UNODC reports significant increase in drugs and crime programmes in 2006

VIENNA, Feb 6 2007 (UNODC) - World-wide demand is increasing for the specialist expertise of  the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in helping countries to fight illicit drugs, crime, terrorism and corruption.

In 2006, total operational expenditure on drugs and crime technical assistance programmes implemented by UNODC's 21 field offices and by head-office specialists rose 32 percent to $91.7 million.

This reflected an increase of 12 percent to $69.1 million in the drugs programme and a dramatic rise of 186 percent to $22.6 million in the crime programme.

"The world is becoming a more dangerous place and States increasingly rely on the specialist expertise which UNODC can provide," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

He anticipates a steady increase in the Office's portfolio of anti-crime activities, especially in areas such as corruption, money-laundering and human trafficking.

Demand for UNODC assistance in the crime field showed a marked increase in Afghanistan, West Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The volume of anti-drugs programmes in Western and Central Asia, as well as South East Asia and the Pacific, also rose.

UNODC services for Member States in 2006 included training drug enforcement officers throughout the world, equipping central bankers and other officials to fight money-laundering and implementing new programmes to inspect containers for illicit materials at ports in Ghana and Pakistan.

The Office also produced practical tools for police and legal practitioners, including a Counter-Kidnap Manual, a Toolkit to combat Trafficking in Persons and a Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit.

While demand for assistance is rising, so too are voluntary contributions from Member States, which account for nearly 90 percent of  UNODC's annual budget. In 2006, donors pledged voluntary contributions for the drugs and crime programmes totalling $150.7 million, a rise of more than 25 per cent from the previous year.

Apart from technical assistance programmes, these funds finance research and policy analysis - including publications such as UNODC's World Drug Report which are essential tools for drug policy-makers - legal advisory services and part of the core infrastructure of UNODC.

UNODC is diversifying its sources of funding and seeking support from foundations, philanthropists and the private sector.