Tackling The Worldwide Explosion In Illicit Drugs (Part I) BY REKPENE BASSEY

In Breaking News, Columnists, Health, Opinion

At its seventeenth special session, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Political Declaration and Global Program of Action against dangerous drugs. Nothing less was expected from a session devoted to the question of worldwide action and cooperation against illicit drugs. Issues in supply, demand, trafficking and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances dominated the session. After all, it came on the heels of what the world body considered an alarming illicit drug growth threat in terms of proliferation and prevalence.

By Resolution S-17/2 of February 23, 1990 a set of objective measures were outlined for execution culminating in the declaration of the year 1991 to 2000 as the decade to be devoted to concerted efforts against drug abuse to be consummated in national, regional and international strategies.

Following the aforesaid, the body established the United Nations International Drug Control Program – UNDCP, an organ under its system in reflection of the assembly’s resolution 45/179 of 21 December 1990. Further thereto UNDCP came into actual existence in March 1991 as a single global entity with executive empowerment to practically coordinate and implement all UN programs on illicit drugs.

Pursuant to the UNDCP objectives, the General Assembly had taken due cognisance of the threats of dangerous drugs to mankind in relation to the political, economic, sociocultural, peaceful stability and progress of member nations. The UNDCP later metamorphosed into the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC). The UNODC came into existence in 2002. It combines the function of the UNDCP and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division at the UN office in Vienna, Australia, and is a component of the UN Development Group.

UNODC squares in the provisions set in the Political Declaration and Global Program of Action adopted by the General Assembly and around the border of futuristic action in drug control, crime and terrorism. Similarly, the core of the Political Declaration and the Global Plan of Action smoothly interweaves with the provisions of the comprehensive multidisciplinary outline of future activities in drug and crime control.

While the political declaration itemized 30 succinct aspects of action against dangerous drugs in exclusive consonance with the principle of the charter of the United Nations, the global program of action features 100 articles encompassing primary prevention, through demand reduction, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug addicts.

Part (E) of the global plan of action subsuming Articles 62 to 100 define dimensions of exploits against the effects of money derived from, used in or intended for use in illicit drug trafficking, illegal financial flows and use of banking systems.

The global program of action completely aligns with, and is magnified by the comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control not impeding the position adopted by the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking held in Vienna between June 17 to 26, 1986. Whereas 115 States were parties to the Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, 86 States fully endorsed the 1971 Convention.

Ordinarily, the convergence of such interests as already discussed, exemplified by consent to global treaties and multidisciplinary anti-drug strategies ought to compute to formidable measures against illicit drugs. More so that the multidisciplinary activities in global drug abuse control as outlined by the United Nations comprehensively entrust states with the power to act either as individual members through their various criminal justice systems or policies, inter partes.

Admittedly, some successes have been achieved through foremost agencies like the UNODC, International Criminal Police Organisation, the British Customs, the European Union Police, the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration and other national, regional and international collaborators.

However, it is still bewildering, to say the least, that the more grounds global strategies appear to have gained, the more traffickers emerge in the face of growing production and demand. And because demand valves remain intact, with newer channels emerging regularly, traffickers refuse to be tamed irrespective of the intensification of repressive methods.

Statistics from independent sources indicate that there is a growing boom in worldwide trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The number of countries where illicit drugs are produced has soared in more recent times, outpacing oil commerce. Similarly, more drug transit precursor chemicals and money laundering countries have emerged.

Drugs. Credit:Google

There is also a prevalence of violent crimes in major illicit drug producing countries like Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Burma and Columbia. Other such countries including Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela are also in the list of such countries.

The US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs report has it that the following countries are major precursor chemical source and/or money laundering countries: Afghanistan, Antigua/Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Cyprus, Guernsey, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Hong kong, India and Indonesia. Others are Iran, Iraq, Isle of man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines and Russia.

This rather long list of countries includes Singapore, Saint Maarten, Somalia, Spain, Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, West Bank/Gaza, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Ghana, Mauritius and South Africa, according to other sources have joined this notorious list of countries.

Worldwide drug abuse has reached epidemic level. Europe’s drug addicts are in their millions. The figure in America is as staggering. Asian and African figures are on the steady increase. In America the craze is cocaine, crack, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms, opioids, nitrous oxide, ketamine and popers. Drug statistics show that the supply of cocaine to the US continues to outstrip demand by 90 to 100 tons equation, easily available and cheap to buy for abuse.

Asians and Europeans spin for heroine. Authorities in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom continue to seize tons upon tons of heroin and other drugs in the past couple of years.

In Nigeria the trend is cocaine, cannabis, codeine, tramadol and LSD.

If such facts, devoid of the delusion of international drug politics are indices upon which to measure the success of action so far taken globally against illicit drugs, it remains to be seen how the sun of victory against this perfidy will emerge on the horizon soon enough.

The foregoing confronts the entire humankind with an obnoxious challenge. A challenge that should be taken on with some kind of digital strategy to score well on the scale of the declared objectives of the Global, Regional and National Programs of Action against illicit drugs.

However, this problem cannot be discussed outside the realm of inhibitions besetting the present global strategy having particular regards to interdiction or enforcement against illicit drug trafficking.

Among the remises of the global plan of action outlined by the General Assembly are: the reaffirmation of the provisions of the Charter on the Principles of International Law, with particular regards to the Principle of Respect for the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of States. And non-use of force or threats in International Relations.

Paradoxically, these same principles have been violated again and again by other nations with relative military superiority. Yet they would play blind when their political and economic interests are not at stake.

For example, when it suited the US in 1988, Panama was invaded, President Manuel Noriega arrested, charged and sentenced to jail for drug offences in America. Pakistan has continued to support the Talibans in Afghanistan over their fundamentalist onslaught mostly sustained on heroine money. It was in like vein that the Financial Action Task Group – FTG, pressured Seychelles to pass money laundering laws in compliance with some 40 recommendations.

Rekpene Bassey
President, African Council on Narcotics (ACON)
P.O. Box 18914 Garki, Abuja
Email: afri_council@yahoo.com
Website: www.africouncil.com.ng

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