This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Trade in illegal drugs is harming the economies of developing nations. That is the warning contained in a recent report by the International Narcotics Control Board, or I-N-C-B. The I-N-C-B is an independent part of the United Nations. The agency, based in Vienna, examines to see if countries obey international treaties against illegal drugs.
The report says the drug economy traps people in poverty in developing countries. This creates serious social problems. The illegal drug trade can lead to higher crime, weaker governments and damaged political systems. The U-N drug control agency argues against the idea that countries can grow wealthy by producing illegal drugs. Such a belief, it says, is false and dangerous.
Growing and processing illegal drugs can provide jobs for farmers and laboratory workers. However, the control board warns that these economic gains are only short-term. It says farmers who grow illegal crops earn just one percent of the money spent by drug users. Ninety-nine percent of the profits go to the people who transport and sell the drugs around the world. Most of that money is made in developed countries.
Philip Emafo heads the International Narcotics Control Board. He says Colombia is an example of a country where economic growth dropped as the farming of coca plants to produce cocaine increased. Mister Emafo says the same situation happened in Afghanistan. Economic growth decreased as the growing of poppy plants to make opium increased sharply in the early nineteen-nineties. By comparison, the report says countries have improved their economies when they cut drug production.
The narcotics control board also warns that easing drug laws in Western countries can send misleading messages to the rest of the world. Recently, Britain decided to ease punishments against people found with the cannabis plant. Philip Emafo, the board president, says the decision could cause young people to believe that smoking marijuana is acceptable. Governments, he says, should not be influenced by a minority of citizens who want to make drug use legal.
To help fight the illegal drug trade, the U-N agency calls for more international aid for farmers. The money would help farmers change from growing drug-related crops to growing legal ones.
This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.