10 May 2011 - The issue of illicit drugs took centre stage at a G8+ Ministerial Meeting held on 9 and 10 May in Paris as representative countries met to enhance their efforts in the international fight against transatlantic cocaine trafficking. Addressing the G8 and other members at the meeting, the UN's anti-drugs chief, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov commented on what he called "the dramatic evolution of the international market for cocaine" over the past decade.
"Despite a declining market in North America, the use of cocaine continues to rise in Europe. In 1998, the US cocaine market was four times higher than that of Europe. Since then, there has been a complete rebalancing with the value of Europe's market now estimated to be worth some US$ 33 billion, almost equivalent to that of the United States' US$ 37 billion", said Mr. Fedotov.
Through its focus on cocaine trafficking, the G8 Ministerial Meeting is a critical one in today's world. In source countries, transit areas, and final destinations, illicit drugs continue to pose a serious danger to the lives of people across the globe. With drug-related gang violence, social and political destabilization, and addictions which affect not only the lives of users, but also those of their family members and community, the situation is one which warrants this high-level attention.
Regrettably, while millions of people are adversely affected every day, drug barons make vast sums of money from the misery of others. UNODC estimates that in 2009 alone global cocaine sales generated around US$ 84 billion in profit - a sum equivalent to or even exceeding the GDP of many developing countries.
From market diversification and growing cocaine use in Europe, through to new delivery routes, today's cocaine market has become a global threat. In West Africa for instance, traffickers use the region's relative proximity to Europe as a transit location which has fuelled the development of growing local markets - a phenomenon which a few years ago was not considered that prevalent. In Central America, cocaine trafficking has caused an increase in the level of violence in some countries.
In tackling this scourge the UN Office on Drugs and Crime welcomed the endorsement of the G8 Plan of Action and Political Declaration which recognizes the role played by the international drug control conventions and UNODC.
Speaking on this Mr. Fedotov noted that the fight against drug trafficking across the Atlantic is a joint responsibility which requires united efforts and political commitment by all concerned. The Executive Director highlighted the existence of tools for the development of this practical political commitment including the three United Nations drug-related Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988, as well as the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and against Corruption. In welcoming the Plan of Action and Political Declaration, Mr. Fedotov stated: "It is necessary for the European and North American States to tackle this problem in a coordinated, combined manner through the implementation of policies aimed at reducing demand for cocaine, tracking the illicit movement of drugs and successfully confiscating criminal assets."