Statement by Wopke Hoekstra at the launch of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats

Statement by Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the launch of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats on 7 July 2023 in The Hague.

Your Excellencies, esteemed colleagues,

It is an honour to be here today. Thank you, Secretary Blinken, for initiating and hosting the launch of this important coalition. Illegal drugs kill. Organised crime kills. It poisons our societies, making them unhealthy, dangerous and unstable. In my own country, we have seen its devastating impact.

We have witnessed the killings in broad daylight of a prominent lawyer and a well-known journalist, and the death of several innocent bystanders. We have seen how farms are being misused to store and produce drugs. And how chemical drug waste is polluting our environment.

The Dutch government is fully aware of the role the Netherlands plays in global drug trafficking, both as a hub and as a producer. And we fully understand our responsibility to act. I can assure you, we are acting. And will continue to do so.  

Last year, the Dutch police dismantled more than a hundred drug labs. That is 20 percent more than in 2021. While these seizures are only a drop in the ocean, they point the way forward.

What we need is more effort. More coordination. More collaboration. That is why we have raised our long-term budget for combating transnational organised crime to half a billion euros. It is why we have made the possession and transportation of, and trade in, several drug precursors criminal offences. And it is why we have banned more than 100 chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs. We also want to clean up the trail of destruction they leave behind. So we are reimbursing people and authorities who clean up the waste dumped by criminals.

Your Excellencies, colleagues,

More also means more teamwork. Teamwork in the Netherlands, so we can tackle all aspects of the issue and have a meaningful impact, for example through demand reduction and harm reduction. 

Besides working more closely in the Netherlands, we also need to boost our teamwork internationally. So we have stepped up information exchange between customs authorities. We are working more closely with shipping companies. And we have broadened our coalition with other law enforcement agencies. One of the best practices we are actively using and sharing is the dismantling of mafia networks in Italy.

Your Excellencies, colleagues,

Criminals know no boundaries, and our approach should not have any either. Because we cannot allow illegal drugs to poison our societies. While organised criminals may be cunning, I am convinced that our shared values and commitment make us stronger.

So let’s continue to take decisive action together.

Thank you.