UNODC marks the World Drug Day 2023

26 June 2023, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC participated in the conference organized by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Serbia to mark the World Drug Day with this year’s message: ’People first – stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention’ aimed to raise awareness about the importance of treating people who use drugs with respect and empathy, providing evidence-based, voluntary services for all, offering alternatives to punishment, prioritizing prevention, and leading with compassion.

Following the video message of the UNODC Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Waly, the UNODC Paris Pact representative presented the World Drug Report 2023 and highlighted its latest findings and trends, including the growing phenomenon of synthetic drugs and how it relates to the trade of drugs based on plants. International approaches to regulation of herbal cannabis for medical use were also explained and some examples of substance use disorders in humanitarian settings were discussed, with an example from a study on adolescent migrant population in Serbia.

Under the Chapter on Developments and Emerging Trends in Selected Drug Markets, UNODC presented the findings related to the expansion of cocaine trafficking routes via the South and South-Eastern Europe and the role played by the Balkan criminal groups. Finally, the latest trends in flows of Afghan-based heroin along the Balkan route were reviewed, showing the continued importance of this route for the trafficking of opates, including trafficking of methamphetamines originating in Afghanistan.

National experts from the Government institutions and Civil Society Organizations also contributed to the discussion on the topics of respect of human rights in the context of drug use, programmes for strenghthening families as a first step to prevention of drug use disorders, internet platforms as contemporary drug markets and challenges of digital environment with regard to youth and drug use, the role of the media in drug use prevention and in creating public opinion, trends in drug use disorders and contemporary drug use treatments and others.

For more information:

World Drug Report 2023

Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Serbia