Secretary-General Says Drug Users Need Science-Based Treatment, Not Punishment, in Message for International Day against Drug Abuse, Illicit Trafficking

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June:

This year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking shines a spotlight on the impact of drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises.

Conflicts, climate disasters, forced displacement and grinding poverty create fertile ground for drug abuse — with COVID-19 making a bad situation even worse.  At the same time, people living through humanitarian emergencies are far less likely to have access to the care and treatment they need and deserve.

Meanwhile, criminals are profiting from people’s misery, with cocaine production at record highs, a five-fold increase in seizures of methamphetamines and a near-quadrupling of amphetamine seizures over the last decade.

On this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge and supporting those who fall victim to it.  This includes non-discriminatory policy solutions centred around people, health and human rights, underpinned by strengthened international cooperation to curb the illicit drug trade and hold accountable those who profit from human misery.

We must also strengthen science-based treatment and support services for drug users and treat them as victims who need treatment rather than punishment, discrimination and stigma — including treatment for those living with infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

We cannot allow the world’s drug problem to further shadow the lives of the tens of millions of people living through humanitarian crises.  On this important day, let us commit to lifting this shadow once and for all and giving this issue the attention and action it deserves.

For information media. Not an official record.