Illicit drugs destroy innumerable individual lives and undermine our societies. Confronting the illicit trade in drugs and its effects remains a major challenge for the international community. Although the consumption of drugs has been a fact of life for centuries, addiction has mushroomed over the last five decades. It now demands a determined and international response.
The basis for such action lies in the three international drug control treaties and their implementation by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. The environment within which this control system operates is changing rapidly, and up to date information is therefore needed to respond quickly and effectively to all aspects of the problem: the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs. I believe it is the responsibility of the United Nations to take the initiative in raising public awareness of those aspects of the drugs problem which now affect every community in every nation.
Many entities of the UN system have begun to present global analyses of developments and trends in their areas. I encourage the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to present comprehensive information to help in responding to the challenge of international drug control. Such data will enhance the capacity of the Organization as a whole to respond effectively to the global drugs menace.
United Nations Secretary General
All over the world individuals and societies face an illicit drug problem whose scale was unimaginable a generation ago.
The drug phenomenon is unique in the number of aspects of people's lives which it affects -the health of the individual, political and economic development, the safety of the streets and the stability of governments. Its many ramifications complicate the task of all those individuals and organizations, like the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), which are dedicated to tackling the problem. But they also clarify the direction in which we must proceed. We must approach drug abuse by first understanding its relationship with the other issues affecting societies.
Drug addiction prevents the individual from realizing his or her full potential. In doing so, it acts as an obstacle to social development. The social and economic costs of drug abuse place an intolerable strain on the social infrastructures of developed and developing countries alike. The illicit production of drugs diverts human and natural resources from more productive activities and weakens the foundation for long-term economic growth. As drug abuse affects more and more countries, the power of international drug trafficking organizations threatens to corrupt and destabilize the institutions of government. The crime associated with drugs, much of it violent, makes a misery of many lives.
In the past, attention focussed principally on the product -the illicit drugs themselves. Discussion largely concentrated on how to stop drugs from crossing borders, how to halt their production and how to limit or prosecute their consumption. These are important aspects, but not the whole picture. In recent years, the focus has become more balanced, with a shift in emphasis towards the individual, the ultimate victim of this global malady.
As the organization responsible for leading United Nations action against the global drug problem, UNDCP sees the effects which drugs have day-to-day on people's lives. From this perspective we see that much more needs to be done to identify, understand and contain the forces which lead individuals to resort to drugs. It is the objective of reaching people in this way which should serve as the guiding principle for all drug control activities, be they national, regional or international in scope.
Information and a better understanding of the problem are essential prerequisites for progress in meeting this aim. The World Drug Report cannot provide answers to all the questions about illicit drugs. But it can at least demonstrate the importance of knowing more about them. It can also help focus the international debate on the action which is needed to deal with the tragedy now unfolding on our streets, in our families and in our communities all over the world.
Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme
World Drug Report
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