#CareInCrises: Special event focuses attention on addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises

© UNODC

Vienna (Austria), 28 June 2022 – Each year, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) holds a special event to launch the World Drug Report and in commemoration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day. In keeping with this longstanding tradition, a special event was held today to present to the international community the findings of the World Drug Report 2022, released yesterday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

This year’s special event was held under the World Drug Day 2022’s theme of “addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises”. The theme reinforces the importance of protecting the right to health of the most vulnerable, including children and youth, people using drugs, and people who need access to controlled medicines, in the context of existing and emerging transnational drug challenges stemming from crisis situations.

In his remarks, H.E. Ambassador Ghislain D’Hoop, current Chair of the CND and Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in Vienna, lauded the relevance of the theme considering recent international developments, including the Covid-19 pandemic. D’Hoop highlighted the CND’s ongoing work to scale up implementation of the international drug policy commitments on improving the availability of, and access to, controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.  

In her opening remarks, Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, explained that UNODC had launched a campaign calling for better ‘Care in Crises’ for this year’s World Drug Day, as the world faced “persisting as well as new crises and conflicts”. “Care in crises means ensuring science-based services for all: for people in emergencies and humanitarian settings, those left behind in the pandemic, and those facing barriers of stigma and discrimination,” said Waly.

UNODC’s research and trend analysis chief Angela Me presented the main findings of the World Drug Report 2022, which includes current trends in the global drug market and the latest information on drug use, production and trafficking. This year’s report analyzes the gender disparity in non-medical drug use and the underrepresentation of women in treatment, considers the potential future of the global opiates market given developments in Afghanistan, examines the impact of cannabis legalization, and investigates the relationship between drugs and conflict. For the first time, it also includes a dedicated section on the impact of drugs on the environment.

Participants also heard the perspectives of two youth representatives, Malak Shaarawy and Tedi Jaho, who delivered interventions focusing on how Covid-19 has affected the world drug problem. Speaking about building a more sustainable world, Shaarawy highlighted that “youth involvement is a crucial factor in the sustainability of a healthy community”, while Jaho emphasized the importance of prevention. “It is so important to understand that there is so much that we can do to provide a better route to health and recovery to people who need it,” said Jaho.

The special event also featured a panel discussion on drugs and the environment, with interventions made by the permanent representatives to the United Nations in Vienna from Colombia (H.E. Ambassador Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco), Slovenia (H.E. Ambassador Barbara Zvokelj) and Thailand (H.E. Ambassador Morakot Sriswasdi); Nicolas Prisse, President of the Interministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours of France; and Sylvia Kay of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs. Following the discussion, interventions were made by over 20 Member States and three additional civil society organizations.

Further information

The 2022 World Drug Report provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health. This year’s edition of the report spotlights trends on cannabis post-legalization, the environmental impacts of illicit drugs, and drug use among women and youth.

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