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"Today, drugs and crime are a clear global menace," said Ban. "The local has become global; the national problem has become a transnational challenge for the world."
Ban's statement came as he addressed the UN General Assembly during its thematic debate on Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development. Tuesday's debate coincided with the UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, commemorated each year on June 26.
The international day, created in 1987, aims to strengthen action and cooperation against drug abuse worldwide.
"Illicit drugs bring misery to millions of people around the world, while generating billions of dollars for the criminal networks that feed on their despair," said Ban.
According to the secretary-general, the perception of the problem of illicit drugs and organized crime has changed over the years.
He said that illicit drugs and organized crime used to be seen as issues affecting communities, but now they are seen as transnational challenges.
"Drugs and crime threaten one of our most important goals, to ensure sustainable development around the world," said Ban.
The secretary-general explained that in order to make good on sustainable development commitments, including those resulting from the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the negative effects of drugs and crime must be fully recognized.
"Criminal networks exploit fragile countries," he said. "Drugs and crime thrive where the rule of law and other institutions are weak. Corruption is a natural outgrowth -- draining as much as 40 billion U.S. dollars from developing countries."
Ban added that every dollar lost to corruption in these countries could be used for food security, education and health care.
"We cannot afford to cede ground to those who thrive on lawlessness and who use countries as stepping stones for the delivery of illicit drugs," he said. "We must work together to promote the rule of law and help countries bring criminals to justice, while fully respecting human rights and ensuring proportionality in our law enforcement responses." VietNamNet/Xinhuanet