Drug trafficking, once viewed
largely as a social and criminal problem, has transformed in recent years into
a major threat to the health and security of people and regions. The $61
billion annual market for Afghan opiates is funding insurgency, international
terrorism and wider destabilization. In West Africa, the $85 billion global cocaine
trade is exacerbating addiction and money-laundering while fueling political
instability and threats to security. Every $1 billion of pure cocaine
trafficked through West Africa earns more than ten times as much when sold on
the streets in Europe.
the threat is so urgent, I recently established a Task Force to develop a UN
system-wide strategy to coordinate and strengthen our responses to illicit
drugs and organized crime by building them into all UN peacekeeping,
peacebuilding, security, development and disarmament activities. In this way,
the United Nations can integrate the fight against drug trafficking and other
forms of organized crime into the global security and development agenda.
year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is an
opportunity to highlight the importance of addressing these twin threats
through the rule of law and the provision of health services. Our commemoration
coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic
This Convention and the other major international drug
control treaties do more than help us in the fight against drug trafficking; they
protect vulnerable people through a wide range of activities to which States parties
commit themselves, including education and prevention, treatment of drug
dependence, care and rehabilitation for drug users, and social support.
These measures are critical, because drug use, at its
core, is a health issue. Drug dependence is a disease, not a crime. The real
criminals are the drug traffickers.
But the supply side is only half of the equation. Unless
we reduce demand for illicit drugs, we can never fully tackle cultivation,
production or trafficking.
Governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug
trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution.
Families, schools, civil society and religious organizations can do their part
to rid their communities of drugs. Businesses can help provide legitimate
livelihoods. The media can raise awareness about the dangers of narcotics.
We can succeed if we reinforce our commitment to the
basic principles of health and human rights, shared responsibilty, a balanced
approach to reducing supply and demand, and universal access to prevention,
treatment and support. This will foster communities free of drug-related crime
and violence, individuals free of drug dependence who can contribute to our common
future, and a safer world for all.