Skip to main content
SG/SM/6604

YOUNG PEOPLE HOLD KEY TO DRUG-FREE WORLD IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN INTERNATIONAL DAY MESSAGE

19 June 1998


Press Release
SG/SM/6604
SOC/NAR/785


YOUNG PEOPLE HOLD KEY TO DRUG-FREE WORLD IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN INTERNATIONAL DAY MESSAGE

19980619 ADVANCE RELEASE Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June:

This year, the theme for International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is a call to unite the world's youth. As we work towards the United Nations' goal of creating a drug-free world in the twenty-first century, it is young people who hold the key.

Youth's desire to experiment is essential to the survival of humankind. A natural curiosity about the world produces new generations of thinkers, artists, scientists and world leaders. But that natural curiosity is seized upon for deadly exploitation by drug dealers. Although the majority of young people do not use drugs, they are vulnerable to images of drugs as being somehow artistic or "cool". This is just wrong. We must help young people understand that there is nothing glamorous about using drugs, as a look at any long-term drug user will tell you; and that drugs do not create an escape to a better life, as the life of any drug addict will tell you.

It pains me to hear of young people who think they found a friend in drugs after being separated from their families, or feeling in some way lost in the world. Yet, committed young people have saved thousands of their peers by showing them a way out: a sense of security, belonging and renewed passion for life.

Earlier this month, political leaders met in New York for the General Assembly special session on countering the world drug problem. They made a commitment to mobilizing their governments and civil societies towards eliminating or reducing significantly both the supply and consumption of illegal drugs by the year 2008.

During the session, young people also had an opportunity to share their ideas on how we can work towards a drug-free tomorrow. Representatives from drug-abuse prevention forums held this spring in Paris and Banff, Canada, presented me with a "Charter of Youth for a Twenty-First Century Free of Drugs" and "The Vision from Banff", a guide to prevention strategies for other young people all over the globe. At the authors' request, I have circulated both documents to the leaders of all Member States.

- 2 - Press Release SG/SM/6604 OBV/49 SOC/NAR/785 19 June 1998

The work of almost 200 young people from 24 countries working on the front lines of drug control, the "Vision" states, "We want our leaders to join together with us in taking action to prevent drug abuse among young people.

"Not only can nations help each other to treat drug addiction and to stop drug trafficking from violating our human rights, they can also provide young people with opportunities to become involved with drug abuse prevention programmes."

It is that kind of spirit which makes today's theme so relevant. Let us make the most of this resource. Let us recognize that our future depends upon it.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.