The United Nations has recognised 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The observance of the day is an important initiative to ensure sustainable development globally, and to advocate for measures to tackle drug abuse and trafficking.
The theme of this initiative for 2019 is "Health for justice, justice for health." The United Nations has sought to emphasise that tackling drug abuse leads directly to both health and justice, which are two sides of the same coin.
Why is this initiative important?
Drug trafficking is a major challenge across the world, especially in developing countries. In nations where poorer people are desperate for monetary stability and security is lax, they are likely to fall prey to this network of crime. Drug trafficking hinders human development by preventing education and increasing crime. By observing an international day to tackle this issue, the United Nations seeks to bring international attention to the severity of this issue, and provides a platform for advocacy.
How effective has it been?
This day is championed by the Commission of Narcotic Drugs, one of the commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In 2009, member states of this commission adopted the "Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem," which details goals and targets to control illicit trafficking of drugs. Additionally, in March 2019, these member states signed a Ministerial Declaration to reaffirm their commitment to this cause and their sustained efforts to tackle it.
What are some measures being taken currently to tackle this issue?
While the United Nations is hosting a launch for its World Drug Report at its New York headquarters on this occasion, many countries are using this as an opportunity to highlight and enforce existing legislation and initiatives regarding this. For example, Portugal has seen success in its war against drugs by reducing the punishment for possession of small amounts of drugs. In Portugal, possession of small amounts of drugs only attracts a small fine, rather than jail time. This has improved the health and lifestyle of many Portuguese residents, and has inspired many nations to adopt a similar model.
India's Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 puts in place a harsh substance abuse policy, with penalties being harsher based on the quantity of the substance in possession. The NDPS Act even has a provision allowing for the death penalty for repeat offences of a grave nature.