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Public Papers - 1989 - June

Message to the Senate Transmitting the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances


To the Senate of the United States:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, done at Vienna on December 20, 1988. I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State with respect to the Convention.

The production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit narcotics have become a worldwide menace of unprecedented proportions. Narcotics trafficking and abuse

threaten the developing and industrialized nations alike, eroding fragile economies, endangering democratic institutions, and affecting the health and well-being of people everywhere. The profits made from the international drug trade are consolidated in the hands of powerful drug lords who operate with impunity outside the law. The widespread corruption, violence, and human destruction associated with the drug problem imperil all nations and can only be suppressed if all nations cooperate effectively in bringing to justice those who engage in illicit trafficking and abuse.

Patterned after many existing U.S. laws and procedures, the present Convention represents a significant step forward in international efforts to control the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The Convention obligates states party to the agreement to cooperate in suppressing illicit traffic and to take specific law enforcement measures and enact domestic laws, including those relating to money laundering, confiscation of assets, extradition, mutual legal assistance, and trade in chemicals, materials, and equipment used in the illegal manufacture of controlled substances. These and other provisions seek to establish a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines for a concerted and more effective effort on an international basis to combat illicit trafficking.

Having taken 4 years to complete, work on the Convention began in 1984 under United Nations auspices, and it was adopted at an international conference held in Vienna in November and December 1988. The United States and 43 other nations signed the Convention at that time, and 16 others have signed since then. The Vienna Convention is a tribute to the United Nations and represents the broadest and most far-reaching set of laws and agreements ever adopted in this field. It is strongly indicative of the political will of the states that adopted it and puts those who profit from this evil trade on notice that it will no longer be tolerated. It is clear the Convention has enthusiastic support in the international community, and it is expected that all states will unreservedly endorse this major step to unify and internationalize the fight against drugs and to generate universal action.

I recommend, therefore, that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to this Convention and give its advice and consent to ratification.

George Bush

The White House,

June 19, 1989.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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