Home » People First: CND Special Event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and to launch the 2023 UNODC World Drug Report

People First: CND Special Event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and to launch the 2023 UNODC World Drug Report

Mr. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair:

All right. Please be seated. Hi distinguished guests, dear colleagues and friends. It is my honour to welcome you to this event to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and to launch the 2023 UNODC World Drug Report. The theme of the World Drug Day 2023 – ‘People First: Stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention’ signifies the renewed focus on the human aspect of the drug problem and call to action to address the social and structural barriers that prevent individuals and communities from accessing effective prevention, treatment and care services. The theme highlights the need to stop the stigma and discrimination associated with drug use and drug users, which often leads to the marginalization and exclusion of affected individuals and communities and hinders their access to health services and social protection. It also emphasizes the importance of the strengthening prevention efforts by promoting evidence-based and context-specific interventions that prioritize the health, well being and rights of individuals and communities and that address the underlying determinants of drug abuse, such as poverty, social inequality and lack of opportunities. We are here today to share facts on drugs and to save lives by presenting the latest data, trends and analysis on the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs worldwide, as well as their impact on health, security and development. This event also provides a valuable substantive contribution in the lead up to the 2024 CND midterm high level review of all international drug policy commitments. We will hear from the Executive Director of UNODC Ms. Ghada Waly on the overall context and priorities of UNODC’s work on drug control and from Ms. Angela Me – Chief of Research and Trend analysis branch of UNODC on the key findings of the 2023 UNODC World Drug Report. We will also have the privilege of listening to a diverse panel of academic experts, a youth representative and the Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, who will share their insights and perspectives on various aspects of the world drug problem, such as drug supply, drug use and treatment, and drug data. Moreover, we will have the opportunity to listen to the representatives of Member States, UN entities and NGOs informing us about the experiences, challenges and best practices in addressing the world drug problem. Without further ado, I would like to invite Ms. Ghada Waly, the Executive Director of UNODC, to deliver her opening remarks online.

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC:

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I’m very pleased to be addressing you today at the CND Chair Special Event to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and to launch the 2023 edition of UNODC flagship World Drug Report. The findings of the 2023 report reflect the continued suffering caused by the world drug problem. Globally more than 296 million people use drugs in 2021, an increase of 23% over ten years. In the same period, the number of people suffering from drug use disorders went up at more than twice that pace, rising by 48% to reach almost forty million people. Yet also in 2021, only one in five people with drug use disorders were in treatment. Meanwhile more than 13 million people injected drugs, over half of them living with hepatitis C, HIV or both. The consequences of drug use and the deficit in access to treatment run parallel to the inequalities that plague our world and our societies. People belonging to higher socio-economic groups are more likely to initiate drug use but those from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to become drug dependent. There are large disparities in the availability and quality of treatment in different regions and countries, especially between the global North and South. And everywhere, those who are marginalized are less likely to receive treatment or ask for it, held back by stigma, discrimination and poverty, among other factors. In some regions for example, the percentage of women among those in treatment for drug use disorders is lower than 10 percent. Medicines containing controlled substances are similarly out of reach for too many who need them. The number of doses of pharmaceutical opioids available in high income countries remains much higher than in low and middle income countries. In some cases it is thousands of times higher, even as many people suffer needless pain due to insufficient availability, especially in the Global South. As inequalities multiply, health gaps between people, the illicit drug economy is multiplying the harms caused to people, including by converging with other threats. Crises of conflict, climate and economic hardship have left more than 110 million people worldwide displaced, making them more vulnerable to drug risks and more difficult to reach with treatment. Armed conflicts have presented criminals with opportunities, for example in Ukraine where trafficking of synthetic drugs is showing signs of potential expansion. In the Sahel, where the illicit drug trade finances non-state armed groups and in Haiti, where cocaine and cannabis traffickers are taking advantage of poor vulnerable communities by other crimes. This year’s report dedicates a chapter to the Amazon Basin, where drug trafficking and production are linked with crimes that affect the environment, exposing indigenous peoples and local communities to even greater risks of violence, victimization and severe health impacts. At the same time, the criminal model of drug trafficking itself is evolving. Different parts of the supply chain are fragmenting, making them more agile and replaceable. The rise of cheap, fast and easy to produce synthetic drugs is flooding many markets with lethal substances such as methamphetamine and fentanyl. And seizures of new psychoactive substances have risen by 40% in one year. The evidence is clear. Drug related challenges are causing more and more human suffering, and responses are struggling to keep up. It is time to put people at the centre of drug responses and to prioritize their safety, dignity and health. And it is time to treat the victims of the world drug problem with compassion. Stigmatizing the illicit drug markets and not the people it preys on. Excellencies, this year we have taken an innovative approach with the World Drug Report, convinced that more focused and accessible data will help you formulate more effective policies. For the first time, the report is presented in an interactive online format with interactive graphs, infographics and maps. It also covers contemporary issues related to drugs, from synthetics to drug crime in the Amazon Basin, to substance use disorders among displaced populations, to innovations in services and regulations, and more. As we look to move forward in the way we understand and analyse the world drug problem, we must also move forward in the way we respond. Moving forward means ending discrimination towards people who use drugs to ensure that every person in need has access to treatment and that their human rights are respected. It means investing much more in early prevention, especially among young people, to stop the drug use and its preventable health risks from becoming a new norm. It means exploring the complex relationship between drugs and mental health and how we can limit harms and also reap the benefits of possible medical apply applications. And it means more targeted law enforcement responses to meet specific challenges in a swiftly evolving market. It is my hope that this year’s World Drug Report will prove valuable to Member States and partners in making progress against the world drug problem. I also hope that the report, this event and the theme of our international day contribute positively to the 2024 CND mid-term high level review of all international drug policy commitments. Let us work together. Let us work together to pursue balanced, humane and effective drug responses, putting people first. Thank you very much.

Angela Me, Chief of Research and Trend Analysis, UNODC:

Thank you and good afternoon to everyone. I will try to, you know, unpack some of the content. As always, there is so much in the report and I cannot cover it all, but I will try maybe to emphasize what are the issues that may be required is more relevant also to, I mean everything is relevant to the Commission, but relevant in terms of thinking about what does all of this information means for the international response. But before this I really wanted to first thank the team, because it’s always a team effort and a lot of work to ensure that you know, you have a beautifully packaged report every year. And so, I would like to thank first Chloe who manages the whole production of the report. She’s now in New York presenting the report to the New York UN audience. And then I would like to, to thank [?] that is sitting back there, because he’s the one that actually manage the whole online segment. But then a series of other analysts and statisticians. So on the back, Cumber and Thomas, and there is Bryce, they did a lot of work in really ensuring that the analysis that you see in the chapters is solid and relevant. And also the, you know, Antoine as the head of the statistics for having led really the production and crunching over all quantitative data that you see now in the report and online. So with this, with your permission, I think I really wanted to recognize. And then in addition, I’m sorry, the designers that always do fantastic job and every year is a piece of art. Anyway, so let me start by saying so what are the… one of the packaging in a way some of the findings, as Miss Whaly said, one of the issue in relation to the drug use that we see emphasized is particularly the disparities that we see. The disparities between the global North and South. You see it there on the left, and you see the proportion and availability of opioids, controlled opioids for medical use, so mainly for pain medication and care. And you see there the high bars in terms of quantity or daily doses per million of inhabitant available. And you see how large are the bars of high income countries and how low are the bars for low income countries. And so uh, we can we have estimated that about 86% of the population globally are living in countries with inadequate availability of the drugs for pain and care. In terms of looking also the disparities, here is just an example of the women and the disparity between the percentage of women that use drugs. They remain, you know, globally men use, there are more men that use drugs than women definitely. But what we see is that those that go in treatment and women, the percentage of women is much lower compared to the percentage of those that use drugs. So really suggesting… And this is also compounded from a lot of other qualitative research, so that there is really particularly a treatment gap for women. But there are also issues of treatment that affect also some population groups like homeless for example. Or other population group that are more stigmatized and then for you know in a way pay a higher price in terms of the harm of drug user. But this year we also have an increase in the global estimates of people who inject drugs – 18 percent more than what we estimated last year. This is due mainly to new data available. But still, you know, it tells that the size of the problem in terms of injecting is much higher than what we thought. Um, so. And then in terms of you know, what does this tell us in terms a response? So clearly, you know, the provision of services, the classical, you know, the prevention, the treatment and then the measures to contain the harm of drug use. But in a way, just provision of the service is not enough. There are really elements, particularly in relation to addressing inequality that are important. So, stigma continues to be one of the biggest impediment to accessing services. So, eliminating stigma. But also addressing the specific needs of subpopulation groups. For example treatment for women require specific provisions. But also to think about the services in humanitarian settings. In a time where you know, we have a record high more than one 100 million people displaced globally, you know, the importance of also looking at the services […] we have a chapter in the report that could be useful as a basis you know to understand this issue. Continue to say, on the health side, we have analysed regulations and issues relating to the medical use of controlled drugs, and particularly in two areas where this is becoming, I would say, challenging or that requires, you know, a deeper understanding on how medical use is allowed. And this is particularly in relation to psychedelics. This is really a policy issue that is emerging very fast in North America, is also coming to Europe as a much faster, in a way that we have seen for cannabis, where, you know, we see basically medical research that gives hope to controlled psychedelics being a good treatment for a series of mental health disorders. But at the same time a perception among the population that is running much faster than the research and that is triggering you know, change in drug policy, changes in the availability of medical and not only for psychedelics. We looked at the cannabis, particularly on the cannabis herb based product and how these are regulated. And we have analysed a few countries to really understand how regulations, you know, can affect the full availability for medical use, while preventing the diversion and the no medical use. And there are three elements that you will find in the chapter. Again hopefully to help countries that want to regulate the medical use of herbal cannabis. You know, and that relates to the product that are made available, the range of products, the patients accessibility, so for what conditions the medical cannabis is available and also the supply mechanism. What we see emerging both of cannabis and psychedelics that is most worrying is the commercial interest. And so in terms of, you know, what is the response, what is the issue that we need to consider in relation to these findings? Really is how we keep the equilibrium between, you know, providing the access and preventing the diversion and the no medical use, and where really this is. And again the example, with psychedelics and cannabis is clear is that, you know, there is a high commercial interest that of course push for legislation and accessibility. But they are much uh, if you want, open accessibility. And so we’re one of the messages, not the only one, is to really making sure that while regulations evolve, they really look at the interest of public health and not commercial interest. Also Ms. Waly has mentioned that we have dedicated a specific chapter to looking, continue to look at the environmental impact of the drug challenges, and we have done this by actually focusing in a well, in an area that is quite large of Amazon. But we really need to, instead of, you know, being in a way superficial and say in general, globally, we said, okay, let’s look what it means really, the environmental impact of drugs in specific areas. And what we have seen, and what you will read in the report is that more than a direct impact of drug cultivation and trafficking in the Amazon, there is an indirect impact that is more relating to the drug economy. That the large cultivation and trafficking that there are in certain areas in the Amazon, are really triggering or empowering drug trafficking groups, so that they conquer in the way the territory, and then they expand in other type of illicit markets that heavily affect the territory – Illicit logging, illicit mining, wildlife trafficking. All of these are the ones that also cause deforestation but directly for example, the drug cultivation. And what you will see in the chapter is basically also a lot of maps, to see how the this concentration of issues and for example you see there on the down concentration in certain area of Colombia, where for example in grey, you see the cultivation of coca bush. And you see there where it concentrate deforestation, cultivation of coca bush, and also violence with the communities in a way that react to the criminal groups, and you know for example some of the tax you see there is against environmental defenders. So you clearly see the communities that are really trapped into this vicious cycle, of violence, of indigenous community, really where their territories is destroyed by these drug trafficking groups. We have also been looking at, Ms. Waly mentioned the conflict, and to understand how drugs really affect conflict and how conflict affects drugs. And here, just a map that where we try to map all the UN mission and peacekeeping to try to understand what are the type of drugs that affect. But you will see in the chapter, in the World Drug Report, in the executive summary and also in the online segment, for example, an update on the Captagon trafficking. An update on Afghanistan and you know the methamphetamine, particularly how the methamphetamine production is evolving there. But also in other areas where there are conflict, where we try to analyse what are the emerging threats. So, what is the response, you know, out of, in a way, these situations of environmental degradation, conflict? So we focus a lot in terms of possible responses on community base. So really the response often has to be very local and considering really the needs of the community and the rights of communities for safety, health, environment and a clean environment. And the need to consider, to continue to monitor the situation, particularly also when we have a fragile situation, in conflict situation, but also in this situation where all of this crime convergence is happening. One of the analysis that we have is you know, in a way to think about the new challenges that the law enforcement have, and this is relating more from the synthetic drugs that I will go through briefly. But also on the boom of the cocaine, of the global cocaine market. And you know, for the synthetic drugs, as Miss Waly has mentioned, you know, is an issue that they’re becoming cheaper, faster, replaceable and much easier to produce than plant based. They can produce anywhere, while plant based, you know, require certain, um, certain local conditions. They can, you know, even they are much less bulky and so easier to traffic across. The example of fentanyl and heroin. But what they also have is that they involve less people. And here you see the different proportions in terms of people involved. For plant based, at the source, there are many thousands of farmers, you know, thinking about cocaine or heroin production. And then, you know, the number of people go down and then at the end the retails continue to be, you know, thousands retailers globally. With synthetic drugs, you know, it’s much more a pyramid. So there are lot less people involved, and so much harder to control. And again this doesn’t seem to stop, you know, the threat of synthetic drugs. And you will find again in the chapter a lot on details on the concrete facts, is that the plant based and cocaine doesn’t really seems to stop. And so what does it mean for law enforcement, all of this? One of the really big message is that, you know, the need to focus on the system and not on single events or single seizures or… Because, you know, criminals are becoming the drug trafficking organization much more volatile, much more, um, you know, less hierarchical and much more opportunistic and much broadly dispersed around the world. So there is really the need to focus on this system. And to focus on this system really requires the building of trust, in sharing information intelligence of law enforcement agency within countries but also across countries. And you know, focus for law enforcement instead of spreading all where, you know, we’re spreading around doesn’t really help to stop the trafficking. But maybe to focus on the nodes where you know most of are the drugs for example ports. But also, you know, thinking about synthetic drugs, how to really target a policy to control the chemicals in a situation where, you know, there is such an expanding chemical and pharmaceutical industry and how to control also large industry production of diversion. On the way, I want to conclude, just to say that you will find plenty of data in the report and particularly, you know, in what we have in the online segment. Just to give you that we made it awfully easier for you to find the information of the World Drug report. So there is an easy way where you can search for the topic, for the region that you’re interested. And so to make it really more accessible to crunch, to digest all of this information on the latest trend in various area of the drugs. So with that, thank you.

Mr. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair:

Alright, we have heard the 2023 UNODC World Drug report provides a comprehensive advanced picture of the world drug problem, which requires multidisciplinary and people-centred approach. I would like to invite the panellists – the youth representative, and the chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs to share their views and insights. Please keep in mind that we have a limited time so I can re ask that the panellists keep their presentations to five minutes maximum each. That said, I would like to pass the floor to the first panellist who will speak about drug supply.

Peter Reuter, Professor of Public Policy and Criminology from the University of Maryland, USA: Thank you very much. The World Drug Report tries to track […] beyond just flows from one country to another. Each set of presentations and chapters provide unique opportunities and unique syntheses of what’s known about production and distribution. Despite that, what we mostly see are many puzzles and I want to focus on just two of them. One specific puzzle is that the internet continues to play a rather small role in drug markets. Chapter seven of the report provides a careful and exhaustive review of what is […] from many different sources about drug sales, both on the open internet called ‘deep web’ and the dark internet. The internet, as we all know, accounts for growing share of legitimate commerce, particularly in rich countries, perhaps as much as 15% in many countries. And the attractions of the web for drug users are obvious. No more having to go to dangerous parts of downtown, deal with menacing dealers, much more friendly to consumer friendly, customer friendly marketplace arrangements. Yet estimates in the chapter of the report show that less than 1% of such drug sales are on the dark web, and that social media is becoming more important, it is still sort of in the small single digits as a percentage of the total. We can only guess as to why this is so. Many factors might contribute. For example persons who use drugs frequently, particularly expensive and dependency creating drugs such as cocaine and heroin unlikely to have urgent need for their drugs, and little ability to save enough to make large purchases. They buy small quantities to meet their immediate needs and so they cannot wait for delivery from distant sources. Similarly, many users may still be unsophisticated in using the web. And that’s just sort the beginning of the list of factors. But some of these factors may change in the near future, and markets could transform. In ways that could both worsen some problems, making drugs more accessible to very young users, but also reduce others, such as violence in retail drug markets. So it’s very important that the World Drug Report continues to track the development of the internet as a drug market. The 2nd major puzzle that I want to talk about, and in this way I reflect, I think, the independence of the Scientific Advisory Committee, because I’m slightly going to contradict what Dr. Me has said, and that is the relative failure of new psychoactive substances to displace the traditional ‘big four’: cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. UNODC has nearly a thousand new psychoactive substances that have been registered, and they’re the subject of chapter one in the report. But almost all of the registered new psychoactive substances have disappeared a few months or at most, a few years, usually without having ever been important before they disappeared. The modern pharmaceutical industry pumps out new products a great rate, though getting a drug to market is hugely expensive. That’s primarily for regulatory reasons. Innovation itself no longer requires a huge investment in sophisticated research. A good chemist, and a clandestine lab can easily experiment with changing the structure of an existing molecule. So why have the illegal labs not produced new psychoactive drugs that can compete with the traditional products? Dealers have, as two previous speakers said, every reason to prefer synthetic drugs of a plant based drugs that are bulkier, subject to seasonal variation and vulnerable to pests and herbicide. So perhaps NPS is a problem that’s just a bubble on the surface of a rather stable supply system. However, it only takes one bad drug to cause great damage. Just as Covid-19 was a enormous problem because the ill effects did not manifest promptly, so it could spread rapidly before the population was aware. So, some very harmful illegal drugs can enter the supply chain without apparently causing much damage initially. In the U.S, it’s only after hundreds of thousands of people have used Xylazine regularly, it has become apparent that prolonged use led to necrotic skin ulcers, a sometimes fatal condition. So the NPS is another problem where you could on the face of it, dismiss it, but in fact it really does require the monitoring that the drug report provides. Thank you very much.

Professor Alison Ritter, Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program, University of New South Wales, Australia:

Thank you very much for the opportunity. I’m joining you from land that is traditionally owned by the Birrabirragal people of the nation which we know as Sydney, Australia. I’m pleased to be talking with you about drug use and drug treatment. As already mentioned, 296 million people used an illicit drug in the last year. Mostly this was cannabis. We are less interested in drug use and more interested in harmful drug use. These 296 million people include some people who used a drug once in those twelve months. It includes people who might have used that drug twelve times a year, like once a month. And it also includes people who have used daily. Not everyone who uses an illicit drug develops a drug use disorder. In fact, the statistics show that about 9% of people who use cannabis develop a cannabis use disorder. It’s about 23% for people who use heroin. So as researchers and clinicians, we focus on drug use disorder or drug dependence because we worry about the harms associated with dependence – the health harms, the social harms and the criminal harms. So a key question is what proportion of the 296 million people experience a drug use disorder? And an estimate for this year’s World Drug Report is that it is around 13%. Only 13% of the 296 million people develop a drug use disorder. But this is the population that needs treatment. And consistent with putting people first and having policies that represent compassion, we should offer treatment to these 39.5 million people. How many people actually receive treatment? Obviously this is a global average and varies enormously across different regions of the world, but at the moment it’s around 18 % of people with a drug use disorder receive treatment. There are very few other diseases which represent so much harm. And yet, have such a very low treatment rate. And of course, not only does the treatment rate vary by region, the type of drugs that people present with for treatment vary as well. This slide shows the light oranges, the opioids, and you can see the different regions of the world have quite different proportions of opioid treatment presentations. Similarly, cocaine the light blue, differs by different regions. Very large here, very small here. Cannabis is this column and then amphetamine type stimulants reasonably high in Australasia. As well as Eastern/Southeast Asia, but quite low for example in North America. We’re only treating 18% of people. How do we increase and improve access to treatment? Firstly, we need many more treatment places. Secondly, we need to increase the different types of treatment available. Each person should have access to different types of treatment detoxification, counselling, rehabilitation, and medication treatment. We also need to expand the settings in which treatment is available, so offering treatment in hospitals, in community and in primary care settings. The Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for many communities, but it has also presented some opportunities for treatment reform. The opportunities to expand and improve drug treatment, as documented in this year’s World Drug Report include the provision of telehealth, virtual treatments, smartphones, treatment through apps, and telephone. Research has shown that providing telehealth treatment for drug use disorders is feasible, acceptable, patients are satisfied, and it has good treatment outcomes. The second opportunity that Covid presented, was in relation to take home medications for the treatment of drug use disorders. These were successfully used to ensure that there was continuity of treatment during Covid for people with drug use disorders. It has increased the access to treatment and the early studies have not shown an increase in overdose deaths, but we need more research in this area. All of the research in relation to telehealth and take home medications comes from high income countries, and we need more research on the application of these in lower income countries. We also need to expand new treatment opportunities. For example we need better treatment technology. We still don’t have a medication to treat amphetamine dependence. And we need much more effective counselling for drugs like cannabis, given that makes up the majority of illicit drug use globally.


Professor Vicknasingam Balasingam, Professor of Addictions, Centre for Drug Research, University Science in Malaysia:

What I’m going to talk, this part on data today. If we look at the World Drug Report 2023, the data completion rates, data was received from 125 countries in 2022 compared to 110 countries in the previous cycle of 2020. So there is an improvement in terms of data that was received or data that was collected for the World Drug report 2023. So, as you are probably already aware that the World Drug Report largely draws from the Annual Reporting Questionnaire (ARQ) and it is broadly divided into the supply side, demand side and other aspects, including responses, legislation and institutional framework, and cross cutting issues. The completion rate includes also a minority of data points integrated into database from secondary sources. Sometimes data is not available, so UNODC actually collects or gets data from secondary sources to complement the ARQ. So, this is the slide on summary of data that was obtained for the demand side. And as you can see, various regions in the world where the data that was collected, in terms of, they are in shades of blue to grey, the amount of data that came in, and you can see they are still […]. And what Ms. Angela Me showed earlier, there are about 90 interactive graphs and maps in the current World Drug Report. So given the time, I cannot go into all the trends, but what I’m trying to show you is an example from the demand side. So if you look at the global and regional trends of opioid use, globally trends remain stable. Subregions with relatively high prevalence of use include North America, Near and Middle East and South West Asia. So the consumer market for amphetamines, in terms of demand, North America, South and Southeast Asia remains the largest market for amphetamine users while highest prevalence of use is in North America and Oceania. So I’m just giving you a snapshot of data from the demand side as well as the supply side, and then I’ll give you a conclusion of the data. And then if you look at regional trends in cannabis use and treatment, here, you can see where data from the ARQ is not obtained, expert evaluation is used as an opinion. Cannabis use has increased worldwide over the past decade, especially in Africa and Asia in particular. In Africa, particularly West and Central Africa, cannabis is the main drug of concern for treatment delivery. So we look at and this is a summary of the supply side. The map of the world of supply side. And you can look at completion rates. They are kind of more or less similar with demand in terms of the amount of data that was obtained. You can see large parts of Africa where there is no data that was obtained at all. So, seizures of cocaine by country and region. More than half the seizures were in South America, followed by other regions of the world. Seizures of amphetamine type stimulants – Methamphetamine dominates global seizures at the global level. The vast majority of methamphetamine seizures are in East and Southeast Asia, North America, as well as Oceania. Amphetamine dominates ATS seizures in Western and Central and South Eastern Europe as well as in the Near and Middle East. ATS affecting Africa are mostly diverted falsified pharmaceutical stimulants used for non medical purposes. Ecstasy seems to be relatively widespread in South America and Caribbean, although the overall market there are relatively small. The geographical distribution and global quantities of heroin and morphine seized largely mostly seized in Near and Middle East and Southwest Asia and so they account for more than half of these drugs seized in 2021. And then the 3rd part is the responses and cross cutting themes. Again, you can see more or less the data that was obtained is similar to the demand and supply side by regions. As an example of the cross cutting issues, we look at new psychoactive substances or the use of new NPS and psychoactive substances. Based on available data, mostly from high income countries, use of NPS is lower than drugs under international control. In my conclusion, I’ll say some of the challenges faced in detection of these drugs. According to the large internet survey, most from high income countries, the use of NPS, especially ketamine, has increased over the last five years. So detection of NPS drugs is definitely a challenge. So therefore, and you can see most of the data does come from high income countries compared to low income countries. So, in conclusion, in terms of data, it is important to collect high quality and reliable drug demand and supply data. This data is important for effective planning of interventions and policies. Currently, UNODC collects data using the ARQ but supplements and triangulates its data by using other published scientific studies. In addition, it also uses expert opinions, a qualitative component, to complement its data collection. So gathering data from various sources is important to ensure reliability and validity of data. It is important for the global community to assist countries, regions where data is still lacking to develop capacity as I showed in the map, the world map earlier. You can see that there are regions and they are quite consistent in terms of demand, supply and also the cross cutting issues. Data is currently mostly obtained from high income countries. As we are aware, drug use trends and drug trafficking routes across border issues, drug markets continue to evolve and change based on a variety of factors. For example how Covid-19 impact on the drug markets. It is therefore important for countries to understand the regional and international trends based on good quality global data. Not having good grasp of data from a particular region or country may have an impact on planning for effective interventions. It is in the interest of the global community to develop data collection capacity. There is also a need to standardize the classification of drugs, especially new psychoactive substances. I think the traditional drugs, it is very clear whereas with NPS there is a need to standardize its classification. For an example is mephedrone, where it is placed under international control in 2015, but many countries to continue to monitor it under NPS. So there is a need to standardize this classification capacity of countries to detect NPS, mostly detected in high income countries. The use of dark net, internet, as my colleague Professor Peter Reuter said makes it easy for drug producers to produce new NPS, while enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories face challenges to detecting NPS. Sometimes before it is detected, the trend has already moved to a new NPS. So there’s always a catch up game played by the agencies, by enforcement agencies at the laboratories. Capacity and resources need to be enhanced for regions where this is lacking. There are also gaps in data collection and sharing within country. For example sharing of data between drug demand and supply agencies. Sometimes agencies don’t talk to each other. I personally find that there is gap in data utilization by countries, for example data collection collected by enforcement agencies are not shared or utilized by health agencies and vice versa. Better utilization of these data by countries will have with more effective interventions. I think UNODC continues to bridge this gap, but definitely more can be done. Thank you very much.

Stephanie Albor, Participant of CND Youth Forum 2023:

Thank you very much. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you. When we talk about substance use prevention, we’re talking about human development and providing age appropriate development support. Regardless of geographical location or cultural background, mental wellbeing of people matters. And also, it plays an important role in understanding and responding to new emerging challenges that our society and communities face. It is important to acknowledge the impact of natural disasters, epidemics, armed conflicts or wars can have on individuals which disrupts their lives, their safety and health. Some emergencies even force people to leave their home and places on them a range of social and health problems. And at first, when the crisis situations are immediate and acute, basic necessities such as food, water, safety and medical assistance can be most urgent. But then when people are out of immediate danger, it can significantly impact, and the next layer should be supported to given attention, such as mental health and continued education. Human beings are subject to various protective and risk factors that can determine ones vulnerability or resilience to substance use. For those in challenging circumstances, such as marginalized people or displaced people in humanitarian settings, some of these factors are exacerbated in different ways due to the variety of stress factors. And when this is added to potential discrimination in social exclusion by the community, it can significantly impact their mental well being and contribute to the feelings of loneliness and social isolation and hinder the pursuit of support. Displacement can result in the separation of families, loss of social support networks, disruption of social roles and relationships, and affects one’s self identity. Appropriate mental health and psychosocial support should be supported to crisis affected communities and people. If mental health problems are stigmatic and seeking health is a sign of weakness or shame, can you imagine how much harder it will be to have access to such, uh, emergency or challenging settings? It is essential to prioritize physical and mental health that is grounded on a human rights basis, that is inclusive of everyone. And to invest in strategies that can also support the well being of displaced people or marginalized people through evidence based approaches that minimize harm and promote social justice. It all comes down to remembering that people should come first. Healthy development of an individual is a fundamental purpose of our efforts on preventing substance use. Thank you.

Matej Kosir, Chair of the VNGOC:

Thank you, Ambassador, for inviting me to speak today on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. It’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to address this very important event, especially because it’s my first official statement as new chair. For those who may not know us very well, the VNGOC exists in power and support civil society groups from around the world, including our 374 members from 101 countries. Our mission is to support promote and protect the engagement of civil society in international drug policy discussions and decision making processes, including with CND UNODC, INCB, WHO and many others. Many of our members are global networks themselves, so VNGOC reach is much bigger, and this is especially important from the perspective of the spread of key messages and results of the World Drug Report 2023 launched today. I want to start by thanking the Chair and the Secretariat for giving NGOs space at today’s event and also for ensuring that the event is being webcast, so this makes our opportunity for many NGOs to participate and listen to this to this event. I also want to echo others in congratulating Miss Angela Me and her team for delivering this latest World Drug report. It’s a massive undertaking and it remains the main tool that we have for understanding and analysing the world drug situation. The Vienna NGO Committee looks forward to co-hosting a webinar with UNODC next month on July 19, for NGOs to discuss the report in more detail. UNODC’s theme this year – People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention, is a timely reminder of the importance of investments in evidence-based prevention programs and interventions as early as possible in people’s life and beyond drug use, while promoting the implementation of the UNODC WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention in educational and family settings, workplaces, and communities. At some recent conferences, I have witnessed presentations of research results showing that stigma and discrimination among professionals and service providers is one of the major barriers in addressing access to services by people who use drugs or are addicted to drugs. So I agree we have to do better to address those challenges in the future, and definitely the VNGOC will do our part as well. The theme this year is also an important reminder that when we put people and the communities first, there is no dichotomy between different approaches and services. Now, more than ever before, strong partnerships between civil society and governments are the key to face the increased needs and challenges in the period of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. As stated in the report, the barriers to different services, not only to treatment but also to prevention, harm reduction and recovery, still remain, especially for women and most vulnerable and marginalized groups. So the importance of strengthening collaboration with civil society organizations is even bigger. Later today, you will hear from three of our member organizations about service innovations developed during Covid-19, but also about drug and crime related challenges that affected communities face. Unfortunately, in many areas of drug policy, the situation has not improved or is even worse in recent years compared to previous decades. I believe that the situation is not as unpromising as it may seem from the report and that there are many positive, evidence based and effective policies and practices in the world in the field of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery that should be highlighted in such reports as well. It may be worth considering to systematically include such information and research data in the following reports, and I believe that the report would sound differently, with at least some added hope for the better future. Civil society organizations, together with Member States, academia, the private sector and UN agencies, can contribute a lot to this kind of data and research. As always, civil society is able and willing to work with all of you in sharing facts, exchanging information, data and best practices, and also saving lives. At the end, as the most important outcome of our joint efforts and investments. As the VNGOC, we look forward to being part of the solution. Thank you for your attention.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Mexico:

Distinguished Executive Director, dear colleagues, I would like to express our appreciation for this meeting and the presentations made. I would begin by pointing out that this edition of the World Drug Report is not a conventional one, and that is precisely one of its features that I would like to acknowledge. We are finally moving from a simplistic approach, focusing only on production, trafficking and consumption, towards a comprehensive analysis that addresses the deep complexities and the various interactions, direct and indirect, that take place within the world of drugs. The old simplistic approach would have caused us to futilely continue focusing on the prevalence of marijuana as a most widely used substance. Yet, this report makes possible to detect and therefore formulate better policies, unveiling that the exponentially increase in consumption is really with cocaine and methamphetamines, the fentanyl and other opioids, especially synthetic ones, are the most lethal substances and that all substances are not receiving due attention such as ketamine and tramadol, which the report calls ‘the other great opioids crisis’. The new approach better reflects the trend we have been warning about – the conversion of natural drugs to synthetic substances. Responding to concrete factors such as advances in scientific knowledge, new methods to produce opioids or economies of scales such as the appearance of new cocaine and operates production pools which facilitate and reduce the cost of drugs production and trafficking, increasing profit margins. In the case of products made with cannabis, the challenges that we should be focusing our attention have to do with manipulation via agri-engineering of the natural contest of Delta-9 in THC and […] is with the progress registered in an increasing number of countries, towards the regulation of their research and medicine use of cannabis, recognizing its therapeutic potential and having just distinguished between the opiates and opioids, the CND will have to address the difference between natural cannabis and the new synthetic substances, as well as the pertinency of referring to them as synthetic cannabis. Having promoted since June UNGASS 2016 a review of the traditional drug policies for moving towards a comprehensive strategy and action based on public health, human rights, social justice, peace and sustainable development, Mexico welcomes the attention given to the diversity of challenges faced by men and women which have brought to light among other worrying realities, that discrimination faced by women regarding access to health services, the particularities of indigenous peoples, the linkages between drug trafficking and other types of crime including trafficking in firearms, and more notably the impact of criminal organizations on migration, internal displacement and environment. Particularly with the narco-deforestation and the diversification of criminal activities undertaken by drug traffickers, and the increasing use of cyberspace and cryptocurrencies for the drug trade. In the case of Mexico synthetic amphetamine type stimulants such as crystal methamphetamine are the main substances related to mental disorders and the main attended events source by our health sector. Opioids including fentanyl material are of limited use whereas the current problem relies on its accessibility for medical purposes. To prevent and reduce the use of psychoactive substances in children and youth, we have established a national strategy for prevention of addictions – Together for Peace. And since 2019, we have strengthened and adapted our prevention and treatment services for addressing the roots of substance abuse through community interventions at different levels. And with comprehensive approaches for prevention and care, we have also developed a platform for precursors – The Integral System of Substances (Sisus) and a watch list program to address the problem of diversion of substances for drug production. As usual, we are ready to share our experience. Thank you very much.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Guatemala:

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the work you’ve been leading this year. We welcome this report certainly, and particularly it’s friendly format. It’s more useful that way. Of course, this report is useful barely to appraise the state of play and the dire situation that we’re going through. The world drug problem is a complex scenario, a concentration of issues, as you said, Madame Me. With many variables that collude and converge to form this monster problem that has a thousand heads, the biggest variable by far is the economic variable. The insatiable demand that fuels this scourge, which then makes profitable not only the manufacture of precursors, but also the trafficking itself, which corrodes our institutions and certainly leaves a wave of tragic violence in its path. The report, of course, doesn’t reflect the gravity of the corruption and the violence resulting from narco-trafficking, nor the, as the young lady said, the how it disrupts human development and how it dislocates state resources, as it is not your competency. The fact that I’d be briefed on nevertheless less weary because this economic variable is like the eight hundred pound gorilla we’re not talking about. We fail to talk about this and as the Executive Director said in her brief remarks, we need to formulate more effective policies. Indeed, as long as we don’t tame this gorilla which weighs more than a ton rather than eight hundred pounds, we will experience ever more growing world drug problem, as we have seen in the last six decades. Are we going to keep this trend? And this is a question where all of us as states have a share responsible. This problem has to be addressed in all these variables, but as long as the profitable trade is there, we’re going to be throwing bad money into a problem that we’re not solving, and our youth deserves better. So if we keep failing to fight this scourge, my worry is we keep doing the same, and having least or less tangible results. I leave you with this question for all my colleagues too, because this is the issue. Thank you.

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

Good afternoon, Ambassador. Maybe in two minutes I would not be able to deliver it, but I will try to deliver in super speed mode. I hope so. Distinguished colleagues, allow me to begin by thanking the entire secretary of UNODC for their work in the course of preparation of the World Drug Report 2023. I extend my appreciation to the CND and to the Secretariat for organizing this event and for the opportunity to share our views on the World Drug Report 2023 which was presented to the public yesterday. The world report is a critical tool to spot new drug abuse and trafficking trends and helps to have an optic image of the world drug problem. The report should draw our attention to persistent and emerging challenges and threats related to the world drug problem that require member state partnership and international action. It should be noted with concern that some controversial terms like “gender diverse groups” have been using this report that are not agreed upon and accepted by many countries therefore we request to edit the text and delete these terms as needed. Global opium production has followed the long term effort trend over the past two decades. According to the World Drug Report, the global area under the opium poppy cultivation increased by 28%  in 2022 and Afghanistan continue to come for the majority of almost 88% of global illicit opium production in 2022. Furthermore methamphetamine manufactured and use have risen in recent years and the drug is being trafficked to the wider region and beyond. This trend is a growing concern in the region and beyond. As transpired in the report, we hope that the drug ban in Afghanistan will lead to substantial decrease in the future. Alternative development remains a critical pillar of supply reduction policies for farmers and drug producers in country as emphasized in the World Drug report. We believe that the international community should urgently provide necessary support and help farmers of this country to have alternative means of income. In this, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the role of my country in responding to the world drug problem. As early reported in recent years, Iran has yet set a unique record in the fight against world drug traffickers. On average, more than 90% of opium seizures, 20% heroin seizures and 59% of morphine seizures in the world have been made by Iran in the recent years. In 2022, our law enforcement officers succeeded to seize 7.6 tonnes of different types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances including 540 tonnes of opium, 76 tonnes of hashish, 30 tonnes of heroin and morphine and 30 tonnes of methamphetamine. The benefits of blocking thousands tonnes of illicit drugs from international drug markets have been global, but mostly at the expense of high economic and human cost to my country. Shared responsibility calls for the international community, in particular countries that benefit most from reducing trafficking, to effectively support or campaign against international drug trafficking including providing technical assistance, transfer of technology and necessary equipment. Undoubtedly if necessary support is not provided to frontline countries the increasing trend of methamphetamine production along with the opium production in our region will seriously affect other region as well. In this battle, there is no safe haven so that some might explore as an option to collective effort. Mr Chairman, in line with this supply reduction policy has advanced a society based strategy in the field of drug demand reduction, with the focus on prevention, promotion and promoting the capacities for social participation and maximum use of cyber space. Prevention has been given priority and individuals are prevented from entering the destructive cycle of addiction, to the raising awareness and creating social sensitivity among target groups and environments. In this area, my country has benefited from activities of 29 NGOs, 1644 cultural activities and prevention, 959 in treatment and social support, and 156 in the field of production and employment. It should be underscored that close to 90% of harm reduction plans are being carried out by the NGOs. Major part of ongoing activities in the area of demand reduction is conducted by women and girls who are specialists in this field. It should be added that in 2022, special centres for girls become operational in the several cities. Active in the fields of the health, empowerment treatment and harm reduction, the health centres are being drawn by female specialists and seek to empower vulnerable female teenagers, reduce risk factors and enhance resilience, as well as skills to combat social harms and drug use. Last but not least, the above mentioned activities carried out by Iran are just a few of long shopping list of our work in addressing and combating the world drug problem. I thank you.

Distinguished Permanent Representative of Spain:

It is a pleasure for me to participate in this event. Spain welcomes the launching of the UNODC 2023 World Drug Report. This publication is a comprehensive tool that enables the international community to put into place effective strategies and activities, to better design supply chain production policies, to identifying emerging trends, and to strengthen international cooperation. It offers high quality information and shows the importance of joining efforts in order to facilitate evidence-based knowledge of the world drug situation. The information provided will be a valuable backing to policy makers, civil society, health care practitioners and law enforcement professionals, enabling them to make informed decisions within the respective areas of responsibilities. At national level, Spain has established a Drug and Addictions Observatory, which provides a global scenario of the situation and characteristics of drug consumption and trafficking, to both the government bodies and the general public. The Observatory plays a coordinating role in collecting and analysing data on drugs at the national level. This information is distributed to relevant bodies through publications or thematic reports. Additionally, it seeks to raise awareness on new or negative trends and promotes specific research or studies on them. The Observatory cooperates and coordinates with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition. It is worth also mentioning the European Union Early Warning System on New Psychoactive Substances, which is designed to rapidly detect, assess and respond to health and societal risks caused by new psychoactive substances. The report is a result of a collaborative effort for the benefit of us all. My authorities have contributed to this effort and are ready to learn from its content, to encourage countries to support this initiative and strive to offer the highest quality data possible. Thank you very much.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ecuador:

Good afternoon and thank you, Mr. Chair. Ecuador thanks UNODC and its research and trend analysis branch for issuing the World Drug Report 2023. The report provides valuable information on drug use, production and trafficking with updated data on high levels of consumption, supply and trafficking. This includes in our case, cocaine storage and delivery mainly to the ports of USA and Europe as final destination. The government of Ecuador during the past two years has made the political decision focused on seizing drugs that enter through our land borders, in order to prevent their shipment abroad. Since 2021, 450 tons of drugs have been confiscated with a market value of 23 billion dollars. We also destroy 16.16 tons of cocaine using encapsulation methods with the assistance of the UNODC laboratory […] Of the crime related to drugs so that such as human trafficking and illegal mining. Additionally efforts are being made to address the internal violence that affects the lives and well being of people living in urban and rural areas. The entire society is impacted by these issues, with particular emphasis of those living in coastal areas. Improving the level of security and preventing violence is a major concern in addressing the drug problem. It is important to recognize that insecurity is not limited to the production and transit countries as ports in Europe that receive cocaine through sea routes are experiencing growing levels of insecurity. The conservation of the Amazon basin and its ecosystem has been affected among other factors, but these crimes. Multilateral environment organizations and regional entities such as the Amazon corporation treaty are addressing these issues. Anyhow the UNODC is particularly valuable when it comes to combat these crimes in this regard. The World Drug Report 2023 highlights the convergence between drug related crimes and environmental crimes in the Amazon region. Our perspective is that the drug problem primarily undermines security, institutional stability and democracy. The principle of common and shared responsibility is crucial in the fight against drug trafficking at the multilateral level. Recognizing that no single country has a capacity to tackle this problem, also underscores the importance of international cooperation. During the 66th session of the CND and the 32nd session of the CCPCJ, as well as in other forum, Ecuador has emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of illegal drug use as a whole, rather than focusing solely on problematic use, especially given the increasing consumption in developed countries. The Latin America and the Caribbean region is facing an mutual increase in violence and armed violence primarily attributes to the overflow of drug trafficking and related crimes. Recognizing the significance of this issue, Ecuador has intensified cooperation activities and projects with the UNODC. However despite the fact these efforts the need for increased support and resources persist. Thank you.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France:

Mr. President, first I would like to say how grateful we are to the UNODC Research Branch for this new edition of the World Drug Report. World drug related challenges hinder our collective ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and undermine our efforts toward this goal. We have noted with concern that this report underlines annexes between drugs, crime that affect the environment and convergent crime, and the example of the Amazon basin is, in that regard, particularly telling. With a prolonged surge in both supply and demand, drug use continues to be high worldwide. To contribute to the effort to curb the supply of cocaine, France, in partnership with the UNODC, has been supporting alternative development programs in Bolivia and will soon in Colombia too. But these serious threats call for more integrated responses. Combating illicit drug trafficking should be an integral part of a balanced and global approach, in full respect of the international drug control conventions. France has been promoting approaches based on human rights, including the abolition of the death penalty, based on gender mainstreaming and non stigmatization, as well as early prevention, rehabilitation and access to affordable, safe and quality care. Although France is not in favour of legalization policies, the French authorities have been implementing over the years alternatives to sanctions as well as harm reduction measures, including in prison settings in March, 2023. France adopted a new strategy addressing these aspects which will soon be supplemented by an action plan to combat drug trafficking. Thank you very much for your attention.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Uruguay:

Uruguay is pleased with the motto of this International Day. Stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention. Uruguay has always supported the fight against stigmatization and discrimination to people who use drugs. We consider that drug policies should be aimed at deconstructing stigmatization, stereotypes and social representations, promoting tolerance, and contributing to eliminating discrimination against users of drugs. Special attention should be given to women with whom the relationship with drug is even more stigmatizing, which make it difficult to see the problem and seek help. Uruguay addresses the adoption of drug policies with a holistic, comprehensive, balance, and interdisciplinary approach, based on science evidence, with a human rights and gender perspective, putting people, their well being, their health, and their freedom at the centre of these policies, working on prevention with a perspective of risk management and harm reduction. In 2018, Uruguay and Canada promoted resolution 61-11 of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs. It encouraged the promotion of non-stigmatisation attitudes in the development and implementation of drug policies, based on scientific evidence related to the quality, to the availability, access and provision of health care and social services for drug users and to reduce any possible discrimination, exclusion or prejudice that these people may suffer. Education and information based on scientific evidence are fundamental elements that will help prevention to avoid prejudice and stigmatisation of drug users and to remember the failure of previous international drug policies such as the war on drugs. Finally, Uruguay takes note of the 2023 World Drug Report and reiterates support to the inclusion of a chapter on drugs and human rights in this report. Thank you very much Mr Chairman.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Kyrgyzstan:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Dear colleagues, we thank the research and trend analysts branch for preparing the World Drug Report for 2023. Since the first day of independence, Kyrgyzstan has been taking measures for the effective functioning and improvement of the drug control system. In recent years, Kyrgyzstan has been paying special attention to drug demand reduction and related measures, including prevention and treatment, as well as other health related issues. Taking this opportunity, we reaffirm our commitment to the three international drug control conventions. Moreover, Kyrgyzstan is the first country from Central Asia that joined them. Information of the World Drug Report on the growing number of cannabis users among young people who are vulnerable to the long term negative effects of cannabis use and are more susceptible to their faster development of dependence is of concern. In this regard, we declare that the Kurdish Republic is against the legalization of cannabis and continues to apply already established national control measures. We are ready to actively cooperate with our partners to curb cross border channels of illegal cannabis flowers. Dear colleagues, according to the report, some seizures indicate that the export of methamphetamine from Afghanistan has also potentially increased and is now reaching markets in Asia, Africa and Europe. In this regard, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that Kyrgyzstan is located on the so called northern road, which runs through hard to reach for law enforcement the agencies territories. In order to effectively combat drug related crimes, we have begun to apply innovative methods, in particular the use of unmanned aircraft systems in countering drug trafficking, which has significantly strengthened the anti-drug potential and the capabilities of law enforcement. The use of UAS has already brought notable results in identifying illegal cannabis groups located in remote mountainous areas and detecting illegal drug trafficking routes. During the 66th session of the CND, Kyrgyzstan with the support of Kazakhstan, tabled a draft resolution entitled ‘Expansion of the use on unmanned aircraft systems in the fight against drug crime’.  We have received a lot of feedback, various opinions and comments from member states on this issue. We highly appreciate your active participation in the discussions and thank you for your help. As previously noted, the Kyrgyz republic plans to table the draft resolution for the same decision next year. We look forward to your continued support and cooperation in this regard. We believe that the successful adoption of the draft resolution will strengthen our common efforts to address and counter several drug problem. Thank you, Mr Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland:

Our special thanks go to the Secretariat and especially to the UNODC research branch for their important work. At the outset, and as we celebrate this year, the 30th anniversary of the Vienna declaration and programme of action on human rights. Let’s be referred to the […] issued by the High Commissioner on Human Rights three days ago, ahead of today’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Let me express Switzerland’s appreciation regarding the focus and substantial reference to health dimension of drug policy in this 2023 edition of the World Drug Report. We acknowledge with regret, that death related to the drug use were estimated about 500,000 in 2019, a 17% rise. We notice with great concern that liver diseases attributed to hepatitis C are a major cause of death, prompting the need to globally generalize the availability of direct acting antivirals. Those figures show that we are facing a public health crisis which requires that we deploy an array of harm reduction and treatment options, from opioid agonist therapy to psychosocial support, but also social services and support to vulnerable members of our societies to meet patients and those suffering substance use disorders. If you have access to treatment and therapy, and this is an urgent area we need to address collectively through the CND and our common deliberations. Access to controlled medicines, especially opioid analgesics remain difficult for 86% of those who need it, mostly in low and middle income countries. At a time when non-clinical diseases are on the rise, access and availability of controlled essential medicines require our cooperation to spread the best practices around the world, together with INCB, UNODC and the World Health Organization. We also acknowledge the growing domination of synthetic drugs in the legal market and the many deaths related to synthetic opioids. We should continue trying to find the balance between countering the illegal trafficking of potent, dangerous substance […] Our common responsibility is to protect the general population and vulnerable communities but also to strive to release the pain of patients most in need of these substances through strong and effective health systems and national, comprehensive approaches.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica:

My delegation is pleased to participate in this special event to launch the UNODC world drug report 2023. We welcome the statement delivered by Ms. Ghada Waly and the presentation by Ms. Angela Me. My delegation thanks UNODC for the report which is a valuable resource to guide our actions to combat the war drug problem. The report confirms that we witness in our communities everyday. Drugs permeate all realms of life and affect the most those in economic vulnerability. Inequality and social and economic disparities continue to drive and be driving by the drug problem impacting people’s right to secure livelihood, health environment and their health. As such, we need to address the world drug problem first has social issue, putting the human being at the centre of it. We must reduce inequalities, provide access to treatment and comprehensive service to address the social consequence of drug use, particularly among vulnerable or marginalized populations. We must step up our efforts to fully implement the 2030 agenda as the only way to advance taller, more inclusive and fairer societies that provide equal opportunities for all and safety needs to the most disadvantaged. Secondly, prevention is key. We must protect our young people from failing into the world of drugs through education, paying particular attention to their mental health and drug prevention. Also structural and economic inequalities, harmful socio-economical norms, gender based inequalities and gender based violence needs to be tackled. The report is clear that until now we are losing the battle. Cannabis continues to drive the world drug market, but also transforming rapidly which synthetic drugs are becoming increasingly dominant. The way in which market operates with easy validity of information enable widespread manufacture and increasing use of online communication platforms. Reducing barriers to entry for criminals requires urgent and coordinated action. In this regard, international cooperation and information sharing are of the utmost importance. In conclusion, Mr. Chair, we appreciate the very important information this report provides, which should serve as a roadmap for urging action to combat the drug problem. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Colombia:

Mr. Chair excellencies and colleagues, distinguished panellists. Columbia welcomes the launch of the World Drug Report 2023 and we appreciate the work of UNODC for compiling, analysing and preparing it. As you all know, this year marks the midpoint of the work towards achieving the SDGs. However, the global drug phenomenon continues to challenge both the implementation of the SDGs targets and the efforts to promote peace and human rights and protect the environment. Drug policies dealing with supply and demand reduction and many other aspects must prioritize the wellbeing of those communities that are seriously affected by both. By the serious consequences for public health and the archaic and punitive measures that disproportionately impact societies around the globe. In Colombia, we recognize life as the most precious asset, therefore we have decided to build the drug policy around what evidence this dictates must be the centre of our attention – the people. For this reason we have carry out a wide consultation process involving youth, indigenous communities, victims of the conflict, small growers and social leaders in the regions. In this way, our drug policy now focus on territorial transformation, social justice, environmental conservation, public health, cultural transformation, human security. All needed to achieve the long awaited total peace in my country. We also recognize the importance of striving to ensure fair and responsible regulation as a tool that will allow us to correct the mistakes of the past. Furthermore, it is essential to identify and recognize the licit and traditional uses of plants with psychoactive properties, as well as to promote research and repeal the stigma attached to such plants and the communities that cultivate them. Our recent history testifies to how essential it is to place life as our greatest interest. If we think of people and plants as our enemies, we will fail again. Moreover, one of the sources of life and one of the worlds environmental pillars, the Amazon basin is being affected due to converging crimes that accelerate environmental devastation and human rights degradation, affecting indigenous people and other local communities. At the same time, Colombia is focused on containing the expansion of areas, planted with illicit crops through territorial transformation aimed at reducing the dependence of territories on the illicit economies fostered by drug trafficking. While also ensuring care of life and environmental conservation and boosting state presence, we are promoting the gradual transition of the communities involved in drug trafficking towards alternative development, a key element to enable sustainable livelihoods outside drug economy. Mr chair, distinguished colleagues, decreasing drug consumption does not require wars. It requires that we all build a better society, a more caring society, where the intensity of life saves from addictions and modern slavery. As reflected in the report, young people remain the group most vulnerable to using drugs. Inequality and social and economic disparities continue to drive and be driven by drug phenomenon threatening public health and human rights. At the same time, illegal drug markets are transforming rapidly and in some regions radically, with synthetic drugs becoming increasingly dominant because they’re cheaper because they’re easier, cheaper and faster to manufacture. Therefore, we need to take action together to better understand the failure of our traditional approach to this complex and multi dimensional global situation if we really want to provide care for all those who need it. In closing, allow me to highlight that intensifying prevention campaigns and fostering greater international cooperation under the principle of common and shared responsibility to counter and addressing threats posed by illegal drug markets remains critical more than ever, to mitigate the consequences. I thank you Mr. Chair.


Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Egypt:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. At the outset, Egypt would like to express its sincere appreciation to Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UNODC and Miss Angela Me and her team for their commendable efforts in launching the World Drug Report. Mr. Chair, we express our deep concern at the high price paid by societies and individuals as a result of the world drug problem and note of concern the increase of people who use drugs over the past ten years, and innovative methods used by criminal organizations to increase their enormous illegal wealth and taking some countries unstable security as a safe haven and a fertile environment for the cultivation, production and manufacture of illicit drugs. Moreover, tangible progress has to be achieved to address and counter the prolonged search in both supply and demand of cocaine, the expansion of methamphetamine market, and the increase of non medical use of Tramadol, which continues to affect countries in parts of Africa and Asia. Accordingly, the reason for drug reports reflects the importance of the international community collective response, through reinforcing determination to address and counter the world drug problem and to actively promote a society free of drug abuse in order to help ensure that all people, especially youth, can live in health, dignity and peace with security and prosperity. In this regard, Egypt would like to highlight the following remarks associated to the publication of the World Drug Report. Strengthening the international cooperation is an essential aspect to address and counter world drug problems through exchanging expertise, best practices and providing technical assistance. The need to strengthen our commitment to combat illegal drug trafficking, especially when it comes to countering new patterns used to increase the illicit drug markets such as the dark web. The growing trend of legalization of the use of cannabis constitutes a significant challenge for the international community, namely for parties to the international drug control conventions. We fully support the importance of addressing the risks and harmful effects of cannabis use through preventative measures that particularly target youth. As we are all aware that cannabis exclusively remains one of the most harmful and abused drugs and has negative consequences on public health and public safety. It is observed that legalization has not been able to discourage young people from using cannabis and illicit markets persist and in some cases even flourish. And we fully agree with what was highlighted in the recent INCB report, specifically regarding the concern about the marketing and scale of cannabis space products, which appeals to young people as well as the declining perceptions of harms associated with cannabis, despite the high potency of cannabis products available in the market and related health concerns. The evolving dynamics and chance of non-medical use of synthetic drugs remains the priorities in our efforts to address and counter the world drug problem, particularly that synthetic drugs offer criminals several advantages, namely lower operational costs, reduced risks of detection and the flexibility to change the precursor chemicals used to manufacture these drugs. In this context, Egypt takes note of appreciation the analysis reflected in that chapter titled ‘synthetic drugs phenomena’ in the current world Drug Report and expresses the need to have conclusive actions to address and counter this phenomenon. Mr. Chair, before ending my intervention, I would like to raise our concern regarding a particular issue in the current report, namely the reference to ‘gender diverse’. I underscore that this reference when considered in its letter and spirit go beyond the goal of the report and instead give rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing norms under which all sovereign states have the obligation to treat all persons under their jurisdiction as equal before the law without discrimination based on their behaviour. The term ‘gender diverse’ used in the report without mandate, find no agreed definition under international law. The inclusion of these terms that carries certain responsibilities on states based on grounds not recognized within the Universal Declaration on Human Rights or the relevant international covenants which member states have ratified would open a pandoras box against governments and individuals over creating special rights that do not enjoy consensus. This would only create further division within the international community and lead to more polarization in our work here in Vienna, which is known for upholding the spirit of consensus. I have to highlight the need to respect cultural, religious and traditional values of all states, I thank you.


Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Singapore:

Thank you, Chair. First of all, I would like to extend my delegations appreciation to Angela Me and her team at the UNODC research and trend analysis branch for this report. I think it’s a very important report and we welcome it. The report addresses many important issues and I know that time is short for my comments, so I really just want to comment on a couple of points in the report. The first is cannabis. We know the findings and cannabis’ harmful effects in the latest report – the respiratory and cognitive impairment, negative social impact and the debilitating harm cannabis causes to families and communities are well documented. At the same time, there’s a growing global trend of young people consuming newer synthetic drugs. They do not take the harmful and long term effects of drugs and of drug addiction seriously. We need to dispel the misconception and stop the misinformation. But drugs, whether synthetic drugs or cannabis are not harmful. Let us be clear. They are very harmful. Redoubling our efforts in preventive drug education will help cut through the misinformation, raise awareness of the harms of drug abuse, and strengthen resilience against drugs.  As co-chair of the group of friends of UNODC research, Singapore recognizes the importance of data collection in supporting national as well as international policymaking. The UNODC has done a commendable job conducting objective scientific evidence-based research on the world drug problem. This research and the World Drug Report continues to be an invaluable tool to support governments and the international community in our development of effective and balanced responses to address the world drug problem. Singapore will continue to work closely with the UNODC and other international organizations such as WHO to counter the drug epidemic that plagues all our societies. I thank you Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Australia:

Australia welcomes today’s launch of the 2023 World Drug Report and we thank the research trend and analysis branch for its work to produce it. Today also marks World Drug Day, with this year’s theme focused on putting people first by strengthening prevention initiatives and stopping stigma and discrimination. Documented in the Drug Report, stigma and discrimination continue to have a negative impact on people who use drugs, including their families and communities, and is a significant barrier to accessing treatment and support services. Person-centred approaches to drug policy that incorporate human rights and evidence-based practices are necessary to reduce stigma and the harms associated with drug use, and we welcome the comments by Executive Director Ghada Waly and INCB President Toufiq in this regard. Australia is committed to working in partnership with civil society and affected communities, and across sectors to develop and implement initiatives that prevent and minimize drug related harms and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with use. It is important to ensure that harm reduction initiatives account for the needs of priority populations, align with human rights principles and are incorporated into the criminal justice sector. Australia remains concerned by the continued challenges associated with synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamines, and the rise of potent synthetic opioids. We acknowledged the UNODC synthetic drug strategy and its role in strengthening the global response. Safe handling and disposal of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals are integral to the efforts to combat illicit drugs, and they require particular attention from law enforcement and relevant authorities. Australia was proud to have lead sponsored this year’s CND resolution on the safe handing and disposal of synthetic drugs, their precursors and other chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs, and we welcome the co sponsorship by over 50 Member States. The World Drug Report finds that the illegal manufacture of synthetic drugs continues to expand in many regions around the world, including in Southeast Asia in our neighbourhood. Australia will continue to support regional efforts to counter illicit drug trafficking, including working to enhance the capacity of ASEAN Member States in safe handling and disposal of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals. Australia acknowledges that the information in the World Drug Report on drug use, production and trafficking, and the analysis in the report by the Research and Trend Analysis Branch is based on data that has been provided by us Member States. We recognize the importance of Member States continuing to provide regular and high quality data to the UNODC and sharing experiences with the international community, and we welcome the significantly increased data completion rates that have fed into this report. Through our collective efforts, we can continue to enhance data and information sharing to drive a more precise and strategic response to the global drug situation. Thank you.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Canada:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Canada welcomes the theme of this year’s World Drug Day, that is ‘People first: Stop Stigma, Discrimination, Strength and Prevention’. As Executive Director Waly, Madame Angela Me, the Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and the President of INCB have noted in their remarks and press releases, stigma against people who use drugs continues to obstruct access to health services for people who use drugs. Reducing the stigma will be key to our collective progress in drug policy interventions. Canada welcomes the invaluable information in the 2023 World Drug Report, with the latest global information and trends in drug use, demand and supply. We wish to extend our healthful thanks to Madame Angela Me and her entire team. The addition of a dedicated web portal that allows users to explore data by topic, region, and substance provides streamlined, accessible information that will help provide a clearer picture of global trends. It is imperative that the international community understands the global and regional circumstances that affect the lives of millions of people who use drugs. Recognizing the disproportionate impact the drug policies can have on populations marginalized based on age, gender, and other intersectional social and economic factors, Canada supports a full continuum of strategies to meet the diverse needs of people who use drugs, including treatment and harm reduction services, enforcement efforts to enhance safety and security awareness, prevention and stigma reduction activities, and data research and surveillance. The drug toxicity overdose crisis fuelled by an unregulated, volatile and illegal drug market continues to impact the lives of people living in Canada. Our most recent statistics show that from 2016 to 2022, there were some 35,000 opioid toxicity deaths in Canada. The crisis is still taking approximately 20 lives every day in our country. Our response involves extensive engagement with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders, including people with lived and living experience with substance use. Since 2017, Canada has committed over 800 million dollars for evidence-based prevention, treatment and harm reduction measures, like the broad low-barrier distribution and access of life saving naloxone among first responders, health institutions and the overall population. These funds have also supported law enforcement including through training to reduce stigma and have helped to strengthen and expand the evidence base. Canada also continues to work closely with international partners. We are proud to continue supporting the work of UNODC in leading a coordinated global response through the synthetic drug strategy. We commend the Office for further developing the UN Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs and making it available in all six UN languages. Canada continues its support to the Container Control Program in Latin America and the Caribbean, implemented by its long term partner, the UNODC, in partnership with the World Customs Organization in select countries. As we prepare for stock taking exercises in the fall and look ahead to the mid-year review, we will keep the information contained in the World Drug Report in mind. Canada finally welcomes the contribution to our discussion made today by experts of the UN human rights system. We fully support their call on Member States and all UN agencies to ground their drug policy responses in international human rights laws and standards. Canada wishes to congratulate the UNODC for efforts on this year’s report, and we look forward to continuing our important work together. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Japan:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We welcome the World Drug Report and Japan would like to highlight only two points for substantial consideration. First, methamphetamine. The expanding market for synthetic drugs, especially methamphetamine, continues to grow. […] methamphetamine laboratories have been detected in several regions, including in Southwest Asia, South Asia, and Africa. Additionally, there has been many data from Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries indicating rapid increase in methamphetamine production in Afghanistan. This continuing trend is of great concern to us, as we have not established therapeutic drug for methamphetamine addiction. We urge UNODC to continue to correct and share data on this growing trend, particularly on ongoing challenges in Afghanistan. That’s number one. Second, the method of drug trafficking. Japan welcomes the chapter dedicated to the role of the dark web, social media platforms and encrypted messaging apps in drug trafficking. As access to internet connectivity becomes more available to more people, we must take the time to consider how traffickers will target this new group of consumers, particularly young people. We also appreciate the report’s emphasis on the potential of the internet to improve access to drug treatment. We would like to see continued in-depth analysis on the impact of an increase in digital connectivity and emerging technologies through high quality data collection and further studies. It is clear for Japan that access to comprehensive set of data serves as a critical foundation for formulating evidence-based and balanced regional and global strategies to address many of the world’s drug related problems. I hope I was short enough to be commended by you. Thank you.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the United States:

Good afternoon, both to you ambassador and distinguished colleagues. It’s my great honour today to participate in this commemoration of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the launch of the UNODC World Drug Report. I would like to thank Executive Director Waly, Angela Me and the staff of the research and trends analysis branch for the 2023 report. The World Drug Report continues to be one of the most significant publications on global drug data, is immensely important to policy makers around the globe and serves as an incredibly useful complement to the United States International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which we also publish each year. This year’s report underscores the dynamic and evolving transformation of drug markets, global supply chains and negative health outcomes brought about by the rise in synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs are present everywhere, manifesting primarily as opioids in North America, Tramadol in Africa, Captagon in the Middle East, ketamine in Asia, and methamphetamine around the globe. As this year’s report notes, synthetic drugs offer criminals specific advantages over plant-based substances. Manufacture is more easily scaled, barriers to entry are lower, production capacity ceilings significantly higher. Furthermore, the internet has shortened supply chains, lowered costs, and increased accessibility to both traffickers and consumers. Simply put, synthetic drugs undermine our shared safety, security, and public health and represent today’s and the future’s greatest drug-related threat. The United States is eager to collaborate with international partners through the Global Coalition against Synthetic Drug Threats. This Coalition is a diplomatic effort to shed light on the public health and security threats posed by synthetic drugs, and assemble a diverse group of countries that will drive concrete action and results. We welcome any country with an interest in confronting this challenge to join our efforts. As the report states, only 1 in 5 people with drug use disorders globally receives treatment, and barriers such as stigma, block much needed access to treatment. In the United States, we have redoubled our public health efforts, investing significant resources to expand access to evidence based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery measures. We have also continued many practices begun during the pandemic to facilitate connections between service providers and people who use drugs, and we appreciate the report highlighting such innovative practices. The United States applauds this year’s World Drug Report for its treatment of the many interconnected aspects of today’s drug related issues. As we contemplate next year’s midterm review and high level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, it is clear much work remains to be done. International cooperation will be essential to meeting these challenges head on. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr Chairman, Madam Executive Director, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, we appreciate this opportunity to share views on the World Drug Report 2023. The report demonstrates alarming trends related to both drug cultivation, production, manufacturing and abuse worldwide. Such is to say that 1 in every 13 people in the world […], reflects 23% increase within the recent decade. The report also shows record levels of the illicit production of cocaine, unprecedented seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants […] The key factor is non compliance of countries with the three UN drug control conventions. A selective approach to legal obligations, to cooperation and to policy commitments. Sometimes a lack of political will to deal with root causes of the problem, instead of minimizing its adverse consequences of promoting exclusive rights of drug addicts. Sometimes, simply following a false cause. But sometimes, which is really unacceptable, imposing those false solutions on others. We believe that the main precondition to effectively combat the world drug problem is to focus the efforts and resources on countering illicit drug cultivation, production and trafficking, as well as on scientific, evidence-based prevention. All this through international [?] in good faith. One of successful examples of such efforts is dismantling the dark net platform ‘Hydromarket’ in April 2022 due to efforts of Russian law enforcement agencies which according to the report, resulted in a significant decrease of dark net drug sales. We take note of the specific chapter on the medical use of cannabis, which inter alia highlights changes in the perception of risk and harms of non medical use, due to the unlimited spread of cannabis based products as well as their innovation and diversification led by commercial interests, which may open the market for the recreational purposes. The report also acknowledges that there is a false perception of belief backed by cannabis advocacy groups or the industry that herbal cannabis and cannabis based products are safe and natural, and therefore mistakenly taken by the population for unconditionally good or useful. It is also very worrisome that in some countries, medical cannabis markets are driven mainly by commercial interests, which leads to manipulations of public opinion and to the wrong perception by the population of allegedly harmless effects of cannabis. As a result, the dangerous liberal attitude toward illicit drugs appears to prevail. This is a kind of liberalism, narco-liberalism, which is nowadays, unfortunately, on the rise. As recognized in the report, young people are more vulnerable to drug abuse than adults. The use of cannabis among fifteen/sixteen year olds is higher than in the general population which is particularly dangerous for adolescents and can have long term negative effects. This is why Russia pays special attention to this area and support the UNODC use initiative. At the same time, we would appreciate if the authors of the report would make it more clear that the fundamental aggravating factor is the legalisation of cannabis by some countries for non-medical purposes, which is a fundamental breach of their obligations under the UN drug control conventions, and it is particularly harmful to the youth. In conclusion, with regard to the so called thematic chapters of the report, we would like to reiterate our position that their topics should be identified in close dialogue with Member States and better correspond to the scale and complexity of the World Drug Program. Thank you for your attention.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Venezuela:

The republic of Venezuela appreciates UNODC report and presentation, which highlights the fact that drug abuse and trafficking continues to pose threats to health, public safety and environment and sustainable development worldwide. We take note of the special chapter on the nexus between drugs, environmental crime and coverage and crime of the Amazon Basin, which has been historically a strategic region for Latin America with vast natural resources for Venezuela, with the Amazonia covering an important percentage of our territory. We are very much aware of the challenges posed by drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. It is important to address this problem in a comprehensive and collaborative perspective. The interconnection between drug trafficking and other crimes demands a multi-dimension response. It is necessary to strengthen our institutions to improve intelligence and law enforcement capacity, as well as to foster cooperation and information exchange among countries in the region, including exploring other innovative cooperation mechanisms. Venezuela insists on addressing the root causes of the problem. This involves the implementation of comprehensive policies that provide economic and social opportunities to local communities, thus reducing its vulnerability to illicit activities. We must also strengthen prevention by addressing drug demand from a public health perspective. In addition to the challenges of the fight against the world drug problem, Venezuela faces challenges in participating in international cooperation due to unilateral coercive measures that impede or limit, in practical terms, the international cooperation and technical assistance. Venezuela as a firm believer in multilateralism, would like to ensure that international cooperation is not only affected but also facilitated through the relevant UN bodies, particularly the UNODC, INCB and other empowered spaces. In conclusion, only through a joint and coordinated approach under a multilateral architecture, we will be able to confirm this common threat that knows no borders or political views. Thank you very much.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Thailand:

Mr. Chair, at the outset, my delegation wishes to express sincere appreciation to you, your team and the Secretariat for organizing the event today to commemorate International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. In line with this year’s theme, allow me to reaffirm Thailand’s dedication to the international drug control commitments with a view to protecting the health and welfare of humankind and highlight some of our works in putting people at the centre of our drug control efforts. In suppression, the new Narcotics Code places greater emphasis on health as well as treatment and rehabilitation services, an alternative to punishment for minor illicit drug users. Following the legal reforms, the capacity of over 10,000 centres of diverse settings throughout the country has been enhanced to rehabilitate drug users according to their needs, without stigma or discrimination, and with greater attention to their mental health. In prevention, we are working with local communities as well as multi-stakeholders and youth networks to raise people’s awareness regarding drug use and strengthen their resilience against illicit drug production and trafficking, including through education, media campaigns and alternative development programs. Mr. Chair, I would like to also congratulate UNODC on the launch of this years World Drug Report and thank Ms. Angela Me for her presentation which highlights various alarming trends including the challenges posed by the world drug problem, and other global goals and objectives. In conclusion, as we are at the halfway mark of the 2030 agenda, I wish to stress our common and shared responsibility and reiterate the need for united efforts in addressing the world drug problem, as its effective pursuit will not only enhance the health and welfare of our people, but also support the promotion of peace, security and human rights, as well as the realization of the SDGs. Thank you.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Brazil:

Thank you, Mr Chair. First, I’d like to congratulate Miss Angela Me and her team for the report as a whole, as well as for the approach taken at her presentation today. Ms. Me began by highlighting the deficit on access to substances for medical use in many developing countries. Also, she touched on the problem of stigma. Fighting stigma relates to addressing inequalities, to pursuing social justice and to catering for specific needs of people and vulnerable groups. Fighting stigma and discrimination is part of tackling the world drug problem. This cannot be minimized. Mr. Chair, the Amazon Basin as highlighted in the World Drug Report covers an area of approximately 7 million square kilometres, equivalent to 70% of the size of the European continent. The basin has more than 1,100 rivers and tributaries. In Brazil alone, there are 60,000 kilometres of inland waterways. One can only try to imagine the difficulties to adequately police the area against crime. The chapter, ‘The nexus between drugs: Crimes that affect the environment and convergent crime in the Amazon basin’ of this year’s World Report sheds light on the challenges posed by crimes relating to drug production and drug trafficking, but also to the ecosystem of crimes surrounding drug-related crime, such as crimes affecting the environment and other convergent crimes. In the Brazilian Amazon region, there’s no production of drugs, but, as the report indicates, the impact on the environment occurs through the diversification of illicit activities by organized criminal groups. To tackle this problem, Brazil has a number of initiatives, many of them in partnership with the UNODC and Member States, such as the Tapajos project, which had a dedicated side event at the last CCPCJ. The sheer size of the region and the complexities for maintaining an adequate surveillance of the area require the expansion of the availability of resources for countries in the region to better tackle those challenges, as well as tighter and better coordination among Amazon countries, countries outside the regions and other stakeholders. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Peru:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by expressing our appreciation to the UNODC, particularly to Angela Me and her team for the presentation and the preparation of the World Drug Report 2023, as well as to the panellists for the very informative presentations. This year, the flagship document unfortunately shows an increase in production, consumption, sophistication of the value chain, innovation, new markets, new routes, new infrastructures, more consumers, but significant disparities in access to treatment. All of this has a negative effect in our societies and in the implementation of the SDGs and show us once more that we are not doing enough. One aspect of the report that I would like to refer is the drug-related organized crime in the Amazon basin and its links to crimes affecting the environment. Mr. Chairman, Peru is a large country with 1,285,000 kilometre squares. That means fifteen times the size of Austria, of which more than 60% is jungle. That means nine times the size of Austria. That’s the Amazon Basin that belongs to Peru. In this vast area, only 10% of our population live, which means 3 million people. So you can imagine the large areas with poor accessibility where control is difficult and the presence of the state is limited. Poverty, lack of services, lack of facilities in rural areas creates the perfect environment for illicit activities and crime. This is what is happening in the Amazon. It is the Amazon basin where the central nucleus of illicit production is located. This illicit production generates severe damage affecting protected natural areas and border zones, such as a triple Amazonian border between Peru, Colombia and Brazil or the binational border between Peru and Bolivia, seriously affecting the territories of the indigenous communities that inhabit these areas, as has been clearly documented in chapter four of the World Drug Report 2023. In the case of Peru, around 10,000 hectares of coca bush production is located in areas of native and indigenous communities. Moreover, illicit drug trafficking is a very complex global problem that promotes other criminal phenomena associated with violence, endangering public health, national security, democratic governance, the economy and the environment. In this regard, Peru has adopted different policies. One of them is the national anti-drug policy 2030. I would like to highlight only one of these pillars which is a Peruvian model of alternative, comprehensive and sustainable development, whose final objective is to recover vulnerable families trapped in the illicit economy of drug trafficking, to generate licit income to reduce their vulnerability, and recover their dignity, putting people at the centre and incorporating them into a sustainable and market based economy. But these efforts are not enough. Internationally, more actions are needed, such as the full compliance with the UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 – cornerstones of the global fight against the world drug problem. Secondly, increased coordination and efforts by producer and consumer countries to fight against illicit drugs under the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities. Thirdly, strengthening successful programs such as the Global Container Program, which is one of the few positive aspects of the report when it refers to the increase in seizures. Fourthly, comprehensive approach to the fight against illicit drugs, including related crimes such as illegal lodging, illegal mining, trafficking in wildlife and other crimes that affect the environment, as well as coordinated work among UN agencies and financial institutions. Peru together with Germany and Thailand, and also together with Angola and Kenya in the frameworks of the CND and the CCPCJ, have presented resolutions on some of these areas with specific suggestions. And finally, it is needed an enlarged support of the UNODC and the international community to fight against structural and economic inequalities, gender violence, strengthen prevention and promote sustainable alternatives to illicit activities. Thank you very much.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine:

Thank you Mr. Chair. The delegation of Ukraine welcomes the World Drug Report 2023. We would like to thank the Secretariat for presentation and we appreciate that in this edition, special attention was paid among the others, to the Russian war against Ukraine as an opportunity for drug producers, especially with regard to the production of the synthetic drugs. In this regard, we also call to use in the next edition proper terminology recorded in the official UN documents. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom:

Distinguished Chair, Your Excellencies, Dear colleagues, The U.K. thanks Angela Me and her team for the World Drug Report, and we congratulate you on the new user friendly interactive format, which makes it easier for all of us to access this valuable information. The World Drug Report continues to be an immensely valuable tool for the U.K, and it’s particularly valuable this year as we head into the midterm review. In fact, this report provides an important evidentiary base to guide us all in our work during the midterm review and beyond. Here at the UN, We all know the importance of working together to tackle new and emerging threats. It’s our collective efforts. States, together with civil society, that will make the difference to our societies and help us achieve the 2019 commitments, the sustainable development goals and help us tackle new and dangerous threats such as that posed by synthetic drugs. The U.K. is pleased to see the chapter ‘Exploding the Rapidly Evolving Synthetic Drug Markets’. As [?] mentioned, cheap synthetic drugs that are readily available can blight all too many communities, and to that end, the UK welcomes the global coalition on synthetic drugs and the call for a much needed global response. We also welcome UNODC’s work exploring urgent challenges such as drug use in humanitarian settings and in conflict situations. We have a conflict not far from us here in Vienna, and the U.K. stands in solidarity with Ukraine. Let me finish by offering the UK’s congratulations to the Research Analysis Branch on your hard work. The report gives us important evidence of the critical need for a health and humanitarian approach that destigmatizes drug use. We welcome the care that has been taken in this report to identify the needs and issues faced by different groups, including disaggregation of information by gender. We’re pleased to see civil society represented here today, as they have an important role to play in our work. As many before me have said, it is important to put people first, and this report will help us do that during the mid-term review. Thank you.

Professor Jallal Toufiq, President of the International Narcotics Control Board:

Mr. Chair, Ms. Waly, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I congratulate UNODC on the 2023 World Drug Report, and thank the Chair and the Commission for convening this special event. World Drug day is not only a time to reflect on the world drug situation and it’s impact on people, but it is also an opportunity to deliver a similar message as medical doctors and psychiatrists […] I welcome the elements of this year’s theme – ‘Putting people first: Stopping stigma and discrimination and strengthening prevention’. Over the last decade I have seen first hand how evidence-based prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services have helped patients overcome substance use and substance use disorders. However, access to these important programs and services is still hindered by stigmatisation and discrimination. INCB 2022 Annual Report contains a global issue of this topic and highlights that national drug control policies must be consistent with international human rights standards, including quality of access to treatment and protection against discrimination. Governments should ensure that their national legislation, policies and practices do not discriminate those engaged in drug use, or those suffering from drug use disorders, and that they offer protection against discrimination by third parties. The drug control conventions require parties to pay special attention to and take all practicable measures for prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social integration. Governments should also ensure quality of access to these treatments and services and utilise UNODC and WHO international standards for drug use and prevention. INCB advises governments to abolish policies that contribute to the stigmatisation of drug use and drug use disorders. In many countries, marginalised groups are disproportionately affected by overly punitive responses and calls upon governments to avail themselves of the possibility provided for in the conventions of applying alternative measures to conviction or punishment for offenses committed by people who use drugs. Putting people first, strengthening prevention, and ensuring that treatment or rehabilitation services are evidence based and free of discrimination and stigma improves the wellbeing of people who use drugs, their families and communities. Drug policies should be free of discrimination and stigma, support progress on the SDGs, protect health and wellbeing which is at the heart of the drug control conventions. Thank you.

Alberto Hart, NGO Cedro, Peru:

[In Spanish]

Hugo Fana, Civil Society Representative, Lisbon, Portugal:

Hello, I have to say that I’m speaking on behalf of the VNGOC. We are representing [?] which is an NGO based in Portugal since 1986, working with people use drugs and also homeless people. In the beginning of the Covid pandemic, in the early beginning, the City Council of Lisbon opened four different shelters in Lisbon for homeless people. After some time, these four centres were concentrated in only one centre, which is the Santa Barbara municipal emergency shelter that I’m going to talk about. So this is a very inclusive place. Almost any kind of people can be in this shelter, even illegal people in our country, but they have to be referred by a technical team. So this is like I said, this is very inclusive. This is a co-coordination between the City Council of Lisbon and another organization, which is [?] and ourselves, and we are taking care of the healthcare and also the addictions care. So in this centre, every resident has to be screened for infection, which is very important regarding the homeless population, and people use drugs. And that’s why we have good rates of Hepatitis C treatment. We are also responsible for an informal place inside of the centre where people can use smoking drugs, injecting drugs and also where we have a management alcohol program. So people are allowed to use drugs and alcohol inside of this shelter, supervised by our team of educators, which you can imagine has a big effectiveness on the adherence to this kind of shelters. So I think this is all that I can say about Santa Barbara and thank you for the opportunity.

Dr. Catherine Mwangi, Founder and Director, Women NEST, Kenya:

Thank you very much to the Vienna NGO Committee for inviting me to speak in this panel on their behalf. My name is Dr. Catherine Mwangi, Founder and Director of Women Nest Kenya, an organization working with women who use drugs, looking at gender risk and vulnerabilities related to drugs. It’s an honour to be part of today’s panel to mark the World Drug Day and launch the 2023 World Drug Report. In my intervention, I want to focus on innovations and modification of services for people who use drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated innovations in policies and care models and technologies, to lower thresholds for lifesaving treatment and harm reduction services, these opportunities were limited in countries with punitive drug policies or laws and cultural dictates. Such innovations included patient-centred and feasible approaches to mitigating opioid use disorder,  related harms such as experiences of overdose. Rising overdose deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in low and middle income countries, were attributed to numerous risks, including increased isolation, despair, unpredictable changes in routes and contents of drug supply, and decreased access to treatment and harm reduction services. The Covid-19 pandemic limited the efficient distribution of medications for opiate use disorder, including methadone, epinephrine and naloxone. Further, Covid-19 limited access to already constrained harm reduction services, which are critical for reducing transmission of infectious diseases. Providing overdose prevention, education and [?] staff availability were affected, many missing work due to illness, while people who used drugs infected with Covid-19 could not afford isolation or quarantine periods due to competing economic interests. These circumstances indicate the need for future pandemic planning to avoid major disruptions in services and increased disease transmission among people who use drugs. The launch today of the 2023 World Drug Report, the first report for the post-pandemic world is a great milestone in highlighting the consequences of Covid-19 on people who use drugs, providing evidence for the official pandemic planning. Congratulations for this great achievement. Thank you.

Mr. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair:

We have come to the end of the interventions. Thank you all for the insights you have. All these contributions have enriched our understanding of the world drug problem and the ways to address it, and have emphasized the importance of evidence-based balance and human approaches to prioritize the health, wellbeing and rights of individuals and communities. Addressing the world drug problem requires a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach that takes into account the social, economic, health and security dimensions of the issue and involves all stakeholders. Let us continue to work together to promote evidence-based, balanced and people-centred drug policies and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 on health and Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Let us remember that behind every statistic and policy decision, there are real people whose lives are impacted by drugs and drug-related crime. Let us listen to their voices, respect their rights, and empower them to be agents of change in their communities and beyond. Thank you all again for your active participation and insightful contributions to this special event. Event adjourned. Thank you very much.

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