U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David Johnson says there has been significant improvement in international drug control cooperation during the past two-and-a-half decades. Among the important international counter-drug efforts during this period, said Mr. Johnson, was the United Nations’ passage, in 1988, of a convention requiring governments to take legal measures to outlaw and punish all forms of illicit drug production, trafficking and drug money laundering, to control chemicals that can be used to process illegal drugs and to cooperate internationally with each other to achieve these goals.
Mr. Johnson said there has been “significant change in the attitudes of foreign governments towards cooperation against the threat of the international drug trade”:
“Twenty-five years ago, drug trafficking was perceived as largely a problem for ‘consumer’ states in North America and Europe driven by their own demand for drugs. Today, there’s a clear understanding that no country or society is immune from the social, economic, and even political damage that is caused by international drug trafficking and the organized crime that it can fuel.”
Mr. Johnson praised the efforts of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon to fight cross-border drug trafficking. And while Columbia leads the world in coca cultivation, it has made notable progress in combating drug traffickers and narco-terrorists. In Afghanistan, Mr. Johnson said, the opium trade continues to pose a serious challenge:
“In 2007, Afghanistan grew ninety-three percent of the world’s opium poppy. Poppy production soared in the southern provinces where the insurgency is strong. There’s incontrovertible evidence that the Taliban use drug trafficking proceeds to fund insurgent activities; the counter-narcotics counter-insurgency nexus is both real and growing. At the same time, poppy cultivation has declined in the poorer, but more secure, northern and central provinces, thirteen of which were poppy-free in 2007.”
Assistant Secretary of State David Johnson said progress is being made in the war against drug traffickers but the job remains unfinished. “We cannot,” he said, “afford to cede any of the ground gained over the past twenty-five years.”