This year is the centenary of drug control, with the Opium Commission having met in Shanghai, China, 100 years ago to bring an end to an opium epidemic, and Mr. Ban said that in more recent years, United Nations conventions have played a role in tackling the challenge of drug abuse and curbing its terrible toll on people worldwide.
Drug abuse can be prevented, treated and controlled, he said, appealing to Member States to incorporate drug treatment into their public health programmes.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) around 5 million people die annually from tobacco-related illnesses, 2 million from alcohol and 200,000 from drugs.
In his message today, the Secretary-General also called for the full implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption, which can help in the effort to prevent and control drug-related crime that is posing a serious security threat in many parts of the world.
In countries vulnerable to drug trafficking, increased development assistance and bolstering the rule of law are required, the Secretary-General said. Absent these essentials, these states risk instability and will face even greater challenges in reaching the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], " he added, referring to the eight anti-poverty targets, agreed on by world leaders, which have a 2015 deadline.
Clearly, when you compare drugs to other addictive substances, control is working, " said Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC, which earlier this week issued a report showing that global markets for cocaine, opiates, and cannabis are either holding steady or are in decline.
Mr. Costa cautioned that in the face of an increasingly brutal struggle for a bigger slice of the $50 billion global cocaine market between Central American drug cartels, legalizing narcotics would be an historic mistake, urging a global boost in drug treatment and crime control.
Societies should not have to choose between protecting public health or public security. They can, and should, do both, he said in a call for more resources for drug prevention and treatment, and stronger measures to fight drug-related crime.
Over 40 per cent of the world`s cocaine is seized, mostly in Colombia, compared to less than 20 per cent of opiates " opium, morphine and heroin " captured, according to the World Drug Report. In West Africa, a major transportation hub for trafficking to Europe, a decline in seizures seems to reflect lower cocaine flows after five years of rapid growth, the report said.