Since the November 2015 Paris attack, the international community has been mainly focused on dealing with just one of the many faces terrorism may show. In fact, the world has been dealing with all sorts of terrorist actions for quite some time, before ISIS took its place in the international scene, and in areas such as South America people have been facing the atrocities and cruelties that the combination of terrorism and other social problems, such as drugs, may lead to. We are here dealing with a problem which is called by the international community “Narco-terrorism”, defined as the use of drugs trade made by terrorist groups to finance their actions and aims.

This term was used for the first time in 1983 by Peruvian President Fernando Belaunde Terry, when describing the attempts of drug traffickers to influence government policy and society through the threat of violence in Peru. Over the last 25 years many countries have been dealing with such international crime, and have created their own police corps to fight this plague; even international organizations have created specific commissions to prevent this problem.

photo2 UNODC oppio in afghanistan
Terrorist groups in Afghanistan use drugs trade to finance their actions

Inside of the United Nations organization, many bodies have addressed and are still working on fighting narco-terrorism. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), for instance, has been tackling this international plague for years now, and has been trying to create a strong cooperative attitude among Member States in order to fight effectively this type of terrorism. UNODC has worked in each country to stop the activities of criminal organizations and rebel groups, especially those present in South America. One of the largest revolutionary forces in Colombia, for instance, is FARC and it operates in different regions of the country in order to gain resources to fund its 50-years-old war against the government.

But we must consider that narco-terrorism is not just a matter of the South American territory, it is also linked to Middle-East organizations, which have built a strong cooperation with South American counterparts in order to find source for their financing. Hezbollah for instance has been consistently close to FARC and the profits from narco-trafficking have been used by the latter to finance their war against the Colombian government.

In 2009, seven Member States of the Central American Integration System adopted the Regional Programme for Central America during the Ministerial Conference in Managua, during which they requested UNODC to increase the advisory services and technical assistance to combat the illegal drug trafficking in their regions.

The United Nations have been trying to control the spread of narco-terrorism in the past years, and have worked together with Member States directly involved in the matter, in order to fight this type of terrorism and put it to an end, but unfortunately not everyone is aware of the narco-terrorism reality and Western Countries’ populations still consider it as something happening “somewhere else”, therefore this atrocious plague is being kept aside and not much empathy is being shown for the populations facing these terrorist actions.

Jessica Puleo
Cosimo Graziani