UN SG calls for Cracking Down on Traffickers, Re-allocating Resources to Treatment
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June:
Tens of millions of people suffer from drug-use disorders. Less than one fifth are in treatment. Drug users are doubly victimized: first by the harmful effects of the drugs themselves, and second by the stigma and discrimination they face.
People who use drugs can often face significant barriers to treatment and even health services for infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Meanwhile, drug traffickers continue to prey on drug users, rapidly escalating the production of dangerous, highly addictive synthetic drugs.
This year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking focuses on the need to put people first by ending stigma and discrimination and strengthening prevention. This means stressing rehabilitation, rather than punishment and incarceration for minor drug offences.
It means upholding the human rights of people who use drugs, including by expanding prevention and treatment programmes and health services. It means protecting people and communities alike by ending impunity for drug traffickers profiting from people’s pain.
Above all, it means Governments leading the way. When I was Prime Minister of Portugal, we implemented non-criminal responses to drug possession for personal use, while cracking down on traffickers and re-allocating resources to prevention, treatment and harm-reduction measures.
As a result, drug consumption and associated infectious disease rates plummeted, more drugs were seized by police and customs, and — most importantly — lives were saved. Today, Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest overdose and death rates from drug use. As a global community, let’s continue our work to end drug abuse, illicit trafficking, and the stigma endured by drug users around the world.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has, over the years, been actively involved in launching campaigns to mobilize support for drug control. The UNODC often teams up with other organizations and encourages people in society to actively take part in these campaigns.
Governments, organizations and individuals in many countries, including Vietnam, Borneo and Thailand, have actively participated in promotional events and larger scale activities, such as public rallies and mass media involvement, to promote the awareness of dangers associated with illicit drugs.
According to the UNODC, nearly 200 million people are using illicit drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics worldwide. In December 1987 the UN General Assembly decided to observe June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The UN was determined to help create an international society free of drug abuse. This resolution recommended further action with regard to the report and conclusions of the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Following the resolution, the years 1991 to 2000 were heralded as the “United Nations Decade Against Drug Abuse”. In 1998 the UN General Assembly adopted a political declaration to address the global drug problem. The declaration expresses UN members’ commitment to fighting the problem.