Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


CND Special Discussion: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the World Drug Situation, a Regional Perspective

  26 June 2020


Distinguished guests,

Thank you for joining us, virtually and in person, for the commemoration of the signing of the United Nations Charter, the presentation of the 2020 UNODC flagship World Drug Report, and this event on the impact of COVID-19 on drug challenges.

I will just say a few quick words, firstly to thank Ambassador Khan and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for today’s events.

I would also like to thank the European Union for co-sponsoring this important and timely discussion.

COVID-19 is a global pandemic but the virus has had a different impact and timeline in different regions.

The world drug problem is a shared problem that manifests itself in a range of regional and inter-regional challenges, which require thoughtful and targeted solutions.

The COVID-19 lockdown has shifted illicit drug trafficking to darknets online, as well as to maritime routes as overland and air travel are restricted.

Treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV and other related diseases are impacted as health and social services are overwhelmed.

In addition to these challenges, we must all be aware that the impact of the pandemic on the world drug problem has yet to be fully seen, or fully felt.

Organized crime groups will exploit vulnerabilities and the vulnerable as COVID-19 restrictions continue in many parts of the world.

The global economic downturn threatens to compound the dangers of drug use, as well as increase the potential for involvement in drug trafficking and related crime.

Young people represent the largest share of drug users. There are more young people in developing countries, and they are most at risk from drugs, and indeed, from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, almost one in five young people have stopped working.

The world cannot afford a “lockdown generation”, to let the prospects and potential of the world’s young people be damaged by the negative consequences of the virus, or of illicit drugs.

As we rebuild our economies and to build back better, we need to also focus on building greater resilience to the threats of drugs and crime, most of all through support to developing countries, in a spirit of shared responsibility, in line with the 2019 CND Ministerial Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dear colleagues,

We remain united in our resolve to work together to address the challenges posed by drugs, in the COVID-19 response and recovery, and beyond. 

I thank the distinguished panellists joining virtually to share their regional perspectives, and I welcome the important contribution of our civil society partners.

I wish you fruitful discussions.

Thank you.