Illegal drugs global concern –– UN chief

October 11, 2018
Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Guterres
Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. UN photo

UNITED Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called  for a “worldwide action” against the trafficking and use of illegal drugs, acknowledging it has become a global concern that needs to be addressed by the international community.

According to the UN chief, drug addiction is not an “abstract” subject or simply a “policy issue” but also, a “personal fight” citing his personal experience with a friend who died from illegal drugs “at an unbearably young age” and the experience of his sister, a psychiatrist working at a drug center treatment in Lisbon, the capital of his country, Portugal.

“I saw the heavy toll it took on her day after day as she treated those suffering so badly.

“I think I have done several tough jobs in my life; nothing compares with what I have seen her do,” Gutierres also lamented.

Citing UN figures, Guterres said some 450,000 people die every year from drug overdose or drug-related health issues and that “some 31 million people around the world” are hooked on illegal drugs, requiring drug addiction treatment.

The global production of opium and cocaine, he added, “has never been higher (than today).”

The UN chief also stressed that “all countries” have their own stories on illegal drugs and the destruction it has caused in their respective societies “that is why there is a need for a worldwide action” against the problem.

Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who attended the UN general assembly meeting,  said he was “very happy” over the UN chief’s announcement that all countries should unite in the fight against illegal drugs.

Cayetano added the statement is “a confirmation of what our president (Rodrigo Duterte) has been telling the whole world again and again— That (illegal) drugs is a problem for everyone.”

“More and more world leaders are recognizing how huge the problem of illegal drugs is. And this is just a confirmation,  a reiteration of what our president is saying all along,” Cayetano said.

In the United States, even President Donald Trump is calling for global unity to fight drug addiction and put a stop to all forms of drug trafficking and smuggling.

“The scourge of drug addiction continues to claim too many lives in the US and the nations around the world.

“Today we commit to fighting the drug epidemic together,” the tough-talking US leader said.

“All of us must work together to dismantle drug production and defeat drug addiction.

“Reduce drug demand, cut off the supply of illicit drugs, expand treatment and strengthen international cooperation.

“If we take these steps together, we can save the lives of countless people in all corners of the world.

“The United States looks forward to working with you to strengthen our communities, protect our families and deliver a drug-free future for all of our children,” President Trump added.

The global call by leading world leaders to combat the menace of illegal drugs was seen as a rebuff to UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who has been critical of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to solve the illegal drugs problem in the Philippines.

But in a survey conducted by the Pulse Asia from June 15 to June 21 this year, an overwhelming number of Filipinos, 69 percent, said the government’s drug war is the “greatest achievement” thus far of the Duterte administration.