Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the International Conference Parliamentarians Against Drugs, Moscow, December 4, 2017
Colleagues and friends,
To begin with, I would like to express my active support for the initiative by the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to hold the International Conference Parliamentarians Against Drugs. I would also like to thank our foreign guests, many of whom had to travel a long way to come to Moscow.
The conference will feature a comprehensive discussion of the global problem of drugs that affects all countries without exception. It is obvious that there are no simple or quick solutions to this problem. For this reason, the contribution from the parliamentarians is so important, parliamentarians who shape anti-drug laws with due regard for national specifics, thereby introducing long-term algorithms for countering this threat.
Relevant international standards and regulations can serve as a reference point for these legislative efforts. It is encouraging that the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Problem of Drugs in 2016 clearly confirmed the three UN anti-drug conventions currently in force as the cornerstone of the international legal framework for drug control. It is these conventions that provide the foundation for intergovernmental counter-narcotics cooperation. Without these instruments, we would not have had any common standards for legislative support of cooperation and its practical development. Therefore, it is essential that these three universal UN conventions retain their fundamental role in countering the global challenge of drugs.
Unfortunately, despite all the efforts by the international community, the problem of drugs remains an urgent and topical issue. Globalisation has given a universal dimension to drug trafficking, transforming it into a ramified industry.
Drug mafias have found their way into the dark corners of the internet, establishing their marketplaces in order to peddle drugs outside of any control or supervision. As masses of new psychoactive substances become available on the market, the international community has to come up with a creative and joint approach to find a timely and effective way of countering the threat. The synergy between drug trafficking and terrorism has become a reality, as proceeds from drug trafficking feed into and strengthen the murderous potential of terrorism. Consequently, proceeds from drug trafficking undermine international security and stability.
Faced with these problems, we cannot agree with those who propose surrendering to international drug criminals, throw out the white flag and open the gate to total drug liberalisation. This approach is fraught with a disaster of unprecedented scale.
We must pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who often put their lives on the line in the fight against drug-related crime. We need law enforcement agencies to further step-up cooperation, to promote the exchange of sensitive information and enhance technical capability.
Russia proactively contributes to these efforts. Together with our CSTO partners, we have the large-scale counter-drug Operation Channel, held regularly with the view to blocking the expansion of drug trafficking in the CSTO member states.
Consistent steps are also undertaken within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to build a powerful capacity for effectively rebuffing the terrorist and drug-related threats.
The BRICS countries are also improving their inter-continental tools to fight drugs.
In our everyday work, we cooperate closely with the United Nations. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has become a reliable partner in consolidating intergovernmental counter-drug cooperation.
Of course, the level of counter-narcotics officer training is a major factor in the effectiveness of these efforts. Russia proactively contributes to these efforts by training officers from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries at the educational institutions of the Russian Interior Ministry. I would also like to note Japan’s contribution. This country has proven its commitment to countering the threat of drug trafficking by taking concrete action.
Russia’s counter-narcotics training efforts go far beyond our region. The Interior Ministry offers regular courses on fighting illegal drug trafficking together with our partners from Peru for South American law enforcement agencies. The tenth stage of this training programme is scheduled for the spring of 2018.
One month ago, the Interior Ministry opened a Training Centre in Nicaragua, and the first group completed the training course on November 10.
We are committed to taking specific steps to carry out the resolution adopted at Russia’s initiative at the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs with a view to enhancing the potential of law enforcement agencies through counterdrug training.
Russia advocates openness and good faith in relations with international organisations. Guided by these principles, we recently received an International Narcotics Control Board mission in Moscow. Their conclusions and recommendations will be taken into consideration in Russia’s domestic policy as well as in terms of international cooperation.
By voting for a UN Security Council resolution in support of the deployment of NATO and allied troops to Afghanistan, including as part of the Resolute Support Mission, we had sincere hopes that together with the Afghan government they would be able to push back against the soaring drug production in that country, as was already mentioned today. Unfortunately, the recent UNODC data show that the Afghan drug epidemic is increasingly in the nature of a landslide. In 2017, Afghanistan’s drug industry has set another record with the opium-poppy cultivation area increasing by 63 percent to 328,000 hectares. This is an absolute record. Opium-poppy is cultivated in 21 of 34 Afghan provinces. The overall production of opioids in the country has increased 87 percent to 9,000 tonnes in opium equivalent. The scale of this tragedy requires a new level of international solidarity. We call on NATO’s representatives to think about finding common approaches to banishing drug trafficking and the terrorism it feeds from Afghan land.
At the same time, we advocate reinvigorating The Paris Pact Initiative and adapting it to today’s reality. Russia works closely with Afghanistan and its representatives within the CSTO, where a working group has been established to this effect, as well as within the SCO, where Afghanistan is an observer country. I can also mention the close cooperation with the countries neighbouring Afghanistan within the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC).
In April 2017, President of Russia Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of targeted anti-drug propaganda in the media and building a lasting immunity to drugs, especially among young people.
As we engage in all these efforts, we are open to working in close cooperation with civil society and our friends from among NGOs. This year, twelve Russian non-governmental organisations specialising in health protection and healthy lifestyle promotion were awarded grants for counter-narcotics projects as part of the second presidential grant contest.
Russian parliamentarians and heads of executive agencies, myself included, took part in events held by the National Anti-Drug Union, which advocates the total and uncompromising rejection of all psychotropic substances, and overcoming addictions. To deliver on its agenda, the Union works with the leading athletes, artists and cultural figures. It is encouraging that the National Anti-Drug Union is expanding its network of partners abroad, and its experience, efforts and projects have been praised during counter-drug debates under UN auspices.
I strongly believe that the efforts of NGOs like this one are a real contribution to delivering on the objective set by the Government of Russia to increase the number of adepts of a healthy life style by 50 percent by 2020. At the end of the day, making a responsible approach to personal health a habit is the way to root out drug abuse in Russia and in all other countries represented at this conference.
Friends, our ultimate goal is to advance towards a drug-free world. There are still quite a few challenges and obstacles on this path. However, walk and ye shall reach, as the saying goes. As far as I know, everyone here is committed to staying on course. By building a drug-free world, we will take it step closer to the ideals enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am confident that by combining the efforts of all parliamentarians, governments and civil society, we will succeed in this task.