AIR spotlight summary on BRICS Conference on Negation of Drug Abuses
The inauguration of the second Anti-Drug Working Group meeting of Heads of Drug Control Agencies was held in New Delhi. It comprises heads of Anti-Narcotics Bureau of 5 countries. Drug Abuse is a subject which is posing a serious challenge to the global community today and most recently highlighted in India with the controversy of the movie Udta Punjab.
BRICS angle to the issue
- 2013 BRICS meeting at Durban saw some very important decisions like the establishment of BRICS Bank. In the same meeting it was decided that the drugs are becoming the major problem for BRICS and the outside world.
- One of the areas the BRICS members could focus would be Drugs and Anti Drugs policy.
- The first meeting of heads of Anti-Narcotic agency was held in Moscow in Nov 2015.
The focus area of the meeting
- There is so much to do as far as Drug prevention, cure, how to vain people away, money laundering and Information exchange. The international trade in drugs is estimated to be about $500 billion to more than a $trillion.
- The aim of the meeting is to evaluate the drug abuse situation in the member countries and analyze the legislations of BRICS member states as well as devise modalities to share the best practices of enforcement and demand reduction being followed in the member countries.
The issue of Drug Abuse
- Today the drug business generates the highest illegal fund flows and leads to Narco-Terrorism, which poses a serious threat to global security and endangers peace, health and stability across regions.
- Today Russia is affected by terrorism, China has terrorism in xinjiang province, and India is also the victim of terrorism. There are estimates from the western writers that almost 25 % of the ISI (Pakistan) funding to terrorists is generated through drug trafficking.
- Recently, in Pathankot attack, there were allegations that it was mixed up with drug trade and drug mafia and that is how they could enter India. The inquiry is still going on.
- India is poorly situated in the sense that on its west is the ‘Golden Crescent’ and on east is the ‘Golden Triangle’. The usage of drugs in India is increasing, particularly in the border areas due to their porous nature, especially in Punjab and North East states.
- Each country has its own unique method of suffering the problem. Brazil has Columbia drug trade which is perhaps the worst in the world. Afghanistan, Laos and Myanmar situated in India’s neighbourhood are also suffering from illegal drug trafficking.
- Terrorism is the direct outcome of this industry. All the countries have a large youth component, below 35 years which are badly affected.
Need of the Hour
- For cooperation among BRICS members, synthetic drugs, money laundering, banking channel, information exchange etc are the focus areas. Synthetic drugs have become a problem for India, South Africa and Russia.
- The synthetic drugs move as pharmaceuticals. India has lot of exports of pharmaceuticals and chemicals etc. to African and other countries. This area should be focused upon.
- Money laundering channels should be targeted. The billions of black money are converted to white money which is detrimental to the economy. Cooperation among BRICS countries would be helpful.
Best practices to tackle Drug Abuse
- Intelligence sharing: Usually the last point peddlers get into police net. The real movers or illegal traders get away. So to identify those people and isolate them, the countries have to cooperate.
- To vain people away, drug rehabilitation and Society awareness programmers are very important.
- Global cooperation for AIDS has been successful. It is not a menace now as it was a decade back. It is due to the focused attention against its spread, prevention and taking care of AIDS patients. Africa had a big problem, but now it has been contained due to education and preventive methods.
For effective implementation
- Law and Order: If any drug carriers and masterminds have been caught, we should find out what are his/her travel links. This information can be shared.
- Revenue intelligence: Huge amount of money is getting transferred across borders and somehow it is getting done through banking channels. Hawala money is also there. There are concerted efforts from India to curb Black money. Wherever there are tax havens, they need to be plugged.
- Health issues: Any one consuming drugs suffer physically and mentally. Treating those people and bringing them back to normal health is very important.
- Awareness programme: Education through schools and colleges.
- Social welfare and rehabilitation: It includes rehabilitation of drug addicts as most of them are very poor and bringing them back into society. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment task is involved here.
This has been a multipronged effort to contain narcotics problem. If the BRICS countries try to coordinate their position, then with a greater voice they can speak in other international forum like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna and try to set the agenda and make them take steps which we feel would curb this menace.