The fight against drugs
The fight against drugs in Afghanistan
© picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb
The fight against drugs as an ongoing major challenge
The drug problem is one of the major challenges facing the international community. The annual turnover in the global narcotics industry is estimated to be 320 billion US dollars. In particular, the link to organized crime and the destabilization of entire states makes illegal drugs a serious problem. In some regions, drugs money is possibly also being used to finance terrorism.
Furthermore, drug abuse poses a serious threat to public health in every country in the world. At international level, Germany’s policy is aimed at reducing the quantity of drugs available while lowering demand for them. Cooperation among donor states, emerging economies and developing countries is of vital importance here: the drug problem affects everyone and poses a threat to us all.
Cooperation within the United Nations
The establishment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in 1946 created a central agency for drug-related issues. The Commission convenes once a year and draws up guidelines for cooperation within the United Nations.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 anchored the fight against drugs in international law, and was further refined by the drug control conventions of 1971 and 1988. In these conventions, states undertake to control the production of and trade in narcotic drugs, reduce demand, combat drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, create the requisite institutions to enable them to do so and report on such action to the relevant international bodies. Compliance is monitored by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
One important organization in the fight against drugs is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), based in Vienna, which coordinates all drug-related activities by the UN, plans, implements projects and publishes reports.
At the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem in 1998 (UNGASS), six core areas in the fight against drugs were named:
- Reducing demand
- Eliminating illicit cultivation and promoting alternative development
- Combating chemical precursors used to manufacture drugs
- The increase in synthetic drugs
- The fight against money laundering
- Judicial cooperation
In March 2009, within the framework of the 52nd session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), stock was taken of the development of the global drug problem during the last decade. The high-level segment on 11 and 12 March 2009 adopted the Political Declaration as well as a Plan of Action intended to implement this Declaration. Germany played an active role in the entire process, thus helping to ensure that the Political Declaration draws a realistic picture but, at the same time, contains some new elements and drug policy approaches.
The picture painted by the Political Declaration is considerably more critical than that of the 2008 World Drug Report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): it states that the objectives of significantly reducing the supply and demand of drugs drawn up in 1998 were not achieved. Rather, despite some progress at local, regional and international level, considerable challenges remain if the illegal production, trade and consumption of drugs is to be substantially reduced or least stabilized.
German and European ideas could not be fully realized in all areas of drug policy. Nevertheless, the German Government regards the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action of March 2009 as a suitable basis for international cooperation on drug policy in the coming years.
The fight against drugs in the European Union
In addition to bilateral and multilateral cooperation, for example cooperation among police forces, the collaboration within the European Union plays an increasingly important role. Based on the EU Drugs Strategy 2005-2012 and the EU Drug Action Plan 2009-2012, which contained detailed measures, an enhanced fight against drugs in Europe and the world is being pursued in the spheres of supply and demand reduction, international cooperation, information and evaluation.
Efforts to combat drugs in the European Union are aimed at greatly reducing drug consumption, as well as the social and health problems it causes. The success of each measure is examined in order to guarantee realistic political goals.
Problems and challenges
The increasing prevalence of synthetic drugs, the limited monitoring of distribution channels and the use of chemical precursors are problematic. The high level of corruption and the lack of economic alternatives for sections of the population represent huge challenges in many drug producing and transit countries.
According to UNODC, it has been possible to contain the long-term growth of the illegal narcotics industry. However, this progress is at risk due to the emergence of new drug markets, especially in developing countries, and the opening of new trafficking routes, particularly in Africa. Further efforts are necessary in order to avoid setbacks and further contain the narcotics industry. The negative impact of drug abuse on public health, prosperity and safety pose a threat to the entire international community.
Germany’s goals for the future
As one of the main donors to the fight against drugs in the United Nations, Germany – together with its partners in the European Union – wants to create a balanced strategy to combat drugs. This includes more measures aimed at reducing demand and at improving public health.
The main focus of Germany’s activities is on projects designed to foster alternative development, police cooperation and the establishment of institutions in Afghanistan, South-West and Central Asia, the Andean states and increasingly in Africa, especially in West Africa.
In Germany, the aim is to further reduce demand, which has been falling for many years now. Globally, repressive measures against drug cultivation and trafficking alone cannot help. Rather, viable alternatives to the narcotics industry in developing countries and emerging economies must be found, for people in these countries must have other means of earning an adequate living. Furthermore, Germany is working to create and strengthen functioning state structures in order to ensure the sustainability of positive developments.
Last updated 19.09.2011