Ban Asks for Tougher Laws against Cultivation, Trafficking, and Production of Drugs
By Dialogo June 29, 2009United Nations, 26 June (EFE).- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke out in favor of tougher laws to put an end to the cultivation, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs, as well as an increase in aid to the developing countries most vulnerable to this problem. Ban delivered this message as part of the celebration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, at the same time that he pointed out that this year marks the centenary of the first meetings intended to put an end to this problem, those of the Opium Commission in Shanghai (China), at a time when drug abuse and trafficking were at epidemic levels in the Asian country. The U.N. head indicated that “drug abuse can be prevented, treated, and controlled,” at the same time that he asked the multilateral organization’s member states to incorporate drug treatment into their public health programs. He also urged the full implementation of the U.N. conventions against transnational organized crime and against corruption, since they are instruments that can help to prevent and control crimes related to drug trafficking, something that “is posing a serious security threat in many parts of the world.” Ban also referred to the fact that increased aid to the countries most vulnerable to drug trafficking, including the strengthening of their laws, will help them to improve stability and achieve the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDG). At the beginning of the week, the director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio María Costa, presented the institution’s World Drug Report in Washington and indicated in this regard that international efforts against the production and trafficking of illegal drugs “are paying off.” He added that the global market for cocaine, 50 billion dollars in size, “is undergoing seismic shifts,” since “purity levels and seizures (in main consumer countries) are down, prices are up, and consumption patterns are in flux.” Costa indicated that this helps to explain the “gruesome upsurge” of violence in countries like Mexico, while in Central America the cartels “are fighting for a shrinking market.” He also highlighted the fact that in Colombia, which produces half of the world’s cocaine, cultivation (of coca leaf) decreased 18 percent, and production (of the drug) fell a dramatic 28 percent since 2007.