11 March 1998

Arlacchi Outlines New Strategy for Drug Control and Calls for Urgent Action
At Opening of the 41st Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

VIENNA, 11 March (UN Information Service) -- Under Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), said 1998 provides a strategic opening in the global fight against drugs and outlined a new strategy to eliminate illegal coca and opium within ten years. He made his remarks at the beginning of the 41st Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs which started today in Vienna.

"We want to produce the best ideas and strategies the world´s experts have to offer," Arlacchi said. "But I feel strongly there is no time to waste. While caution is a virtue I hold dear, 1998 provides the international community with an opening. There is a feeling world-wide that the use and production of illegal drugs can be ended."

He outlined the accomplishments of UNDCP and offered his vision for the future of the organization. "We view demand and supply as equal sides of an equation. In order to reduce one, you must simultaneously focus on the other," he said. He also highlighted the details of a new strategy, called SCOPE, the Strategy for Coca and Opium Poppy Elimination.

SCOPE, calls for a world-wide system to monitor illicit cultivation and prevent the ‘balloon effect'. It is based on a participatory approach, involving local communities and the appropriate balance between law enforcement, alternative development and demand reduction.

"There are times when I feel like we are in a fight with one hand tied behind our back," Mr. Arlacchi said. Although there has been an increase in UNDCP´s resources, reversing a six year downward trend, Arlacchi concluded with Secretary-General Kofi Annan´s call, "Give us the tools and we will do the job."

The former Italian Senator and Professor of Sociology was appointed by the Secretary-General to head United Nations Drug Control and Crime Prevention Programmes in September, 1997. Today was his first opportunity to address the annual gathering of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The Commission is comprised of fifty-three countries and serves as its policy-making body. It also approves the budget of UNDCP's Fund. The Ambassador of Tunisia, Mr. M. El Fadhel Khalil, was elected today as its new Chairman. He replaces the Ambassador of Mexico, Ms. Roberta Lajous.


For further information, contact:
Sandro Tucci, Spokesperson for the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
Ph: (43-1) 21345 5629 Fax: (43-1) 21345 5931
Mobile: (43-664) 210 50 28