Armed with plans for a $2 billion media campaign to help stanch the flow of narcotics across international borders, President Clinton Monday asked world leaders to "stand as one against this threat" without blaming each other for the problem.
In an opening address at the U.N. General Assembly special session on drugs, Clinton told representatives of about 150 countries, including 35 heads of state and government, that it is time to stop bickering over whether blame for international drug trafficking lies with countries that demand drugs or those that supply them."Pointing fingers is distracting," Clinton said. "It does not dismantle a single cartel, help a single addict, prevent a single child from trying - and perhaps dying - from heroin. Besides, the lines between countries that are supply countries, demand countries and transit countries are increasingly blurred. Drugs are every nation's problem."
Clinton said a $2 billion, five-year media campaign against drugs would be launched in the United States, targeting young people with a message that "drugs destroy young lives, don't let it destroy yours." Similar campaigns will be launched in Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, Clinton said.
To emphasize the importance Clinton placed on the anti-drug effort, he brought along Attorney General Janet Reno; his drug policy adviser, Gen. Barry McCaffrey; Latin American envoy Mack McLarty; and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. They attended the U.N. session and briefed reporters afterward.
Congress will be asked to provide $175 million of the $2 billion for the media campaign, with the rest coming from businesses and philanthropic organizations, said national security adviser Sandy Berger.
The money will be used for public service advertisements and a "virtual university" for preventing and treating substance abuse, using the Internet and other media for discussions on reducing the drug supply and the demand that feeds it, Berger said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who met privately with Clinton before the session, called the drug scourge "a tragic reality" and appealed to member nations to work seriously on finding common ground on fighting drugs.