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UNITED NATIONS, Apr 13 (APP): President of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram, has called for stepped up efforts to address the world’s drug problem, saying that drug use had increased manifold during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the drug problem, heightening drug use and impairing the ability of health and social systems to cope with the drug crisis,” he said on Monday at a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

The Vienna-based Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which organized the virtual event, convenes annually and is responsible for monitoring the world drug situation, developing evidence-based strategies for drug control and recommending measures to address the world drug problem.

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“The complexity of the world drug problem has increased dramatically in the past few years,” the ECOSOC chief said, pointing out that both the range of drugs, and markets for these drugs are expanding.

“The illicit cultivation, production and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and illicit trafficking in these and in precursors, have reached record levels.”

The world drug problem, he said, could only be most effectively addressed in a multilateral context, relying on an integrated, balanced and comprehensive approach, promoting and protecting health, safety and well-being of all in accordance with 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

In this regard, Ambassador Akram called for reinforcement of regional and international cooperation, with focus on policy coordination, exchange of information as well as capacity-building initiatives, provision of equipment, technology and technical assistance for developing countries, and by undertaking demand and supply reduction in conformity with the drug control conventions.

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Also, he said, all member states should address drug-related socioeconomic issues, including illicit cultivation of narcotic plants and the illicit manufacture and production and trafficking of drugs, through the implementation of long-term, comprehensive and development-oriented drug control policies and programmes.

“The various functional commissions of ECOSOC, in particular CND, continue to make a vital contribution to work of the Council in building effective responses to the global drug problem,” the ECOSOC chief said.

“Together, we can implement a coordinated, balanced and comprehensive approach – the best possible way to implement our joint international commitments and to ensure a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world”, he added.