affected by the drug problem, and it knows many forms and shapes. We must protect those people susceptible to use and affected by violence. Member states have agreed to commit themselves to solve issues such as organised crime and health issues. It is imperative that we fight these issues as drugs affect not only development and stability. Bangladesh attaches great importance to fighting the drug problem and has legal frameworks in place that put programs into place. Addicts are provided with necessary treatment and we have initiated awareness programs. At the regional level, Bangladesh has signed agreements with neighbouring countries to prevent trafficking. We work closely in partnership with UNODC, CND and other bodies to fight this problem. This problem needs to be approached in an integrative way at local, regional and international levels and in multi-disciplinary ways. The outcome document contains important recommendations in how to fight this global surge. We appreciate the world done by the UN system and UNODC in countering the world drug problem. We stand ready to fight this problem during this generation and future generations.


Tanzania: We welcome this outcome document adopted by the Assembly. We recognize that we stand at an important point in time. Our concerns for human rights and health shape our national and international policies. Tanzania sees this special session as an opportunity to rebalance policies on drugs. The outcome document should be foundation for our efforts and we need to focus on social justice and health. Our collective ability is crucial in implementing policies. Past policies have not proven effective enough. Yes this is a complex problem, but we cannot afford failure. We must focus on the victims of drug use and make sure people do not land in jail for minor offenses. We are conscious that this objective can only be achieved through collective efforts. Tanzania has not been spared by the global drugs problem. People who are already suffering from vulnerability or poverty are most affected, and this hinders our social and economic development. Our national forces are trying to establish systems to identify trends in the distribution and to implement treatment measures. Transnational organised crime has had an effect on our governments for too long. We propose holding discussions to discuss the appropriate measures to be taken to tackle this issue. We believe that international cooperation is indispensible to make a difference and that together we can reduce the distribution of illicit substance through effective supply and demand reduction strategies. Thank you Madam Chair.


Monaco: The principality is fully committed still to fight the global drug problem but with regards to health and human rights, and we are fully opposed to the death penalty. Civil society must be our partner in the fight against the drugs. My government has developed a new plan of action of drugs and prevention is provided at schools through education as we are committed to protecting our people. We try to help young people early in order to prevent an impact on public health. We provide swift effective care focused on individual support and treatment as well as detox and reintegration. We have set up clubs and spoken to the youths and tried to support the families involved. Monaco has become the 38th member of the Pompidou Group to combat drug issues. A balanced approach can help us eliminate the global threat of drugs and related criminal activities. We reaffirm our committeemen to combat crime and drugs. Thank you.


Slovenia: In Slovenia we are committed to the balanced implementation of drug policies with a focus on human rights. In Slovenia we are setting up structures and resources to protect people as well as preventing and treating drug disorder. Slovenia has developed such policies and legislation for a number of years. My country already decriminalized small quantities already in 1999 and replaced this with a focus on treatment and help. We would like to underline the importance of a multi-sectorial and coordinated approach including different fields such as education, welfare and health. In Slovenia it is the minister of health that coordinates this work. HIV and hepatitis have been decreased through measures that have been implemented to improve the health. We truly regret that it was not possible to include language against the death penalty in the outcome document. Slovenia has experienced positive measures and progress towards decreasing the drug problem. To conclude, I would like to underline that this problem can only be solved through international cooperation. Thank you.


Libya: We thank you for inviting us to speak here today at this important event. We are satisfied with the document that has been accepted here and look forward to its on the ground implementation. We call for increased capacities for the UN bodies to help those countries with limited capacities, as there is global inequality in what countries can do to contribute to the global fight against drugs.


Jordan: Thank you. The outcome document must be fully implemented. To achieve real progress, partnerships with all stakeholders must be increased including civil society and youth. Our Kingdom is strengthening our legislative framework to counter this scourge and have increased the funding for prevention. We have a committee to review what is being done and give recommendations on future undertakings. We want to have a comprehensive strategy involving all of the institutions that might be affected including public and private resources. 2016 has been declared in Jordan the year to combat drugs. We are trying to get better results in controlling drugs and stopping illicit trafficking at the regional and international levels Jordan has stepped up cooperation with other states and institutions and recently with the UNODC. We were the first country in the region to host a meeting with the UNODC and we will continue to work on the pioneering projects that we have begun. There is also the problem of the relationship with armed conflict which makes it harder to stop trafficking, and Jordan is affected by this because of the enormous amount of refugees we have taken in. This should be a concern for the international community and help is required to stop the spread of the scourge of drugs. Thank you.


El Salvador: Thank you very much. El Salvador sees the drug problem an urgent problem that needs to be tackled. Our President is committed to working hard to fight drugs. The interest for human beings should be put first with a gender focus. We are willed to follow the international instruments in particular the three conventions and the SDGs which we agreed upon. With commitment and recognition, El Salvador reiterates our will to work together with partners to deal with the world drug problem. The special session is an important political commitment and a milestone for cooperation. Technical and financial assistance must be provided and adapted as we are facing a common problem that we all have responsibility for. This meeting is an opportunity for us to step up, taking into account our efforts and limitations of the past years. El Salvador is convinced that this problem calls for comprehensive and balanced action. Our country does not produce or consume drugs but is a transit country so we have specific problems which we would like to see acknowledged further. There has been a great loss of human lives which is preventing us from progressing in our development. The obvious linkage between youth gangs and illicit drug trafficking and other crimes is a growing threat to the security of all Salvadorians and to our general region. We must join efforts with partners to strengthen our strategies in the public and private sector. We must adopt initiatives to help young people who have become involved in these activities and to help people improve their lives by emerging from these gangs. Let me highlight that we are convinced that together, we can build a better society. Thank you.


Sudan: My delegation reaffirms once against its commitment to the conventions as well as the political declaration and action plan to address the issue of drugs. We align ourselves with the comments made by the representative of the Africa Union. We believe in the importance of regional, international and bilateral cooperation and of the principle of shared responsibility. My delegation reiterated the importance of sharing information and intelligence to detect the flow of illicit substances and other criminal activities. We have achieved some success by doing this in cooperation with other countries. The drug problem is diverse and complex and requires responses that are also focused on health and economic development. We believe that we can achieve a more healthy and developed community if we all work together. We have programmes in our country to improve prevention in residential communities. In order to strengthen the legislative framework we have added a series of additions especially focused on money-laundering and financial investigations. We have issued guidelines and procedures to address regional cooperation in how to deal with suspects and criminals. We need to change the funding to prioritize these issues. There has been an increase in the substances confiscated and we have observed an increase in abuse of medicinal substances, in growth and in trafficking. We have seized a group that was manufacturing pills that have recently emerged on the market. This is part of the process of identifying new drugs and ways to recognize and confiscate these substances. My delegation also attaches great importance to the alternative development but we affirm our approval of criminalizing drugs as we see that any flexibility in this regard will have a long-lasting impact on this global issue. Thank you.


Slovakia: We fully subscribe to the statements of the EU and I would like to add a few words in our national capacity. This special session is a unique global forum to review the commitments to the 2009 political declaration and the challenges we are faced with. Slovakia welcomes the commitment to the health and welfare of human kind as well as to the conventions which should be the cornerstone of global drug policy. Policies should be based on evidence and respect on human rights. We therefore regret that the outcome document does not include language on the death penalty. The overall aim of the anti-drug strategy is to contribute to the reduction of drugs and also the risks caused by drugs. New challenges are posed by the rapid emergence of NPS which requires stronger cooperation and exchange of information. Slovakia supports the involvement of civil society as well as UN bodies. We think this outcome document is a solid basis for our work in the next few years. Thank you.


St Vincent and the Grenadines: In 1988, the UNGASS on drugs decided to establish the year 2008 as the target date for states to eliminate illicit drugs and substances. The year after this self-imposed deadline, member states met again and established a new cut-off date for the elimination of drugs, the year 2019. I predict that no one is surprised that we will not meet this goal. We cannot continue down the path of failed policies and harm. We have to think of what is possible and what new measures can help us achieve this. The impacts and potential solutions of the world drug problem vary. States that supply, demand or serve as transit routes have very different views on solutions. Traditional approaches towards the poor and vulnerable have remained worryingly static in this evolving world, including inconsistencies in trade and organised crime. The obscene sums spend on eradication have not prevented the growth of a global drugs trade worth huge sums of money. St Vincent and the Grenadines sees that policies must be based on evidence and sensitivity to differences and vulnerability. In that respect the Caribbean has committed to increasing research on marijuana so as to potentially make this substance more accessible for religious, scientific and medicinal and even recreational purposes. This is in hand with this development in other countries. However, this should not be misconstrued as a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them”; on the contrary, we continue to have a firm and brutal approach towards those criminal groups that reap havoc in our communities. The road out of this cul-de-sac and this rhetoric which is focused on drugs should be to focus on the people affected by drugs and who are victims. Let us remember this Special Session as the turning point in our approach to this form of crime. Thank you Madam Chair.


Maldives: The Maldives believe this special session provides a unique opportunity to governize legislation to effectively combat this problem. We stress the importance to design evidence-based drug policies. We not that the global development indicator framework can be used to measure the success of drug policies. We believe that policies should be implemented in line with the conventions. Even though we are neither a consumer or a producer country, our islands have been used in transit groups which has increased the consumption between people. Each country’s policies must address their own needs. We need to focus on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and harm reduction, and drug control. We need to build safer and just societies in respect of the human rights. We aim to motivate dependent people to enrol in treatment programs and allow people to seek rehabilitation oversees. The Maldives border control has tightened and started to use dogs to detect drugs since last year. The nexus between trans-national organised crimes should be met with increased trans-national cooperation. For far too long, drugs have been part of the social fabric of our countries. We must do more and do better to combat this issue.


World Customs Organisation: It is an honour to address this special session on this issue of high priority. We are comprised of around 180 member countries and encompass more than 98% of the world’s trade. We are impressed with the incredible efforts underway to prevent drug trafficking. The WCO is concerned about the challenges faces by customs that include illegitimate trade. Customs noticed new developments in the methods and substances traded. The WCO is aimed at countering illegal substances whilst maintaining trade for economic reasons. There are different projects underway that have been shaped by us and the WCO to tackle trafficking by water, air and roads. We work together with key partners to tackle emerging threats. One example is operation catalyst to increase responses by the international community (94 member countries) and bodies such as Interpol to NPS and tons of substances were seized. The training of officers is a key part of such efforts and progress. To support swift international exchange and intelligence the WCO provides secure communication and other pathways. We provide periodic information related to seizure so as to contribute information to develop effective strategies. In our last report we have recognized a large increase of new substances as well as continues smuggling of cannabis and other traditional drugs. We stand ready to continue to work together with partners and members to improve the efficacy and technological advancement of customs control through cooperation and communication. Thank you.

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