Tackling drug trafficking and its links with other forms of organized crime requires a co-ordinated and co-operative approach, said participants at the opening of this year’s OSCE-wide Conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors being held online today.
“Trafficking in illicit drugs is a serious threat to our common security,” said Ambassador Håkan Jevrell, Sweden’s Special Envoy on Organized Crime, speaking on behalf of the 2021 Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship. “The violence it brings and the links it has to a variety of illegal, often cross-broader activities, from corruption and financial crimes to smuggling and exploitation, only underscore the importance of our joint efforts to combat this wide-reaching threat.”
The Conference, organized by the 2021 Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship and the Strategic Police Matters Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, brings together almost 200 experts from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation, the OSCE and its field operations, as well as international organizations and civil society.
The Conference will examine how to address illicit financial flows linked to different illicit markets and their negative impact on economic development, competition, and social equality. It will also look at ways to better identify those at risk of drug abuse and criminality. Measures to uphold human rights as part of drug control policies and to fight transnational organized crime will also be reviewed, including the role played by gender mainstreaming and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
“The market for illicit drugs in the European Union alone is estimated at €30 billion,” said OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid. “In this calculation, drug traffickers are the winners. The losers are our communities, families and young people. Our economies and institutions also lose out.” She explained how the OSCE works closely with countries and organizations to combat this and emphasized that “no country, regardless of size, can combat cross-border trafficking in illicit drugs on its own. This is exactly why we need cooperative and coordinated approaches.”
Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), joined the other speakers in their call for joint action. “The complex challenges posed by illicit drugs and organized crime impact all dimensions of security, and enhanced cooperation is needed to meet these threats,” she said, highlighting the close partnership between the OSCE and UNODC. “I look forward to further developing our collaboration to promote comprehensive security, and better protect the health and welfare of humankind.”