Fight Against Narcotics Needs Global Cooperation

Fight Against Narcotics Needs Global CooperationFight Against Narcotics Needs Global Cooperation

Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli met with Dutch State Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Martin van Rijn, on the sidelines of a special session on drugs at the United Nations General Assembly in Vienna.

Fazli, who is also Secretary General of Iran Drug Control Headquarters, was in Austria to attend the 59th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), ISNA reported.

“Due to its geographical location, next to Afghanistan, the world’s biggest illicit producer of opium, Iran has been turned into a major transit route for narcotics trade and trafficking to Europe and beyond,” said Fazli.

The fight against drug trafficking calls for honest, practical and serious cooperation among all nations, Fazli said, and warned that if European nations continue to take myopic stances on the anti-narcotics strategy, “they will sooner rather than later be grappling with a blown up version of the drugs issue.”

“The burden of youth addiction is the price Iran has paid time and again as a consequence of the drug trade, and also the loss of nearly 4,000 members of the Law Enforcement Forces in counter-narcotics operations in the past three decades.”

The UN session (March 14-22) brings together around 1,500 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society for a global discussion on the world drug problem.

The focus of the Special Session, or UNGASS as it is known, is on what actions Member States can take by 2019 to achieve the goals set forth in a policy document, “Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”.

“There are  6,170 addiction treatment centers in Iran offering outpatient services, of which 403 are state-run and the remaining are run by the private sector,” Fazli pointed out, adding that Iran is sharing its “successful pattern of harm reduction strategy” with neighboring states including Afghanistan. “We have also progressed in treating opium addition,” he said.

Iran has started a wide-scale kindergarten-to-university education campaign on prevention of drug addiction with a socio-cultural approach. The programs also target families, neighborhoods and workplaces, said Fazli.

“We plan to bring 40% of the national population under the coverage of educational programs and life skill trainings.”

  Support for Programs

Appraising Iran’s counter-narcotics activities, van Rijn pledged to provide support and financial aid for implementation of the UNODC programs in Iran within the framework of MoUs covering the 2015-2019 years.

He also stressed the necessity of developing bilateral collaboration and strengthening ties between Iran and the European Union.

Worldwide, some 27 million people suffer from drug use disorders, including 12 million people who inject drugs, according to UNODC figures.

Despite this, about three-quarters of the world population lack access to controlled narcotic and psychotropic substances to relieve pain and suffering, including for terminal cancer and AIDS patients.

“The UNGASS process has helped to raise awareness of this continuing global health problem, and the need to put people first when developing responses,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, at the opening of the session.

He added that the UN agency is fully engaged in supporting countries through “balanced approaches, rooted in agreed frameworks and informed by UNODC’s research, guidelines and extensive on-the-ground experience.”