Let’s Develop—Our Lives—Our Communities—Our Identities—Without Drugs

by Nathan Jumper

When global leaders gather this September to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, one of the obstacles  they must address will be the harm to communities and individuals caused by drug trafficking. Despite continued and increased efforts by the international community, the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health, particularly young people. Up to 200,000 people die every year due to illicit drugs. These people cause injury not only to themselves but also injure the communities of which they are a part by undermining socio-economic and political stability. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently remarked: 

We must address the nexus between illicit drugs and violence, corruption and terrorism. A balanced approach recognizes the close connections between those who traffic in drugs and criminal networks involved in firearms smuggling, kidnapping, human trafficking and other crimes.  This work must also include redoubling efforts to prevent the supply of the precursor chemicals that are the foundation of so many illicit drugs.

Promoting international cooperation through the UN conventions on transnational organized crime and corruption is essential to addressing todays security and development challenges. No criminal should escape justice. The balanced approach calls for unity of purpose within the international community, including the UN, civil society and, most importantly, the worlds nations.  No country can work in isolation. Comprehensive and integrated efforts at the local, regional and global levels offer the best hope for dealing with the traffickers, while taking care to protect vulnerable groups and marginalized communities.

Efforts against illicit drugs must be connected to our work to promote opportunities through equitable and sustainable development. We must continually strive to make the weak and fragile stronger. The United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem, to be held in April 2016, can advance this cause, with countries sharing knowledge and forging common solutions.

On the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, let us raise awareness about the value of applying a balanced approach to these problems based on an understanding that sustainable development can and must catalyze change across all these fronts.

On the 7th of December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe June 26th as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This year’s theme is Lets DevelopOur LivesOur CommunitiesOur IdentitiesWithout Drugs. This is a message of hope that drug use disorders are preventable and treatable. In addition to the work of the UN, there are a number of non-governmental organizations that are doing important work in drug treatment and prevention worldwide. An extensive listing can be found at this database.

Here is a listing of promotional material for the World Drug Campaign.
Here is a collection of conventions and documents regarding the work against illicit drugs.
Here is a list of resources from the UN on drugs.

The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called for a Two-Year Study to Discern How to Advocate for Effective Drug Policies. The Study Team provides a number of resources related to their work.

Our colleagues at the online journal of social justice, Unbound, have published an issue on drugs.

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