The year 2008 was marked by two major developments: record levels of opium poppy production in Afghanistan and the emergence of West Africa as a transshipment point for cocaine traffickers bound for Europe. These disturbing trends are covered in the UNODC Annual Report 2008 (covering activities in 2007), which was launched today.
But the picture was not all bleak; UNODC reported that drug control is working. Global supply, trafficking and consumption of all drugs -cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines have stabilized. Worldwide efforts to contain the world drug problem have effectively reversed a quarter-century-long rise in drug abuse and headed off a global pandemic. Afghanistan, however, bucked the trend with soaring opium production. Despite limited successes, in the main growing area of Helmand the increases have far outstripped reductions elsewhere.
UNODC also spearheaded a major new initiative against human trafficking, a crime that shames us all. No country is immune from human trafficking, either as source or destination countries. To tackle this inhuman trade , UNODC mobilized institutions and individuals, including celebrities from show business, the arts and the media, in a vast effort known as the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT).
Africa is under attack. The beleaguered nations of West Africa, and Guinea-Bissau in particular, are struggling to repel the onslaught of cocaine trafficked from South America on its way to Europe. In 2007, UNODC rang the warning bell and is mobilizing international assistance to help prevent a crisis.
Central America and the Caribbean are caught in the cross-fire. They are trapped between the world’s biggest suppliers of cocaine (South America) and consumers (North America and Europe). Drug trafficking is fuelling violent crime and posing a serious obstacle to economic development. In 2007, the international community called for an effective response.
UNODC is a leader in the fight against corruption. For decades, corrupt leaders have absconded with the national treasury of impoverished nations. The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, or StAR, launched in September 2007 by UNODC and the World Bank, is designed not only to help developing countries recover such stolen assets, but also to work with the developed world to eliminate impediments to returning these vital assets.
The Annual Report 2008 also provides glimpses of other projects, resource mobilization and development of strategic partnerships.