Magazine article UN Chronicle

Convening of Ministerial-Level World Meeting on Drug Problems Approved by Assembly

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Convening of Ministerial-Level World Meeting on Drug Problems Approved by Assembly

Article excerpt

Convening of ministerial-level world meeting on drug problems approved by Assembly

The convening of a ministerial-level international conference on drug abuse and illicit trafficking, originally proposed by the Secretary-General in May 1985, was recommended by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) after a wide-ranging discussion of world drug problems.

The General Assembly, on 13 December 1985, approved the Committee's recommendation in adopting resolution 40/122 without a vote.

The Conference, to be held in 1987 in Vienna, will be "an expression of the political will of nations to combat the drug menace", the Assembly stated.

The Conference would aim at generating universal action to combat the drug problem at national, regional and international levels and would formulate a comprehensive "multidisciplinary" outline for future activities focusing on concrete issues directly relevant to the problems of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

The Secretary-General, in a note on the Conference (A/C. 3/40/8), stated that in view of the complexity of the problem and of the diversity of the agencies and organizations involved, a world-wide conference devoted to drug abuse control was "more likely to meet the range of current needs than would a number of meetings at different times in different places, limited in scope and focusing on specific aspects".

The Conference should serve to raise the level of world awareness of the danger of drug abuse, mobilize the full potential of the United Nations system, reinforce other intergovernmnetal non-governmental and regional initiatives, and encourage Governments to concert their efforts and to devote greater resources to combat drug abuse and trafficking.

He suggested the conference focus on six key areas: promotion of education and community participation in the prevention and reduction of the demand for illicit drugs; crop-substitution and other methods of reduction of supply; improved methods to limit the use of narcotics to medical and scientific purposes; forfeiture of illegally acquired proceeds and the extradition of persons arrested for drug-related crimes; strengthening of resources of law enforcement authorities; and treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

The Assembly asked the Economic and Social Council to designate the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the preparatory body for the Conference. On 17 December, the Secretary-General appointed Tamar Oppenheiner as Secretary-General of the Conference. Mrs Oppenheimer has been Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs and Deputy to the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna since 1982.

The Third Committee recommended three other texts on drug issues, which were also approved by the Assembly on 13 December.

Those drafts, all approved without vote by the Assembly, dealt with preparation of a draft convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances; the international campaign against traffic in drugs; and strategy and policies for drug control.

William B. Buffum, Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs, speaking in his capacity as co-ordinator of the United Nations drug-related programmes, said that in the past there had been "insufficient awareness" of the gravity of the drug abuse situation, and that perception of the size of the problem had too often been obscured by differences over who was most culpable--producer, consumer, or transit States.

The situation had reached "a critical stage," he said. He hoped efforts to assign blame would no longer divert Members from dealing with the substance of the problem, which was to recognize that consumption, production and the illicit transportation of narcotic drugs were inextricably interrelated.

During debate, speakers noted the growing international threat posed by drug abuse and illegal drug trafficking. …

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