Launch of the 2018 UNODC World Drug Report in New York

The 2018 Launch of the World Drug Report was held on June 26th in Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and New York City. The report is presented in a five booklet format with two booklets focusing on the vulnerable populations of youth and women. The report derives its statistics from the content voluntarily provided from states who respond to the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ). June 26th was also the day member states celebrated the “United Nation’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illegal Drug Trafficking”. In honor of this day and the Launch of the Report, the UN headquarters in New York City hosted statements from esteemed UN officials, member states and civil society.

Several themes emerged during the Launch proceedings, held in Conference Room 1 of the general assembly. First, UN officials stressed that the largest change in statistics that has been exposed in the 2018 World Drug Report is one of numbers. As President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák stated, “the presence of cocaine and opioids has never been higher, more people than ever are producing the drugs”. This concern was echoed by UNODC executive director, Yuri Fedetov who also cautioned that drug markets were expanding and urged member states to engage in international cooperation to address the problem. Fedetov further noted the importance of creating guidelines for treatment and care and acknowledged the recent increases in non-medical prescription drug use.

Angela Me, the UNODC Chief of Research, expanded on several areas of the 2018 World Drug Report. Me noted the sheer unprecedented amounts of traditional drugs, synthetic drugs and the diversity of drugs on the current illicit drug market. Me also recognized regional trends highlighted in the 2018 Report. Me stated that while the cocaine market has traditionally been relegated to the Americas and parts of Europe, the 2018 Report continues a trend noticing higher rates of cocaine seizures aimed for Asia. Tramadol was also recognized as having been seen in increased seizures in parts of Northern Africa where some of it is intended to ship to the Near and Middle East. The Report also examines the trends of fatal opioid-related overdose in the Americas.

The Ambassador from Colombia declared that, per the UNGASS 2016 outcome document and Plan of Action, human beings should be at the center of drug policies. Citing Colombia’s own suffering at the hands of the illicit drug trade, the Ambassador urged the UNODC and member states to issue drug policies compatible with human rights treaties and the sustainable development goals.

Austria repeated these demands concerning human rights and recommended that the UNGASS outcome document be a guiding force in formulating future policies.

The United States expressed dissatisfaction concerning the lack of participation in the ARQ process and supported strengthening the capacity of states to respond to ARQs in a comprehensive way.

Mexico recommended that future Reports include the topics of gender, harm reduction and human rights.

Civil society also made statements during the proceeding, primarily through interventions from the Civil Society Task Force on Drugs (CSTF) and UNAIDS. The CSTF intervened to state the importance of having meaningful civil society participation at all relevant proceedings leading up to and including at the 2019 Ministerial Segment.

UNAIDS provided the final floor statement where they stressed the importance to integrate ham reduction strategies into the drug policy framework.

The 2018 World Drug Report can be found here.

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