Highlighting the impact of drug abuse around the world, the head of the United Nations anti-drugs office today said that countering transnational organized crime and illicit drugs must become an integral part of the development agenda.
“Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, shattering families and bringing misery to thousands of other people, insecurity and the spread of HIV,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, told the General Assembly today, during a special thematic debate on drugs and crime as a threat to development.
“At present, only around one quarter of all farmers involved in illicit drug crop cultivation worldwide have access to development assistance – if we are to offer new opportunities and genuine alternatives, this needs to change,” Fedotov said.
The Assembly’s debate coincides with the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June, and was also the forum for Fedotov’s launch of UNODC’s flagship study, the 2012 World Drug Report.
Fedotov said that with the 2015 deadline approaching to take stock of global progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is an increasing recognition that organized crime and illicit drugs impede the attainment of those goals.
The UNODC chief said that drug-producing and drug-consuming countries alike have a stake in fighting the illicit drug trade, adding that Governments should not forget that illicit drugs also affect health and security globally.
Fedotov noted that as developing countries emulate the lifestyles of industrialized nations, drug consumption will probably increase, placing a heavier burden on countries ill equipped to deal with burgeoning drug demand. International support should therefore aim at strengthening the capacity of vulnerable nations to confront that challenge, he said.
The 2012 World Drug Report finds that although global patterns of illicit drug use, production and health consequences largely remained stable in 2012, opium production had rebounded to previous high levels in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest opium producer.
In addition, lower overall levels of cultivation and production of opium and coca have been offset by rising levels of synthetic drug production.
Around 230 million people, or five per cent of the world’s adult population, aged 15 to 64, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010, according to the Report. Problem drug users, mainly heroin- and cocaine-dependent persons, number about 27 million, roughly 0.6 per cent of the world adult population, or 1 in every 200 people.