THE PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN
In a world where any person can interact with others not
only within a country but between countries and continents,
especially through more and more sophisticated and fast ways
of communication and transport, not only drugs can be
trafficked more easily from one corner of the world to
another and production techniques can become more easily
known, but also the propagation of abuse of drugs and its
spreading occur easily across country borders.
What has become a necessity for states almost 100 years
ago, when they concluded at a conference in Shanghai in 1909
that they have to work together to thwart drug trafficking
and abuse, has become of utmost importance in the world of
today where so many aspects of life have become global. Such
cooperation has been indeed taking place not only among
states and governments, but also at the level of
non-governmental organizations such as it is for example,
the case within the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas.
Drug abuse patterns develop constantly to the worse and to
the better. When such patterns are recognized and analysed
in one country or region, it is of utmost importance to
share the results with others, since recent history has
shown that drug abuse patterns can develop similarly, often
however with a time lag. Timely knowledge about developments
in other countries and their drug control responses and the
best techniques to be employed, make it possible to
intervene at an early stage and in a more appropriate
fashion in ones own country.
International cooperation had for a long time focussed on
law enforcement and on regulatory or control aspects, mostly
at the operative level of national police and health
authorities. Today, almost every aspect of drug control has
very rightly become a subject of international cooperation.
National and international drug control strategies would not
be adequate, if analysis, discussions and agreements at the
international level would not have preceded them.
Besides governments, non-governmental organizations also
have had an interest to create their structures and
establish forums in order to organize such international
cooperation among themselves. For example, more than 20
years ago an NGO committee on Narcotic Drugs was established
to create an essential link between NGOs working at the
grass-roots level world-wide and the United Nations drug
control bodies and programs, all based in Vienna/Austria.
Since then the committee has been actively working on the
issues of demand reduction and the promotion of human and
social development. The international drug control
conventions require states to take a variety of actions to
address the abuse of drugs and NGOs could and should insist
that governments adhere to their obligations, that they
generally cannot achieve without the intervention of NGOs,
in many cases financed by them.
States and Governments have created a comprehensive
structure for cooperation among them through the adoption of
international drug control conventions since the early 20th
century and the creation of an organizational network, which
since the end of World-War II has been mostly within the
framework of the United Nations.
53 member states are elected for a 4 year term by the
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) into the Commission on
Narcotic Drugs (CND), the main policy making body, which
decides on the elaboration of new conventions, adopts
resolutions to facilitate their implementation and discusses
ways and means of international cooperation. For the
monitoring of Governments’ implementation of the
international conventions, Governments have created through
the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, the
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The same
Convention requires the World Health Organization (WHO) to
assess new substances from the medical point of view,
whether they warrant international control and the CND votes
on such inclusions. INCB then monitors whether the required
control measures are applied by Governments in their
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), a
part of the United Nations Secretariat, executes
governmental decisions and through its offices provide
technical assistance for drug control to many countries. A
special fund enables donor countries to provide financial
assets for interventions in those countries which by their
own means are not in a position to effectively address drug
abuse and trafficking.
Many of the drugs abused in rich industrialized countries
have been illicitly produced in developing and poorer
countries, where often a lack of legislative, organizational
and technical means facilitates illicit cultivation and
trafficking. It is very much in their own interest that rich
countries meaningfully support efforts in other countries to
curb cultivation and trafficking and reduce the availability
of illicit drugs.
Drug control has to remain high on the agenda of the United
Nations, if we want to move ahead, This has become sometimes
difficult, since politics determine that other aspects of
life and subjects of international cooperation should
receive more attention and dealt with in a more urgent way,
such as for example terrorism, poverty, environment etc.
NGOs are important partners for keeping the dialogue open
and alive either through its relationship with the
Governments as counterparts or through direct participation
in the work of these bodies by accreditation with ECOSOC.