PRESS RELEASE

UN drugs chief calls for introduction of drug testing to help curb substance abuse

ISTANBUL, 10 May 2007 (UNODC) - The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, called on Thursday for the introduction of drug testing to curb substance abuse on the road and in hazardous occupations.

"Road testing works for alcohol; it will work for drugs" he told the 14 th Mayors' Conference hosted in Istanbul by European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD), which represents mayors from 250 municipalities in 27 countries. ECAD works to eliminate the production, trafficking and abuse of illegal drugs in Europe.

"Public opinion is waking up to the fact that some people are driving cars, public transport, operating heavy machinery or even flying airplanes while on drugs," he said,  lauding efforts by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and some EU countries to introduce such measures.

Mr Costa also urged countries to improve their drug treatment and rehabilitation services and encouraged European cities to "twin" with cities in other parts of the world to share their drugs expertise.

He said drug control was a community-wide responsibility and substance addiction was treatable. But prevention and treatment, the keys to drug control, were inadequate in many cities, which fuelled the spread of HIV/AIDS, and drug-related crime was also turning some inner cities in Europe into no-go areas. 

"One of the biggest challenges for mankind is to prevent drugs and crime from destroying our cities," Mr Costa said.

He urged the mayors to build upon TREATNET, an international network of 20 drug  treatment and rehabilitation resource centres developed by UNODC.

"I want to see 100 times more centres in this network, starting with one in every European city represented here," said Mr. Costa. "Think of the cost of drug addiction - human and financial. Studies suggest that treatment is actually cost effective, both in terms of enriching society and improving productivity."

Mr. Costa encouraged European cities to establish twinning and mentoring projects to help cities in developing countries tackle drugs and suggested that ECAD could be expanded into a new "World Cities against Drugs" organization. "We all have a shared responsibility to fight drugs and protect those who are vulnerable to them."

Click here for Mr. Costa's speech

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