“Drugs & Crime, as a Threat to Development”

Representatives from Dianova International attended theThematic Debate of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly on drugs and crime as a threat to development, on the occasion of the UN international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. During the Thematic Debate, Mr. Yuri Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented the 2012 World Drug Report

The general objective of this thematic debate was to unite UN member states, the UN system, international organizations and civil society in a common endeavor to emphasize the value of a comprehensive approach and international partnerships in cracking down on organized crime and drug trafficking in order to promote the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

 

The participants to the Thematic Debate emphasized the scope of the drug problem and organized crime worldwide and they explored their various consequences in regard to sustainable development objectives and to the achievement of the Millennium goals.

Representatives from Dianova, the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC – at the board of officers of which Dianova serves as deputy secretary, represented by Ms Elena Goti) and the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice) had gathered the day before for a preparatory meeting during which they approved a statement by the VNGOC to the participants to the thematic debate.

The key-elements of the VNGOC statement are:

About the future of drug policy being openly debated, it is recommended that any actions planned for or undertaken by Member States be evidence based, supported by scientific data, culturally and socially sensitive and evaluated for results, including analysis of any unintended consequences. This approach is essential for demand and supply reduction efforts as well as for sustainable alternative development.

About drug dependence as a health matter, it is recommended that Member States ensure that demand reduction activities be considered as equally important to and as required as supply reduction activities and that alternative sanctions and dispositions for drug related crimes shown to reduce future criminal engagement are made available as permitted for under the Conventions.

About the stewardship of global drug policy and development as a shared responsibility, it is recommended that Member States establish and support transparent and systematic mechanisms for partnerships with NGOs, including those most affected by drugs and drug policies such as our youth, in order to develop innovative new strategies to reduce illicit drug use and the harms associated with drugs that continue to threaten development.

Read the complete VNGOC statement to the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate on “Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development”.

A Threat to Development – Excerpt from the background provided by the UN

In the past decade, there has been significant growth in the illicit trafficking of drugs, people, firearms, and natural resources. Trafficking in these and other commodities is generally characterized by high levels of organization and the presence of strong criminal groups and networks. While such activities existed in the past, both the scale and the geographic scope of the current challenge are unprecedented. In 2009, the value of illicit trade around the globe was estimated at US$1.3 trillion and is increasing.

Transnational organized crime and drug trafficking is of growing concern, and particularly illicit trade’s broad impact on development. Few, if any, countries are exempt.  Drug trafficking has particularly severe implications because of the vast illegal profits it generates: an estimated 322 billion dollars a year. In several drug production and transit regions, criminal groups undermine state authority and the rule of law by fuelling corruption, compromising elections, and hurting the legitimate economy. In all cases, criminal influence and money are having a significant impact on the livelihoods and quality of life of citizens, most particularly the poor, women and children (…)

Organized crime and drugs impact every economy, in every country, but they are particularly devastating in weak and vulnerable countries. Weak and fragile countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of transnational organized crime. These countries, some devastated by war, others making the complex journey towards democracy, are preyed upon by crime. As a result, organized crime flourishes, successes in development are reversed, and opportunities for social and economic advancement are lost. Corruption, a facilitator of organized crime and drug trafficking, is a serious impediment to the rule of law and sustainable development. It can be a dominant factor driving fragile countries towards failure. It is estimated that up to US$40 billion annually is lost through corruption in developing countries.

Rui Martins, Dianova representative