Informal dialogue with the UNODC Executive Director

Question: ‘Drug users are victims’, are they?

Response: Many are innocent victims. Others are not. Some are victims of drug producing, dealing, etc. Whatever they are, they are human beings. They need treatment and compassion. Some will commit crimes, and need to be held accountable for them. They need medical help and assistance. Role of prevention as the most powerful instrument against drug addiction. NGOs can play a role in this through our country programmes. Regarding treatment, we need to develop medical skills. We should not only focus on one single method of treatment.

Question: Yesterday, you mentioned the issue of ‘rejuvenation of the Drug Control Conventions’. But these remain unchanged for the past 50 years, so what do you mean about that statement?

Response: The UN convention is more than 50 years old. It has been implemented in a specific way for the past decades. But today, life is changing, we are in the process of globalisation. We all need to work on how to implement better the conventions in this new geo-political and global circumstance. Today, we need a balanced approach towards drug control between drug demand and supply reduction. We have long over-focused on supply, we now need to strike a balance.

Question: Meaningful involvement of drug users in the debates?

Response: As UNODC, as a guardian of the UN Conventions, we rely on advice and guidance from our stakeholders, member states. At the national level, policies are defined by governments. These should reflect all concerns, including those of civil society. The way PWUD can take part in design and deliberation should be done through their national governments, who can them bring the debates to the international sphere.

Question: In some countries where drugs have been decriminalised, drug use has not increased. This is a clear disproval of the theory of drug prohibition, the basis of the whole UN drug control system. What is the position of UNODC’s on the growing idea that the theory of drug prohibition has been disproved?

Response: I have no heard anything of the sort from member states. On the contrary, they wish to focus on demand. But I am prepared to work on this issue, prepare a discussion paper and discuss it with you. Mr. Gerra knows a lot on the issue.

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