Magazine article UN Chronicle

Stronger International Response to Drug Problem Needed, UN Board States

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Stronger International Response to Drug Problem Needed, UN Board States

Article excerpt

Drug-related violence is escalating around the world, threatening political institutions and economies, warned the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in its annual report for 1990.

The overall situation worldwide remained grave, INCB President Betty Gough told the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on 3 May, as she presented the report. The danger was all the more lethal because of the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections through intravenous drug abuse and the increasing number of children born to abuser mothers, she said.

Recalling the drug-related murders of presidential candidates in Colombia and Peru in recent years, the Board reported that democratic institutions in both countries have been virtually under siege as a result of the drug problem.

Drug trafficking organizations are well financed and heavily armed and have become more innovative and better organized, the Board reported. Links continue to be forged among drug traffickers, terrorist groups and criminal organizations within countries and regions, as well as internationally.

The Board cited information indicating that during 1990 trafficking organizations in South America and Western Europe might have been using each others' routes in a joint venture to smuggle cocaine to Europe and heroin to North America.

Seizure data show that such linkages were also being established between South-East Asian traffickers and criminal organizations elsewhere. "The current abundant supply of heroin makes this development particularly ominous", the Board stated. The international community must respond to drug traffickers in an even more forceful, comprehensive and innovative manner, the Board said. Action should target all elements of the drug chain, from curbing demand and reinforcing extradition measures to blocking access of traffickers to arms, airplanes and precursor chemicals and promoting and marketing alternative crops.

Regional reports

The report also reviewed international drug control efforts in 1990 and offered a region-by-region analysis of the situation.

Africa had been used as a heroin transit point from South West Asia to Europe and North America. Cannabis was widely available and cocaine trafficking increased. Millions of psychotropic substance tablets continued to be diverted to Africa, endangering public health. In many cases, consumers obtained them from street markets. The European and Asian manufacturing and exporting countries concerned "bear a large measure of the responsibility for this development", the Board stated.

In South-East Asia, illicit opium production remained around the same high levels in the 1989/1990 growing season-some 2,000 tonnes. Heroin trafficking significantly increased across China's southern borders to Macao and Hong Kong. Methamphetamine abuse continued in Japan, where cocaine seizures had surged from 13 kilograms in 1989 to 70 kilograms in the first half of 1990, indicating "an ominous development" there. The bulk of the opiate production in the region continued to emanate from Myanmar. Heroin abuse in Thailand had been compounded by the associated rapid spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thought to cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). …

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