[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 8, 1998]
[Pages 903-905]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the 
World Drug Problem in New York City
June 8, 1998

    Mr. Secretary-General, President 
Udovenko, Executive Director 
Arlacchi, distinguished fellow leaders: Today 
we join at this Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly to make 
common cause against the common threat of worldwide drug trafficking and 
    Let me begin by thanking my friend President Zedillo for his vision in making this session possible and 
for his courageous resolve against drugs. And I thank all the nations 
represented here who are committed to fight for our children's future by 
fighting drugs together.
    Ten years ago, the United Nations adopted a pathbreaking convention 
to spur cooperation against drug trafficking. Today, the potential for 
that kind of cooperation has never been greater or more needed. As 
divisive blocs and barriers have been dismantled around the world, as 
technology has advanced and democracy has spread, our people benefit 
more and more from nations

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working and learning together. Yet the very openness that enriches our 
lives is also exploited by criminals, especially drug traffickers.
    Today we come here to say no nation is so large and powerful that it 
can conquer drugs alone; none is too small to make a difference. All 
share a responsibility to take up the battle. Therefore, we will stand 
as one against this threat to our security and our future.
    The stakes are high, for the drug empires erode the foundations of 
democracies, corrupt the integrity of market economies, menace the 
lives, the hopes, the futures of families on every continent. Let there 
be no doubt, this is ultimately a struggle for human freedom.
    For the first time in history, more than half the world's people 
live under governments of their own choosing. In virtually every 
country, we see the expansion of expressions of individual liberty. We 
cannot see it all squandered for millions of people because of a 
perverse combination of personal weakness and national neglect. We have 
to prove to the drug traffickers that they are wrong. We are determined, 
and we can make a difference.
    Nations have shown that with determined and relentless efforts, we 
can turn this evil tide. In the United States, drug use has dropped 49 
percent since 1979. Recent studies show that drug use by our young 
people is stabilizing, and in some categories, declining. Overall 
cocaine use has dropped 70 percent since 1985. The crack epidemic has 
begun to recede. Last year, our Coast Guard seized more than 100,000 
pounds of cocaine. Today, Americans spend 37 percent less on drugs than 
a decade ago. That means that over $34 billion reinvested in our 
society, rather than being squandered on drugs.
    Many other nations are making great strides. Mexico set records for 
eradication in 1997. Peruvian coca cultivation has been slashed 42 
percent since 1995. Colombia's growing aerial eradication program has 
destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of coca. Thailand's opium poppy 
growth is steadily decreasing, this year alone down 24 percent.
    The United States is also a partner in global law enforcement and 
interdiction efforts, fighting antidrug and--funding antidrug and crime 
training for more than 8,250* officials last year. In 1997 Latin 
American and Caribbean governments seized some 166 metric tons of 
cocaine. Better trained police, with improved information sharing, are 
arresting more drug traffickers around the world.
    *White House correction.
    Joint information networks on suspicious financial transactions are 
working in dozens of countries to put the brakes on money laundering. By 
the end of the year 2000, the United States will provide assistance to 
an additional 20 countries to establish and strengthen these financial 
intelligence units. We must and we can deprive drug traffickers of the 
dirty money that fuels their deadly trade.
    We are finding strength in numbers, from the antidrug alliance the 
Western Hemisphere forged at the recent Summit of the Americas, to the 
steps against drugs and crimes the G-8 leaders agreed to take last 
month. The U.N. International Drug Control Program, under Executive 
Director Arlacchi's leadership, is combating drug production, drug 
trafficking, and drug abuse in some of the most difficult corners of the 
world, while helping to make sure the money we spend brings maximum 
results. I applaud the UNDCP's goal of dramatically reducing coca and 
opium poppy cultivation by 2008. We will do our part in the United 
States to make this goal a reality.
    For all the achievements of recent years, we must not confuse 
progress with success. The specter of drugs still haunts us. To prevail 
we must do more, with dynamic national strategies, intensified 
international cooperation, and greater resources.
    The debate between drug supplying and drug consuming nations about 
whose responsibility the drug problem is has gone on too long. Let's be 
frank: This debate has not advanced the fight against drugs. Pointing 
fingers is distracting. It does not dismantle a single cartel, help a 
single addict, prevent a single child from trying and perhaps dying from 
heroin. Besides, the lines between countries that are supply countries, 
demand countries, and transit countries are increasingly blurred. Drugs 
are every nation's problem, and every nation must act to fight them on 
the streets, around the kitchen table, and around the world.
    This is the commitment of the United States. Year after year, our 
administration has provided the largest antidrug budgets 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 cut American drug use and

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access by half over the next 10 years, through strengthened law 
enforcement, tougher interdiction, improved treatment, and expanded 
prevention efforts. We are determined to build the drug-free America and 
to join with others to combat drugs around the world.
    We believe attitudes drive actions. Therefore, we wage first the 
battle in the minds of our young people. Working with Congress and the 
private sector, the United States has launched a major antidrug youth 
media campaign. Now, when our children turn on the television, surf the 
Internet, or listen to the radio, they will get the powerful message 
that drugs are wrong and can kill them.
    I will be asking Congress to extend this program through 2002. With 
congressional support and matching dollars from the private sector, we 
will commit to a 5-year, $2 billion public-private partnership to teach 
our children to stay off drugs.
    Other nations, including Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil, are 
launching similar campaigns. I had the pleasure of talking with the 
President of Brazil about this at 
some length yesterday. I hope all our nations can work together to 
spread the word to children all around the world: Drugs destroy young 
lives; don't let them destroy yours.
    The United States is also working to create a virtual university for 
the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, using modern technology 
to share knowledge and experience across national borders. We will 
launch this effort next month in New Mexico, with an international 
training course on reducing drug demand. Government officials and other 
professionals from Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras will work with 
experts on drug abuse and gang prevention from the U.S. The course will 
be linked via satellite to the U.S. Information Agency's WORLDNET 
system, so that anyone with access to WORLDNET can tune in.
    Our National Institute for Drug Abuse in the United States, which 
funds 85 percent of global research on drugs, will post on the Internet 
live videotapes of its drug prevention and treatment workshops. This 
means that anyone, anywhere, with access to a computer and modem--a 
parent whose child is addicted to drugs, a doctor trying to help, a 
researcher looking for a cure--anyone will be able to obtain the latest, 
most advanced medical knowledge on drugs.
    Such sharing of information, experience, and ideas is more important 
than ever, and that is why I am especially pleased to announce the 
establishment of an international drug fellowship program that will 
enable professionals from all around the world to come to the United 
States and work with our drug-fighting agencies. The focus will be on 
the priorities of this special session: demand reductions, stimulants, 
precursors, money laundering, judicial cooperation, alternative 
development, and eradication of illicit crops. These fellowships will 
help all of us. It will help our nations to learn from one another while 
building a global force of skilled and experienced drug crusaders.
    Together we must extend the long arm of the law and the hand of 
compassion to match the global reach of this problem. Let us leave here 
determined to act together in a spirit of trust and respect, at home and 
abroad, against demand and supply, using all the tools at our disposal 
to win the global fight against drugs and build a safe and healthy 21st 
century for our children.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. in the Assembly Hall. In his 
remarks, he referred to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; U.N. General 
Assembly President Hennady Udovenko; Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director, 
U.N. Drug Control Programme; President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico; and 
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil. A portion of these 
remarks could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.