9 March 2006


Alternative Development in Focus at Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Press briefings with UNODC Executive Director on Monday 13 March at 1300 and 1330 hours in Press Briefing Room CO3

VIENNA, 9 March 2006 (UN Information Service) -- Providing alternative sources of income for farmers who stop growing illicit drugs will be the main focus of the 49th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which will take place in Vienna from 13-17 March 2006.

The CND is the central policy-making body within the United Nations system dealing with illicit drugs. It is also the governing body for the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the drugs field.

Ministers and top anti-drug officials from the 53 CND member states, including Afghanistan, Laos and Morocco, will discuss issues ranging from the effects of drug trafficking on transit countries to the supply of opiates for medical and scientific purposes.

The Commission will also review the progress made by UN Member States in meeting the goal they set themselves in 1998 of achieving significant and measurable reductions in drug use and illicit cultivation by 2008.

The main debate will be on alternative development as an important drug control strategy.

"Illicit drugs such as opium and coca are grown in some of the world's poorest countries," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, who will address the opening session on Monday 13 March.

"The international community must have the wisdom to fight drugs and poverty simultaneously to eliminate both the causes and effects of these twin afflictions. Providing poor farmers with sustainable livelihoods helps to reduce the flow of drugs into rich countries."

The opening session at 1000 hours on Monday 13 March at the Vienna International Centre is open to the media.

The UNODC Executive Director plans a press briefing at 1300 hours on Monday 13 March at which he will be joined by the CND Chairperson, Ambassador Györgyi Zanathy, Permanent Representative of Hungary, and the Chairman of Laos' National Committee for Drug Control and Supervision, Minister Soubanh Srithirath.  Mr. Costa will also be on the podium during a press briefing with senior US anti-narcotics officials at 1330 on Monday 13 March also in Room CO3.

An extensive programme of side events throughout the week will also be open to the media, including an NGO Forum on Alternative Development and exhibitions of photographs from Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle.

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