HC Deb 07 December 1994 vol 251 cc266-7W
Mr. Heald

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution his Department is making to the development of international co-operation against illicit drugs production and trafficking.

Mr. Baldry

The Government's consultative paper "Tackling Drugs Together" launched on 19 October demonstrates the Government's firm commitment to tackling the menace of illicit drugs both at home and abroad.

In his reply of 24 November to my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Coombs), my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set out the action that the Government are taking to improve the effectiveness of international co-operation against drug traffickers. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is actively involved in supporting these activities.

In this context, we have raised the profile and priority of drugs in our bilateral contacts with other countries, taking advantage on ministerial contacts where this would be useful and through our diplomatic missions abroad.

At the multilateral level, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stressed at the United Nations General Assembly on 28 September that "the international community needs to give full support to the UN International Drugs Control Programme, which has responsibility for leading the global effort in this field. The UN is the best resource for tackling this global menace". We are providing an extra £1.2 million to fund UNDCP projects. This will bring total United Kingdom assistance to other Governments, including through UNDCP to £8 million in this financial year.

The United Kingdom, as chairman of the group of UNDCP major donors, will continue to encourage others to increase their contributions to UNDCP. We are moreover actively encouraging the international financial and development institutions to give higher priority to drugs and crime in their country programmes.

We also play a prominent role in other international meetings, for example in the Dublin group of donors, which seeks to develop a dialogue with governments of producer and transit countries on drugs issues. We are also encouraging the EU to be more active in combating drug trafficking, particularly in areas of intergovernmental co-operation. We have, for example, been at the forefront of efforts to associate countries of central and eastern Europe with EU work on drugs and organised crime and we have taken a leading part in EU efforts to develop co-operation with other neighbouring countries in the Mahgreb and Levant. We are furthermore encouraging the Commonwealth to give the issue of drugs and crime a higher political priority.

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