UN report: drug trafficking threatens rule of law

Drug trafficking and violent crime in Central America and the Caribbean threaten the rule of law in those regions, according to a report released Sept. 27 by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The report concluded that cocaine trafficking and the associated violence are the main source of the threat. The UNODC expressed concern that addressing drug trafficking and violence through the use of increasing police presence could further threaten the rule of law by eroding civil rights and displacing organized crime to neighboring nations. The report called on nations in the region to coordinate an international effort to reduce crime, strengthen infrastructure and gain public confidence in law enforcement. It also recommended that the UN provide supplementary law enforcement and advisers to assist the region in developing a strong rule of law.

[Central America has some of the highest homicide rates in the world, the report found—with 39 murders per 100,000 citizens in Guatemala, 69 per 100,000 in El Salvador and 92 per 100,000 in Honduras in 2011. (The US has a rate of approximately 6 per 100,00.)]

UN officials have repeatedly expressed concern about international drug trafficking and its effects on government stability. In July the UNODC launched its global awareness-raising campaign with the purpose of informing the public about the economic costs and human impact associated with the threat transnational organized criminal networks. The UN body estimated that the illegal profits gained by the organizations represent "more than 6 times the amount of official development assistance, and are comparable to 1.5 per cent of global GDP, or 7 per cent of the world's exports of merchandise." In February UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an increase in efforts to curb transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and piracy in West Africa. In an address to the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General said he was "particularly concerned about reports stating that terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have formed alliances with drug traffickers."

From Jurist, Sept. 28. Used with permission.