Forty-three nations have promised to get tougher in the fight against drugs. They signed a new United Nations convention on drug trafficking last month. Once the convention is ratified by 20 nations, the signatories are to pass new laws against drug dealing and provide mutual legal assistance in fighting international narcotics rings.

The agreement, the result of four years of negotiations, calls for laws allowing governments to trace, freeze, or seize the bank accounts or property of suspected traffickers. Signatory nations would not be able to invoke secrecy to block investigations into the assets of international drug syndicates.

The convention also calls for the extradition of suspects at the request of another country, though this is subject to a number of conditions.

Countries are given the right to board and search vessels of another country suspected of running drugs. They are asked to step up efforts to control the flow of drugs by mail.

The agreement commits signers to end the illegal cultivation of drug-producing plants, adding that such measures should ``respect fundamental human rights and shall take due account of traditional, illicit uses where there is historic evidence of such use.''

After signing for the United States, Attorney General Richard Thornburgh said, ``We are sending a clear message to those involved in international drug trafficking that there is no safe haven in the world today for their illegal activites.''

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