Ladies and Gentlemen,
By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to designate 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, expressing the Member States’ determination to strengthen action and cooperation for a world free of drug abuse.
In 2009 – on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of the International Opium Commission in Shanghai – the Commission on Narcotic Drugs adopted the Political Declaration and Plan of Action at its 52nd Session, reaffirming that illicit drugs are a health threat to humanity, and that an integrated and balanced strategy is needed to counter the world drug problem.
This is why drugs are and should remain controlled. This is why Member States confirmed their unequivocal support for the UN Conventions establishing the world drug control system.
The General Assembly recognized that, despite the international community’s increased efforts, the world drug problem is still a serious threat to public health, safety and well-being, particularly for young people. It undermines the national security and sovereignty of States, as well as their socio-economic and political stability and their sustainable development efforts. Member States also encouraged the CND to resume the review process in 2014. Last year’s GA resolution on the world drug problem called for a Special Meeting of the General Assembly to be held in 2016 to review and assess progress, achievements and challenges in the implementation of the UN drug control conventions.
At this juncture, Qatar, Thailand, Italy and UNODC believe the entire membership should be briefed on the potential and the comprehensiveness of the existing international legal regime. To do so, we should give a clear, evidence-based picture of the problems we are facing, and in this regard the World Drug Report is an invaluable tool. Sharing our success-stories and best practices in implementing that framework is also important, and thus is one of the main purposes of our panel discussion today.
This morning in Vienna, the Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Yury Fedotov, presented the 2013 World Drug Report. The President of the Italian Senate and Former National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor, Pietro Grasso, also spoke at the meeting.
We are particularly grateful to the Secretary-General, Ban-Ki moon, and our distinguished panellists for accepting our invitation and being with us today to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Without further ado, I give the floor to the Secretary-General for his opening remarks.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first extend my congratulations to UNODC on its invaluable work leading up to this year’s World Drug Report. Data collection and research are crucial to understanding illicit drug markets. More effective action is built on a better understanding of the phenomenon and on sound, evidence-based analyses. The UNODC Report contains a great deal of significant data. It is particularly important, to quote Mr. Fedotov’s preface, that, “At the global level, there has been an increase in the production and misuse of new psychoactive substances, that is, substances that are not under international control.” To quote Mr. Fedotov again, “The manufacture and use of substances that are under international control remain largely stable as compared with 2009 … Evidence shows that while the system may not have eliminated the drug problem, it continues to ensure that it does not escalate to unmanageable proportions.”
This is an important finding that should shape our common approach to assessing the effectiveness and limitations of drug policy at the national, regional and international levels.
Drug use and drug addiction deeply affect the lives of individuals, their families and their communities. Drug use is harmful to society and can lead to crime, and it must be countered relentlessly. Italy believes that strong anti-drug-trafficking efforts and supply reduction measures can and must go hand-in-hand with policies focused on the rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users, in full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity.
We welcome the UNODC’s conclusions on the complexities of global drug consumption trends. As the World Drug Report has noted, new challenges are emerging: psychoactive substances, stimulants, synthetic “designer drugs,” and even misused prescription medications are becoming more widespread and difficult to control.
Reducing demand is the cornerstone of Italy’s action. Prevention, education, early detection and screening are at the basis of our activities to prevent drug use and, when prevention is not successful, to minimize its consequences through early intervention. Building family skills is a UNODC principle that has inspired one of Italy’s main projects: to offer guidelines and promote activities that will create greater awareness and provide educational skills for parents and teachers.
Italy is committed to preventing drugs from becoming a chronic disease for the user. This is why we support strategies that place drug addicts on a path that ultimately promotes rehabilitation and reintegration for the full recovery of individuals.
This ongoing care strategy should always include the prevention of drug-related diseases, such as HIV infection, hepatitis, tuberculosis (TBC) and drug-related mortality. We thus fully subscribe to the comprehensive approach of prevention, treatment, and care, outlined in the World Drug Report, which is still the only way to reduce the number of new HIV outbreaks among drug users.
These same principles of promoting health and social well-being also guide our commitment to international cooperation projects. Italy has supported the UNODC/WHO Joint Programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care since its launch in 2009, with a particular focus on activities in Albania and Serbia. Programme activities there address both substance abuse and addiction associated with other issues, such as health, poverty, violence, criminal behavior and social exclusion.
I wish to reiterate Italy’s unwavering support for the founding spirit and mission of UNODC as the guardian of the UN Conventions against drugs, transnational organized crime and corruption, and as a driving force behind their full and effective implementation. UNODC is also essential to providing guidance, promoting best practices, and strengthening international cooperation and coordination so that countries can adapt their national policies to the challenges of illicit drug-trafficking today. In this spirit, we are proud to contribute to our common reflection by presenting, through the participation of Ms. Letizia Moratti, the unique and successful experience of the San Patrignano Foundation in the treatment, care, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users.
In closing, Italy is particularly pleased to see the participation today of so many non-governmental organizations active in countering drug abuse. NGOs and civil society play a crucial role in drafting and implementing sound drug policies. Without their action, support and indeed their criticism, remarks and observations, our efforts to create a world free of drug abuse would be weaker and less meaningful.
I am convinced that the high-level profile of our panelists – to whom I am very grateful – and their different backgrounds and experience will ensure a very interesting and fruitful discussion.