International Drug Conference Calls for 'Vigorous Action' against Drug Abuse, Illicit Trafficking

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International Drug Conference calls for "vigorous action' against drug abuse, illicit trafficking

THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, held in Vienna from 17 through 26 June, adopted by acclamation a Declaration expressing the commitment of participating States to "vigorous action' and co-operation at all levels towards the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. It also approved a handbook--the "Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities Relevant to the Problem of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking'--containing 35 detailed targets for such action. Forfeiture of assets and equipment of drug traffickers, improved extradition procedures and the use of controlled delivery techniques were among major measures recommended.

Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia and President of the Conference, said the Declaration adopted was "a clear expression of the collective political will to respond to the drug menace', and underlined a shared responsibility to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking. It would provide strong encouragement to professional and other workers against drug abuse to sustain and upgrade their work. At the national level, he said, the priority of anti-drug abuse work would be reinforced.

"No nation or political leadership can now afford to ignore or stand in the way of the campaign to rid us of the scourge of drugs and drug traffickers', he declared.

The Comprehensive Outline, he went on, did not have the status of a legal charter but must nevertheless be regarded as "a morally binding pledge towards a collective effort to implement the guidelines for reducing drug abuse and illicit trafficking'.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in May 1985 proposed the convening under United Nations auspices of a world conference on drug abuse, a phenomenon he called "as destructive a threat to this and coming generations as the plagues which swept many parts of the world in earlier centuries'.

At the opening of the Conference, which was attended by representatives of 138 Governments, many at the ministerial level, Mr. Perez de Cuellar said: "Together we can and must put a stop to this modern-day slavery called drug addiction. Together we can put an end to the violence which it has spawned . . . Together we can ensure that the forces of life and hope will triumph over the forces of death and despair'.

Also attending were representatives of specialized agencies and United Nations bodies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

The work of the Conference took place in plenary and in a Main Committee. The Main Committee discussed the draft Outline, the draft declaration and the conclusions of the Conference. The plenary then considered the report of the Main Committee and took action on the Outline, the draft declaration and the report of the Conference.

In their statements, many delegations commented on the status of a new convention on drug abuse and illicit trafficking which is being drafted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The draft convention at present contains 14 articles addressing all aspects of illicit trafficking operations from clandestine production, manufacture, transportation and distribution of illegal drugs, to the "laundering' of profits from illegal drug sales. The overall objective of the new instrument is to strengthen international co-operation and co-ordination among customs, police and judicial bodies, providing them with guidelines to intercept illegal drug traffic at all stages.

A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Forum, meeting concurrently with the Conference, concluded by proposing possible future governmental activities in the field, which would involve the resources available through NGOs. The Forum, said Rosalind W. Harris, Programme Director of the Planning Committee for NGO Activities for the Conference, had demonstrated the value of co-operation among Governments, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs. …