23 July 2001



Trend Said to Confirm Success of Global Drug Control
Plans Adopted by 1998 Special Session of General Assembly

VIENNA, 20 July (UNDCP) -- Opium poppy cultivation in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the world's third largest producer, is now at its lowest levels since 1992. A survey carried out by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Government of that country shows a 9.5 per cent reduction of the area under opium poppy production since last year. It is estimated that the current area under production is 17,250 hectares -- a 36 per cent reduction over the last three years. The Government and UNDCP signed an agreement in 1999 to eliminate opium by the year 2006.

Figures show the total potential harvest has fallen to 117.5 tonnes this year, almost a 30 per cent reduction compared with last year and the lowest potential harvest recorded since 1992. The results vindicate the adoption of a far-reaching strategy of total elimination pursued by the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic with the assistance of UNDCP. In 1999, the country’s President, Khamtay Siphandone, and UNDCP Executive Director, Pino Arlacchi, reached an agreement aimed at eliminating by 2006 both opium production and addiction in the country, in the context of a balanced approach to drug control.

Since then, successful joint efforts in demand reduction, alternative development and drug law enforcement have led to a sustained downward trend not only in the area under opium cultivation but also in the domestic demand for opium. This is particularly important for Laos, one of the poorest countries in the region. In light of recent successes the Government has accelerated this target to 2005.

The newly released survey for 2001 proves the effectiveness of alternative development projects in efforts to reduce illicit drug production. A large proportion -– 85 per cent of the total annual reduction in opium poppy cultivation area in Laos, had been achieved in the four districts in the northern region of the country covered by the UNDCP alternative development projects. The UNDCP survey said these efforts, achieved with limited resources, deserve additional funding, to reinforce and expand development projects to a further 15 districts in northern Laos.

The success in Laos, as well as significant coca reduction and successes in alternative development in Bolivia and Peru, is among the striking examples of success in the implementation of the global drug control action plans adopted at the United Nations General Assembly special session in June 1998.

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