Guterres made the call in a message marking International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called upon countries to promote alternatives to illicit drug cultivation, and stop trafficking and organized crimes - all of which would make an immense contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He also urged the countries to advance prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration services; ensure access to controlled medicines while preventing diversion and abuse.
Guterres made the call in a message marking International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
"Together, we can ensure that all people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity," he said.
Guterres said drug challenges are among the most complex problems they face, with wide-ranging impacts on health and well-being, families and communities, security and sustainable development.
Addressing them, he said requires a holistic focus across many fronts, as highlighted in the outcome document unanimously adopted by the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem.
"We need international cooperation and effective law enforcement responses to stop organised crime networks and drug traffickers, with full respect for human rights and in accordance with international standards and norms," said the UN chief.
At the same time, he said: "We need to expand evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment and support. The UNGASS [United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs] outcome document outlines concrete steps for taking such balanced action, rooted in the principle of shared responsibility. "
"It's also flexible enough to allow countries to pursue national drug policies according to their priorities and needs - as I did when I was Prime Minister of Portugal," said the UN secretary-general.
In line with the three international drug control conventions, he introduced non-criminal responses to drug possession for personal use, while increasing resources for prevention, treatment and social reintegration, and reinforcing criminalization of drug trafficking.
"There're no easy solutions. But, my own experience reinforces my strong conviction that we can chart a better path to counter the world drug problem," Guterres said.