Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

Launch of the 2011 World Drug Report

New York, 23 June 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Illicit drugs continue to be a real threat to stability, security and health in many parts of the world today. People all over the globe are suffering and dying from using illicit drugs. Their drug use also harms their children, families and communities.

Meanwhile, drug trafficking is fuelling a global criminal enterprise worth hundreds of billions of dollars that is wrecking havoc on communities and undermining development and security in many countries and regions. We are also witnessing more and more acts of violence, conflicts and terrorist activities stoked by drug trafficking and organized crime.

We need to address these threats with a clear plan of action. This calls for international cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, centred on a comprehensive counternarcotics strategy.

Our response must be comprehensive, balanced and targeted.  Supply reduction measures must go hand in hand with efforts to reduce demand; neither will be effective without the other.

The Drug Conventions provide a universal legal framework for such a balanced approach that is focused on health and grounded in respect for human rights. The International Narcotics Control Board plays an important role in implementing the Conventions to the benefit of public health worldwide.

We also have other powerful tools at our disposal. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime provides a legal structure for international cooperation and law enforcement tools to help identify and dismantle organized criminal groups involved in drug trafficking. Since corruption and drug trafficking feed off each other, the UN Convention against Corruption can also help containing  drug trafficking and related crime.

As the 2011 World Drug Report highlights, we are making progress in some areas.

On the supply side, global markets for the world's two most problematic drugs, cocaine and heroin, declined in 2010. Illicit cultivation of opium poppy and coca bush remained limited to a few countries.

On the demand side , heroin consumption has stabilized in Europe and cocaine consumption has declined in North America-the most lucrative markets for these drugs.

I am afraid, the good news end here. Any positive developments are usually offset by worrisome new trends. Global drug markets are constantly evolving. So we must remain vigilant.

The World Drug Report is a key resource to alert us to emerging challenges and threats. In assessing  the global drug problem, we have to be objective and face the facts.

Let's look at some key examples.

Opiates , especially heroin, are the most dangerous drugs worldwide. They create serious health problems, help transmit HIV and hepatitis C, and they are the leading cause of drug-related deaths.

Afghanistan remains the world's leading producer of illicit opium, accounting for 74 percent in 2010, down from 88 percent in 2009.

Although overall illicit opium production declined by 38 percent last year, this was mainly due to a plant disease that wiped out half of Afghanistan's poppy crop. Our preliminary findings indicate that Afghan opium production will probably bounce back in 2011 due to better yields.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's share of global opium production has increased from 5 percent in 2007 to 12 percent in 2010.

In Afghanistan, opium cultivation is closely linked to insecurity  and trafficking in opium and heroin is helping to spread instability through the wider region.

The international community understands that confronting the problem of Afghan opium is a shared responsibility that requires a coordinated response.

The Paris Pact unites more than 50 States and international organizations in the fight against Afghan opiates.

At the regional level, this translates into UNODC's supported counternarcotics information-sharing and joint cooperation initiatives like the Triangular Initiative (involving Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan), the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre, and Operation TARCET. These initiatives have intercepted and seized tons of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals.

UNODC, meanwhile, is developing a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, and new country programmes for Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

We consider, in particular, Kyrgyzstan one of our priorities because drug trafficking and organized crime are undermining stability, development and the rule of law, and jeopardizing the political reform process. UNODC capacity-building assistance, including strengthening Kyrgyzstan's new State Service on Drug Control, as well as the Drug Control Agency in neighbouring Tajikistan, will help to stabilize the country and allow political reform and democracy to take root.

Thanks to all of these efforts, we have seen some progress against Afghan opiates, but if these supply-reduction measures are to succeed, we must also reduce demand.

For this we need effective measures to prevent drug use and to provide drug-dependent people with treatment, care and support. But even in Europe, the major market for heroin, only one out of every four or five heroin users typically receives treatment.

Cocaine is second to heroin in its negative impact on health, and it is probably the greatest source of trafficking-related violence. Although global cocaine consumption remains relatively stable, the market has experienced dramatic geographic shifts.

The size of the North American market has shrunk significantly in recent years, but it still leads in global consumption, accounting for 41 percent. But just a decade ago, the North American market was four times larger in financial terms than that of Europe. Today the European cocaine market is estimated at $36 billion, which is approaching the North America market of $40 billion. At the same time, the drug's region of production-South America-is increasingly becoming a cocaine consumer too. And the growth of the transatlantic cocaine trade, with West Africa is an important transit hub, is further undermining development, security and governance in this already fragile and impoverished region.

Building on the lessons of the Paris Pact, the Group of Eight, under the French Presidency, just launched a unified initiative to tackle the global cocaine market. The G8 Action Plan calls for stronger international cooperation and strengthening the capacities of States to confront the cocaine trade. It also acknowledges the need for alternative development policies and drug use prevention.

UNODC welcomes this initiative, and we stand ready to support it.

Globally, cannabis continues to be the most widely produced and widely consumed illicit substance. Extensive use of cannabis impairs the emotional development of young people, and may contribute to mental health disorders, particularly among vulnerable individuals exposed during early adolescence.

While the production of cannabis herb-marijuana-is widespread, the production of cannabis resin-hashish-is concentrated in Morocco and Afghanistan. C annabis is an increasingly attractive crop for Afghan farmers. Like opium poppy cultivation, cannabis cultivation is associated with insecurity. The cannabis trade fuels both the anti-Government insurgency and corruption, hindering efforts to develop more effective governance and a sustainable transition in Afghanistan.

Amphetamine-type stimulants , or ATS, are the second most widely used group of illicit substances. Over the past 12 years, ATS consumption has grown most rapidly in developing countries, especially in South-East Asia.

Increasing production, trafficking and consumption of ATS, plus a surge in opium cultivation in Myanmar and heroin trafficking in the region, are a big concern in South-East Asia. The international community seems to have taken its eye off the ball in this region. We have to be proactive on all fronts to prevent South-East Asia from becoming a major drugs hub again.

New, unregulated substances also pose a threat to global health. A wide range of synthetic drugs that are not under international control has emerged in recent years, along with other new substances based on cannabis, cocaine and opiates. In Europe, 40 new substances were reported in 2010 in alone. Some of these drugs imitate the properties of controlled substances like amphetamines and ecstasy. Because they are unregulated, these new substances are often marketed as "legal highs."

With all of these drugs-opiates, cocaine, cannabis, ATS and new, unregulated substances-we need to address the threats at their source. This calls for international cooperation centred on a comprehensive, balanced counternarcotics strategy. We must build new partnerships. Governments and civil society must work together. States have to join forces in promoting regional cooperation. International organizations need to coordinate their efforts.

On the supply side, if we are to make real progress against heroin and cocaine, we must take steps against illicit cultivation in a more meaningful and result-oriented way. I urge Governments and aid agencies to invest more in development, productive alternative employment and increased security. We must also develop new strategies to prevent the diversion of chemicals used to in the manufacture of cocaine, heroin and synthetic drugs.

On the demand side, we must do more to reduce the consumption and to help  drug users to recover. The need for drug prevention and treatment is far higher than the services available, especially in developing countries.

Since 2007, UNODC has been working with the World Health Organization to increase access for all those who need it to drug-dependence treatment, care and support. And together with UNAIDS, we are building a comprehensive programme to treat drug-dependence and prevent HIV among drug users, particularly injecting drug users.

We must also do more to raise awareness in the major drug markets about the impact, illicit drug use has on people in the regions where they are produced and along trafficking routes.

We must educate both policymakers and the general public about how demand for illicit drugs undermines development, corrupts the rule of law, destabilizes societies and threatens the security of individuals, families and entire communities.

Needless to say that solutions to drug problems are not easy and will take time. This is a shared responsibility and we must be prepared for a sustained process requiring a long-term commitment from all partners, including Governments, international organizations and civil society.

By working together-by strengthening existing partnerships and creating new ones-we can help make life healthier and safer for women, men and children all over the world.

Thank you.