Thursday, June 23, 2011

Death Toll from Illicit Narcotics Use Amounts to Global Tragedy

Death Toll from Illicit Narcotics Use Amounts to Global Tragedy, Secretary-General Says at Launch of 2011 'World Drug Report'

New York, NY (MMD Newswire) June 23, 2011 -- Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks at the launch of the 2011 "World Drug Report" in New York today, 23 June:
Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), thank you for your leadership and for convening this launch ceremony. The report we launch today paints a sobering picture of the threat posed by illegal drugs.

Traffickers break more than the law. They break the human spirit. They fuel terrorism and insurgency. They rob societies of peace. The toll on young people and children is especially heart-breaking. When their parents take drugs, they are more likely to use drugs themselves. That exposes them to mental health disorders, crime and violence. Drug use also spreads infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. And we have all seen the most appalling abuses by armed groups that drug children and then force them to commit atrocities.

So let us not blame people who become dependent on illicit drugs. And let us never shame them. Drug-dependent people should not be treated with discrimination; they should be treated by medical experts and counsellors. Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime. There are 210 million illicit drug users alive today -- but not all will survive until tomorrow; some 200,000 people die each year. Every three minutes, someone dies from this preventable disease. These numbers add up to a global tragedy.

I am doing all I can to respond. I raise the problem of drug trafficking in my meetings with world leaders and senior officials. I urge them to cooperate to stop the traffickers.

Recently, I established a task force to explore what more the United Nations can do through our peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, through our development activities and through our disarmament work. A comprehensive and integrated approach is essential. In this campaign, I depend on the leadership and expertise of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

UNODC is carrying out life-saving activities in many countries around the globe. We were all reminded of the importance of this work, and the dangers involved, when four UNODC staff members and their pilots were killed in a plane crash last month in Bolivia. I offer my deepest sympathies to the families.
This new report will help us carry on their work. It gives us the information we need. Now it is time for action.

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