Remarks at a White House Briefing on the United Nations International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

July 1, 1987

Good morning to all of you. And thank you, Ed, for that encouraging report. These documents are a testament to the fine work and success of the U.S. delegation. I'm not surprised, however, because our delegation was composed of high-level officials and experts from all relevant agencies of the Federal Government. It also included experts from the State and local governments and the private sector, all of whom are vital to our domestic successes in controlling drug abuse. But the important point is that you've brought home real accomplishments -- accomplishments that will make a difference in the years to come.

On behalf of the American people, Nancy and I thank you for your contributions to this battle to save the youth of our country. An effort like this takes a great team, and a great team requires strong leadership. And this delegation is an example of the best in both categories. You had that strong leadership in the Attorney General, who was head of the delegation; in Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead; and in Ambassador Vernon Walters, our Ambassador to the United Nations. And I'd also like to single out for thanks Ambassador Ann Wrobleski and Ambassador Bruce Chapman, both of whom worked for nearly 2 years on conference preparations, and Dr. Macdonald, head of the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office.

I want to commend you on both your goals and your strategy. You have demonstrated that good planning and strong execution will lead to positive results in U.N. meetings. Dealing with 138 countries at once gives new meaning to the word ``complex.'' Yet your strategies for handling this situation showed the skill and the talent our country can bring to bear when we're fully committed. I understand that Vernon Walters called this perhaps the best U.N. conference he's seen in years -- and with reason. This was the first time that the U.N. has held a conference on all aspects of drug abuse, including not only the problems of the users but drug production and trafficking. And it's important to note that this was a very high-level meeting, attended by representatives of ministerial rank.

But the big news involves these two items: First, there was agreement that drug abuse is a global problem. You see, until this conference, some had argued that drug abuse was only a problem of our wealthier, industrialized nations, like our own. But now there's a widespread understanding that drug abuse affects people around the world and that even in poorer nations drug abuse poses a threat. For this reason, the Declaration of Political Will adopted by the conference confirms the commitment of 138 nations to take action in the fight against drugs. Second, the conference agreed to a long list of concrete, practical steps all countries can take to make a difference. And as part of this effort to be practical -- to go beyond discussions to action -- negotiations have begun on the drafting of an international convention against drug trafficking, which will be a legally binding document.

To all of you, that's a great deal to be proud of. Now, there's just one more matter that Nancy and I want to thank you for. We're especially pleased that you've brought us these two shirts back from Vienna. And the logo, ``Yes to Life and No to Drugs,'' is a message we've conveyed at home. So now, Nancy and I are proud to join you and the rest of the world: ``No to Drugs and Yes to Life.''

So, again, thank you all very much. Thank you, and God bless you all. Some fellows bring flowers home to their wives. Not me. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 11:56 a.m. in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Office Building. In his opening remarks, the President referred to Attorney General Edwin Meese III.