UN Welcomes Iranian Role in Drug War

February 24, 1998 - 0:0
VIENNA Iran must be congratulated for its role in helping the global war against drug abuse, a UN report said Tuesday, while noting other problems in the Middle East notably in Israel and Turkey. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) welcomed increased awareness of drug abuse problems in the region, but stressed that political and financial priorities must remain focussed to fight the scourge.

The board encourages the league of Arab states to ensure the provision of the financial means necessary for the implementation of the Arab drug control strategy, said the report. The 75-page annual INCB report lists drug problems worldwide, and makes recommendations on strategies for fighting abuse around the globe, from Europe to Asia and Latin America to Africa. The efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop the flow of illicit drugs across its border with Afghanistan have prevented the smuggling of large amounts of drugs into Europe, it notes.

The board notes with satisfaction the organization in 1996 of the first national symposium on the prevention of drug abuse in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the enhancement of the treatment policy of the government. The INCB experts also welcomed Tehran's increased cooperation with Pakistan, and its move towards acceding to the 1971 treaty on psychotropic substances including such drugs as LSD. On the negative side the UN report highlights growing problems in Israel and Turkey. Increasing heroin abuse has been reported in Israel and Turkey and in the countries in the Persian Gulf area, it notes.

In addition increasing abuse of stimulants and LSD and a high prevalence of the abuse of MDMA (commonly known as ecstacy') have been reported in Israel. It welcomes Ankara's adoption of new legislation against money-laundering, and urges Israel to do the same, and to accede to the 1988 UN convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Cocaine is a relatively rarely abused drug in the Middle East, the report notes, while warning that its use is increasing in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Overall the INCB report says progress is being made worldwide against drug abuse.

Governments have become more active in drug control, noted INCB President Hamid Ghodse. But much remains to be done, he said, lamenting in particular the tendency for popular culture to portray drug-taking in a positive light. While developments in 1997 have shown that we can be successful, our work is far from completed, not least in counteracting the thrust of an environment which is tolerant of and permissive towards drug taking, he concluded.