WCO marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

26 June 2023

On 26 June 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO), joins the global community in observing the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and renews its commitment to the global fight against drug trafficking, in line with one of WCO’s Strategic Objectives: Protect Society.

This year's theme, “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”, underscores the need for a compassionate, human-centred approach to drug policies and it is a call to action. The use of drugs is increasing worldwide, and stigma and discrimination can exacerbate the challenges faced by communities and individuals. The WCO remains committed to promoting a culture of respect for human rights and human dignity, in all its actions and among its Members, towards fighting more efficiently against drug trafficking and organized crime activities.

In this sense, international cooperation is a cornerstone of the WCO's strategy in combating drug trafficking, and the Organization is continually working to build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones, recognising the importance of a unified front in this battle. The WCO Drugs and Precursors Programme is a testament to this commitment. It is designed to assist Customs and other Law Enforcement Administrations, leading actions in partnership with other organizations and promoting the use of innovation and new technologies to combat illicit trafficking more effectively and efficiently.

In addition to its regular technical assistance activities for members, the Programme includes several major projects and initiatives, such as the COLIBRI Project on Monitoring and Controlling General Aviation funded by the European Union. The project developed and deployed an innovative geospatial platform, the Geoportal, to assist Law Enforcement Administrations (LEAs) and other relevant partners in controlling General Aviation activities in high-risk regions. The Geoportal and the WCO real-time and secure communication platform, CENcomm, are key tools that can assist and support LEAs, who are at the frontline of this fight.

With the support of the United States - Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs - INL, the WCO Drugs and Precursors Programme promotes and strengthens the use of K9 anti-drug units, particularly in the fight against trafficking in synthetic drugs including fentanyl.

Furthermore, several initiatives are implemented in cooperation with other International Organizations (IOs) such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol. The core initiatives include the Container Control Programme (CCP), the AIRCOP Project, the Global Canine Forum, and various operational activities. These initiatives aim to enhance law enforcement capabilities and competencies to control sensitive modes of transport, passengers, and goods transported, and to support the activities of the Customs canine teams worldwide.

According to the WCO's Illicit Trade Report 2022, the Organization's efforts have been instrumental in combating drug trafficking across the globe. The report highlights the active participation of numerous countries and IOs in the WCO’s Drugs and Precursors Programme, demonstrating the widespread commitment to this cause.

As we commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the WCO calls on its Members to actively participate in the fight against illicit drug trafficking. This is part of Customs' commitment to protect citizens’ health and safety, and a crucial step towards disrupting criminal activities which have a major impact on the development and well-being of our societies.

By fostering international cooperation and ongoing actions, we can tackle drug trafficking, weaken criminal organizations, strengthen prevention, and put people first. Together, we can make the world a safer place for all.

To know more about the WCO Drugs and Precursors Programme please contact: drugsprogramme@wcoomd.org


  • Brazilian Customs officers during an exercise held in November 2022 as part of the COLIBRI Project on general aviation monitoring and control.

    Brazilian Customs officers during an exercise held in November 2022 as part of the COLIBRI Project on general aviation monitoring and control.

    Download full size image