Speakers in Third Committee Urge Greater Cooperation in Addressing Nexus Between Drugs, Terrorism in Fight against Illicit Narcotics Trade
Delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) described today the myriad challenges they faced in combating the illicit drug trade and the related scourges of terrorism and human trafficking, calling for more cooperation and people-centred approaches, as they held their general discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
Opening the day-long debate via video-conference from Vienna, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that April’s General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem had advanced integrated and rights-based approaches. Notably, it reinforced the global commitment to the three international drug control conventions, and offered a “robust” framework for working towards the 2019 target dates set by the 2009 Political Declaration and Action Plan.
For its part, UNODC was determined to deliver, he said. His Office was developing capacities for intelligence-led policing, special investigative techniques and border management, and responding to both Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on terrorism and violent extremism. But un-earmarked contributions had fallen drastically. “We need more regular budget resources”, he said, as well as general purpose and soft-earmarked funds to manage its core activities.
Against that backdrop, delegates drew attention to links between drugs and crime, on the one hand, and terrorist activities and risks for insecurity of countries - and indeed entire regions – on the other. Afghanistan’s delegate described the terrorist threat in his country as “real and growing fast”, with proceeds from illicit drugs fuelling the insurgency. To break those linkages, Niger’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, recommended intensifying efforts to freeze assets derived from such illegal activities.
A number of delegations described progress they had made in seizing drugs and financial assets, with Iran’s representative noting that on average, more than 80 per cent of the world’s opium had been seized in his country. It had sustained huge losses fighting drug trafficking “merchants of death”. Speakers from Morocco and Bolivia also highlighted the significant seizures, while Pakistan’s delegate said his Government had confiscated more than 342 tons of illicit drugs in 2015 alone.
In that context, delegates also stressed the need for stronger accountability to end impunity, with Egypt’s representative advocating better regional cooperation to fight corruption and achieve justice. Venezuela’s delegate was among several to argue for shared responsibility, citing his country’s decades-long commitment to collaboration, while Colombia’s delegate highlighted the important role of civil society in assessing such issues. There was a need to build a new consensus around tackling drugs and crime, he said.
Jamaica’s representative, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), supported drug-control policies that balanced development concerns with human rights and justice.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States, Russian Federation, Qatar, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Liechtenstein, Peru, Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Brazil, Kenya, Syria, Israel, Maldives, China, Italy, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Iraq, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Japan, Qatar, Libya, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Turkey, Nigeria, Brunei Darussalam, Kyrgyzstan, Eritrea, Algeria, Tajikistan, Nepal, Netherlands, Myanmar, Philippines, Ecuador, Sudan, Senegal, Ukraine, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, as did representatives of the European Union and the Holy See.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 10 October, to begin its consideration of advancement of women.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to begin its general discussion on crime prevention and criminal justice and on international drug control. Before it were reports of the Secretary-General on the thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/71/94); United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/71/121); Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism (document A/71/96); Implementation of the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, with particular reference to the technical cooperation activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (document A/71/114); and Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons (document A/71/119).
It also had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on its sixth session (document A/71/120).
On international drug control, the Committee had before it a report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/71/316).
YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), speaking via video conference from Vienna, said it had been a challenging year in crime prevention and criminal justice, and the fight against drugs. The recent outcome document of the Special Session of the General Assembly had helped to advance the rule of law and a rights-based approach to addressing those problems. It reinforced the global commitment to the three international drug control conventions, and offered a robust framework for moving forward in support of both the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and the 2019 target date set by the Political Declaration and Action Plan to counter the world drug problem.
For its part, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs was already involved in the follow-up, he said, which involved United Nations entities, international and regional organizations and non-governmental organizations. UNODC and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) had fast-tracked HIV/AIDS responses among people who used drugs and those in prison. The Special Session and the 2030 Agenda had provided new impetus to alternative development as a means of reducing illicit cultivation of coca, opium poppy and cannabis, and providing legitimate income opportunities for marginalized communities.
Recalling a number of high-level events, including the sixth Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, at which the second cycle of the review mechanism to address prevention and asset recovery was launched, he stressed that UNODC was determined to deliver. While extra-budgetary funding had tripled in the past decade, un-earmarked contributions had fallen “drastically” and the Office struggled to ensure the sustainability of some of its regional offices. “We need more regular budget resources”, he said, as well as general purpose and soft-earmarked funds in order to manage its core activities.
The representative of Mexico said cooperation and coordination were a matter of priority. He had observed in the global drug report a focus on new psychoactive substances and said it was important to have a deeper analysis on that issue.
The representative of Colombia considered UNODC an important ally for efforts undertaken in the country. He welcomed discussion of the Commission to hold a three-week session and examine persistent challenges. He asked about UNODC’s plans with other United Nations entities to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of the Special Session’s outcome.
Mr. FEDOTOV replied that UNODC was active in Mexico and Colombia, citing its national country programs and offices. On the outcome of the Special Session, he reiterated the need to strengthen partnerships on the ground, expressing his commitment to work closely with United Nations partners to implement the outcome. UNODC was working closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of the country teams.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said development depended on the creation of an environment conducive to social and economic growth. CARICOM member States faced significant challenges stemming from organized crime in the region, notably illicit drugs, the illegal trade and smuggling of small arms, human trafficking, and money laundering. To address those issues, Governments in the region had been forced to divert resources from other pressing development activities, such as investment in health and education. Greater efforts should be placed on addressing the root causes of crime.
He went on to say that money laundering and other financial crimes required an international response. Many CARICOM States faced economic calamity as a result of “de-risking” practices of correspondent banks in Europe and North America, which were unwilling to expose themselves to fines imposed for possible illicit activities by “third party clients”. Turning to the world drug problem, he noted that it was a common and shared responsibility, adding that CARICOM supported drug-control policies which balanced development and socio-economic concerns, and upheld human rights and justice. He recommended that the General Assembly give early consideration to the follow-up to the current ten-year Global Strategy, which would expire in 2019.
JOSEPH TEO (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), affirmed the Association’s commitment to combat transnational crime. He cited in that regard, the region’s dedicated plan of action on the issue, regular ministerial-level meetings, conventions on trafficking in persons and counter-terrorism and mechanisms to promote the rights of women and children. A working group on cyber-crime had come to the fore with a week hosted by Singapore this month.
On countering drugs, he said that leaders of the region aimed for a drug-free community through a zero-tolerance policy, with mechanisms to combat the drug score continuously reinforced. The region strongly supported international action and conventions, although it realized that there was no one-size-fits-all approach to the issue. Each State had to decide and implement policies that best served its individual needs, based on the unique circumstances and norms of its society. Continued cooperation with the United Nations was critical, particularly in sharing best practices through UNODC. He pledged that the Association would continue to work towards a safe Southeast Asia, where its citizens could live full lives without the fear of the influence of drugs and crime.
ABDALLAH WAFY (Niger), speaking on behalf of the African Group, took note of the reports’ recommendations. “Development cannot be achieved without security,” he said, noting that conflict resolution, and the rule of law and good governance were essential in working towards development. Many African countries had found it challenging to address crime and he noted with concern that the resources needed to implement the relevant outcomes were still lacking. Assets involved in crime must be frozen in order to prevent terrorist activities. High income equality and weak Government controls only exacerbated the situation. As drug problems affected young people, with serious health consequences, the Group aimed to reduce drug use, trafficking and related crimes. It also sought to reduce the arms trade.
In the area of drug control, he said there was a focus on cannabis, noting that many countries lack the health care capacity to deal with addiction. Addressing drug offenses was a challenge, as it led to crowding in prisons. Recalling that a unified position had been taken during the recent Special Session, he said the approach to tackling drugs and crime should consider the well-being of people. There was also a need to address the link among drug trafficking, corruption, organized crime and terrorist activities.
GARRETT O’BRIEN (European Union) welcomed the call made by the General Assembly Special Session in its outcome document for risk and harm reduction measures, such as medication-assisted therapy programmes, injecting equipment and antiretroviral therapy. The document’s recommendations on access to controlled medicines for pain relief and sentencing for persons convicted of drug-related offences were also positive steps forward. He reiterated the importance of mainstreaming gender and age perspectives into drug policies and engaging civil society in drug policy formulation, underlining the European Union’s opposition to the death penalty for any reason.
While he supported the Special Session’s recommendations for enhanced cooperation on drug supply reduction, he urged that more measures be taken to address the vulnerabilities that drove, enabled and perpetuated any form of organized crime. The emergence of hundreds of new psychoactive substances every year and the global nature of the marketplace for such substances required international cooperation to combat. Research and monitoring were also crucial to formulating drug policies. Finally, the international community needed to tackle the root causes of illicit drug crop cultivation, such as poverty and the weak rule of law. He called for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to engage a wider circle of United Nations bodies in the drug control debate, including UNODC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
WILLIAM R. BROWNFIELD (United States) said the United Nations played an important role in helping Member States promote fair, effective and accountable criminal justice systems, and respond to threats from crime, corruption, and drugs. He urged all parties to the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to include in their delegations representatives with responsibility for legal assistance and extradition. The recommendations of the General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem needed to be implemented, he said, urging States to accelerate the international scheduling of synthetic substances. The United States faced an epidemic of opioid abuse, including the illicit use of the synthetic drug, fentanyl. The international community had a common, shared responsibility to fight transnational organized crime and decrease the damage caused by drugs.
SHEYAM ELGARF (Egypt) emphasized the importance of having humane criminal justice systems and working with all regional and international mechanisms in the fight against drugs and crimes. It was crucial to provide resources to UNODC, she said, noting that voluntary contributions were also required for its technical assistance programs. She highlighted the need for enhanced regional cooperation to fight corruption and achieve justice, as well as support for the relevant regional institute. Greater efforts were needed in that area in order to prevent terrorist activities. She urged that more attention be given to conflicts and unprecedented levels of migration, adding that all affected countries must work together to protect the most vulnerable. She welcomed the review of progress made in developing a global strategy to counter the world drug problem, emphasizing that more efforts were needed to combat drug trafficking.
ELENA S. MUKHAMETZYANOVA (Russian Federation) said the rising threat of organized crime posed many challenges, and new international legal instruments should be adopted that took into account new features of criminal activity. She supported UNODC’s effort towards combating criminal activity, as well as the central coordinating role of the United Nations in global efforts to fight corruption. The Russian Federation noted the convening of a conference of parties on the Convention against Corruption, which served as a forum for discussion. She highlighted the intergovernmental nature of the Convention’s review mechanism, as it had proven to be an effective instrument for international cooperation. Drug trafficking was an aggressive form of transnational crime and the drug threat emanating from Afghanistan deserved special attention. Addressing the problem of Afghan drugs would be possible only through concerted international efforts, she added.
MAYANK JOSHI (India), noting the high level of drug use among young people and other segments of society, drew attention to the link between poverty and drug use. The Special Session outcome was a landmark achievement and he reiterated the importance of the relevant conventions in that context. Concrete policy directions were needed and India had developed a three-point initiative. In addition, he advocated effective responses to counter opiate and new synthetic drug use, stressing that transnational crime threatened the rule of law and democratic societies. Among other challenges, he cited concerns about trafficking in persons, cyber-crime, and attacks on cultural monuments.
JUAN JOSÉ GÓMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) said his country had paid a high price for the international community’s failure to curb drug trafficking and use. In that context, he reaffirmed the principle of common but shared responsibility, noting that States must be supported, in line with the 2030 Agenda. The human rights and public health perspectives must also be supported. With a view to punishments for drug crimes, he reiterated Mexico's rejection of the death penalty in any circumstance.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia) launched an appeal to assess the limits of drug policies and hold an evidence-based debate on the matter. Highlighting the important role of civil society in assessing such issues, he stressed the need to build a new consensus on tackling drugs and crime. Outstanding tasks required debate. The international community had to find a balanced approach that paid particular attention to vulnerable groups. New approaches also were needed to avoid the negative effects of drug use, with national specificities duly taken into account. Tackling drug trafficking was a matter of national security and the promotion of alternative crops would be positive turning point in such work, he said, noting that corruption must also be addressed and funds illegally acquired returned.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating with CELAC, underscored the need for robust international cooperation to counter transnational trafficking. Drug trafficking was the most costly form of transnational organized crime, as it threatened security and economic and social progress. She emphasized the importance of shared responsibility in combatting drug trafficking, and in particular, the need to eliminate demand in the developed North. Solutions should not involve militarizing countries, displacing rural communities or legalizing drugs. Drug control policies needed to appreciate the public health aspect of the problem, and prioritize prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social integration. Reiterating his support for existing legal frameworks for drug supervision and control, she warned against introducing new terms and actions whose meanings were ambiguous. Cuba had a zero-tolerance policy on drug production, consumption and trafficking, and thanks to the joint efforts of its public health, education, justice and internal order institutions, it had seen positive results in prevention. She reiterated Cuba’s readiness to cooperate with any State in the prevention of terrorism, but rejected unilateral lists of countries that supposedly had committed violations. Finally, she condemned the “wet foot/dry foot policy” that encouraged illegal and unsafe migration and trafficking of Cuban citizens to the United States.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) described the terrorist threat in his country as “real and growing fast”. The transnational nature of the problem and its links to the illicit drug trade made it crucial for States to work together with all available tools. The United Nations could develop a more workable approach to terrorism by focusing on those using it as a means to advance their hegemonic ambitions. Proceeds from illicit drugs fuelled insurgency in Afghanistan, he said, noting that UNODC had found that the bulk of opium poppy cultivation and opiate production occurred in provinces where security was weakest. Since 2015, he said, Afghanistan had carried out a national drug action plan to align law enforcement with education and public health. The Government was committed to building on its accomplishments and had taken steps to expand cooperation with other countries in the region in the areas of law enforcement and intelligence sharing, among others.
JUANA SANDOVAL (Nicaragua) said her Government was developing security strategies for fighting transnational crimes that undermined stability. The Nicaraguan model sought to contribute to regional peace and stability. In Nicaragua, crime prevention had been coordinated with civic participation. The world drug problem undermined socioeconomic stability, including in Nicaragua, which was neither a drug producing nor consuming country, but located in a transit region. Legalizing drugs was not a viable option because it contravened the provisions of existing international instruments, which made up the drug control system. The world drug problem was an integral part of transnational organized crime and she reaffirmed the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in that regard.
KATHRIN NESCHER (Liechtenstein) said the agenda items on drugs and crime were considered to be technical. However, the associated issues were real and affected actual people. Trafficking and human slavery were both grave human rights violations and obstacles to development, which could amount to security concerns, especially if they fuelled conflict and terrorism. Follow-up actions were needed to ensure accountability, she said, noting that the Special Session outcome was considered disappointing. The international approach must address health and well-being, yet more funds had been allocated to law enforcement. She expressed concern about the death penalty for drug-related crimes and called for an end to that practice, which violated human rights law. Corruption also must be fully addressed, in all forms and at all levels, particularly as it negatively impacted the enjoyment of human rights and development, she said, stressing that human rights concerns must be integrated.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said the illicit drug trade and other trans-border crimes, such as illegal logging, were one side of the coin; on the other side was consumption. That had caused suffering for thousands of people, he said, and the phenomenon had been worsened by a surge in new psychoactive substances. Unity among all counties was needed in order to tackle the world drug problem. Peru’s implementation of a national drug control strategy, which was currently being updated, had made positive results possible. Successful drug control policies focused on reducing supply and demand, as well as money laundering, among other aspects. The international community needed to promote a balanced approach based on scientific evidence and human rights, he said, cautioning against prioritizing one component over another.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said it was extremely important to assess progress in combatting organized transnational crime in order to advance development. Relevant Protocols must be implemented and issues identified in the implementation of related Action Plans. Urging a more comprehensive approach to tackling the illicit drug trade, he said Belarus planned to submit a draft resolution aimed at strengthening the family, with a view to helping children and youth affected by drug use.
Mr. AL MUHAIRI (United Arab Emirates) said the world drug problem was worrying for all countries, and it had worsened due to the growing numbers of drug users and new forms of drugs. Drugs had become a weapon for terrorist groups, which used them to fund their activities. Addressing that issue required countries to work together. Further, States must protect youth from falling prey to traffickers and smugglers. The United Arab Emirates continued to make strides in countering drug trafficking through rigorous national strategic plans, he said, underscoring the importance of gathering and sharing experiences. Large amounts of drugs and narcotics had been detected in 2016 and his country had stopped 300 couriers travelling through its airports. He underlined the resolve of the United Arab Emirates to uphold its international commitments.
BOUCHAIB ELOUMNI (Morocco) called the recent Special Session on the World Drug Problem an important step in advancing to the next phase in combatting drugs and crime. Increasing drug use and the emergence of new substances were major concerns, he said, stressing that more resources must be devoted to combating trafficking and transnational crime. In Morocco, a national security directive addressed transnational crimes, with major drug operations uncovered and punished as result. Significant amounts of drugs had been seized as well. Further, greater efforts had been made to end impunity, he said, noting that Morocco remained committed to providing health care for drug users.
CARLOS DUARTE (Brazil) said preventive policies focused on social and economic development and respect for human rights and justice should be at the centre of strategies to counter crime. If such strategies were to be effectives they had to be implemented with the support of civil society. He was particularly concerned about the vulnerability of refugees and migrants, and called for greater international cooperation to prevent human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation. While effective punishment was essential to prevent crime, he reiterated his opposition to the death penalty, stressing that Brazil was fully committed to implementing the Special Session outcome document. Also, drug policies must be based on scientific evidence and take into account the specific needs of women and vulnerable groups.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya), associating with the African Group, said illicit drugs posed dangers to health, the environment and development. He reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to implement the three international drug control conventions that formed the basis of the world drug control strategy. Nationally, Kenya had taken measures to effectively coordinate and implement its drug control strategy, including by enacting the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which had established a centre to identify the proceeds of crime, money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. He urged States to respond to challenges posed by the links between drug trafficking, corruption and those other forms of organized crime.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLIZ (Bolivia) drew attention to achievements made in the fight against drugs and crime, stressing that it was possible to address drug trafficking effectively. In Bolivia, a human rights-based approach had been integrated into national programs. While coca and related chemicals were not tolerated in public areas, the traditional use of coca had been recognized. The amount of drugs seized had significantly increased, he said, noting that drug trafficking laws had been strengthened and international partnerships had been pursued to address transnational crimes.
AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria) said his country was dealing with crime resulting from Wahhabist ideology. The criminal activity was supported by armed groups sheltered by States known to all. Those armed groups had enslaved women and children destroyed cultural property and heritage. He urged States supporting those mercenaries to respect their commitments and apply relevant Security Council resolutions. Terrorism was a crime affecting all countries, but a more serious crime was the provision of weapons to armed groups by certain States. Further, humanitarian assistance systems were being used to ferry weapons to terrorists. Terrorist regimes and fatwas had contributed to human and organ trafficking across borders and within border zones, while authorities in neighbouring countries had turned a blind eye.
BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that the narcotics trade was a war against society and he reaffirmed his opposition to legalization. Although drugs were an evil, the fight against drug trafficking must respect human dignity. Prevention was essential and Catholic organizations were active in both prevention and rehabilitation activities. The family was the bulwark for both prevention and treatment. Illicit drug abuse destroyed the fabric of individual families and communities, leading to the destabilization of society. He supported programmes to strengthen parenting skills as part of efforts to prevent the risk factors associated with drug abuse.
NIMROD BARKAN (Israel) shared best practices from his country’s drug treatment programmes for women. As women tended to abuse different substances and faced different living conditions from men, they required a different approach to recovery. By supporting separate treatment infrastructures designed especially for women - who often had suffered sexual exploitation, violence and trauma - Israel provided a safe, trigger-free recovery environment and was committed to sharing its best practices with other States. Every year, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs collaborated with UNODC to host courses on alcohol and drugs.
MARIYAM MIDHFA NAEEM (Maldives) said organized crime such as drug trafficking, trafficking of persons and money laundering was an ever-present threat to his island nation. The Government had criminalized trafficking of persons, money laundering, terrorism and the financing of terrorism, and had provided law enforcement with the means to combat those crimes effectively. This year, it had established the National Counter Terrorism Centre. The National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism was based upon propagation of moderate and progressive Islamic teachings, empowerment of women and youth, and increased preventive intervention. Safeguarding the tourism industry from terrorist attacks was also an important focus area. The Maldives, however, recognized the need to collaborate with other States and international organizations. The war against crime was not one that any country could win by itself.
ZHIQIANG LI (China) said the international community must step up cooperation and joint responses in the face of daunting challenges in crime prevention, criminal justice and drug control, despite progress in some areas. For that purpose, the Doha Declaration – adopted at the Thirteenth Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha, Qatar - must be effectively implemented and efforts to respond to new forms of crime must be intensified. In particular, he supported efforts to lay the legal foundation for cooperation in fighting cybercrimes such as telecom frauds. He also supported efforts to vigorously address wildlife crimes and illicit trafficking in cultural property. He called for the Convention against Corruption to be rigorously implemented, while maintaining that the review mechanism must respect the sovereignty of the States Parties and remain an intergovernmental process. In that regard, compliance review for the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime should draw on the model of the anti-corruption convention. Fugitive and asset recovery was an important focus of anti-corruption efforts. Supporting the international drug-control system, he opposed legalizing drugs but advocated a holistic approach to allowing access to medicinal drugs and prohibiting the diversion of controlled substances. In drug control, cooperation and shared responsibility were critical.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, recognized that effective crime prevention and criminal justice were fundamental to peace and security. Those issues were also important for advancing human rights and the 2030 Agenda. The human rights of vulnerable groups in particular must be protected, he said, especially women and migrants. He highlighted the links between trafficking and terrorism, adding that Italy sought to strengthen international cooperation with this year’s resolution on crime prevention and criminal justice. Better responses must be found to address corruption and fight impunity.
ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) welcomed the Action Plan to Counter the World Drug Problem agreed upon in April 2015. The major challenge for his country was not the production of drugs, but trafficking. Sri Lanka had been used as a trans-shipment destination by international drug traffickers. The spill over of that trade had led to a serious domestic heroin problem. Sri Lanka had set up residential care treatment and rehabilitation services for drug dependents and was establishing a Centre for Sharing Intelligence on Drug Trafficking to support national institutions in South Asia and Southeast Asia. It aimed to reduce drug supply and use to minimum levels by 2020 through a strategy focused on the linkages between drug abuse, poverty reduction, crime prevention and health. Sri Lanka was working closely with UNODC, other United Nations entities and civil society in combatting drug problem.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEE (Guatemala) said that countries such as his own had assumed a disproportionate share of the struggle against drugs, due to being geographically located between producer and consumer countries. Hence the importance of cooperation at all levels to reduce the high cost associated with the phenomenon. The international community must continue to recognize the importance of concepts like judicial proportionality and pay special attention to the most vulnerable sectors of society. The General Assembly Special Session outcome document constituted a major achievement compared to previous declarations; among its achievements was the reaffirmation that the health and well-being of humanity were the goal of international conventions. Drug policies needed to be aligned with human rights, he said, stressing that priority should be accorded to reducing drug demand.
Mr. AYAD (Iraq) recalled the legal measures his country had taken to combat organized crime, including joining the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime in 2009. Iraq had enacted a general amnesty law in 2015, making it possible for offenders to return to public life, and had introduced amendments to the Criminal Trials Law to ensure justice and protect the rights of victims. Iraq also had established an independent integrity body under Parliamentary control to combat corruption and enhance Government transparency. Terrorism was of foremost concern and he underscored the dangerous linkages between terrorism and organized crime. The crimes committed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) constituted major human rights violations. He welcomed the technical assistance Iraq had received from UNODC and called for greater cooperation among all countries for better crime prevention in the fight against terrorism.
Mr. BUNYARITTHIPONG (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said transnational crime impeded development and reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Combatting human trafficking was at the top of Thailand’s agenda. The prevention strategy focused on raising awareness about human trafficking and investing in initiatives to improve citizens’ life quality. The country was also working with the private sector to promote the idea that respect for human rights was good for business. Fair treatment of offenders, in accordance with United Nations standards and norms, should be an essential principle of crime prevention and criminal justice. Thailand had amended its Penitentiary Act to be in accordance with the Bangkok Rules and the Mandela Rules. Drug trafficking was also at the top of the national agenda, he said, noting that alternative development was important for addressing poverty and a lack of opportunity, which formed the root causes of the drug problem. Thailand submitted a draft resolution, “Promoting the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development”, to be tabled for adoption by the Assembly during its seventy-first session.
JUSTIN ONG (Singapore) said his country’s status as a major transport and transhipment hub had made it vulnerable to transnational crime. Trafficking in persons, drugs and cybercrime had each inspired the Government to take action through polices aimed at tackling transnational crime. One such policy focused on protecting the welfare of vulnerable persons. Another national initiative allowed the Government to target syndicates operating across jurisdictions and confiscate assets obtained through crime. Singapore was also working to protect individuals and families from drug use, wean abusers from their addiction and protect security in the region. Calling cyberspace the new frontier for transnational and organized crime, he underscored the need to hold discussions with key stakeholders on partnership and technical collaboration. Regional cooperation was critical in the fight against transnational crime, he said, as was stronger partnership among international law enforcement agencies.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said the need for international cooperation was greater than ever, as markets for certain drugs were expanding. Pakistan’s geographic location had made it both a victim of drugs and a transit country for opiates and cannabis. Having seized more than 342 tons of illicit drugs in 2015 alone, Pakistan was concerned over the emerging trend to legalize drug use. Growing drug demand would have a fallout effect on the region. Transnational organized crime was another challenge, and when it came to money-laundering and corruption, Pakistan had set up a Financial Monitoring Unit to cooperate with other countries in combating terrorist financing. He urged the international community to strengthen related mechanisms and emphasize UNODC’s role in such work.
Mr. DAHLWY (Saudi Arabia) said security challenges throughout the world underscored the need for all countries to cooperate to prevent crime through the rule of law. Moreover, crime hampered development. Indicators should be created to gauge the rule of law and crime prevention, as should an oversight mechanism to measure progress toward achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For its part, Saudi Arabia was continuously developing its judicial sector and could share its expertise in the treatment of detainees and their reintegration into society. In terms of drugs, his country sought to raise public awareness about the consequences of drugs. He expressed concern about the linkages between drugs and terrorism, noting that Saudi Arabia had sentenced 12 Hezbollah members for their role in terrorism. The problem of drugs and crime could only be solved through cooperation and knowledge sharing, he added.
TAMTA KUPRADZE (Georgia) said that over the past decade her country had shown significant progress in implementing public and private sector reforms, and in reinforcing its commitment to public safety. The Government had undertaken several criminal justice reforms, modernizing the Criminal Code to make it more liberal. The Code now criminalized any incitement of hatred “once it creates obvious and direct threat of violence”. Those amendments aimed to enhance public order. Among the biggest achievements was the development of a legal framework regarding juveniles. Last year, Parliament had adopted Georgia’s first stand-alone and specialized Juvenile Justice Code, which expanded alternatives to criminal prosecution, such as mediation, and ensured that detention and imprisonment were used only as the last resort.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran) said his country had sustained huge losses while fighting drug trafficking “merchants of death”. On average, more than 80 per cent of the world’s opium had been seized in Iran. Regarding national demand for drugs, he noted that within the framework of a balanced strategy, a demand reduction programme had decreased HIV transmission. He called for the adoption of a balanced and comprehensive strategy away from political considerations. The heaviest burden caused by illicit drug trafficking fell on transit countries, such as Iran, he said, underlining UNODC’s lead role in combating the world drug problem and urging that it be preserved.
JUN SAITO (Japan), noting that his country would host the fourteenth United Nations Crime Congress in 2020, said the inclusion of perspectives on crime prevention and criminal justice in the 2030 Agenda had been important achievements of the thirteenth Congress. The joint commitment adopted at the General Assembly’s Special Session on the World Drug Problem, held in April, was another critical guiding principle, he said, pledging to take an active role in its implementation. Underscoring the importance of countering the spread of synthetic drugs – namely, new psychoactive substances and methamphetamine – he added that combating organized crime and terrorism was another urgent challenge. As this year’s Chair of the Group of 7 (G7), Japan had taken action to promote transparency and strengthen law enforcement cooperation and hoped to increase momentum in the fight against corruption.
Ms. ALKHATER (Qatar), noting that crime prevention and criminal justice contributed to sustainable development, said her country had adopted a number of measures to deliver on its responsibilities under the 2015 Doha Declaration. It had established a commission on transparency and accountability and had addressed corruption and funds transfer at the international level. Also, Qatar had ratified the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted legal measures to combat trafficking in persons and promulgated laws to prosecute those crimes. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, noting that Qatar had applied them through its prevention programmes.
IBRAHIM K. M. ALMABRUK (Libya) said the world drug problem was a common and joint responsibility. Arriving at cooperation required fulfilling State needs in the areas of technical, specialized assistance and capacity-building. Underlining the importance of concerted efforts to halt trafficking in people, he said Libya looked forward to cooperating with neighbouring States on that matter. Libya also had an urgent need to cooperate with UNODC and to benefit from technical assistance, as well as assistance to institutions. In 2012, Libya had hosted sub-regional Office on Drugs and Crime for the Arab Maghreb region, enabling it to effectively combat drug trafficking. He expressed hope that the Office would resume its activities and contribute to overcoming difficulties.
LESETLA ANDREAS TEFFO (South Africa) said the rise in illicit trafficking in wildlife and forest crimes was a global priority, making it critical to ensure that the international trade of wild animals and plants did not lead to their extinction. South Africa was among 13 countries to participate in a global initiative to prevent human trafficking and migrant smuggling. On drugs, he strongly supported implementation of three international drug control conventions and the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan as the basis for international anti-drug action. Further, South Africa had initiated a mutual legal assistance agreement with 19 countries to curb transnational trafficking in precious metals, he said, highlighting the absence of an international regulatory framework for combatting such illicit trade.
RUSLAN BULTRIKOV (Kazakhstan) said organized crime, illicit drugs and human trafficking threatened international peace and security, undermining the rule of law and sustainable development. His country was implementing five institutional reforms under the “100 Concrete Steps” document to improve its judicial and law enforcement systems. It had decriminalized certain offenses and granted amnesty to more than 20,000 people. Kazakhstan took seriously the threat of human trafficking and had co-sponsored a Security Council resolution on human trafficking in the Mediterranean, which was adopted today. As a member of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Kazakhstan was involved in various international and regional programmes for countering international crime and narcotics trafficking.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA (Costa Rica) said his country had never sanctioned drug use as a crime; its approach was from a health care perspective. He welcomed ongoing interregional work carried out by coordination mechanisms, stressing that the Special Session outcome document had been a vital step in that regard and reflected new avenues. There was still a long way to go between now and 2019, when the 10-year plan would expire. The international community must focus attention on equitable sustainable development, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to continued work on treating the worldwide drug problem.
MURAT UĞURLUOĞLU (Turkey) said that as a party to international instruments, his country had taken a decisive approach against crime, and had intensified its border protection measures. Security measures that did not address root causes, such as conflict, would only yield temporary success, he said, noting that the link between terrorism and transnational organized crime must be addressed. Terrorism violated people’s most fundamental rights. Turkey had long fought against terrorism and would continue its campaign against numerous groups. Terrorism could only be addressed through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
BANKOLE ADEOYE (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, called for comprehensive and holistic approaches to prevent crime and violence, and to strengthen criminal justice institutions. Nigeria had taken several measures to increase its capacity to address crime. The Government had reformed its criminal justice system through the Criminal Justice Act of 2015, as well as amended its extradition law and national legislation to comply with Article 44 of the Crime Convention. Its drug-control plan for the 2015 to 2019 period provided an integrated and comprehensive solution to a range of drug-related issues. He called for cross-border collaboration, intelligence sharing and judicial cooperation to strengthen law enforcement.
NAWAWI BOLHASAN (Brunei Darussalam) said he shared the concerns of other Member States regarding threats posed by trafficking and illicit use of drugs. The global drug problem required efforts on all levels - nationally, regionally and internationally - he said, adding that Brunei Darussalam at the same time respected the sovereignty of States to establish policies according to their own domestic context. The Government had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs, enabled by a comprehensive legal, policy and administrative framework. It was committed to combatting illicit drug use both regionally, through ASEAN, and on an international level, through various multilateral platforms.
ARSLANBEK UMETALIEV (Kyrgyzstan), drawing attention to the large coverage area of opium poppies in Afghanistan, said that country was a hotbed of smuggling on the so-called northern route. Drug expansion had become aggressive, and in response, Kyrgyzstan had an anti-narcotics plan that had been crafted in line with the Kyrgyz national framework. It was urgent to strengthen international cooperation. Kyrgyzstan was a contributor to regional organizations, and cooperated with regional UNODC programmes. He welcomed the outcome of the 5 October international conference on Afghanistan, where a new package of financial assistance had been agreed, expressing hope that some of the funds would also go towards combating drugs.
ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group, described Government efforts to build the criminal justice sector and prevent and combat crimes at home and beyond its borders. Among other things, Eritrea had taken measures to improve access to the justice system, including through expanding and establishing community courts, and continued to upgrade its prison system. Noting that thousands of young people, especially African youth, continued to fall victim to organized crime and that the Mediterranean Sea had become a graveyard for migrants seeking to achieve a better life in Europe, she said Eritrea had established legal, institutional and administrative frameworks to prevent its people from falling into the trap of criminal networks. Outlining a number of anti-money laundering programmes and efforts to tackle irregular migration and human trafficking, she said Eritrea was engaging with destination countries in Europe to examine their unjustified policies of granting automatic asylum to Eritrean nationals. Such measures unfortunately encouraged people to risk their lives and exposed them to human traffickers and smugglers.
ISRISS BOUASSILA (Algeria), expressing his country’s commitment to the three international drug control conventions, underscored the importance of the African Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention for the period 2013-2017 as a blueprint to address challenges posed by illicit drugs. There was an urgent need to address the challenges posed by the links among drug trafficking, corruption and such organized crime as human trafficking, firearms trafficking, cybercrime, terrorism and money laundering. Drug trafficking had exploited the climate of insecurity and political instability, enabling narco-trafficking to grow into one of the most important financing sources of terrorism. As a transit country, Algeria was deeply concerned by the weakness of policies adopted so far to limit drug supply. It had found that decriminalizing the use of drugs – particularly cannabis – for purposes other than those specified in international conventions was a retreat from the gains achieved in earlier decades.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) said that like any country bordering Afghanistan, his country was under the burden of combating drug trafficking. The international community needed to coordinate measures aimed at reducing drug supply and demand, and to integrate efforts taken in that area into the international strategy for narcotics control. A global multilevel system of cooperation with the United Nations as a coordinating centre should be established. In Tajikistan, Government measures had created the conditions to reduce the number of registered crimes related to drugs, he said, adding that international cooperation in drug control was another priority.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal) affirmed his country’s commitment to the principles of fair, impartial and accountable criminal justice. The Government had enacted a number of laws to combat trans-border crimes. Nepal had longstanding national legislation on controlling drug abuse and was party to a number of international and regional conventions and programmes on drug trafficking. He called for global cooperation to address the challenges of drugs and crime, including their root causes.
YARON OPPENHEIMER (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union, said that in the run up to a new Political Declaration in 2019 on the world drug problem, collective efforts were needed in the area of proportionate sentencing and alternatives to incarceration. It was also critical to implement a full range of health-based interventions. He expressed regret that the Special Session outcome had not included language on the death penalty, despite that a significant number of countries were taking steps to reduce the number of offences for which capital punishment might be imposed. “While we are concerned about the death penalty, we would also like to stress that extra-judicial killings are a flagrant violation of the right to life,” he said. An open debate towards 2019, including the voices of civil society, would help seize the momentum created by the Special Session.
YE MINN THEIN (Myanmar) said his country had implemented several programmes in partnership with UNODC, including on transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking, anti-corruption, rehabilitation and sustainable development. Myanmar had also increased its cooperation with neighbouring countries to fight human trafficking, he said, while on the domestic front it was working to eliminate forced labour. Also, the Government was working to eradicate opium by educating poppy farmers about reducing their production and finding alternative income. As poppy growing areas were in remote areas lacking basic infrastructure, it was crucial to support those farmers in developing sustainable incomes, he said.
LOURDES O. YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN, said corruption was a breeding ground for the illegal drug trade, which threatened peace and impeded development gains. The Government had turned its focus to fighting drug use and providing rehabilitation to the country’s almost three million drug users. Thanks to those initiatives, some 700,000 people had submitted themselves to authorities. Turning to human trafficking, she said 10 per cent of the Philippine population - or nearly 10 million people - were among those who had gone overseas, responding to worldwide demand for migrant labour. The Government had established a mechanism to protect them, as well as enhanced regulation of recruitment agencies to protect migrants from abuse abroad. In 2015, the fight against human trafficking had resulted in 46 convictions, with many of the accused receiving the maximum punishment of life in prison. The increase in number of prosecutions – 217 between 2011 and 2016, compared with only 42 in the previous five-year period – had resulted from enhanced cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors.
FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador) said the fight against the world drug problem had not shown the desired success. There was a need to recognize common responsibilities. It would be appropriate for the international community to address the issue of tax havens and their relationship to the drug problem. Addiction was a public health problem, he said, stressing that the response should be designed accordingly and related socio-economic issues addressed.
FADUL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the African Group, reviewed the significant efforts his country had taken to combat organized crime, in line with its international and regional commitments. Sudan had established a national body to combat corruption, under the President’s oversight, set up a juvenile justice system, and established a child protection unit within the police and armed forces, as well as a unit to combat violence against women. Sudan had also made headway in preventing human trafficking. It had hosted conference in 2014 on combatting human smuggling and trafficking in the Horn of Africa, and he invited donor countries to support Sudan in implementing the outcome of that conference. Sudan had also worked with neighbours to strengthen border control and prevent infiltration of armed groups. Sudan had adopted a number of laws relating to money-laundering, terrorism financing and combatting drugs and psychotropic substances. He concluded by calling upon the international community to provide greater technical assistance and debt forgiveness to developing countries.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group, said the close links among the different forms of trafficking, transnational crime, drug problems and terrorism must be recognized. Success in combatting those problems had been mixed. Counterfeiting had become a major threat to economic development and impunity must be tackled through a transnational approach. Drugs were a grave threat to sustainable development and well-being. With that in mind, a network of prosecutors had been created as part of a comprehensive law enforcement response, as had treatment centres to support drug users.
IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said it was of utmost importance to ensure the effective follow-up to the General Assembly’s Special Session on the World Drug Problem by translating its “milestone” outcome document into practice. Emphasizing that implementing relevant international treaties required a comprehensive, complementary and balanced approach and full respect for human rights, he said that high priority should be accorded to such demand reduction measures as prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, aftercare and social reintegration. On human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants, he said that challenge had been exacerbated by massive internal migration flows fuelled by the conflict in Donbas.
SHARRINA ABDULLAH (Malaysia), associating herself with ASEAN, emphasized the need to address transnational crime in a more comprehensive manner, including through stricter enforcement, implementing the necessary legislation and enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies and inter-agency cooperation. Underscoring Malaysia’s commitment in that regard, she also pledged to work towards addressing the drug problem through a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach between demand and supply reduction, preventive education, and the introduction of voluntary treatment and rehabilitation. There was no one-size-fits-all model to address that issue, she said, underscoring the sovereign right of every Government and its citizens to decide what was best for them in that regard.
ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) emphasized the need for shared responsibility in combatting the drug problem, even though it affected States differently. He called for greater international assistance to transit countries, in accordance with Article 10 of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. In combatting drug trafficking, it was vital to harmonize interventions with the Sustainable Development Goals, a practice that would require a paradigm shift in the way the progress of national drug policies was measured. Under its 2015-2019 national drug plan, Venezuela had revamped its technological equipment for monitoring land and air activity. He was also pleased to announce that his country had captured 134 citizens wanted by INTERPOL between 2006 and 2015. Those achievements underscored Venezuela’s decades-long commitment to addressing the global drug problem through collaboration.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that, as both a source and a transit country, combatting trafficking in persons – particularly women and children – was a top priority for his country. Bangladesh had zero tolerance for those engaged in such crimes, and had promulgated many laws and regulations to that end. Addressing drug trafficking required the involvement of all Governments and societies, he said, citing measures taken by Bangladesh, including rehabilitation facilities for addicts. Terrorists had no religion, caste or creed. The root causes of terrorism and violent extremism must be identified, he said, adding that strong action was required to deal with those who mentored, trained, financed and armed terrorists and extremists.