Agriculture: A Solution to the International Drug Epidemic?

A quiet hum floated over those in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, matching the somber theme of the debate. Delegates voted to discuss Topic A: Combatting International Illicit Trafficking of Drugs. Unlike other conversations being had throughout the Sheraton, theirs seemed closer to home due to the conviction of the delegates.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes estimates that there are approximately 246 million stable drug users between the ages of 15-64. This corresponds to a global prevalence of 5.2%, suggesting recent figures have remained rather stable. Another 27 million people are estimated to suffer from problem drug use, including but not limited to drug-use diseases and drug-dependence. The burden of HIV/AIDS among people who inject drugs continues to remain quite high in many regions of the world. Approximately 40% of the estimated global total of PWID living with HIV reside in Eastern Europe, predominantly in Ukraine and Russia. Other concentrations fall to regions like East Asia and South-West Asia.

Most delegates seemed to repeat the same sentiment; there must be an eradication of narcotics. For many, the solution seemed to be in finding comprehensive reform in education, integration, and safety. “One of our main solutions is investing in agriculture and infrastructures like irrigation canals and crops. We hope this alternative agriculture will cut down the production of opium; the farmers who harvest it don’t want to be producing it.” a delegate from Afghanistan pronounced. She emphasized that the committee was also discussing rehabilitation methods and the obliteration of HIV/AIDS. A representative from Botswana had earlier noted that 11.7 million people inject forms of illicit substances, rapidly spreading the incurable disease. The Afghan delegation also indicated the importance of economic development in their bloc. Their objective was largely on the basis of social change.

Other nations, like Estonia, pushed for border security and advancements in rehabilitation. Their clauses were aimed at stopping drugs at the border, not reforming the industry as an entire entity. While more developed nations could perhaps afford the short-term effects of this control, the delegation from Afghanistan pointed out that this was not a sustainable method of abolishing the drug trade, but rather a semi-permanent and costly solution. The delegate continued to note that this standardized border control was not manageable for most nations and should instead be adapted to every individual country.

No matter the solution, it was clear that all nations wanted to prioritize safety and health. While each bloc had unique perspectives and plans to build out fundamental programming for narcotic use, all could agree that it must end.

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