Press Release

Message of United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

27 June 2017

  • Last year, at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), the international community took steps to mobilize a multifaceted, collective response to the full range of issues related to drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Last year, at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), the international community took steps to mobilize a multifaceted, collective response to the full range of issues related to drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Governments came together to chart a new path forward that is more effective and humane, and leaves no one behind.

UNGASS was a ground-breaking moment that provided a detailed and forward-looking blueprint for action. Together, we must honour the unanimous commitments made to reduce drug abuse, illicit trafficking and the harm that drugs cause, and to ensure that our approach promotes equality, human rights, sustainable development, and greater peace and security.  

I know from personal experience how an approach based on prevention and treatment can yield positive results. As Prime Minister of Portugal, I used the flexibility afforded by the three international drug control conventions to introduce non-criminal responses to the possession of drugs for personal use. Greater resources were allocated to prevention, treatment, and social reintegration programs, including harm reduction measures.

Portugal now has one of the lowest death rates for drug use in Europe. In 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV amongst injecting drug users in the region; since the introduction of the new policy, this rate, and rates of all sexually transmitted diseases, have decreased dramatically. Overall drug use rates have also fallen. 

I am proud of these results and hope this experience will contribute to the discussion and encourage Member States to continue exploring comprehensive and evidence-based solutions.

The UNGASS follow-up process provides us with an institutional framework to learn from each other and share best practices. It is vital that we examine the effectiveness of the War on Drugs approach, and its consequences for human rights.  

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.

This would be the best possible way to implement the UNGASS recommendations and to have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.

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Message of United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Guterres

Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General

UN entities involved in this initiative

FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
ILO
International Labor Organization
IOM
International Organization for Migration
UN-Habitat
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNCDF
United Nations Capital Development Fund
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNODC
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNOPS
United Nations Office for Project Services
UNV
United Nations Volunteers
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization

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