Secretary-General Calls for World Conference on Drug Abuse

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Secretary-General calls for world conference on drug abuse

Calling drug abuse "as destructive a threat to this and coming generations as the plagues which swept many parts of the world in earlier centuries", Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on 24 May proposed the convening in 1987 of a world conference at the ministerial level to deal with all aspects of the drug problem. "It is evident that existing instruments and resources are inadequate to deal with a problem of such magnitude," he said. "The moment has arrived for the international community to expand its efforts in a global undertaking to meet this peril."

The Secretary-General's recommendation came in an address to the Economic and Social Council during the third week of its 1985 spring session, held 7-31 May in New York. He said the cost of increasing world-wide abuse of and traffic in drugs "must be counted in literally billions of dollars", reflected in lost worktime, "substantial burdens" on judicial and penal systems, and treatment of addicts. A world conference, he felt, would increase public awareness of drug-related problems and mobilize the full potential of the United Nations system towards their resolution, as well as encourage Governments to devote greater resources and efforts to combating drug traffic and abuse.

The Secretary-General recommended that the conference focus on such key areas as: education to promote prevention and reduction of demand for illicit drugs; crop substitution and other methods to reduce supply; improved methods to limit narcotics to medical and scientific use; extradition of those arrested for drug-related crimes; strengthening of resources for law enforcement authorities; and treatment and rehabilitation of addicts.

Measures to combat drug traffic and abuse were among the main questions raised at the four-week session, during which the 54-member Council took action on a broad range of social and economic issues. Ten texts on drug-related matters were approved on the recommendation of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its 1985 session in February (E/1985/23). The Council asked the Secretary-General to convene regular meetings of the operational heads of national drug control and law enforcement agencies in Africa to study questions related to illicit drug traffic in the region and to establish more effective mechanisms for co-operation and mutual assistance in suppressing it. It was decided that the first such meeting should be held in 1987 at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa.

The Council invited countries in which illicit drug manufacture is known to occur to introduce a licensing or monitoring system for the supply and import of precursors, chemicals and solvents used in making narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, or to prohibit the import of such substances where there is no licit need for them. Drug manufacturing and importing countries were invited to exchange information regarding suspicious shipments of such substances and equipment and to seize shipments made for illicit ends.

To reduce the risk of illicit drug traffic via commercial carriers, the Council asked Governments to initiate or expand law enforcement training programmes in order to promote more effective searches, better analysis of potential risks, and greater overall security at international port facilities.

Countries facing problems of drug abuse were urged to give priority to programmes aimed at creating in the young a "deep respect for their own health, fitness and well-being", and to provide appropriate information and "judicious advice" to all sectors of the community on the effects of drug abuse and ways to prevent it.

To improve control of substances listed in Schedules III and IV of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the Council asked Governments to establish mechanisms for monitoring exports so that importing countries could be alerted in advance of shipments that might give cause for concern. …