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UNODC Warns of Drug "Health Disaster" in the Developing World

March 14, 2010
Drug Policy Georgia

VIENNA, 8 March (UN Information Service) - In his address to the 53rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which takes place this week in Vienna, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, warned that failure to control drugs will unleash a health disaster in the developing world.

"The developing world lacks the treatment facilities and law enforcement to control drugs," said the head of UNODC. He identified a number of warning signs: increasing use of heroin in East Africa, cocaine in West Africa, and synthetic drugs in the Middle East and South East Asia.

Referring to health as "the first principle of drug control", Mr. Costa said that drug addiction is a treatable condition, but warned that inequality within and between states marginalizes poor people who lack access to treatment. "While rich addicts go to posh clinics, poor addicts are being pushed into the gutter or to jail," he said. UNODC is working with the World Health Organization to achieve universal access to drug treatment, and with UNAIDS to prevent the spread of HIV among injecting addicts.

He also appealed for greater respect for human rights. "Around the world, millions of people (including children) caught taking drugs are sent to jail, not to treatment. In some countries, drug

treatment amounts to cruel, degrading punishment - the equivalent of torture. People are sentenced to death for drug-related offences, or gunned down by extra-judicial squads," said Mr. Costa. "As human beings, as well as members of the community of civilized nations, we have a shared responsibility to put an end to this. People who use drugs, or are behind bars, have not lost their humanity or their human rights."

In this, his eighth and final Session of the CND, Mr. Costa spoke with pride about how UNODC "has assisted Member States to make drug policy more responsive to the needs of those most seriously affected, along the whole chain of the drug industry: from poor farmers that cultivate it, to desperate addicts who consume it, as well as those caught in the cross-fire." He said: "In the process, we have helped make the debate less dogmatic, gathered evidence to enrich policy, and provided assistance to reduce vulnerability. We have persistently struggled to quash the sterile debate between those who dream of a world free of drugs, and those who aspire to a world of free drugs."

For more information on the CND and the complete text of Mr. Costa's speech, visit the UNODC website at

UNODC established in 1997 till now is the special bureau of United Nations. UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90 per cent of its budget.

According to the official website of parliament of Georgia UNODC made a decision about the opening of regional office, which will cover Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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