For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2596
Release Date:  22 June 2000
Secretary-General, in Message on International Day Against Drug Abuse,
Calls for New Commitment to Stamping Out “Disease” of Drug Menace

NEW YORK, 21 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, "Facing Reality:  Denial, Corruption and Violence", which is observed 26 June:

Last year marked the conclusion of the United Nations’ Decade against Drug Abuse.  As we look back on an unprecedented mobilization against drug abuse and trafficking, we have much to celebrate.  Greater international cooperation is finally catching up with the global nature of the drug trade.  Awareness about the destructive effects of drug trafficking and abuse is on the rise.  And, crucially, the perception is gradually taking hold that solutions to the drug problem are attainable.

Yet, our fight against the drug menace is anything but over, and victory in this critical undertaking remains far from certain.  Today, on this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, let us reaffirm our commitment to stamp out this disease, and to make this new century a truly drug-free era.

In this rapidly globalizing world, the drug menace knows no boundaries.  It is restricted to no social class and is exclusive to no one region.  It is a global problem with staggering economic and social costs.  Many of the most pressing problems afflicting our societies feed off the drug trade.  The huge sums of money generated by drug trafficking fuel a culture of corruption and violence which tears at the fabric of civil society.  Underpaid government and law- enforcement officials are offered bribes which may exceed their annual salaries, a temptation for even the most honest.  Money laundering undermines the integrity of financial institutions, and diverts resources towards an untaxed and unregulated unofficial economy.  Drug money enables a rich drug elite to become ever richer, while the gap between the rich and poor grows ever greater.

Violence is yet another face of the drug trade -- violence against the authorities, inter-gang violence among traffickers, violent crime by addicts to support their habit, and violence in the home as the family disintegrates.  Above all, there is the violence of the addict towards himself -- the destruction of body and soul.  For at its core, drug abuse remains an individual tragedy.  It affects a person’s health and well-being, and destroys his or her ability to make a meaningful contribution to society.

There are no easy solutions to such difficult problems.  The international community has already taken significant steps to combat the supply of illegal drugs.  Yet, trafficking is fuelled by demand.  Here, a great deal more can be done, especially in preventing drug abuse before it starts.  The weapons in this fight are simple:  common sense and good will, which are available in every neighbourhood.  Young people need the protection, support and guidance of their parents and communities.  They need role models to help them find a positive path -- a path without drugs -- through the uneasy environment in which we live.

I would, therefore, like to reiterate, on this International Day against Drug Abuse, that the struggle we are engaged in is often a question of life and death.  Drug abuse and trafficking are a terrible reality, but one which we cannot shy away from.  Denial will only lead us further down a destructive spiral of corruption and violence. 

The eradication of drug abuse from our planet is a daunting task.  But with the combined forces of all levels of human organization and endeavour, I am convinced we can and will make headway.

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