Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Third Committee Agenda Item 106: Crime prevention and criminal justice, and Item 107: International drug control
New York, 6 October 2016
I am pleased to join previous speakers in congratulating you and the other members of the bureau of this Committee on your election. The Holy See strongly shares the determination of the international community to tackle the world drug problem and to promote actively a society free of drug abuse, one in which all people can lead healthy lives, enjoy peace and live in social harmony.
National and international authorities must resolutely fight the narcotics trade. In his Address to the General Assembly in September 2015, Pope Francis described the narcotics trade as a new kind of war against society, a war that is "taken for granted and poorly fought", in part because of corruption on multiple levels. The evils of drug trade are amplified because, as the Pope pointed out, “drug trafficking is, by its very nature, accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation and other forms of corruption."
The production and trafficking of illicit drugs obeys the law of supply and demand: drug trafficking exists because there is a lucrative market created by individuals addicted to illicit drugs. Thus, preventing and fighting the consumption of such drugs is key to preventing and fighting their production and trafficking.
In this regard, my delegation wishes to reaffirm the Holy See’s opposition to legalizing drug use as a means to fight drug addiction. As Pope Francis stated in his June 2014 address to the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, “The fight against drugs cannot be won with drugs. Drugs are an evil, and with evil there can be neither surrender nor compromise.”
The Holy See believes that the fight against the drug problem must be guided by the fundamental principles of respect for human dignity, of the primacy of prevention, and of the role of the family as a bulwark for both drug prevention and addiction treatment.
Respect for the human dignity of all must be ultimately at the core of every international drug control and crime prevention strategy. Individuals who have fallen into drug addiction must be treated with compassion and understanding. Numerous Catholic organizations and religious orders are already active both in the fields of prevention and rehabilitation, adopting preventive measures that start with educating children and young people to reject the temptation of an illusionary bliss provoked by drug consumption, or the lure of easy money coming from drug trafficking.
The suffering of a drug addict is not confined to the addicted individual; it also engulfs the family and the whole of society. The family is the first to suffer from substance-abusing members, with consequences such as domestic violence, economic collapse and other dysfunctions that can lead to the breakdown of the family.
For this reason, the Holy See cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of the family as the cornerstone of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and health strategies. Families form the very basis of a society. Illicit drug abuse destroys the fabric of individual families and of entire communities, leading ultimately to the destabilization of society. The Holy See thus supports programs, as recommended by the Secretary General’s Report, “aimed at preventing risk factors from resulting in the commission of crime and drug abuse among young people by strengthening parenting skills.”
In order to prevent drug addiction, it is necessary not only to say “no” to drugs. It is also essential to say “yes” to life, to love, to family, to all that is positive and healthy for the full enjoyment of life.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
1 A/71/316, 54.