prevention effort working: report
Agence France Presse, June 26, 2006
Vienna - Worldwide
efforts to fight the use of illegal drugs are
working but this positive result could easily be
reversed, a United Nations drug report said Monday.
"Drug control is
working and the world drug problem is being
contained," Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said upon
publication of the 2006 World Drug Report by his
agency in Vienna.
to reduce the threat posed by illicit drugs have
effectively reversed a quarter-century-long rise
in drug abuse that, if left unchecked, could have
become a global pandemic," Costa said in a
statement released along with the report.
The UNODC said
there had been major successes in 2005 in the so-called
Golden Triangle of southeast Asia.
In this region
where Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand and Laos
meet, Myanmar has reduced opium poppy cultivation
-- which can be used to produce heroin, morphine
and opium -- by 26 per cent while Laos cut it by
as much as 72 per cent and was "on the verge of
becoming opium poppy free."
In central Asia,
in Afghanistan, which is the world's main producer
of opium, poppy cultivation was down for the first
time since 2001 but it could go up again this year,
the UNODC report warned.
drug situation remains vulnerable to reversal
because of mass poverty, lack of security and the
fact that the authorities have inadequate control
over its territory," Costa said, adding that "this
could happen as early as 2006."
marijuana, the world's most widely used drug, has
seen a steady increase in consumption over the
past decade and this rise in use is continuing,
the report said.
Of the 200 million
people or five per cent of the world's population
aged 15-64 who use drugs at least once a year, 162
million use cannabis, 2004 figures show.
demand are also increasing, but given the ease
with which cannabis can be grown and the
widespread way in which it is consumed, with
people often sharing a marijuana joint, or
cigarette, "it is difficult to estimate the size
of the global market," the report said.
While it has been
regarded as a soft and relatively harmless drug,
cannabis is growing in potency.
harmful characteristics of cannabis are no longer
that different from those of other plant-based
drugs such as cocaine and heroin," Costa said.
He hit out at
Western and celebrity lifestyles that have led to
an alarming increase in cocaine consumption in
Europe, which accounts for 26 per cent of world
cocaine use, despite the global trend showing a
slight decline in recent years.
professional, educated Europeans use cocaine,
often denying their addiction, and drug abuse by
celebrities is often presented uncritically by the
media, leaving young people confused and
vulnerable," Costa said.
A global approach
is therefore needed to tackle the drug problem,
with rich and poor countries getting involved in a
coordinated way, Costa said.
"A coherent, long-term
strategy can reduce supply, demand and trafficking...
if this does not happen, it will be because some
nations fail to take the drug issue seriously and
pursue inadequate policies," Costa said.
He said that "many
countries have the drug problem they deserve."
continue to increase globally thanks to better law
enforcement cooperation, but as a result West and
Central Africa are now being used more and more as
transit points for the traffic of drugs from Latin
America to Europe.
It is up to richer
Western countries -- the drug consumers -- to help
the developing world fight the drug problem,
whether by assisting African countries in tackling
corrupt law enforcement or giving South American
coca farmers the investments they need to switch
to legal crops, Costa said.
success will depend on the commitment of all our
societies to turn containment of the drug problem
into a sustained reduction - everywhere. We are
not there yet," Costa said.