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Illegal Drugs Threaten Security of Nations, Warns U.N. Chief

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 26 2013 (IPS) - Ilegal drugs threaten stability and security of nations worldwide, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a panel discussion  Wednesday to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

According to the 2013 World Drug Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna on June 26,  some of the most violent areas relating to drug trafficking lie along the Honduran coast.

An earlier report on Global Study on Homicide by UNODC in 2011 stated that Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate: 82.1 homicides per 100,000 people. But delegates representing Central American countries of Honduras and Costa Rica expressed their disappointment over the latest report.

Following the panel discussion,  Ambassador Marco A Suazo, deputy permanent representative of Honduras to the United Nations, said the report hasn’t been fair to “transit countries” such as, Honduras where drugs are stockpiled to be trafficked to countries such as the United States.

The report doesn’t take into account the larger social and economic factors in these countries and their representation is not fair, Suazo said. “It is very generic,” he added.

Significant increases in seizures of cocaine have been noted in Asia, Oceania and Central and South America, and the Caribbean in 2011.

Simone Monasebian, director of UNODC in New York clarified that earlier reports by UNODC had looked into problems faced by transit countries.

The Central American countries are caught between Colombia and the United States, Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, told IPS.

And the world’s largest cocaine seizures – unadjusted for purity – continue to be reported from Colombia (200 tons) and the U.S. (94 tons), states the report.

While it is widely known it is through the Central American region that cocaine from Colombia reaches U.S. markets,  there are many reasons as to why drug trafficking is such a huge problem in Central American countries, such as Honduras, say experts. “Weak political institutions being one of them,” Shifter added.

Looking at the issue broadly, there is a need to develop a nuanced understanding of the drug problem, he said. It is not just a law enforcement issue but a health issue as well, he added.

Other findings of the report show that cannabis is still the most widely used illicit substance. Currently the highest prevalence of cannabis use among 15-64 years old is in Italy, followed by Nigeria and the U.S., UNODC told IPSl.

Afghanistan continues to produce 75 percent of opium globally, states the report. In fact, Africa has now become a vulnerable transit continent for both cocaine and heroin, according to the report. The abuse of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances (NPS) is on the rise, according to the report.

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