Secretary Blinken Calls for International Cooperation to Combat Synthetic Drug Crisis at UN Meeting

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In a landmark address to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken highlighted the urgent need for a global response to the surging crisis of synthetic drug use and overdoses. With the alarming statistic that fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, Blinken’s speech at the 67th Session of the Commission underscored the widespread devastation caused by synthetic drugs, not just in the U.S. but around the world.

“Every town, every city, and every State in the United States has felt the devastating impact of synthetic drugs,” said Blinken. He pointed out that the crisis has spread internationally, with various regions grappling with rising use, addiction, and overdose deaths due to drugs like tramadol, fake Captagon pills, ketamine and amphetamines.

The Secretary of State’s presence at the session marked the first time a U.S. Secretary of State has participated in the commission’s meeting, signaling the gravity of the situation and the United States’ commitment to international collaboration to address the epidemic.

Emphasizing the transnational nature of the synthetic drug trade, Blinken described how criminal networks exploit global vulnerabilities to manufacture, transport and sell these potent substances. He pointed out that these organizations not only peddle drugs but also engage in extortion, corruption and human trafficking.

To combat the crisis, Blinken outlined several initiatives the United States is undertaking, including a partnership with social media giants like Meta and Snap through a collaborative effort launched with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The aim is to disrupt the online illicit drug trade and leverage these platforms to raise awareness about drug risks.

Additionally, the U.S. has committed substantial financial resources, totaling $100 million with a planned increase of $170 million the following year, to bolster global efforts to tackle synthetic drugs. These funds will support health interventions aimed at reducing drug use and enhancing public health resources.

The Secretary also called for the regulation of chemical precursors used to make synthetic drugs, advocating for the addition of two such chemicals to the international control list. By controlling these ingredients, the international community can impede their illicit transfer and use in drug production.

Blinken concluded his address with a call to action, stating, “The time to address this crisis is now. And there is only one way to succeed: together.”

This news report is based on the latest edition of the State Department’s flagship email “From the Secretary’s Desk,” which provides updates on the Secretary’s remarks and policy statements on current global issues.


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