Narcotics, a Silent Threat (7)
Smuggling of illicit drugs has turned into a global threat for years. The question is: What have the international organizations done to eliminate this threat or at least stop its spread?
The first international convention to counter drug trafficking was signed over one hundred years ago. The first international assembly against opium was founded in February 1909 in Shanghai, China with the presence of 13 countries including Iran. It led to the foundation of Opium Conference. The board of the conference warned the world people against production, sale and consumption of drugs and told the governments to control narcotics in their domain of rule. With the efforts of the International Opium Conference, the confab of different states was held in January 1912, opium production was controlled, its non-medical usage was banned and the Intentional Opium Convention was signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912. But the breakout of WWI in 1914 and its aftermath caused an increase of drug production, smuggling and consumption.
After the end of war, the League of Nations was created in 1920 and the ground was set for campaign against drug trafficking. In 1921 a committee was established to review smuggling of opium and other narcotics which was called The Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs. In continuation of these measures, the international conference on drug was held in 1924 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the participation of 36 delegates. The conference predicted mechanisms to detect illegal sources of drugs and campaign against its global trafficking. It also designated a global system for collection of information on production, export and import of drugs. In 1931 another conference was held in Geneva and the convention on prohibition of drug production and distribution was approved with 54 countries, including Iran, in attendance. In 1936 another convention was approved called Convention for Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs.
In 1961 a number of countries held meetings to sum up the previous conferences, conventions and protocols which resulted in signing of a single convention on narcotics and an international delegation was set up to facilitate affairs. In 1971 the convention of psychotropic substances was signed in Vienna to contain new drugs which were used but were not supervised by 1961 convention. In 1988 another important step was taken and a convention was ratified against trafficking of drugs and psychotropic substances. It is considered as the most important international convention against drugs and organized crimes. All these measures show that drugs are the problem of the entire world and all countries are involved in it regardless of differences in culture, religion, society, policy and government. To counter this problem, a global drug controlling system was ratified by the UN which functions under a set of conventions. In view of this, the United Nations has founded institutions for coordination of international endeavors against drug trafficking, assistance for prevention of drug abuse, supervision, control, production and distribution of drugs with the aim of medical consumption in countries, pursuit and supervision of execution of conventions.
Among these institutes, the UN controlling-supervising institute is the main body which supervises the execution of international conventions and treaties approved by the UN. The trend was continued with the establishment of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 1997 with the aim of controlling drugs, prevention of crime and struggle against global terrorism. In addition to the main controlling and supervising bodies, there are other organizations and institutes affiliated to the UN which are active in various fields. The most important one is World Health Organization (WHO). Interpol is another organization whose duty is to promote the level of police cooperation within the framework of internal laws of countries. One of the duties of Interpol is to enhance the ability of functioning forces in every country in campaign against drug and exchange of information on individuals, gangs and international networks and prevention of international crimes.
Currently, all countries are facing various woes of drug and consequences of this dangerous phenomenon.
Established in 1990, United Nations Drug Control and Prevention (UNDCP) became operational in 1991. It provides leadership in international drug control, monitors trends in drug production, consumption and trafficking, and promotes the implementation of drug control treaties. It calls on governments to be more serious in campaigning against drugs and, through international cooperation, accelerate and bolster the struggle against this global calamity. Despite efforts made, the most important challenge for countries is the increase of the demand for drug abuse and international drug trafficking. Unfortunately, the information and data indicate that international conventions, efforts and measures have failed to control or decrease drug supply and demand.
Today, drug trade is in the hand of cartels, organized groups and criminal gangs and mafias. The interests of producing countries, transit countries, big powers and international smugglers are intertwined and turned into one of the most lucrative dealings. Some of the main mechanisms to confront drug problem in the world include: revision of international anti-drug conventions, urging all countries to join conventions and threatening and banning of the states which violate the conventions, legal and judicial cooperation of countries and international organizations, adopting of a consistent strategy to decrease drug supply and demand.
The UNODC has found out that drug abuse should be fought globally and the UN is trying to equip the countries on the route of drug caravans. In view of this, the mission of the office was set up in Iran. If campaign against drug trafficking is halted for one year in Iran, the drug of European countries like Britain, France and Italy will be provided for 4 years. Campaign against drug trafficking requires a global intention and resolve and internal or regional struggles will not bear the ultimate fruit.