UNGASS Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development

The realities of the illicit drug crop growing areas - isolation, underdevelopment and poverty, as well as lack of markets, ethnic unrest, marginal land and absence of basic infrastructure - have led Member States and UNODC to develop the concept of alternative development which addresses the broader socio-economic situation of the farmers and their overall quality of life. The officially recognized definition of alternative development, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in 1998 and elaborated upon in the ten-year Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development characterizes alternative development as:

"a process to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of plants containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through specifically designed rural development measures in the context of sustained national economic growth and sustainable development efforts in countries taking action against drugs, recognizing the particular socio-cultural characteristics of the target communities and groups, within the framework of a comprehensive and permanent solution to the problem of illicit drugs."

In March 2005, UNODC presented the report  Alternative Development: A Global Thematic Evaluation, to the 48th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The report was commissioned by the CND in 2004 as a result of CND resolution 45/14, which called for the establishment of a Steering Group of independent experts to supervise and write a rigorous and comprehensive thematic evaluation of alternative development. The objective of the evaluation was to gauge the effectiveness of alternative development, determine best practices and  assess the overall impact of alternative development interventions on both human development and illicit drug crop reduction.

As the ten-year period came to an end in 2008, the international community assessed the progress made in reaching the UNGASS goals and targets set in 1998. At the 51st session of the CND in March 2008, Member States reviewed progress and discussed future steps. In March 2009, at the 52nd session of the CND, a high level meeting adopted the outcome document of the 10-year assessment and considered further future action by the international community on the world drug problem. On the occasion of the 53 rd CND that took place in March 2010, progress was analyzed and additional steps decided.