By Kelli Meyer
President Donald Trump traded Washington, D.C. for New York City today for his first public appearance at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. On the agenda: The Global Call-to-Action on the World Drug Problem.
Originally announced by the White House last month, the declaration lays out a four-pronged plan focusing on reducing demand, cutting supply, strengthening international cooperation, and expanding levels of treatment regarding illicit drugs. In addition, the declaration reaffirms support for key UN conventions on narcotics, as well as the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
As of this writing, the document has 129 other countries on board.
While the impetus for the event was to formally introduce the plan, President Trump and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley both emphasized the scourge of the problem on our own soil. Here in the U.S., more than 72,000 people died from overdoses in 2017, an increase of about 10% from the year before. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also touched on the personal connection he has to this issue. The 2018 World Drug Report estimated that global deaths caused by drug use have increased by 60 percent from 2000 to 2015.
This event was an important reminder of how the drug problem is more than just an American issue, and the key role the UN can play in tackling it within our own borders and beyond.
As Guterres said, this event shines the spotlight on a global and growing public health threat when the spotlight has never been needed more. Today’s declaration is hopefully just the start of further collaboration between the U.S., the United Nations and the rest of the world.