Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. According to March 2017 Global Financial Integrity Report titled ‘Transnational Crime and the Developing World’, the global market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual global value of between $426 billion and $652 billion (USD), making it the second most lucrative illicit market measured after that of counterfeit and pirated goods.
The report emphasises that the greatest harms of the global drug trade fall upon developing countries, particularly those which are in politically fragile circumstances. In these countries, drug trafficking groups’ use of violence can compel governments to “spend greater resources on law enforcement in order to address these attacks on domestic stability, directing funding away from sustainable development”.
Non-Aligned Movement, the largest collective organisation of the developing world, has expressed its concern at the worsening problem of the illicit drug trafficking and the detrimental effect of it on the public health, socio-economic development and stability in developing countries. NAM has reiterated that stringent measures must be adopted to counter this menace, and in this context NAM calls for increasing cooperation among Member States.
The Final Document of the 17th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement recognises that “single government can combat this menace alone successfully, given that criminal organizations linked to drug trafficking operate collectively in the territory of several countries and are multiplying traffic routes and distribution methods, therefore cooperation, coordination and committed action by all countries are essential to curb this crime.”
NAM firmly believes that a multilateral framework among states is an essential prerequisite for tackling the menace of illegal trafficking. NAM calls for an integrated and balanced approach, which should be carried out in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and other provisions of international law, in particular the respect for national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States, the principle of non-intervention in their internal affairs, based on the principles of equal rights and mutual respect.
NAM has called for increased efforts to prevent and combat all aspects of the world drug problem, including reduction of the demand and supply and addressing public health considerations and in conformity with member states human rights obligations. The Movement has also recognized the importance of appropriate or suitable strategies, international cooperation, capacity building, collection of accurate and reliable drug data and increase sustainable alternative development programmes and strategies, in tackling the world drug problem while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.
NAM Member States have offered their full support to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), which is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. A mention here may be made of the Mekong Cooperation Framework, which China and NAM Member States in South East Asia – Cambodia,, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam have negotiated to counter the illicit drug trade.
This framework has been under the UNODC’s Regional Programme for Southeast Asia. With support from the international community and UNODC, the Mekong Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Governments have worked together on issues related to illicit drugs for over 25 years. The consultation and evaluation mechanisms that are built in to the MOU process will allow it to respond to the constantly evolving nature of the threat. Under the MOU umbrella, the Mekong countries will continue to work towards holistic, balanced and evidence-informed drug policies. In another prominent example of working under UNDOC framework, in November 2016, UNODC and the Government of Sri Lanka co-hosted a meeting to address drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean Region. At the high-level meeting, Ministers and Government Representatives adopted the “Colombo Declaration,” which gives way to the forthcoming Southern Route Partnership as the main coordination mechanism for counter narcotics initiatives in this region.