Item 212 - Address by President Nelson Mandela at the United Nations International Drug Control Programme South Africa's legal workshop on sub-regional cooperation againist drug trafficking

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Address by President Nelson Mandela at the United Nations International Drug Control Programme South Africa's legal workshop on sub-regional cooperation againist drug trafficking


  • 1994-11-14 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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UN International Drug Control Programme South Africa's legal workshop on sub-regional cooperation against drug trafficking. Speech delivered by Minister of Justice Dullah Omar on behalf of the President

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  • English

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Mr. Chairperson;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a privilege for me to extend a cordial welcome to all delegates, especially the visitors from outside the Republic's borders. I trust you will only benefit by your visit to our country.

Allow me also to express my gratitude to the organisers and in particular to the members of UNDCP for contributing to the arrangements and funding for this timely and needed workshop. We hope not only to gain more insight into the problems of corruption and drug trafficking, but also to strengthen ties and forge closer co-operation in our battle against a scourge of international magnitude.

Drug trafficking has escalated to such an extent that it can be seen as the new universal threat to all societies.

For too long too many people considered the drug problem as a remote one affecting someone else or occurring somewhere else. The reality, as we all know, is that this problem affects all communities, in particular the youth. If we really want to do something about the threat we will have to act decisively now. To do this we need to stand together and face the problem head-on.

We should never underestimate the dangers of the drug problem and the high price that it exacts from many countries, including our own. It is a serious threat not only to moral and intellectual integrity of our nation and other nations. It is a serious threat to the health and well being of our people.

In recent years we have found that the potentially huge profits of drug trafficking are encouraging an increasing number of criminals involved in more orthodox crimes, such as robbery and extortion, to extend their activities to the drug trade on a national and international scale. The extent of the problem can be seen from the estimate by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that at least 85 billion dollars in drug profits are annually laundered through the financial markets world-wide.

It is thus not surprising that the drug cartels and syndicates have a global influence and have become a threat to the socio-economic and political order of every country in the world. Not only do their operations lead to heightened criminality and violence but due to the nature of their trade it leads to corruption, the very subject of our workshop.

Drug trafficking networks have grown especially due to their unscrupulous attitude of bribing the we drple and terrorising the honest. These cartels are traditionally a-political and are motivated primarily by financial greed. But they also further their cause by enlisting the voluntary and forced co-operation of key role players in both the public and private sector. The extent of their activities can lead to a real threat to the ability of a government to assert its authority and maintain peace and security. It is bad enough that so many individuals are destroyed by drug-abuse. The real enemy is the drug merchant.

The people involved in the illicit drug trade - from members or organised crime groups to casual dealers - have little respect for our laws or the lives of our people. In some countries the drug barons and warlords engage in terrible deeds - judges are killed, bribed or terrorised and police buildings are bombed.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that we act strongly against corruption. The public demands that we see to it that the strictest standards of honesty and integrity are maintained. It not, then as Alexander Pope prophesied in his moral essays:

"At length corruption like a general flood (so long by watchful ministers withstood) shall deluge all; and avarice creeping on, spread like a low-born mist, and blot out the sun."

Drug trafficking and corruption pose serious problems for South Africa and for most African countries. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that cultivation and manufacturing of drugs such as cannabis and mandrax are also being done in our sub-region.

Democratic South Africa has recently been admitted to the international world. We have moved from being a closed society to being an open society. This has had both positive and negative results. On the one hand, it has facilitated increased and open cultural exchange, boosted tourism and generally stimulated the economy. But there is also a down-side. With our borders more open, our immigration laws more relaxed and people streaming in from all over the world, we are becoming a haven for drug traffickers. This must be stopped. We must take action.

Ladies and gentlemen.

My government and I have committed ourselves to stamp out drug trafficking and its resultant corruption. We will do everything in our power to bring our country in line with internationally accepted standards and measures in this regard.

The South African Police Services recently indicated that during 1993, they confiscated and/or destroyed approximately a thousand million rands' worth of drugs, and that this was only about 10-15% of the estimated value of the South African drug trade.

It is alarming to note the slump in convictions for drug offences in this country over the past two years. The Department of Justice has already started to investigate this situation.

Not only has the escalation of drug trafficking numerous implications for interstate relations in the region, but it also affects the internal stability of the countries involved. That is why we need a workshop such as this one. There is no quick or instant solution to this problem. Yet this is a battle we must and can win if we tackle it together.

We need to act in such a manner that this decade, declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade against Drugs, can be viewed in years to come as one in which positive results were attained. When we look at the names of the representatives and the countries you represent, I am positive that we shall be able to reach consensus in attaining at least two goals:

Firstly, the establishment of an informal sub-regional network of key ministers working against corruption, drug trafficking and its drug-related elements; and

Secondly, progress towards an agreement by the ministers to recommend to their respective governments the adoption and implementation of bold anti-corruption and anti-drug initiatives.

If we want to turn the tide and really address drug trafficking we will have to simplify and expedite the co-operation between our countries regarding the exchange of information, drug law enforcement and related anti-corruption activities such as extradition, mutual assistance in criminal matters, forfeiture, and so on.

My government has in the recent past also entered into agreements with Namibia and Zimbabwe relating to the promotion of co-operation in the field of the administration of justice. We have also launched investigations into ways to promote legislation, or the basis of reciprocity, regarding drug trafficking as well as the confiscation and seizure of property and profits relating to this crime. I hope we can extend this type of co-operation to more countries.

South Africa has in recent years passed legislation with stringent penalties and other deterrent measures to deal with the problem. But we need to ask ourselves: are the measures sufficient? Do they need to be reviewed? These are questions that special government structures, bringing together various ministries are examining with the aim of ensuring effective programmes to combat the threat.

This applies as much to the administration of justice as it does to effective and legitimate policing. It applies even more, with regard to the need to implement socio-economic programmes to remove the social foundation of this scourge.

The Government of National Unity is committed and ready to accede to all international conventions and treaties to bring us in line with the rest of the world. This includes complying with the requirements for regulating precursor substances.

Once we have done so, South Africa will be a party to all the existing multilateral treaties dealing with narcotic drugs and psycho-tropic substances. Our ability to play a role in the field of international drug control and to participate in international drug control mechanisms will then be greatly enhanced.

I wish you all fruitful deliberations and success in your endeavours. I trust that this workshop will result in not only new and unhindered regional co-operation, but also in practical measures and a forward action plan to deal with corruption and drug trafficking.

The demands and challenges are great. But so will be the results if we work together.

I thank you.


Paragraph beginning: "We need to act in such a manner that this decade, declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade against Drugs, can be viewd in years to come as oe in which positive results iuid riiwere attained."
Changes made: "viewd", "oe" and "iuid niiwere" changed to "viewed". "one" and "were".
Paragraph beginning"Drug trafficking networks have grown especially due to their unscrupulous attitude of bribing the we drple and terrorising the honest" No changes made - "we drple"

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 14/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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