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Aug 8, 2007

IDPC Briefing Paper Number 6 - The World Drug Report 2007.





On the publication of the World Drug Report in 2006, the IDPC

cast doubt on the claim that the global drug problem was being

brought under control. Th e United Nations Office on Drugs and

Crime (UNODC) makes the claim in even stronger terms in

its latest report on the state of the global drug market, the 2007

World Drug Report. Th is report was published on June 26th, the

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. In

keeping with previous World Drug Reports, it contains much

useful data and analysis, but its credibility is undermined by the

selective use of the available evidence to support questionable

claims for the success of the UN track record in tackling illegal

drug markets. Such confident assertions of support for traditional

law enforcement models of drug policy are particularly surprising

as many Member States are moving away from this position, and

the UN itself is due to embark on what is meant to be an objective

review of progress and achievement in global drug control with

the 10-year evaluation of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special

Session (UNGASS) on drugs. Th e increasingly simplistic, and

seemingly conclusive, view emanating from the responsible UN

agency must call into question its ability to act as an honest facilitator

of what will be a crucial review of policies that affect hundreds of

millions of people around the world. While it is already obvious

that the international community will not reach the targets it

set at the 1998 UNGASS – to significantly reduce supply and

demand of drugs over a ten year period – the UNODC is under

tremendous pressure to show significant progress. However, it will

be difficult to argue that the world is on the right track on the basis

of consumption and production figures since the 1998 UNGASS,

or even since the entry into force of the 1961 Single Convention.

Th e preface to the report makes an attempt to show significant

results, despite the fact that its own data show the opposite. Th is

reflects UNODC ’s ambiguous position as both a political agent

and a supposedly objective centre of expertise.

In this briefing paper, we attempt to focus on what can be

understood from the available data, what dilemmas it raises for

policymakers, and the key issues to be resolved in the forthcoming



The first thing to understand is that the data available globally

on illegal drug production, distribution and use, is notoriously

difficult to gather with any accuracy or consistency. The

UNODC reports themselves acknowledge this reality, and

we presented a summary of methodological problems in

our review of the 2006 World Drug Report [IDPC briefing

paper 2: “The 2006 World Drug Report. Winning the War

on Drugs?”]. Secondly, the good quality data that is available

comes almost exclusively from the rich westernised nations

that have the capacity and resources to conduct complex

studies and surveys. Estimates of the extent of production,

trafficking and prevalence of use in large parts of the world

are therefore extremely unreliable. Thirdly, the amount of

truly new information that has become available in the last 12

months is limited. For example most of the data on prevalence

comes from national surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005.

Within the body of the 2007 World Drug Report, there are

repeated warnings that the data should be treated with caution

(for example, see pp 60 or 270). It is therefore remarkable

that the preface to the report contains such confident claims

for the success of the UN programme, with no reference to

the limitations of the evidence, and therefore the caution that

should be exercised in drawing policy conclusions. There are

3 particular areas where a close analysis of the data would

seem to undermine these conclusions:



Th e International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) is a global network of NGO 's and professional networks that specialise in issues related to illegal drug use. Th e Consortium aims to promote objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at national and international level, and supports evidence-based policies that are effective in reducing drug-related harm. It produces its own briefing and position papers, disseminates the reports of its member organizations about particular drug related matters, and offers expert consultancy services to policymakers and officials around the world.

There is no doubt that cultivation of opium has become

concentrated in fewer countries in recent years, and

that coca production has not expanded beyond the

Andean region. However, the claim that this represents

a downward trend in the global production of either

heroin or cocaine is not supported by the evidence. As

the WDR charts themselves show, annual illicit global

production of opium is broadly stable over the last 15

years, with the only signifi cant trend being a worrying

increase in production over the last two years, driven

by massive increases in cultivation in Afghanistan. Th e

WDR also states that most of the heroin supplied to

the US market is produced in Latin America, but the

offi cial fi gures show a level of opium production in Latin

America that would only be suffi cient to supply a fraction

of US demand. So is the US market being supplied from

elsewhere, or are the Latin American production fi gures

severely underestimated? In terms of coca production, the

UNODC claim is that ‘supply stability has been achieved

only through intensive eradication eff orts, especially in

Colombia’. Th is is a remarkably disingenuous statement

considering that the same paragraph reports an 8%

increase in global production in the last year, and the

promoted tactic of ‘intensive eradication’ in Colombia

has been conspicuously ineff ective in reducing cocaine

production, with a more than 20% increase in cocaine

production in Colombia since the eradication programme

was commenced in 2000, according to offi cial UN fi gures.

Adding to the confusion regarding the real position are

the signifi cant variations on the fi gures and trends on

opium and coca cultivation between the two main data

sources – the United Nations and the US government.

Th ey both attempt to track trends on the same basis

the number of hectares cultivated – but come up with

entirely diff erent fi gures and trends. For example, the

UN estimate for Colombian coca cultivation in 2006 is

78,000 ha., while the US estimate is 157,200 ha, twice as

much and more than the total of the area the UNODC

claims for the whole Andean region.1 As both cannot be

correct, it follows that any estimation has to be treated

with caution.

Th e WDR claims ‘another source of good news is that law

enforcement has improved’ – ie that a greater proportion

of cocaine and heroin is being intercepted before it

reaches consumers. It is welcome that the UNODC

and national governments are attempting to assess

interdiction eff orts in terms of their impact on consumer

markets, rather than simply measuring success in terms

of numbers of seizures, but once again these fi gures must

be treated with caution. In the preface to the WDR, for

example, Antonio Costa (Executive Director of the

UNODC), claims that ‘almost half ’ of global cocaine

production is being intercepted by law enforcement

agencies [WDR 07 p2]. Within the text of the Report,

however, while fi gures are produced to the eff ect that

cocaine seizures have risen from 34% in 2004 to 42%

of estimated total production in 2005, considerable

qualifi cation is placed upon these fi gures, and rightly so:

their provisional nature must be acknowledged. Th ese

percentages are calculated by subtracting total cocaine

seizures, as reported by members states, from the

estimated fi gure of global cocaine production, which is

given as 980 metric tonnes. Without entering into the

complex methodological issues the construction of such

fi gures entails, they include a great many assumptions

about unknown quantities. Th ey also fail to take into

account the increased technical know-how underlying

expanded cocaine production—which has taken place

despite decreases in hectares cultivated. Th e Report

acknowledges these considerations, and explicitly

states that “Th e result” of such omissions “could be an

overestimated global cocaine interception rate.” [WDR

07 p.70]. If the production estimate is faulty, then any

calculation based upon it is misleading. Of most concern

is the lack of a link between the claimed improvements

in interception rates, and the indicators of availability

in consumer markets. Measures of price, purity or ease

of consumer access in the major markets for heroin and

cocaine indicate an increase in the availability of these

substances – the trend is of prices falling and purity

increasing, when one would expect the opposite if the

signifi cantly increased seizure rates were having any eff ect.

Th is paradox is recognised in the latest National Drug

Th reat Assessment published by the US government:

Despite the fact that the highest recorded level of cocaine

interdiction and seizure was recorded in 2005—the fi fth

consecutive record-setting increase—there have been no

sustained cocaine shortages or indications of stretched

supplies in domestic drug markets. Th ese seemingly

inconsistent trends suggest greater source country

supply than was previously estimated…” [National

Drug Intelligence Centre, US Dept. of Justice. National

Drug Th reat Assessment 2007. p.3]. Similarly, according

to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug

Addiction (EMCDDA), the predominant 5-year trend

in Europe has been a decline in street price for cannabis,

heroin, amphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine: ‘Information

available from some of the high-prevalence countries

suggests that cocaine and ecstasy were considerably

more expensive in the late 1980s and early 1990s than

they are today. Drug use in Europe is cheaper than ever

before.’ the EMCDDA concludes.2

Finally, the WDR claims that global demand for drugs

such as heroin, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines

has stabilised. Th is may be true, and indeed most of

the large-scale surveys conducted recently in developed

countries have shown an overall picture of a levelling

off of prevalence after decades of consistent increases.

However, there are two reasons why the authorities

should not be complacent about these fi gures. Firstly,

overall prevalence rates mask specifi c trends in the use

of diff erent drugs – for example, the increase in cocaine

use in parts of Europe, or in illicit prescription drug use

in the USA. Secondly, the evidence of stabilisation seems

most visible in well-established consumer markets in

Europe, North America and Australasia, while increases

are continuing in emerging economies and developing

countries, where the mechanisms for measuring these

trends are weakest. It may be that signifi cant increases

in prevalence are being experienced in Africa, Asia or

Latin America, but are not yet showing up in UNODC

prevalence reporting mechanisms. Indeed, some proxy

indicators of a growing problem, such as increasing

cocaine seizures in Africa or treatment demand in

China, would suggest that this is the case. If the true

prevalence of illegal drug use in these continents

was known, it would most likely dwarf the current

estimated fi gure of 200 million users worldwide. Th e

report also seems to misrepresent some of the data that

is available – a decline in demand for cocaine in the

USA is prominently and confi dently stated, whereas

that country’s own National Drug Th reat Assessment

for 2007 states:

Cocaine demand is stable: Indicators

of domestic cocaine demand show that the demand for

cocaine in the United States is relatively stable. According

to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

data, past year cocaine use (in any form) by individuals 12

and older has not increased or decreased signifi cantly since

2002. NSDUH and Monitoring the Future (MTF) data

indicate that past year cocaine use among adolescents has

also remained stable during this same period.”


In the face of a complex mass of data of varying reliability,

signifi cant data gaps, and a wide range of views amongst member

states, one would expect the responsible UN agency to be

very cautious in its policy conclusions, and to concentrate on

providing a platform for reasoned consideration of the challenges

for future policy. Instead, the UNODC continues to play the

role of a champion of its existing set of policies and programmes

declaring, in advance of the planned review of progress since the

1998 UNGASS, the successful ‘containment’ of the world drug

problem, and stating (with no attempt to analyse the evidence

on causality) that this success is due to strong law enforcement

practice, and clear anti-drug messages. We have shown above how

the claims of containment have been based on a questionable

analysis of available data. Indeed, at one point in his preface to

the WDR, Mr Costa, seems to be claiming even greater success

by referring to ‘a clear correlation between UN-led drug control

eff orts and the current recession in the drug economy’ – by any

standard, a recession refers to a signifi cant reduction in activity,

but nowhere in the report is there any indication of such a global

reduction of supply or demand, and the regular statements

attributing encouraging trends to UN-supported programmes are

not backed up by any analysis of causality. We have already talked

about the lack of a link between forced eradication programmes

in Colombia and reduced production and use of cocaine, but give

two more examples here of the tendency of the UNODC to draw

selective conclusions:

In the preface to the report, Mr Costa states (in the

context of a claimed stabilisation of global cannabis

use) that ‘the health warnings on higher potency

cannabis, delivered in past World Drug Reports, appear

to be getting through.’ Notwithstanding the doubts

about whether the perceived stabilisation is real, the

assumption that any global trend in the behaviour of

hundreds of millions of cannabis users can be attributed

to the statements in the World Drug Report is clearly

absurd. As mentioned above, the surveys indicating

some stability have been conducted primarily in rich

western countries with well established high rates of

cannabis use amongst young people. It may be that these

groups are heeding the health warnings on cannabis

that have been disseminated in these countries, or

other factors – such as better education and prevention,

changes in law enforcement, wider socio-economic

changes, or changes in fashion and culture – may be

more infl uential. It is also possible that the cannabis

market in these countries has reached a natural

levelling point – with a limit on the proportion of

young people interested in being casual or regular users.

Local or national analyses of the correlation between

these factors and rates of cannabis use have tended

to emphasise the importance of socio-economic and

cultural factors, rather than the impact of government

programmes [Parker, H., Aldridge, J. and Measham F.

Illegal leisure: Th e normalization of adolescent recreational

drug use.” London: Routledge. Blackman, S. “Chilling

out: Th e cultural politics of substance consumption, youth

and drug policy.” Maidenhead: Open University Press].

Indeed, strong law enforcement against cannabis users

(often promoted within the UN System for its deterrent

impact) has not been shown to correlate with reduced

prevalence [Reinerman, C., Cohen, P.D.A. and Kaal,

H.L. (2004) “Th e limited relevance of drug policy:

Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco” American

Journal of Public Health, 94, 836-842. MacCoun, R.

and Reuter, P. (2001) “Evaluating alternative cannabis

regimes.” British Journal of Psychiatry, 178, 123-128,

Lenton S (2005) “Deterrence theory and the limitations

of criminal penalties for cannabis use”. In, T. Stockwell,

P. Gruenewald, J. Toumbourou & W. Loxley (Eds.),

Preventing harmful substance use: Th e evidence base for

policy and practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons].

Th e complex challenge of responding to widespread

cannabis use, and minimising the harms associated

with it, can not be resolved simply through the issuing

of statements, however tough, from policymakers and

UN agencies.

Also in the preface, the report claims that the

recession in the drug economy…’ (see above) is due

to the fact that ‘the world seems to be taking seriously

the commitment made at a UN General Assembly

Special Session in 1998 to take enhanced action to

reduce both the illicit supply of, and the demand for

drugs by 2008.’ However, the WDR fails to document

a recession. On the contrary, market indicators like

declining price and rising purity of cocaine and heroin

indicate abundant availability, which in terms of

drugs markets means that they are thriving. But even

if it were true, this statement makes the assumption

that any containment of the world drug problem is

the result of governments pursuing the UNODC’s

preferred drug policies and programmes. Furthermore,

the interpretation of many countries of the concept

of taking their commitments seriously, all too often

means the implementation of law enforcement

crackdowns on drug users. Most of the countries

that have reported stabilisation or reductions in

prevalence in recent years have actually reduced their

reliance on harsh law enforcement during this period,

suggesting that this is not a key factor in predicting

prevalence trends. While it is tempting to think

that government action is paramount, we have to

consider the possibility that any encouraging trends in

production, traffi cking or use are primarily the result

of external factors in the operation of the market, or

in wider society. For example, reductions in cannabis

cultivation in Morocco (heralded as a signifi cant

policy success in the WDR) may be the result of the

much wider cultivation of the drug by users and smallscale

dealers closer to consumer markets. Reductions

in opium cultivation in the golden triangle may have

been the result of decisions by the major traffi ckers to

switch production to more profi table synthetic drugs,

such as methamphetamine. Increases in cocaine use

in some European countries seem to be associated

with the increasing fashion for this drug in party

and club cultures, as the use of ecstasy declines. Th e

interaction between these diff erent factors – some

open to infl uence by governments, some not – are

poorly understood.

As we approach a strategic review of the learning and achievements

over the last 10 years, it would be preferable to see the UNODC

making a serious eff ort to analyse these complex issues and help

member states to understand the implications for their domestic

policy, rather than presenting simplistic conclusions on trends and

causality as if they are research and evidence based.Th e UNODC

claims to implement the policies the international community

has formulated, and not to make these policies itself. However, it

constantly attempts to shape these policies by taking the lead in

formulating and promoting particular approaches to international

drug control. Th e WDR is one of the instruments the UNODC

uses to impose its views. Th e UNODC’s ambiguous position as,

on the one hand, a political agent and, on the other, a centre of

expertise should be put to an end. Th e UN could move towards

the arrangement in the European Union, where the member

states make the policies and its centre of expertise, the EMCDDA,

provides the data on the basis of which they are debated and

reviewed. As part of the wider process of structural reform, the

UN should re-assess the role of the UNODC, providing it with

a less ambiguous role, and more clearly defi ning its relationship

with member states.


One of the most intriguing concepts, fi rst introduced during

the 2003 UNGASS mid-term review and expanded upon in

the 2006 and 2007 WDRs, is the idea that global action against

illegal drug production, traffi cking and use, has achieved a

containment’ of the situation. Since the 2003 UNGASS midterm

review - when it was already abundantly clear that the

original 1998 UNGASS target to signifi cantly reduce supply

and demand would not be meet - the Executive Director of the

UNODC has tried to change the discourse to ‘containment’ of

the global drug situation. Th is is a very diff erent objective than

the ‘signifi cant progress’ towards a drug free society that was

heralded in 1998, and may provide a more reasonable articulation

of what is possible through government action, and international

agreements. Notwithstanding the doubts we have regarding

the data currently presented, it may be that we are witnessing a

period of stabilisation in the scale of illegal drug markets in some

parts of the world. If such stabilisation is achieved at a level of

use that is signifi cantly lower than that of similar legally available

drugs, then this could provide a basis for the formation of more

balanced policies that support activities aimed at reducing the

harmful consequences arising from drug distribution and use. At

the moment, the UN system, and many national governments, are

hesitant (or downright hostile) towards some programmes aimed

at reducing harmful consequences, for fear that they undermine

work to reduce the overall scale of the market, or ‘send the wrong

message’ to drug users. Th is unease arises from the policy view

that considers eradication or disruption of the illegal market as

the only worthwhile goal of drug policy. In reality, and many

governments have long ago reached this conclusion, drug policy

should consist of the appropriate balance between actions that

seek to minimise the scale of the market, and those that seek to

minimise the consequential harms.

While there is no doubt that the UNODC has softened its

resistance to, and increased its programme support for, activities

that address the harmful consequences of drug use in recent

years, we consider that it is still some way short of what could

be considered an appropriate balance on these issues. In a

recent position paper, [IDPC Position Paper 2 - “Drug Policy

Objectives Should Increasingly Focus On Th e Consequences

Of Drug Use”], the IDPC laid out our proposals for a balanced

set of objectives for drug policy, encompassing both the scale

of the market, and its consequences. Many governments now

have a set of policy objectives that approximate to this ideal, but

the UN system still lags some way behind. Th e objectives set

in 1998 relate only to eff orts to reduce the scale of the market

and, since that time, the UNODC (and its linked quasi-judicial

agency, the International Narcotics Control Board) have

resisted any rebalancing of focus. Before we discuss how such a

rebalancing may be achieved in the forthcoming policy review,

we will highlight three areas where the obsession with market

scale undermines other objectives:


In all of our reports on the work of the UNODC

and INCB, we have highlighted the inadequacy of their

commitment to addressing the most pressing global

challenge arising from drug use – the transmission of

HIV and Hepatitis infections through needle sharing

and this paper is no different. An estimated 10%

of all new HIV infections worldwide occur through

injecting drug use, there are an estimated 13 million

current injectors worldwide, and several countries

and regions are reporting new outbreaks, or the

emerging conditions in which outbreaks could occur.

The UNODC remains the lead agency in the UN

system for responding to the threat of HIV infection

through injecting drug use and, shamefully, resisted

for many years the scaling-up of some of the most

effective preventative measures such as needle

exchange. Some of the more fundamental objections

to effective prevention have now been removed, and

the HIV prevention programme within UNODC has

been signifi cantly expanded in the last year, but the

current leadership provided by the agency remains

insuffi cient in the face of the scale of the challenge.

It is particularly frustrating that experts in this fi eld

have developed a reasonably accurate picture of

where new drug-related epidemics are happening

(and can be predicted in the near future), and have

developed packages of prevention activities that

have been proven to avert epidemics if implemented

with adequate speed and scale, but the international

community, and some of the national governments

affected, have been unwilling or unable to mobilise

the political will or resources to respond adequately.

In this context, it is astounding that another UNODC

World Drug Report is published with hardly a

mention of the nature of the challenge, where scaled

up prevention resources are required, or a call to

donor and affected governments to urgent action.

England and Wales, 2000.” Home Offi ce Research

Study 249. London, Home Offi ce] have shown that

the harm to individuals and society that arises from

drug use is heavily concentrated amongst a small

proportion of users – variously described as ‘problem’

or ‘hardcore’ users – whose patterns of use are more

extensive, chaotic, and risky. Th e WDR estimates

that this group constitutes only a small proportion of

all users of illegal drug users worldwide [ UNODC,

World Drug Report 2007 Vienna: United Nations

Offi ce on Drugs and Crime, p.5, p.9 & p.30]3.

However, many countries still pursue policies that

promote widespread arrest and harsh punishment

of all drug users, with long prison sentences not

uncommon even for those caught in possession of

small amounts, and the death penalty available in over

30 countries for drug law infractions. In addition to

the clear inconsistency with UN human rights norms,

these policies are expensive, and seem to have little

impact on overall rates of consumption. At the same

time, through adding to the social exclusion and

criminalisation of large numbers of citizens, they also

have signifi cant negative consequences in terms of

family and community cohesion, the engagement of

users in health and social programmes, and economic

activity. Looked at from the perspective of reducing

harmful consequences, therefore, repressive and badly

targeted enforcement policies can actually increase

drug problems. Despite this, the UNODC and

INCB have been slow to criticise the enactment of

inappropriate and unsophisticated drug laws, or the

pursuit of repressive enforcement tactics. A balanced

approach to drug policy would target law enforcement

and punishment on those users and dealers who were

causing the most harm to fellow citizens, or where real

impact on the market was possible. In the preface or

the body of the 2007 WDR, there is no discussion on

the appropriate targeting of law enforcement action

in order to minimise harmful consequences, and

the impression remains that the UNODC believes

that any drug law enforcement is inherently good

simply because it pursues the honourable objective of

reducing the market. A more sophisticated message is


Th e most direct dilemma between the focus on the

scale or consequences of the market exists in the

analysis of drug related crime. Th e nature and scale

of drug related crime, and how it aff ects individuals

and communities, has not been closely analysed or

monitored in the UNODC so far. Th e assumption has

been that the simple objective of reducing the scale

of the market is best achieved through direct action

against growers, traffi ckers and users. If the reduction

of the consequences of drug related crime was given

greater prominence in objective setting, the tensions

between eff orts to reduce the scale of the market, and

minimising the harmful consequences, would become

more apparent, and balanced policies and programmes

developed. Th e main harmful consequences arising

from the criminal activities associated with the drug

market are the power and wealth of the criminal

organisations that profi t from the market, the violence

and intimidation perpetrated by these organisations,

and the corruption of legitimate authority that

can result. Of course, successful law enforcement

operations directed against the organised crime

groups involved – intercepting the drugs, arresting

traffi ckers, and seizing their assets – serve to limit the

infl uence of particular groups. But a wider perspective

is also needed, driven by the objective of minimising

violence, intimidation and corruption. Th is objective

may be best achieved through traditional law

enforcement operations, but the common experience

has been of the ‘balloon eff ect’ – successful action

against one group only leads to the emergence of

others, often accompanied by an increase in violence

and corruption as new groups battle for control. A

more eff ective long term strategy may be for law

enforcement to explicitly manage the market in a

way that the power of, and harm to society caused

by, organised crime is minimised. Take the cannabis

market, for example, where the majority of global

demand is now supplied from small-scale cultivation

operations close to the point of consumption. Th is

has meant that the power and reach of large scale

cannabis traffi cking organisations is diminished and,

while problems associated with cannabis markets

remain, they are of a much lower order than those

associated with heroin or cocaine traffi cking.

In many countries, the form of drug related crime that causes

most harm to individuals and communities is the perpetration

of high levels of property crimes by problem drug users to

fund their habit. Th is negative consequence of drug use is not

aff ected by action against drug supply, but requires diff erent

strategies – for example many countries have produced

encouraging crime reduction results through programmes that

identify and refer criminally active drug users into treatment



While much progress in data collection, programme

implementation, and international co-operation has been

achieved since the 1998 UNGASS on Drugs, it is clear that

the international community cannot claim that the global drug

market is under control – despite billions of dollars of investment,

the overall scale of the illegal market for all of the main drug

types would seem to have increased over the last 10 years, and the

profi ts from these markets continue to fl ow into the hands of a

wide range of organised crime groups. In his preface to the 2007

World Drug Report, Mr Costa calls for a ‘paradigm shift’ as we

approach the review of progress since the UNGASS in 1998, but

does not articulate what such a shift would consist of. Th e IDPC

would therefore like to suggest that we enter the next ten years of

global drug control on the basis of a paradigm shift towards the

following principles, if we are to avoid a continuation of the need

to present failure as success:

Th at the concept of ‘zero tolerance’ or a ‘drug free world’

be replaced by more realistic policy objectives focussing

on the reduction of the harmful consequences of drug

production and use.

Th at programmes and activities that focus on reducing

these harmful consequences should therefore be given

priority, in terms of resources and political support,

within the UN programme.

Th at containment of the scale of the illegal drug market

is a more realistic objective for global law enforcement

and demand reduction eff orts.

Th at the over-riding objective of law enforcement

programmes against drug production and traffi cking

should be the minimisation of criminal activity, and its

impact on citizens and communities, rather than the

eradication of drug markets.

Th at there is an explicit recognition of the fact that the

millions of people involved in the cultivation of plants

used in drug manufacture, and the hundreds of millions

of users, should not all be automatically assumed to be

criminal or deviant.

Th at the UNODC should be refocussed as a true centre

of expertise to assist the international community with

transparent and objective information that supports

member states in formulating balanced and evidence

based policies.

Such a paradigm shift would resolve the current impasse in

policy debate at the UN, (where any acknowledgment of the

complexities of the reality on the ground is seen as a betrayal of

the certainties behind the Conventions), and would provide a

basis for much more eff ective and targeted co-ordinated action in

the future. Our vision is that, in 10 years time, the international

community can genuinely claim success in containing the scale

of the illegal market, marginalising the power of organised crime,

and reducing the harmful health and social consequences of

drug production and use. Positive achievements of this type are

possible, but only if we set realistic and balanced objectives, and

re-focus our programmes accordingly.


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