The event, convened on the UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, highlighted the impact of drugs and crime on poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals, and discussed ways of improving the international community's coordinated efforts to address the adverse impact of drugs and crime on development.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed growing concern about the impact of transnational organized crime and drug trafficking on the development of poor nations. As an example, criminal networks have gained a foothold in West Africa, now a major transit hub for drugs going from Latin America to Europe. The trafficking of drugs has especially devastating effects because of the vast illegal profits that are generated - estimated at USD 322 billion a year. This fuels corruption and undermines the authority of states and the rule of law. During the UN General Assembly debate several speakers pointed out that there is now a growing recognition that organized crime and illicit drugs are major impediments to the achievements to the Millennium Development Goals.
During the debate Norway stated that drug abuse is a health issue. The police and justice sectors must be used track down the criminal networks and their helpers. These organizations must be broken apart and the responsible parties prosecuted in a court of law. This must be done within a framework of human rights and international law. Norway also stated that the newly established working group for transnational crime will have a central role in the UN's efforts to prevent and combat drug smuggling and other forms of serious crime. Norway also stressed the need for a global UN strategy against transnational organized crime to help implement efforts aimed at averting the threat several countries face from serious crime.
The UN's Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna presented its annual report which painted a grim picture of the situation worldwide. Read it here.