International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: UN calls for integrated fight against drugs and organised crime

Monday, or 26 June, is observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The General Assembly decided to observe this day, in 1987, as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

According to a report by The News, each year the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) selects a theme to mark the day. This year it is 'Listen First.' This is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities.

Last year, at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), the international community took steps to mobilise a multifaceted, collective response to the full range of issues related to drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Governments came together to chart a new path forward that is more effective and humane, and leaves no one behind, said a statement released by UNODC.

 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: UN calls for integrated fight against drugs and organised crime

Representational image. Reuters

UNGASS was a ground-breaking moment that provided a detailed and forward-looking blueprint for action. "Together, we must honour the unanimous commitments made to reduce drug abuse, illicit trafficking and the harm that drugs cause, and to ensure that our approach promotes equality, human rights, sustainable development, and greater peace and security," UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress said in a statement released by UNODC.

Guterres, marked the occasion with another statement released on the UNRIC website. "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, peace building, security, development and disarmament activities. In this way, the United Nations can integrate the fight against drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime into the global security and development agenda."

Drug trafficking has grown in prominence globally in the last decade. "Around 1,90,000 people die due to illicit drugs every year. But the damage visited upon lives and communities does not stop there. Drug use damages health in the form of debilitating HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis, while drug trafficking nourishes money laundering, and deadly terrorism. Corruption, the great enabler of organized crime, exists throughout the drug supply chain," UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov was quoted saying in a UNODC report.

According to the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC), the $61 billion Afghan opiates trade is funding insurgency, international terrorism and wider destabilisation. In West Africa, the $85 billion global cocaine trade is exacerbating addiction and money-laundering while fuelling 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 problem just seems to grow exponentially year after year as more people get into this vicious cycle than those who leave.

A survey conducted by the government along with AIIMS said that till 2001 India had an estimated 7.21 crore drug addicts. A report in The Indian Express in 2016 said that under the The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2012, the department is obligated to conduct surveys on drug use and abuse every five years. However, no data exists since August 2001.

Several countries have tightened up their operations against drugs on this day. The Myanmar government on Monday vowed to step up drug prevention and services, calling on people to listen to the concern and need of youth and support their development and health by reducing drug abuse said a Global Times report.

Minister of Home Affairs Kyaw Swe made the remarks in his message on the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. To reduce drug abuse rate, he said, students are directly and indirectly should be educated at an early age on the subject of drug prevention.

UNODC, on this day, remains committed to peacefully and effectively addressing the challenge of illicit drugs based on the international drug control conventions, and their key principle of protecting the health and welfare of humankind.

Updated Date: Jun 26, 2017 13:58:36 IST