International Cooperation Against Crime

The need for international cooperation to solve certain types of criminal problems has become increasingly clear in recent years. The explosion in international travel and intercourse has had the unintended effect of greatly reducing the ability of national societies alone to control such old criminal activity as the illegal narcotics traffic, and such new criminal forms as hijacking and terrorist attacks on diplomats.
The Narcotics Problem.

Narcotics addiction has been spreading with pandemic virulence. Although the severity of the problem varies widely from country to country-and is currently worse in the United states than in many countries-this affliction is spreading rapidly and without the slightest respect for national boundaries. No country is immune, and any country could be next.

There is, therefore, a strong world interest in joint action to eliminate the illegal narcotics traffic. And such cooperation is necessary, for the production and manufacture of narcotics and dangerous drugs is immeasurably easier to control than their illegal passage across national frontiers. Effective law enforcement efforts can, in fact, prevent the illegal production of most narcotics drugs, for production in quantity requires activities difficult to conceal. On the other hand, the mere scale of international movement of people and goods makes it impossible for a country to insulate itself from illegal traffic in drugs.

The control of illegal narcotics, therefore, requires an integrated attack on the demand for them, the supply of them, and their movement across international borders. To that end, the United States has actively sought international cooperation to control the production and distribution of narcotics. Our efforts have taken many forms.

We have worked closely with a large number of governments, particularly Turkey, France and Mexico, to try to stop the illicit production and smuggling of narcotics.

In September 1970, a special session of the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs met, at our request, to invest the international community with a sense of urgency about this problem. This meeting produced a resolution including recommendations for short- and long-term international action against drug abuse. These recommendations were subsequently approved by the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council. This will bring to bear on this problem the whole array of talents and energies of the U.N. specialized agencies.

The short-run program will concentrate on such matters as strengthening international drug control bodies, increasing technical assistance to countries that seek to improve their controls over drugs and their law enforcement capabilities and improving research on drug abuse. To provide funds that otherwise would be unavailable for the immediate programs, a U.N. Special Fund for Drug Control was established. For the longer term the U.N. Secretary General has been asked to develop a plan for the provision of new economic opportunities for poppy growers, and the education and rehabilitation of addicts.

In another initiative strongly supported by the U.S., a conference on psychotropic substances met in Vienna earlier this year. We are hopeful that a treaty with widespread adherence will emerge which will bring under international control a number of these dangerous substances-such as the amphetamines, barbiturates, hallucinogens, etc.-not hitherto subjected to such regulation.

The United States will be submitting shortly specific proposals to strengthen the existing Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs. In essence our amendments would provide to the International Narcotics Control Board mandatory powers where it now has only the power to request voluntary compliance.

Clearly, our government has acted vigorously in the last year to stimulate international energies on this problem. An excellent start has been made, and we intend to intensify our efforts against the scourge of narcotics and dangerous drugs.


In 1970 the worldwide implications of this problem were dramatically illustrated by the hijacking to the Middle East and the subsequent destruction of four aircraft, and the attempt to force political actions upon governments as the price for the safe return of the innocent passengers. In addition to the continuing series of hijackings of Western Hemisphere aircraft to Cuba, this problem also cropped up behind the Iron Curtain with the hijacking of Soviet and Eastern European aircraft.

These events have brought the world to an awareness of the fragility of the network of international air traffic. Great as is its contribution to our well-being, it is singularly vulnerable to abuse at the hands of the irresponsible and the malevolent. The world cannot afford to permit the boon of air travel to become the tool of criminals.

Fortunately, the events of last year brought a near universal recognition of that fact. The International Civil Aviation Organization is the focus of the general readiness to deal with the problem of air piracy. With the United States playing an active role, a new treaty was drawn up and signed at a conference called by ICAO which met at The Hague at the end of the year. It recognizes aircraft hijacking as a crime, whatever the motives behind it, and ensures that hijackers will be subject to prosecution or extradition if apprehended on the territory of contracting states. I will submit this convention to the Senate shortly, and I hope the United States will be among the first to ratify it. Once that has been done, we intend to exert every effort to ensure the widest possible international acceptance of this convention, for we consider it a significant step forward.

However, we think that additional action is necessary. It should include international agreement to suspend air services to countnes which refuse to cooperate in the release of hijacked aircraft and the punishment of hijackers. An agreement should cover other acts of interference with civil aircraft, such as sabotage. We intend to be vigorous in pursuing such agreements.

The Kidnapping of Diplomats.

Terrorist groups in several countries have now adopted the practice of kidnapping foreign officials and ransoming them for political and judicial concessions from their own government. Kidnapping is, of course, a crime in any nation, but in this particular form it is, in addition, a direct and serious challenge to the integrity of the machinery of international life. For its very purpose is to endanger the friendship between nations, and to use the international tension that results from such kidnappings to blackmail governments.

The international community needs to recognize this crime for what it is, an assault upon international amity and cooperation. We need an agreement between the nations of the world which will guarantee the punishment of those who commit such crimes, wherever they go and whatever motives they profess. As in the case of aircraft hijacking, we need to make certain that there is no profit in such a crime, and no sanctuary for those who commit it.

The Organization of American States has adopted a convention characterizing these acts as common crimes irrespective of motive and providing for the extradition or prosecution of the perpetrators of these offenses. This was a useful step in organizing the moral pressure of world disapproval and in acknowledging the general world interest in preventing such crimes. More is needed, however, and the United States will continue its efforts to build a firm international consensus on this matter.