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President Clinton Takes Fight Against Drugs to the United Nations

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary
(New York, New York)

For Immediate Release June 8,1998


United Nations
New York, New York

10:50 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary General, PresidentUdovenko, Executive Director Arlacchi, distinguished fellowleaders. Today we join at this Special Session of the U.N.General Assembly to make common cause against the common threatof worldwide drug trafficking and abuse.

Let me begin by thanking my friend, PresidentZedillo, for his vision in making this session possible, and forhis courageous resolve against drugs. And I thank all thenations represented here who are committed to fight for ourchildren's future by fighting drugs together.

Ten years ago, the United Nations adopted apath-breaking convention to spur cooperation against drugtrafficking. Today, the potential for that kind of cooperationhas never been greater, or more needed. As divisive blocks andbarriers have been dismantled around the world, as technology hasadvanced and democracy has spread, our people benefit more andmore from nations working and learning together. Yet the veryopenness that enriches our lives is also exploited by criminals,especially drug traffickers.

Today we come here to say no nation is so large andpowerful that it can conquer drugs alone; none is too small tomake a difference. All share a responsibility to take up thebattle. Therefore, we will stand as one against this threat toour security and our future.

The stakes are high, for the drug empires erode thefoundations of democracies, corrupt the integrity of marketeconomies, menace the lives, the hopes, the futures of familieson every continent. Let there be no doubt, this is ultimately astruggle for human freedom.

For the first time in history, more than half theworld's people live under governments of their own choosing. Invirtually every country, we see the expansion of expressions ofindividual liberty. We cannot see it all squandered for millionsof people because of a perverse combination of personal weaknessand national neglect. We have to prove to the drug traffickersthat they are wrong. We are determined and we can make adifference.

Nations have shown that with determined andrelentless efforts, we can turn this evil tide. In the UnitedStates, drug use has dropped 49 percent since 1979. Recentstudies show that drug use by our young people is stabilizing,and in some categories, declining. Overall, cocaine use hasdropped 70 percent since 1985. The crack epidemic has begun torecede. Last year, our Coast Guard seized more than 100,000pounds of cocaine. Today, Americans spend 37 percent less ondrugs than a decade ago. That means that over $34 billionreinvested in our society, rather than being squandered on drugs.

Many other nations are making great strides. Mexicoset records for eradication in 1997. Peruvian coca cultivationhas been slashed 42 percent since 1995. Colombia's growingaerial eradication program has destroyed tens of thousands ofhectares of coca. Thailand's opium poppy growth is steadilydecreasing, this year alone down 24 percent.

The United States is also a partner in global lawenforcement and interdiction efforts, fighting antidrug and --funding antidrug and crime training for more than 82,050*officials last year. In 1997, Latin America and Caribbeangovernments seized some 166 metric tons of cocaine. Bettertrained police, with improved information sharing, are arrestingmore drug traffickers around the world.

Joint information networks on suspicious financialtransactions are working in dozens of countries to put the brakeson money laundering. By the end of the year 2000, the UnitedStates will provide assistance to an additional 20 countries toestablish and strengthen these financial intelligence units. Wemust, and we can, deprive drug traffickers of the dirty moneythat fuels their deadly trade.

We are finding strength in numbers, from theAnti-Drug Alliance the Western Hemisphere forged at the recentSummit of the Americas, to the steps against drugs and crimes theG-8 leaders agreed to take last month. The U.N. InternationalDrug Control program, under Executive Director Arlacchi'sleadership

# 8,250 officials

is combatting drug production, drug trafficking and drug abuse insome of the most difficult corners of the world, while helping tomake sure the money we spend brings maximum results. I applaudthe UNDCP's goal of dramatically reducing coca and opium poppycultivation by 2008. We will do our part in the United States tomake this goal a reality.

For all the achievements of recent years we must notconfuse progress with success. The specter of drugs still hauntsus. To prevail we must do more, with dynamic nationalstrategies, intensified international cooperation and greaterresources.

The debate between drug supplying and drug consumingnations about whose responsibility the drug problem is has goneon too long. Let's be frank -- this debate has not advanced thefight against drugs. Pointing fingers is distracting. It doesnot dismantle a single cartel, help a single addict, prevent asingle child from trying and perhaps dying from heroin. Besides,the lines between countries that are supply countries, demandcountries, and transit countries are increasingly blurred. Drugsare every nation's problem, and every nation must act to fightthem -- on the streets, around the kitchen table, and around theworld.

This is the commitment of the United States. Yearafter year, our administration has provided the largest antidrugbudgets in history. Our request next year exceeds $17 billion,nearly $6 billion of which will be devoted to demand reduction.Our comprehensive national drug control strategy aims to cutAmerican drug use and access by half over the next 10 years,through strength in law enforcement, tougher interdiction,improved treatment, and expanded prevention efforts. We aredetermined to build a drug-free America and to join with othersto combat drugs around the world.

We believe attitudes drive actions. Therefore, wewage first the battle in the minds of our young people. Workingwith Congress and the private sector, the United States haslaunched a major antidrug youth media campaign. Now, when ourchildren turn on the television, surf the Internet, or listen tothe radio, they will get the powerful message that drugs arewrong and can kill them.

I will be asking Congress to extend this programthrough 2002. With congressional support and matching dollarsfrom the private sector, we will commit to a five-year, $2billion public-private partnership to teach our children to stayoff drugs.

Other nations, including Mexico, Venezuela, andBrazil, are launching similar campaigns. I had the pleasure oftalking with the President of Brazil about this at some lengthyesterday. I hope all our nations can work together to spreadthe word to children all around the world -- drugs destroy younglives; don't let them destroy yours.

The United States is also working to create avirtual university for the prevention and treatment of substanceabuse, using modern technology to share knowledge and experienceacross national borders. We will launch this effort next monthin New Mexico, with an international training course on reducingdrug demand. Government officials and other professionals fromMexico, El Salvador and Honduras will work with experts on drugabuse and gang prevention from the U.S. The course will belinked via satellite to the U.S. Information Agency's Worldnetsystem, so that anyone with access to Worldnet can tune in.

Our National Institute for Drug Abuse in the UnitedStates, which funds 85 percent of global research on drugs, willpost on the Internet live videotapes of its drug prevention andtreatment workshops. This means that anyone, anywhere, withaccess to a computer and modem -- a parent whose child isaddicted to drugs, a doctor trying to help, a researcher lookingfor a cure -- anyone will be able to obtain the latest, mostadvanced medical knowledge on drugs.

Such sharing of information, experience and ideas ismore important than ever. That is why I am especially pleased toannounce the establishment of an international drug fellowshipprogram that will enable professionals from all around the worldto come to the United States and work with our drug fightingagencies. The focus will be on the priorities of this specialsession: demand reductions, stimulants, precursors, moneylaundering, judicial cooperation, alternative development, anderadication of illicit crops.

These fellowships will help all of us. It will helpour nations to learn from one another while building a globalforce of skilled and experienced drug crusaders.

Together we must extend the long arm of the law andthe hand of compassion to match the global reach of this problem.Let us leave here determined to act together in a spirit of trustand respect, at home and abroad, against demand and supply, usingall the tools at our disposal to win the global fight againstdrugs and build a safe and healthy 21st century for our children.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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