NEW YORK, 9th February, 2016 (WAM) – Head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov laid out some of the numerous challenges posed by illicit drugs in a keynote speech he delivered in New York today.
Speaking at the annual hearing of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Mr. Fedotov said: “Addressing the world drug problem is essential for promoting health, and peaceful and inclusive societies, as part of overall efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
The UNODC Executive Director began his address by reading a message from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which said: “Our central concern is the health and welfare of people. This must be the foundation for efforts aimed at prevention and treatment. We are resolved to develop a compassionate, humane and effective global response to the world drug problem that reflects our collective interests.”
Outlining the challenges, Mr. Fedotov said Afghan heroin, despite a recent decrease, imperilled peace and security in the region and beyond. He noted that violence still threatened stability in Central America and problems with availability and access of controlled substances existed in too many parts of the world. “As a result, people suffering from grave diseases such as cancer or traumatic injury cannot get pain relief and adequate care,” he said.
Drug prevention efforts and services for people fighting their problem drug use were falling short, said Mr. Fedotov. Only one out of every six drug users globally was receiving treatment, he said. Despite representing one out of three drug users, only one in five female drug users was receiving treatment.
Mr. Fedotov said, against this background, discussions ahead of the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem, to be held from 19-21 April in New York, had reiterated the concept of shared responsibility and the need for a balanced and comprehensive approach rooted in the international drug control conventions. An approach that gives due consideration to public health, including confronting HIV and hepatitis, as well as prevention, treatment, care and human rights.
He said: “This includes considering alternatives to conviction or punishment, particularly for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature. This in turn could help to address prison congestion, as well as prevent the recruitment of vulnerable individuals by criminals and violent extremists.”
Mr. Fedotov was addressing the IPU at an event in New York titled, “The world drug problem: taking stock and strengthening the global response”. Other speakers included the President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, President of the IPU, Saber Chowdhury and Chair of the UNGASS board of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Ambassador Khaled Shamaa.