Drugs Endanger Democracy, Says UN Director
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llicit drugs and ensuing violence are endangering democracy in developing nations, said a UN official yesterday at the opening of the UN's 56th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes, urged world leaders to collaborate to address the problem. “In so many ways, illicit drugs and crime and development are bound to each other," he said. "If countries are denied the rule of law and justice, development is jeopardized, and societies weakened by the lack of sustainable development can become the staging areas for the criminal networks.” During the five-day conference, more than 1,000 representatives will discuss issues ranging from international counternarcotic efforts to public health and safety concerns. Fedotov noted that consumption and production of cocaine has declined, and the production of opium—for the most part—is restricted to Afghanistan. But these improvements are countered by the rising threat of synthetic drugs. “The overall prevalence of drug use is not decreasing," he said. "Illicit drugs kill more than 500 men, women and even children every day.” Fedotov pushed for countries to find alternative measures for suppliers to make a living, and to work on developing better treatment for addicts. “Building synergies between our approaches to law, health and alternative development is a necessity," he said. "All of these activities must also be reinforced by a sense of shared responsibility, which we should never allow to be weakened.”