The Maldives has today urged the United Nations to refocus its fight against illicit narcotics from security protection to enhanced public health. The Maldives made the statement today at the Social, Human rights and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly of the UN.

Speaking on behalf of the Maldives, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ms. Iruthisham Adam stated, “controlling drugs is not only a security issue. It is an issue that affects families as well as societies as a whole. Hence, a clear and distinct reorientation of the global fight is necessary”. The reorientation, explained Ms Adam, does not necessarily undermine the importance of a consolidated legal framework against drug traffickers but would emphasize the significance of the treatment of drug victims as equally important. Ms. Adam further suggested that increasing awareness among youth on the dangers of drug addiction and a stronger commitment by States to rehabilitate drug abuse victims could enable bringing about this shift. Thus, the Maldives  expressed support to the call made by Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Direction of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to avoid criminalization of drug victims.

The Maldives also took the opportunity to highlight the vulnerabilities of the country and stress on vital areas that require international assistance. “ With a tourism driven economy, the Maldives is well connected with the outside world through its international airports and seaports making it highly vulnerable to the trade. The situation is made worse with a population of three hundred thousand that is widely dispersed between the 196 inhabited islands; resulting in a high degree of internal migration in turn making the situation extremely difficult to monitor and manage ”, stated Ms. Adam. In this regard, the Maldives highlighted the serious capacity gaps between States, such as the Maldives, that eventually hinder the consolidated efforts at the international level. Ms. Adam reiterated capacity building as crucial that will pave the way for a well coordinated and balanced approach to fighting narcotics.