By 1948 it became evident that existing international drug control treaties needed to be consolidated and it took until 1961 for the United Nations Economic and Social Council to convene the conference to adopt a single convention on narcotics (Single Convention 14). The United Nations provides an integral facet of international and regional interaction. One of the many components of the United Nations is to offer a communal location for states to interact and establish international guidance and laws for elements of human well-being. One such element involves the limiting of production and supply of narcotic drugs.
This has been an especially important development for Latin America given the drug history the countries in the region have. Latin America has been the home to illegal drug trade throughout the United States and Europe. Known primarily for the production and exportation of heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, South America—particularly Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia—are popular locations for coca cultivation. These regions provide the only international source of coca. Mexico cultivates and exports marijuana as well as opium poppy. Colombia is popularized for its cultivation and exportation of opium poppy. The consumption of drugs in Latin America is relatively low but the smuggling routes have increased within the last decade. By 2008, the main path for drug smuggling was from Central America through Mexico and into the United States. Over ninety percent of the cocaine in the United States is smuggled through Mexico, a large shift from the decades before when it came through the Caribbean to Florida. The primary location for cocaine globally remains the United States but twenty five percent travels to Europe through West Africa.
Drug trafficking organizations are referred to as drug cartels, the most popular of which are Colombian and Mexican. These are responsible for nearly forty billion dollars in drug proceeds each year. The most popular Mexican cartels have aligned into two factions as of 2010, surpassing the popularity of the Colombian cartels from the 1980’s and 1990’s. As a result, the Caribbean and Latin America have the highest murder and crime rates. Since 2006, those same rates have increased in Mexico thanks to the surge in the Mexican Drug War.
Noting an international need to halt the production and distribution of such drugs, the United Nations started in the 1960’s and has continued to hold conventions dedicated to reviewing the current drug situation and determining and implementing international measures to help states fight the drug wars. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations convened on the 28th of July, 1958 to adopt a single convention on narcotic drugs in an effort to replace a single instrument within many treaties in the field, while also reducing the number of treaties internationally which were concerned with controlling narcotic drugs, and making provisions so as to control raw materials of narcotics. The original meeting was held between January and March in 1961. There were seventy three states represented at the conference.