The Urgency of Multilateral Cooperation: Addressing the Global Drug Problem


Opening Remarks by H.E. Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly

At the high-level segment of the 67th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, 14 March 2024, H.E. Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly, expressed his pleasure in joining the session. He extended his gratitude to H.E. Mr. Philbert Abaka Johnson, Permanent Representative of Ghana and Chair of the CND, for the kind invitation.

President Francis congratulated the Chair and other bureau members on their election to guide the work of the commission. He also acknowledged the unwavering dedication of Ms. Ghada Waly, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and her team in supporting member states with the implementation of crucial conventions, declarations, and strategies to address the global drug problem.

The Urgency of Multilateral Cooperation

President Francis emphasized the need to supercharge multilateral and international cooperation efforts in effectively tackling the drugs problem. He highlighted the complexity and multifaceted nature of the global drug issue, which permeates every sector of global society and breeds corruption, terrorism, and violence. The current record levels of drug cultivation and consumption are alarming, and in a world fraught with crises and conflicts, the drug problem exacerbates existing challenges, disproportionately harming the most vulnerable and marginalized in societies.

President Francis expressed his thoughts for those who have lost their lives or loved ones to the global drug pandemic. He also acknowledged the lives currently endangered by the scourge of the illicit drug trade, especially in conflict-ridden regions where the trade thrives amid heightened lawlessness. While the impact of the drug problem is not uniform across nations and communities, it is the most impoverished who bear the heaviest burden, with the global south enduring the harshest consequences.

A Collective Responsibility

President Francis emphasized that no single nation can confront the immense challenge of the global drug problem alone. It requires collective responsibility and integration of drug policy within the broader framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. Engagement with civil society, youth, and affected communities, as well as recognition of the linkages between the drug problem and other cycles of harm such as poverty, abuse, and systemic disenfranchisement, are critical in crafting effective responses.

President Francis also highlighted the need to decisively tackle the emergence of synthetic drugs, particularly fentanyl, in the response to the widening crisis. Addressing the global drug problem requires coherent and coordinated efforts that encompass the promotion and protection of human rights, advancing sustainable development, focusing on health, and fighting against corruption and organized crime.

The Way Forward

President Francis welcomed the 2019 Ministerial Declaration adopted by the CND, which evaluates the progress made in implementing international drug policy commitments. He emphasized the importance of advancing the implementation of this declaration leading up to the final review in 2029. President Francis also commended the Pledge4Action initiative and encouraged all to champion initiatives that lead to tangible progress and a brighter future.

In closing, President Francis emphasized the need to seize this moment to reimagine multilateral cooperation and secure a better future for present and future generations. He highlighted the connections between drug policy commitments and the upcoming Summit of the Future, emphasizing the importance of integrating drug policy within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. President Francis encouraged active engagement and following the ongoing preparations for the summit, stating his conviction that together, a future that is equitable, resilient, and compassionate can be built.


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