During the past few decades, the international community has made much progress in tackling the global drug problem. Coca cultivation has stabilized in the Andean region and the once infamous Golden Triangle-Laos, Myanmar and Thailand-is now practically opium-free.

But serious challenges remain. The most urgent is the recent boom in opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, where approximately 90 per cent of the world's opium is currently produced. Through the arresting images of photojournalist and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Alessandro Scotti, this issue of Perspectives aims to give readers a close look at different aspects of the opium trade. In an interview, UNODC Representative in Afghanistan Christina Oguz offers hope that the situation can and will improve.

In Afghanistan and elsewhere, the link between drugs, crime and terrorism is obvious. The drugs trade, a billion-dollar business, attracts criminal and terrorist groups which have the power to destroy lives and communities and to weaken States. Responding to this threat to peace and security requires concerted action based on the principle of shared responsibility. Drug producing, transit and consumer countries are all in it together.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is instrumental in defining common priorities and strategies to counter the global drug problem. As the central policy-making body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters, the Commission analyses the world drug situation and develops proposals to strengthen the international drug control system. Perspectives presents a retrospective of the Commission's achievements after its fiftieth session in Vienna in March. We also examine the role which specialist laboratories, including UNODC's, play in drug control efforts.

Colombian musician César López has demonstrated that artists, musicians and ordinary citizens can help to fight violence. Tired of terrorism, crime and violence in his home country, López has created the escopetarra, a unique instrument of peace-a guitar made from an AK 47 assault rifle. You can read about his work with UNODC in Colombia, campaigning for an end to violence.  

Get ready to listen to a different tune!

Norha Restrepo