Panelists at the launch of the World Drug Report 2023. © UNODC.
Vienna (Austria), 27 June 2023 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched its World Drug Report 2023 yesterday at a special event hosted by the Chair of the 66th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), His Excellency (H.E.) Ambassador Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco of Colombia.
Under the theme “Stop stigma and discrimination - strengthen prevention,” the event marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day.
In his welcoming remarks, H.E. Ambassador Ruiz Blanco emphasized the importance of strengthening prevention efforts by promoting evidence-based and context-specific interventions. These actions should prioritize the health, well-being, and rights of individuals and communities and address the underlying determinants of drug abuse, such as poverty, social inequality, and lack of opportunities.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, asserted: “The evidence is clear: drug-related challenges are causing more and more human suffering, and responses are struggling to keep up. It is time to put people at the centre of drug responses, and to prioritize their safety, dignity, and health. And it is time to treat the victims of the world drug problem with compassion, stigmatizing the illicit drug market and not the people it preys on.”
The 2023 World Drug Report launched at the event presents the latest global, regional, and subregional estimates and trends in drug demand and drug supply in an online format through interactive graphs, infographics, and maps. Key contemporary issues covered by this year’s report include challenges posed by synthetic drugs; online drug sales; regulatory approaches to medical cannabis; new developments regarding psychedelic substances; drug crime in the Amazon Basin; substance use disorders among forcibly displaced populations; and innovations for people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In presenting the key findings from the report, Angela Me, Chief of the Research and Trend Analysis Branch at UNODC, highlighted that stigma continues to be one of the biggest impediments to accessing services.
The event featured a panel discussion with prominent experts from around the world who shared their insights on how to address the challenges posed by drug use and drug trafficking. Peter H. Reuter, Professor of Public Policy and Criminology at the University of Maryland, spoke about drug supply; Professor Alison Ritter, Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the University of New South Wales, focused on drug use and treatment; and Vicknasingam Balasingam, Professor of Addictions at the Centre for Drug Research at Universiti Sains Malaysia, delved into drug data. Stephanie Albor, a participant of the CND Youth Forum 2023, and Matej Košir, Chairperson of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, also participated in the panel, highlighting the important role of youth engagement and civil society.
The nearly 2,000 people who followed the event in person and online also had a chance to hear diverse perspectives from Member States, international organizations, civil society organizations and academia. This plentiful exchange set a fertile ground for the Commission’s upcoming 2024 mid-term review of all international drug policy commitments.
In his closing remarks, H.E. Ambassador Ruiz Blanco reiterated the need to put people first in drug policy: "Let us remember that behind every statistic and policy decision, there are real people whose lives are impacted by drugs and drug-related crime. Let us listen to their voices, respect their rights, and empower them to be agents of change in their communities and beyond."