United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem
Ms. Zeena Mohamed Didi, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldives to the UN
21 April 2016, Trustreeship Council
Thank you Mr. President,
At the outset, my delegation would like to thank the Chairman of UNGASS Board, His Excellency Ambassador Shamaa, as well as his board members for their tireless efforts in effectively steering the preparatory process for UNGASS.
The Maldives believes this session, the first Special Session since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, provides a unique opportunity to galvanize international cooperation to effectively address and counter the world drug problem. The Maldives remains confident that target 3.5 of the Agenda on "Strengthening prevention and narcotic drug abuse" will provide impetus to international efforts to addressing the world drug problem. We also stress the importance of designing evidence based drug policies based on reliable data, science and analysis. In this regard, we note that the global indicator framework being developed for the 2030 Agenda provides real opportunity to frame the world drug problem through selection of the right indicators. The Maldives further believes that critical to addressing the growing international nature of this phenomenon is the political will and ability of all members to implement evidence-based policies and practices in line with the three international conventions on drug matters.
The Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 islands situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Although we are neither a producer nor a manufacturer of illicit drugs, our location makes us a vulnerable point for illegal shipments of precursor chemicals and drugs meant for other ports. This problem has evolved with the increase of substance users and the increasing prevalence of drug abuse within the youth. The Maldivian youth compromises of 46% of the Maldivian population. The Maldives believes that there is no one-size-fits all solution to countering the world drug problem and that each country's policies must address its own specific needs.
The Maldives' National Strategy to tackle the issue of drugs is based on four pillars 1) prevention, 2)treatment and social reintegration, 3)governance and system development, and 4) efforts to reduce drug supply. These four pillars are complimentary to each other and areas of action. The Maldives national drug policies are underpinned not just by our firm conviction on the need to build safer and just societies, but are also supported by human rights principles, which place people at the centre. The enactment of the Drugs Act in 2011, repealing the 1977 version, was a milestone in the Government's efforts to combat drug abuse and drug related offences. The new law represents a paradigm shift, in viewing drug offenders as victims in need of rehabilitation, than only as criminals. The legislation makes provisions for the prevention of the use, peddling and trafficking of drugs and provides measures to motivate drug dependent persons to enrol in treatment and rehabilitation programmes with a view to facilitate their reintegration into the community as responsible citizens. The Government is also collaborating with rehabilitation centres in neighbouring countries, to allow for requests to seek rehabilitation overseas, as allowed by the Drug Act.
In order to strengthen monitoring and prevention efforts, the Maldives police and border authorities has also tightened surveillance across the Maldives to eliminate smuggling and distribution of drugs, and have started using K-9 dogs to detect drug smugglers since last year.
The issue of illicit drug and its related activities go beyond regions, representing a global challenge. The nexus between transnational organised crime and terrorism, threatens peace and security. The Maldives emphasises the need to join forces, especially among regional bilateral partners to effectively counter the world drug problem. In line with this objective, Maldives is working with its regional member countries to establish a regional coordination centre for South Asia.
For far too long, drugs have been tearing apart the social fabric of society, igniting violence, spreading diseases and robbing our youth of their futures. We must seize the opportunity provided by this session to do more and to do better. The Maldives will continue to engage domestically and internationally on the World Drug Problem, and we will continue to do our part in advancing the international drug policy agenda. Let the promises made in this session change the course towards a more peaceful, healthier and just society.