How to strengthen international responses to address challenges posed by record cocaine supply and surging demand was the focus of a panel discussion today to launch a new global report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The hybrid event on the margins of the 66th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs presented the findings from The Global Report on Cocaine 2023, which was developed under the framework of the CRIMJUST Global Programme, funded by the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) as part of its Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP).
At the launch, speakers from Africa, Europe and the Americas shared perspectives on the health and security challenges posed by cocaine trafficking, as well as regional responses to the threats.
Chloé Carpentier, Chief of the Drug Research Section, Research and Trend Analysis Branch at UNODC, who presented the report findings, highlighted the potential for cocaine trafficking to spread beyond established markets: “The surging global cocaine market has the potential to trigger large expansions in new regions where cocaine use has been limited in the past, especially Africa and Asia.”
Floriana Sipala, Head of Unit, Organised Crime and Drugs, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, expressed concerns over the high availability of cocaine in the European Union and the rise in the use of its ports for cocaine trafficking. Moving forward, she advocated for increased international cooperation investigations to draw upon financial and criminal intelligence collection and sharing to disrupt organised crime groups and focus on high-level criminal targets as well as for stronger coordination to implement effective criminal justice responses in line with human rights.
Tofiq Murshudlu, Head of Coordination, UNODC Border Management Branch, which operates the CRIMJUST Programme. said: “This report is the result of both the UNODC Research’s Branch’s knowledge and the CRIMJUST Global Programme’s network of practitioners across transatlantic routes. Informed by both academia and operational intelligence, this report offers new ideas to coordinate evidence-based responses to the cocaine market. I urge Member States to seize this opportunity to band together to develop and implement multistakeholder strategies disrupting illicit trafficking across supply chains.”
The panel discussion also featured remarks by: Angela Martins, Acting Director, Social Development, Culture and Sports, African Union Commission, and Ambassador Adam Namm, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, Organization of American States.
According to the report, coca cultivation soared 35 per cent from 2020 to 2021, a record high and the sharpest year-to-year increase since 2016. The steep growth in supply has been matched by a similar swelling in demand, with many regions showing a steady rise in cocaine users over the past decade.
The report examines the emergence of new hubs for cocaine trafficking as well as the modalities of cocaine traffickers, with findings showing that countries in Southeastern Europe and Africa – particularly those in West and Central Africa – are increasingly being used as key transit zones for the drug. Ports on the North Sea like Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, meanwhile, have eclipsed traditional entry points in Spain and Portugal for cocaine arriving in Western Europe. Traffickers are also diversifying their routes in Central America by sending more and more cocaine to Europe, in addition to North America.
This publication was funded by the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of UNODC and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
Launched in 2016, Global Programme on Criminal Network Disruption – CRIMJUST, implemented by UNODC in partnership with INTERPOL, and funded by the European Union, aims to support countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa strengthen criminal investigations and criminal justice cooperation along illicit trafficking routes.