This year’s World Drug Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was presented in Tashkent on June 27 at a press conference dedicated to the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The gathering also focused on Uzbekistan’s efforts to counter illegal drug trafficking.
Speaking at the press conference, the UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, Ashita Mittal, quoted UN Secretary General who called on countries and communities “to continue to improve the lives of everyone blighted by drug abuse by integrating security and public safety with a heightened focus on health, human rights, and sustainable development.” She also drew attention to the campaign’s slogan, “First Listen”, which is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities.
The Director of the National Information Analytical Centre on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministries of Uzbekistan, Akhmed Mansurov, told those gathered about the efforts to counter illegal drug trafficking in the country. “It is obvious today that Afghan drugs are a destabilizing factor for the region and beyond,” he said. “In 2015, the law enforcement agencies of Uzbekistan were focused on suppressing drug trafficking while paying special attention to the destruction of the illicit drug supply channels into the country and their transit through its territory, in addition to the steady demolishment of organized criminal groups.”
Around five percent 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. 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 percent of these living with HIV. The overall impact of drug use in terms of health consequences continues to be devastating.
This report comes soon after April’s UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem (UNGASS), a landmark moment in global drug policy which resulted in a series of concrete operational recommendations. Collectively, these look to promote long-term, sustainable, development-oriented and balanced drug control policies and programmes. 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.”
The world drug problem and sustainable development
With 2016 marking the first year of the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report provides a special focus on the world drug problem within this context. In analysing these linkages the SDGs have been divided into five broad areas: social development; economic development; environmental sustainability; peaceful, just and inclusive societies; and partnerships.
The report highlights a strong link between poverty and several aspects of the drug problem. Indeed, the brunt of the drug use problem is borne by people who are poor in relation to the societies in which they live, as can be seen in stark terms in wealthier countries. The strong association between social and economic disadvantage and drug use disorders can be seen when analysing different aspects of marginalization and social exclusion, such as unemployment and low levels of education.
The report also sheds some light on the varied ways in which the world drug problem results in different manifestations of violence. While the intensity of drug-related violence is greatest when associated with drug trafficking and production, these do not necessarily produce violence, as illustrated by the low levels of homicide in transit countries affected by the opiate trafficking routes in Asia. The drug trade is generally seen to flourish where State presence is weak, where the rule of law is unevenly applied, and where opportunities for corruption exist.
The report analyses the influence of the criminal justice system on drug trafficking and drug markets, as well as on drug use and people who use drugs. For example, it notes that globally 30 percent of the prison population is made up of un-sentenced or pre-trial prisoners. Among the convicted prisoners, 18 percent are in prison for drug-related offences. 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.
For the full report and media content, please visit: www.unodc.org/wdr2016