7 March 2005

UN Drug Officials Discuss Issues and Challenges at 48th Session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs

VIENNA, 7 March (UN Information Service) -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), held a press briefing in Vienna today, after his opening address to the 48th Biennial Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which is being held in Vienna from 7 to 14 March.

Ambassador Sheel Kant Sharma, Chairman, CND, and Hamid Ghodse, President, International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), shared the podium with Mr. Costa, and together, they addressed progress made in the global fight against illegal drugs, drug trafficking, and drug abuse. Special attention was given to the current situation in Afghanistan, the manufacture and abuse of synthetic drugs, and progress made against the cultivation of coca in South America. 

Mr. Costa came out in support of a “balanced approach” to drug control, and commended States who have adopted stronger drug control policies. He is also expected to call on the  “pro-drug lobby” to reject “an either-or choice between drug liberalization, which this lobby believes will restore urban security, and drug-control policies, which are critical to protecting health.”

In that same vein Mr. Costa also rejected the notion that strong drug control measures cannot coexist with policies designed to contain the spread of HIV-AIDS. “Governments must ensure both: drug control and HIV prevention,” said the UNODC Executive Director. “At UNODC, we are increasing the assistance to populations at high risk for HIV-AIDS, and we want to work with governments across the world so that they can reach people before they join the ranks of the HIV-positive. This is where resources are well spent, as it’s always easier to attack a problem before it materializes or spins out of control.”

Mr. Costa referenced language contained in the 2003 INCB Report as a guidepost for Member States, who “... have an important opportunity during the 2005 CND to offer the UNODC clear guidance on how to operationalise those policies.” He also offered support for drug testing on highways and in sensitive industries, and called for action on the dangers of Raves, international drug festivals fuelled by ecstasy and other synthetic drugs.

“The high-octane, psychoactive drugs that make these Raves, or ritualized drug parties, so dangerous fall under our purview. Member States have a special obligation to reduce the harm these events hold for young people. Their drug habits may not become life-long, but the drugs they take, and the behaviour these drugs trigger, may well end many lives before they’ve begun,” said Mr. Costa. The Executive Director also believes that drug use during Raves is another strong argument for road testing.


For more information, contact:

Kathleen Millar
Deputy Spokesperson UNODC
Tel.: +43 1 26060 5629
Email: press@unodc.org