A global summit against narcotics – Manila Bulletin


Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

In 2012, we proposed the convening of a global summit against narcotics.

We thought then of the need to unify and coordinate often conflicting national strategies, policies, and programs to counter the worldwide spread of narcotic drugs.

We suggested that the G-20 organization could become the institutional center of this global effort, in concert with the United Nations and the other international and regional organizations.

In 2020, some 275 million people used drugs, a 22 percent increase from 2010, and more than 36 million suffered from drug use disorders, according to the world drug report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The UN agency also reported that drug use killed some 500,000 people in 2019. It foresees an 11 percent increase in drug use by 2030.

The UNODC pointed out that with the Covid-19 pandemic pushing more than 100 million people into extreme poverty, it “created conditions that leave more people susceptible to drug use and to engaging in illicit crop cultivation.”

Perhaps the G-20 and the UN may seriously consider convoking an international summit next year to forge deeper cooperation against this disturbing clear and present danger on health and well-being, governance, and security worldwide.

We realized that efforts to make drug trafficking more difficult in one locality, one region, or even one continent, simply shifts trafficking to another venue. The escalation of counter-narcotic campaigns in Mexico and Central America, for example, has driven Latin-American traffickers to use West Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe.

Carrying out police measures is not enough. In the emerging nations, weak states themselves must be strengthened, and social institutions built up, to prevent trafficking groups from establishing themselves and turning transit countries into consumer countries.

In sum, we believe that stand-alone national programs can no longer suffice. The global war on narcotic drugs — cocaine, heroin and chemical amphetamines — required group intelligence and concerted action that only a supranational body focused on resolving the problem can supply.

The war against narcotics, with its powerful private armies, is not a singular problem of Latin America, which is largely an area of transhipment to the markets of the United States. It is an inter-continental problem; it is global problem.

In Asia, we have serious problems in Afghanistan, in the Golden Triangle, in the various transshipment points of various countries. And some of the populous migrant workers of Asia and elsewhere are being corrupted to serve as “drug mules,” sometimes condemned to the death penalty or serving long sentences in prison when caught. As in the Caribbean in the 1980’s, poor, small, vulnerable countries, officials, and impoverished citizens have succumbed to and been victimized by dirty money.

Obviously, conceptualizing the details of such a global summit would need time and effort. In our various modest Asian and international organizations, we will try to mobilize support for an initiative which we believe will be supported by the G-20, the US, the UN, the European Union, and various regional and national organizations.

We should urge as well our parliaments and political parties to join efforts in an intensified campaign against the narcotics trade which has pillaged the Asian, African, and Latin American regions and the global community.

The global summit will provide a forum for exchange of experiences, strategies, policies, and programs between countries, non-government organizations, and individual experts from various professions and disciplines

In our own country, President Rodrigo Duterte has faced some criticism but he has decisively launched a nationwide battle against illegal drugs, making it a centerpiece of his administration.

Perhaps the government can mobilize the reported four million drug users, mostly idle youth, for massive tree farming and reforestation, to contribute to the global battle against climate change and to keep them away from the narcotics menace, provide them some employment, and make them productive citizens.

We thus can help convert them from “social liabilities” into “social assets.”

The narcotic drugs transcend national and regional boundaries, thus there is a greater need for international cooperation and solidarity as no nation can solely face, and conquer, this deadly global plague.





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