Director General/Executive Director
Remarks of the Executive Director UNODC at the Thematic Debate on Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development
26 June 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The debate on drugs and crime as a threat to development is a vital one, especially as we move closer to the assessment of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
Our approach must also include the Secretary-General's priorities regarding climate change, sustainable growth and development, prevention of conflicts, responding to humanitarian and natural disasters, supporting nations in transition, giving voice to women and youth, and building a safer world based on democracy and human rights.
The declared objective of the United Nations has been to help these people through the MDG's but, as the title of this debate suggests, drugs and crime represent a severe impediment to their achievement.
No country or region is powerful enough to halt the criminal networks that undermine security, and economic and social well being.
Criminal networks have evolved into multi-national, multi-regional enterprises that generate billions of dollars.
UNODC estimates that the total of all criminal proceeds are likely to amount to some 3.6 per cent of global GDP or around US$2.1 trillion.
And these networks undermine vulnerable societies whose infrastructure and institutions lack the strength to repel them.
Illicit drugs and crime, along with corruption, are closely interconnected. Criminal networks traffic in drugs, often in people, and in firearms.
And we are seeing links between organized crime and terrorism.
Working with its UN partners UNODC will continue to do its share in making the MDGs a reality.
We will do so by confronting the challenges of illicit drugs and transnational organized crime, and supporting the victims.
But, if we are to address such a serious challenge, we must clearly understand its size and scope.
From Europe to Africa, from the Americas to Asia, drugs kill around 200,000 people every year, destroying families and bringing misery to thousands.
We confront a threat of global proportions that amounts to around US$320 billion.
Across the world, drug trafficking is breeding violence, inflaming terrorism and promoting instability and insecurity, as well as the spread of HIV.
At just one hundred pages, the new shortened format of the World Drug Report 2012 offers a comprehensive study of the movements and flows of drugs.
It provides a detailed statistical analysis of the extent of illicit drug use, the various markets for illicit drugs, as well as the factors behind the drug problem.
The report shows that overall illicit drug use appears to be generally stable over the last five years, though it is rising in some developing countries.
There were some 230 million people or 5 per cent of the world's adult population who used illicit drugs at least once in 2010.
Global opium production amounted to some 7,000 tons in 2011, up from the low levels of 2010 when plant disease wiped out almost half the crop yields in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan remains the biggest producer of opiates in the world.
On average, it produces around 90 per cent of the world's opiates every year.
Regarding cocaine, the total area under coca bush cultivation in the world fell by 18 per cent between 2007 and 2010, and by 33 per cent in the ten years between 2000 and 2010.
Cannabis remains the illicit drug of choice.
Unfortunately, our attempts to work with Member States to reduce the plant-based cultivation and production is being undermined by increases in levels of synthetic drug production.
There is also an emerging trend in the use of desomorphine, or Krokodil as it is called, to replace a shortage of heroin in parts of Eastern Europe. This drug has far more deadly consequences than heroin.
UNODC is closely monitoring the situation to understand how programmes to prevent and treat addiction and HIV can be tailored to address this new injection method.
There are also increases in the use of new psychoactive substances falling outside the UN drug control conventions.
Such substances mimic the effects of drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy and are often sold as "bath salts" or "plant food."
These new psychoactive substances are available in European markets, but also elsewhere.
For these reasons, while much of the global illicit drug market appears stable, beneath the surface there are trends and movements that cause concern.
I should like to thank Member States for the information they have provided for the WDR.
However, we need more data on the situation across the world. We cannot act without first understanding.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
UNODC's response to these challenges is based on the UN Conventions on Drugs.
The international drug control system, based on the conventions, appears to be acting as a brake on drug consumption.
Indeed, it is worth noting that, although the first use of psychoactive substances often takes place during the teens, tobacco and alcohol, continue to be used in much larger proportions as people grow older.
UNODC is helping to create inter-agency partnerships. One such example of this is the UN Task Force on transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, established by the Secretary-General in 2011.
We are also building a series of integrated programmes to be used by UNODC and its partners to deliver its practical activities.
Our Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries has brought initial successes.
Most recently, we launched a country programme for Afghanistan, as well as a regional programme for South Eastern Europe.
The programmes in West and Central Asia are closely linked to other initiatives such as the Triangular Initiative, CARICC, and Operation Tarcet, which are exchanging information and conducting joint operations.
UNODC is also developing programmes for South Africa and South Asia.
In Central America, a network of prosecutors is strengthening the regional chain of criminal justice, while the Container Control Programme is also expanding its reach.
In West Africa, successes are being achieved through Transnational Crime Units, as well as the Container Control Programme and AIRCOP.
To confront illicit drug trafficking in South East Asia, UNODC is laying the groundwork for cross border cooperation between the countries of the Greater Mekong sub-region.
But, if we are to meet all these challenges in a comprehensive fashion, we must also reduce the demand for drugs.
UNODC's approaches to reducing drug demand are firmly based on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and health.
And, all of our work is firmly anchored in human rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope that the World Drug Report 2012 will give us a better understanding of how illicit drugs are impacting societies and regions across the world.
UNODC's role is to use this information to build the necessary projects and programmes that can benefit the victims of crime, while also supporting problem drug users.