Published: 14 February 2023
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
1. Good evening! Thank you for joining us today at our reception for Singapore’s candidature to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) for the term 2024 to 2027.
International Cooperation to Counter the World Drug Problem
2. As Singapore’s Permanent Representative in New York mentioned, this is Singapore’s first bid for CND membership. But as many of you know, Singapore has consistently been committed to promoting international cooperation and dialogue to counter the world drug problem. Global problems, by their very nature, require multilateral solutions.
3. In fact, tomorrow, I will be delivering a statement at the Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Sea Level Rise under Malta’s Presidency, which is an example of another global issue requiring multilateral solutions
4. The reality is that international cooperation to deal with the drug problem is not a choice – it is a necessity. In 2021, there were half a million deaths linked to drug abuse globally. According to the 2022 World Drug Report, 284 million people worldwide had consumed drugs in 2019 alone. This was a 26% increase from the figure in 2010, and the consequences are devastating.
5. No country can resolve this issue on its own. Today, we are faced with added challenges, including the emergence of new types of drugs, such as New Psychoactive Substances. Drug traffickers have also found new ways to smuggle drugs, such as through the dark web.
6. As a global transport hub, Singapore is vulnerable as a destination country and as a transit point for drugs.
7. International cooperation to tackle the drug problem is therefore especially salient for us. Singapore has always supported the CND as the UN body with the primary responsibility for drug-related matters, and we are committed to working with the CND. So, we have decided to take the important step of moving beyond being an observer to the CND, to become an active, contributing member of the CND. I thank you for your valuable support.
Singapore’s Commitments to the CND
Promoting Dialogue & Cooperation
8. Singapore’s key pledge if we are elected to the CND is the promotion of greater cooperation and dialogue on drug policies and programmes. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the multi-faceted problem of drugs, and each country must decide its own drug policies based on its own context. But there is so much that we can learn from each other when developing these policies.
9. For example, Singapore currently co-chairs the Group of Friends of UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Research with the European Union and actively champions cross-regional dialogue and cooperation between delegations – even those with different approaches to drugs. We will continue to do that through our membership in the CND.
10. Second, we will continue to contribute extensively to the CND through capacity building. Just last year, we organised a workshop on drug control attended by senior officials from 17 countries. If elected, we will expand our training programmes and conduct specialised courses to share best practices among law enforcement agencies, correctional officers, and drug analysis laboratories.
11. Third, we will advocate for a greater focus on rehabilitation for drug offenders. In 2004, Singapore established the Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP). The YRP is a national movement that aims to change societal mindsets and give ex-offenders a second chance in life. Over the years, the YRP has mobilized a network of civil society partners working alongside the government to help former drug abusers re-integrate into society successfully. It has also supported the aspirations of many offenders to rebuild their lives through education. We hope that more countries can join this movement and accelerate it on a global scale.
12. I am pleased to announce that we will be organizing an art exhibition in the Vienna International Centre at the 66th CND next month to showcase the artworks created by individuals who have undergone drug rehabilitation programmes, and which depict their rehabilitation journeys.
13. Singapore is steadfast in our commitment to the global fight against drug trafficking and abuse, in close partnership with international organisations such as the CND. Our collective efforts will empower us to create a safer future for all.
14. We hope to have your valuable support for our CND candidature at the elections to the subsidiary bodies of the Economic and Social Council on 5 April 2023.
15. Thank you and I wish all of you an enjoyable evening.