United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem

Published: 21 April 2016

1. Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, led the Singapore delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), which took place from 19 to 21 April 2016 in New York.


2. Minister Shanmugam delivered Singapore's statement at the plenary session and participated as a panellist in a roundtable discussion on reducing the demand for drugs.


a.  Minister Shanmugam encouraged countries to carefully consider the kind of society they wanted for their citizens. Drugs negatively impact safety and security, which are key building blocks for any successful society. 


b. The scale of the drug problem in other countries may have led them to accept the presence of drugs. Hence, they adopted harm reduction and drug legalisation. This was the easier option for them, but not the better one. This option also ignored the harm caused by drugs to the abuser, his family, and the community. 


c.  Minister Shanmugam explained that Singapore adopted a comprehensive, balanced, sustained and tough approach to tackling both drug supply and demand. Singapore's approach focused on rehabilitating abusers and reintegrating them into society. This was more difficult and resource-intensive, but was the better option. As a result, Singapore was safe and secure, and the drug situation was under control. 


d.  Minister Shanmugam said that countries needed to come to a consensus on how to move forward as one global community to tackle drugs, while recognising the right of each country to choose the approach that worked best for them.


3. During UNGASS, Minister Shanmugam met with his counterparts from other countries, as well as with UN officials, to discuss current and emerging challenges on drugs, and reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to working with the global community to tackle the world drug problem.