UN urges collective action against drugs abuse

By Adeniyi Akinola

To mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the United Nations is calling on all countries to honour their commitments to address the scourge and to ensure that steps to do so are consistent with human rights and promote equality, peace, security and sustainable development.

“Despite the risks and challenges inherent in tackling this global problem, I hope and believe we are on the right path, and that together we can implement a coordinated, balanced and comprehensive approach that leads to sustainable solutions,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres .

In his message, the UN chief also recalled the special session on the World Drug Problem, convened by the UN General Assembly, where Governments agreed upon a series of steps which are more effective and humane, and leaves no one behind.

“I know from personal experience how an approach based on prevention and treatment can yield positive results,” noted Mr. Guterres.

He equally refered to steps he took as the Prime Minister of Portugal, including introduction of non-criminal responses to the possession of drugs for personal use – a flexibility afforded by the three international drug control conventions – and greater resources for prevention, treatment, and social reintegration programmes.

The steps helped the country achieve one of the lowest death rates for drug use in Europe, as well reduce the prevalence of HIV amongst injecting drug users.

“I am proud of these results and hope this experience will contribute to the discussion and encourage [UN] Member States to continue exploring comprehensive and evidence-based solutions,” added the Secretary General, noting that the follow-up process to the 2016 special session includes an institutional framework to share best practices.