Holy See on International Drug Control

«Abuse Affects Individuals of Every Socioeconomic Status»

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NEW YORK, OCT. 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday on international drug control before the Third Committee of the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

My delegation wishes to join the previous speakers in expressing our thanks for the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in the prevention, reduction and suppression of illicit drug abuse.

As the Secretary-General’s report notes, drug abuse continues to be an impediment to the abilities of individuals, communities and nations to achieve economic, political and social development. While we welcome the decline in production and consumption of illicit drugs in the past year, this phenomenon continues to impact all regions of the world and we note with serious concern its growth in regions which previously had lower rates of drug abuse. Drug abuse affects individuals of every socio-economic status. From the poor rural farmer in a war torn zone to the well-to-do in a major metropolis, drug abuse serves as a source of financial, emotional and psychological escape with devastating effects on individuals and their families.

My delegation strongly agrees that the overall health of the individual is at the center of drug-control and that we as a society must protect the health and dignity of people by preventing the use of dangerous drugs and alleviating the suffering of drug dependent persons through treatment. However, addressing the health needs of individuals will prove insufficient unless we are able to also address the various factors leading to the production and consumption of illegal drugs. My delegation follows with deep interest the 2008-2011 Regional and Thematic Approach developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In particular, enhancing the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism through field based technical operation is an important means for better understanding and responding to the international drug trade.

Developing countries and populations afflicted by poverty are particularly vulnerable to the devastating trickle-down effects of the drug trade as they are easy trafficking points or inexpensive cultivators of source crops. Throughout developing countries, alternative development programs are providing farming families with real alternatives to the coco and poppy crops that have wreaked havoc and caused bloodshed. Alternative development projects must continue to be supported on the national, regional, and international levels and greater efforts should be made to emphasize the causal relationship between increasing development and eradicating the illegal drug trade.

My delegation cannot emphasize enough the importance of the family as the cornerstone of demand reduction and treatment strategies. As the many causes and consequences of dependence on psychotropic substances are related to family dynamics, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, efforts should focus on family relationships in their biological, psychological, social, cultural and economic dimensions.

This is all the more important since illicit drug abuse can weaken the family, which is the very foundation of society, and thus seriously damage the social fabric of the community and even destabilize society.

Research continues to reinforce that the core principles of society are learned in the home. Children who have experienced nurturing family environments inherit the skills necessary to make the important decisions of avoiding illicit drugs and their destructive consequences.

While drugs have had a clearly discernible negative effect on the development of individuals and their families, my delegation also notes with special concern the ever more obvious links between the illicit drug trade and other human tragedies such as the trafficking of human beings, the proliferation of illicit small arms, organized crime, and terrorism. These illustrate that substance abuse is not a victimless offense but rather has a far reaching and devastating impact on the community, and while certain individuals and groups may seem to profit through trafficking, the greatest victims are the poor and vulnerable.

Individuals who fall prey to the use and abuse of illicit drugs need support and care from members of their family, the community, and society. Those who have struggled and overcome the affliction of drug abuse are truly positive role models and, in being «ambassadors of hope», can have an important influence in the lives of others.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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