Director General/Executive Director
Remarks at the Special Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the occasion of the launch of the World Drug Report 2013
26 June 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would very much like to welcome you to this special event.
Today is important for three reasons:
First, it is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking; a day which is marked throughout the world by nations, civil society and the media.
Second, we are here today for the release of UNODC's flagship publication, the World Drug Report 2013.
Third, as the Deputy Secretary-General just reminded us, today is the 68th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, the treaty which binds Member States to the crucial work of the United Nations.
Article 7 of the Charter sets out the main organs of the United Nations. One of these is the Economic and Social Council.
ECOSOC has several functional commissions, including the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the only UN institution dealing in a holistic way with drug related matters, which meets today at this special event.
As a result, there is a clearly established link between the treaty that created the United Nations, its essential working bodies, including the CND, and UNODC's own role in countering the world drug problem.
But, we cannot deliver without the support of credible analysis, data, and in-depth assessments of the latest developments regarding drugs.
The World Drug Report is perhaps the most comprehensive source for all this information.
This year, the Report shows that, in 2012, around 240 million people across the world used an illicit drug at least once in a year. Around 27 million are problem drug users, and there has been a very slight increase on previous years.
Overall, there appears to be a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, but the use of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances is growing.
Marketed as "legal highs" and "designer drugs", new psychoactive substances are now available around the world and pose severe challenges for public health systems.
Concerted action is needed to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of these substances.
In terms of production, Afghanistan retains its position as the world's leading producer and cultivator of opium; although a poor yield has reduced opium production to 3,700 tons in 2012. This is 36 per cent lower than the previous year.
That would be good news, if it were not offset by an 18 per cent increase in opium poppy cultivation in the country- bringing the total area cultivated to 154,000 hectares in 2012.
Myanmar produced 690 tons of opium in 2012 and continues to be the world's second biggest producer after Afghanistan.
Cocaine production remained largely unchanged in 2011, but its use is falling in the United States, while remaining stable in West and Central Europe.
In Africa, however, the consumption of cocaine is growing. The same is also true in South America, and there are signs that cocaine is spreading to emerging markets in Asia.
Amphetamine-type stimulant use is widespread. Methamphetamine pills are the most predominant form of ATS in East and South-East Asia.
Just as worryingly, the drug trade and organized crime continue to fuel economic and political instability around the world.
Due to the withdrawal of international forces in 2014, Afghanistan will require the concerted support of the international community to prevent instability in the country and wider region.
Both West Africa and the Sahel need the assistance of the international community and we must be determined in our efforts to prevent these transnational threats hindering progress in sustainable development.
Regarding those people who inject drugs and who live with HIV, there have been some signs of progress.
However, HIV transmission through injecting drug use continues to be a major concern for the international community due to its impact on health, development and human rights.
Much more work still needs to be done to meet the objectives set in 2011 by the special session of the General Assembly.
Globally, the situation for illicit drugs remains stable, but overall demand has not been reduced. Around 200,000 people die every single year due to illicit drugs. That is too much.
There can be no doubt that the international drug control conventions are helping to contain and stabilize the level of drug consumption. At the same time, concerns are being raised regarding their interpretation.
These concerns include violence generated by illicit drug trafficking, which is so damaging to some nations, in particular in Central America; the unique problems posed by new, but deadly psychoactive substances; and the fact that some national laws and practices are vulnerable to human rights' violations.
The real issue, however, is not to amend the conventions, but to implement them according to their original spirit and intention.
A first step towards achieving this goal is to recognize that the conventions were created to protect the health and welfare of mankind.
UNODC is promoting a balanced approach to illicit drugs founded on fundamental human rights.
We also need to convince countries to treat problem drug users humanely as victims and patients who need our support.
At the meeting of the 56 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March, a clear roadmap for the discussion of all these issues was unanimously adopted.
In 2014, a high-level review of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action regarding the world drug problem will be conducted by the CND. It will be followed in 2016 by the UN General Assembly Special Session.
In accordance with resolution 56/12, the CND, as the central policymaking body within the UN system dealing with drug related matters, will play a leading role in the preparatory process for this meeting.
We have, therefore, agreed on a path for our ongoing dialogue. I hope it will lead to the following:
- An affirmation of the importance of the international drug control conventions;
- An acknowledgement that the conventions are humane, human rights centred and flexible;
- A firm emphasis on health;
- A commitment to support and promote alternative sustainable livelihoods;
- Enhanced work against precursor chemicals, and
- A recognition of the important role played by criminal justice systems in countering the world drug problem.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No regional solution can advance in isolation; no region isolated can advance a solution.
West Africa is bound to Europe and to Latin America; Latin America is tied to North America; West and Central Asia are connected to West and Central Europe. And these are only just a few examples.
Regional approaches are absolutely essential, but they must form part of a much wider solution.
And here I echo the words of the Deputy Secretary General: "Tackling organized crime and the illicit drugs trade is a shared responsibility."
This is because only a truly global solution can help counter the world drug problem.
We must work together, guided by our willingness to strengthen our close cooperation and partnership.