UNODC launches its 2016 World Drug Report

Dakar, 23 June 2016 - Around five per cent of the adult population, or nearly 250 million people between the ages of 15 and 64, used at least one drug in 2014, according to the latest World Drug Report released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Although substantial, this figure has not grown over the past four years in proportion to the global population.

The report, however, suggests that the number of people classified as suffering from drug user disorders has increased disproportionally for the first time in six years. There are now over 29 million people within this category (compared to the previous figure of 27 million). Additionally, around 12 million people inject drugs with 14 per cent of these living with HIV. The overall impact of drug use in terms of health consequences continues to be devastating.

To raise awareness about drug trafficking and consumption trends across the world, and particularly in the region, the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa organized a press conference at the United Nations Information Centre in Dakar, Senegal, on 23 June 2016.

Chaired by the UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Mr Pierre Lapaque, the event brought together 35 journalists from local and international press agencies, newspapers and television channels to discuss the world drug problem and its health-related consequences in light of the recent UN General Assembly special session that took place in April 2016 on this issue.

 The UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Mr Pierre Lapaque, during the press conference

The report reveals, for instance, that the production and consumption of cannabis herb in Africa is among the highest in the world, with seizures made on the continent totalling 14 percent of the total quantity seized worldwide. The Americas, and particularly North America, remain the largest consumers and producers of the drug, where more than three quarters of global seizures are made.

In terms of cocaine, the report notes that "trafficking via Africa may be regaining importance, and there are signs of increases in the trafficking of cocaine to Asia, particularly to East and South-East Asia and the Middle East." Moreover, the use of cocaine and particularly "crack" cocaine seems to be on the rise in the continent, a phenomenon that may could be attributed to West Africa's proximity to a major drug trafficking route, as explained by the 2016 World Drug Report.

Other concerning factors include that, according to the report, the use of opioids may have grown in Africa, based on trend perceptions reported to UNODC. This becomes particularly problematic when considering that overall, opioids continue to pose the highest potential harm and health consequences among major drugs. This is particularly true for prisons, which remain high-risk environments for infectious diseases, where the prevalence of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis can be substantially higher than among the general population, while drug use, including the use of opiates and injecting drug use, is widespread according to numerous studies.

In this regard, the report states that the excessive use of imprisonment for drug-related offences of a minor nature is ineffective in reducing recidivism and overburdens criminal justice systems, preventing them from efficiently coping with more serious crimes. Provision of evidence-based treatment and care services to drug-using offenders, as an alternative to incarceration, has been shown to substantially increase recovery and reduce recidivism.

As UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov notes, it is critical that the international community come together to ensure the commitments adopted at the UNGASS are met - and the World Drug Report offers an important tool to assist with this task. "By providing a comprehensive overview of major developments in drug markets, trafficking routes and the health impact of drug use, the 2016 World Drug Report highlights support for the comprehensive, balanced and integrated rights-based approaches as reflected in the outcome document which emerged from the UNGASS."

For more information:

Access the 2016 World Drug Report

Statement of the UNODC Executive Director

Statement of the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem

UNODC action against drug trafficking in West Africa