3 July 2001


VIENNA 3 July (UN Information Service) -- The ban on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for the 2000-2001 growing season has drastically reduced global production of opium. Afghanistan had accounted for 70 per cent of the world’s opium production in 2000. The second highest producer of opium is Myanmar, with 23 per cent of global production in 2000, while other Asian countries accounted for 5 percent and Colombia and Mexico together accounted for 2 per cent of the global production during the same year.

This is one of the highlights of the new report, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2001, presented today by the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).

This annual report has been published since 1999 following the twentieth special session of the UN General Assembly in 1998 at which the member states agreed to make significant progress towards the control of supply and demand for illicit drugs by the year 2008. The Assembly concluded that this objective could only be achieved by a balanced approach, giving demand as much attention as supply, and on the basis of regular assessments of the drug problem.

The ODCCP report presents supply and demand statistics and analysis on the global illicit drug trends. It is based on data obtained from governments as well as from other sources "when necessary and where available".

This year's report, in its Analysis section, provides a comprehensive overview of the issue of Clandestine Synthetic Drugs including the discussion of the synthetic drug phenomenon, its intrinsic characteristics and some of its likely future developments. The report, presented at a press conference at the UN Information Service in Vienna by Sandeep Chawla, the Chief of Research Section, Division for Operations and Analysis, states that synthetic drugs have become an issue of global concern over the past decade.

Clandestine synthetic drugs have been spreading rapidly as part of mass youth culture, the report states. The wide availability of their starting materials, the simplicity of their manufacturing process, the flexibility of their evolving chemical composition and the difficulty of controlling perpetually changing starting materials and end-products have also contributed to their spread.

While global opium production declined by 19 per cent, global cocaine production remained more or less stable in 2000. Seizure data for 1999 show that about a third of all drugs were seized in North America, a quarter in West Europe, a fifth in Asia and a tenth in South America . The ten-year trend for seizures (1990-1999) shows Amphetamine-type stimulants growing at an average annual rate of 30 per cent, compared to 6 per cent for cannabis herb, 5 per cent for heroin, 4 per cent for cannabis resin, and 3 per cent for cocaine.

ODCCP estimates that 180 million people consume illicit drugs (annual prevalence in the late 1990s). This includes 144 million for cannabis, 29 million for amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), 14 million for cocaine and 13.5 million for opiates (of which 9 million for heroin). These numbers are not cumulative because of poly-drug use.

The strongest increases recorded in 1999 were for cannabis and ATS consumption.

At the regional level, cocaine consumption remained stable in North America (though significantly down compared to the mid-1980s), but increased in West Europe, as well as in a number of countries in South America in 1999.

Heroin abuse remained generally stable in West Europe, but increased in East Europe, Central Asia, South-West Asia and, to a lesser degree, in some countries of East and South-East Asia.

ATS abuse increased strongly in East and South-East Asia and appeared to be stabilizing, after years of increase, in West Europe, as well as in North America (except for ecstasy).

Cannabis abuse is generally increasing in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania (though there are signs of stabilization in some major markets in West Europe and North America), and decreasing in South and South-West Asia.

* * *

For further information on Global Illicit Drug Trends 2001, contact, Research Section, Division for Operations and Analysis, ODCCP, Tel: 43 1 26060-4196; e-mail: sandeep.chawla@undcp.org