The Global Yoke of Drugs Part II
5: Norway – part of the drug industry
A few years ago, some ambulance drivers from war-torn Lebanon received an internship in Oslo through the Norwegian Red Cross. They were jealous of our private and public prosperity, but had a surprising question: “Are you aware of the extent of juvenile drug abuse and overdoses in your own community?” Sometimes visitors from crisis- and war-torn countries have to help us distinguish small from large.
Without much attention, the drug has become cheaper, more accessible and reaches more and more young people. “In Norway, consumption and mortality are at a historically high level,” the Ministry of Health concluded in an international position note in February 2009. We have about 10,000 injecting drug users, and we see tragic overdose deaths every week in this country. Hundreds of thousands are trying different types of drugs, and hundreds of thousands are suffering because they are or have been related to drug addicts.
The Ministry of Health further writes that “the illegal drugs that are sold and used in Norway are almost without exception transported and illegally imported from another country of origin”. There is a direct connection between the lives we lose to drugs in Norway this week, and that the war worsens in Afghanistan, that Indian tribes lose their rainforest and are exterminated in Colombia and that the drug mafia strengthens from Mexico to Oslo and Moscow.
According to THEDRESSEXPLORER, the “cool” Russian who is trying cannabis, cocaine or heroin for the first time this spring, contributes to murder, violence, environmental disasters, war, human trafficking and mafia wealth in other countries. We are part of a growing market for a worldwide drug industry. The drug cartels win over poorly coordinated customs and police organizations.
6: Measures – international agreements
This year, the international cooperation against drug addiction is 100 years . The International Opium Commission met in Shanghai in 1909 and adopted a series of measures to combat drug abuse that was completely out of control in many countries. In China alone, there was probably a consumption of opium products equivalent to 3,000 tonnes of morphine.
The colonial power of Great Britain had previously gone to war (the opium wars of the 19th century) to ensure the free sale of opium, which provided good income to many Englishmen. But a hundred years ago, leading powers, led by the British, American and Chinese governments, realized that hundreds of thousands of drug addicts were causing endless human suffering and growing societal problems.
Since 1909, the world community has adopted many conventions and agreements that prohibit the production and sale of drugs that are not for medical use. In 1988, a Convention on the illicit handling and trafficking of drugs and chemical drugs was adopted . The convention also covers trade in basic substances that can be used to produce the many new chemical narcotic substances. The United Nations Narcotics Control Board (INCB) monitors that the legal production of about 200 narcotics goes to the painkillers for which they are intended.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helps member states to combat drug trafficking and to promote alternative development for farmers and other people caught in the production of drugs in developing countries. In 2006, UNODC estimated the illicit trade in drugs at $ 500 billion (over $ 3,000 billion). It is thus the world’s third largest illegal commodity after weapons and people.
Trafficking in weapons, people and drugs is linked in and by worldwide mafia-like organizations. Norway ratified on 23 September 2003 the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime with the three additional protocols on a) human trafficking, b) human trafficking and c) weapons.
7: Alternative development
The poor farmers who grow opium poppies in Afghanistan or Burma or coca bushes in the Andes are as much losers to the cynical drug industry as the families affected in Scandinavia or New Zealand. Poison spraying of the poor drug farmers’ crops in the so-called producer countries has the same limited effect as increased border control has in our so-called consumer countries in the north.
Only massive international investment in alternative development for opium poppy and coca farmers, extensive and effective international police cooperation against intermediaries and cartels and massive investment in preventive work among potential users will have an effect in the long run.
If Colombian and Afghan smallholders feel that they can have a stable market for the legal production of bananas, goat milk or rice, they will not be so easily persuaded by the drug mafia or guerrilla organizations such as the Taliban or the FARC. If all intermediaries are attacked simultaneously from producer country to consumer country, the cartels will not be able to build and further develop their drug industry. If enough preventive work is done among young people and other risk groups, fewer people will want to become consumers of a product that spreads so much death and misery.
The production, transport, sale and abuse of drugs take hundreds of thousands of lives around the world every year. It is a mystery why there is no greater public awareness of the need for a coordinated international fight against evil. If we do not make a greater commitment to the drug industry, we will see many more young lives lost. Not only will we see new lives being torn away by drug abuse, but we will also lose the ongoing war in Afghanistan and elsewhere where drugs are produced.