Alcohol use has been identified in major United Nations (UN) initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Non-Communicable Disease Action Plan, as a major contributor to the global burden of disease. As a result, levels of alcohol use serve as an official indicator of progress towards these UN-set goals. Given current trends, UN targets for reduced alcohol consumption are unlikely to be met. Moreover, in many countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries, the alcohol-attributable burden of disease continues to increase. Pressure will need to be exerted on national and international decision-makers to arrive at more powerful and normatively persuasive instruments, such as a treaty.