25 June 2001


VIENNA, 25 June (UN Information Service) - The United Nations has designated 26 June as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The Vienna-based United Nations organization dealing with the global drug problem and its 22 field offices are rallying thousands of young people to raise awareness of drug abuse and promote a healthy lifestyle through sports.

Under the theme "Sports against Drugs", the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) is highlighting sports-related events in countries world-wide, including Austria, Colombia, South Africa, Pakistan, Myanmar and Thailand. Young people are participating in basketball, soccer, volleyball and badminton matches, as well as cheerleading festivals, marathons, dance shows and bicycle rallies. Alternative sports, such as skateboarding, scooter riding and hip hop dancing are also being featured.

In his message for the day, Secretary General Kofi Annan said "the theme of this year's International Day against Drug Abuse is a recognition of the great power of sport as an agent of positive change".

UNDCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi said every family and every community should encourage young people to be involved in sports, be it an informal neighbourhood game, through the schools or through municipal or civic organizations. "Most important is the chance for young people to develop healthy bodies and healthy minds", added Arlacchi.

In conjunction with this year’s celebration, UNDCP announced that its Global Youth Network project is awarding grants to youth groups working in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Kenya, India and Mexico to help promote drug prevention programs through sports-related activities.

The International Day was established by the General Assembly to commemorate the declaration signed at the International Conference against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, in Vienna on 26 June 1987. It focuses on a different theme every year.

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