Open debate on Peace and Security in Africa
(New York, December 8, 2009)
Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia
Allow me, in the first place, to congratulate you and your country for occupying the Presidency of the Security Council during the month of December. We would like to highlight your initiative to convene this debate on the challenge that the world drug problem represents, under the item: Peace and Security in Africa. Likewise, we value the presentation made by Mister Antonio María Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The conclusions reached during the 52nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held on March of this year, become of particular relevance vis-à-vis the challenge that world drug problem continues to pose, even today, 11 years after the convening of the Twentieth Special Sessions of the General Assembly.
In the Political Declaration and Action Plan adopted in March of this year, the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs reaffirmed a fundamental principle, this is, that each one of the links that make up the world drug problem must be faced within the framework of a common and shared responsibility, and through international cooperation.
The achievements of the Colombian Government in the fight against the world drug problem for more than three decades are widely recognized. The Colombian State, through a strategy that is sustained on the actions against illegal groups, the decrease in demand, the weakening of the drug trafficking economic structure, and the decrease in supply, with an emphasis on the eradication of illicit crops, has achieved sound results.
The United Nations 2009 World Drug Report recognizes the results achieved in decreasing illegal crops in Colombia. Since the year 2002 until now, the manual eradication and spraying of illegal crops has increased by 72 per cent. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in Colombia, the area of coca leaf, which had reached 160 thousand hectares at the beginning of the decade, was reduced in 2008 to 81 thousand hectares, which means a 50 per cent decrease.
Also, the UNODC estimates in its report that the total volume of potential production of cocaine in Colombia fell in 2008 by a 28 per cent compared to 2007, an even greater decrease than the one observed in the cultivated area.
As a consequence, among other factors, of the achievements in Colombia, the adaptability of the organized transnational crime has led to the geographic dispersion and extension, to a greater number of countries, of the cultivation, production, traffic and consumption of narcotic drugs.
In its integral and determined fight against the world drug problem, Colombia has gained experience and capabilities which it has been sharing in a generous manner through diverse cooperation agreements. We have tended to requirements for training and technical assistance formulated by countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, Central America, West Africa, and Asia.
The conclusions drawn from the Regional Summit on the World Drug Problem, Security and Cooperation, held in Cartagena, in 2008, constitute a valuable contribution to face the problem that is raised on the present debate. At the aforementioned Summit, some of the countries from Latin America and the Caribbean reaffirmed, among others, their commitment to strengthen the mechanisms for coordination and the exchange of experiences in technical and institutional aspects, in order to achieve the decrease of illegal cultivation and the production of illegal drugs.
On the other hand, the Ministerial Conference of the Economic Community of West African States, which was held on October 2008, and the adoption of its corresponding Political Declaration and Action Plan, constitute a significant contribution. The two mentioned meetings offer elements to promote inter regional dialogue, as a valuable instrument in the fight against the world drug problem. We appreciate the role that the United Nations can play on the increase and facilitation of this dialogue.
Colombia has joined efforts with the international community aimed at tackling the problem of drug trafficking to Europe through the West Coast of Africa. We participate actively in the initiative for Cooperation and Information Exchange between State security organs, against the trafficking of cocaine from Latin America to West Africa.
On February of the present year, Colombia hosted the first meeting with African countries organized with the support from the United Nations, the European Commission, UNODC, CICAD-OEA, AMERIPOL, the Latin American Community of Police Intelligence (CLACIP) and the Colombian National Police. This meeting counted with the participation of 19 countries, 7 of them from the African continent. During this meeting, training on specialized techniques to combat drug trafficking was provided, and communication channels were opened in order to facilitate the exchange of information.
Concerning the problem of drug trafficking towards Europe through the West Coast of Africa, operative coordination, although indispensable, is only a first step. It is necessary to guide the efforts, aiming to develop coordinated strategies facing the different components of the problem. The United Nation's capacity in the coordination of these efforts is invaluable.
The Colombian experience confirms that only by achieving a balance between the actions aimed at decreasing the supply and demand of drugs; it is possible to advance in an efficient and progressive manner in the fight against the world drug problem.
It is indispensable to face with all the links. All the countries involved, be it producing, transit, or consumer countries, must face with equal determination and in a joint manner, the different manifestations of the problem.
Colombia reaffirms its unswerving commitment to continue working at a bilateral, regional and multilateral level, through effective cooperation actions that tend to the transnational, dynamic and multidimensional nature of this scourge.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.