We must remember victims of organized crime and drug trafficking, says UNODC chief

Photo: UNODC12 December 2011 - UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has called on the international community to remember the thousands of victims who suffer from the impact of drug trafficking and transnational crime worldwide.

"Whether in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia or Benin, these people look to us - the international community - for security and for sustainable development. We cannot afford to fail them," he said.

Speaking at the World Policy Conference in Vienna, Mr. Fedotov said that throughout the world, at any given time, the lives and aspirations of ordinary people are ruined or reduced to misery owing to the grave threats of transnational crime and drugs.

This, he noted, has led to popular uprisings and protests fuelled by the experiences of people denied healthcare, employment or education as a result of corruption, or who face the impact of drug-related violent crime.

Mr. Fedotov said the threat of drugs and crime could not be viewed in isolation. He gave examples of the production, consumption and illicit trafficking of opium in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries; transnational cocaine trafficking and associated violence; and West Africa's vulnerability as a transit route for cocaine.

"These illicit activities form part of a complex, shifting web of transnational organized crime whose strands touch almost every country and cross every region. A few figures illustrate this: the annual value of the global cocaine market is $85 billion, while that of the global illicit opiate (opium, heroin and morphine) market is $68 billion and trafficking in persons generates $32 billion."

"That is the money that is stolen from people and diverted from development and that destabilizes security," he added.

Mr. Fedotov said those threats are evidence of the fact that, in terms of transnational drugs and crime, no country, however large or powerful, is capable of dealing with those issues in isolation. He called on the international community to accept shared responsibility for those issues, noting: "While drugs and crime often appear to be local in nature, our solutions must be global."

Mr. Fedotov announced that UNODC, guided by the international drug control conventions, takes a balanced approach to those issues by seeking not only to interdict the drugs as they are transported along supply routes but also to address demand while recognizing that drug use and drug dependence are health issues,"

"We must appreciate the causal connections between drugs and crime, security and development, while crafting an integrated approach, founded on partnership, political will and cooperation," he added.

"But, in all our work, we must never forget the thousands of victims who suffer from the impact of these threats," he concluded.

Related information:

Full statement by UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov on 11 December 2011

UNODC and organized crime

UNODC and drug trafficking

World Policy Conference 2011