2013 UN World Drug Report: Alarming Rise in New Drugs

World Drug Report

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC) today launched for the first time in Vienna the 2013 World Drug Report. The event marks the first step on the road to the 2014 high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action which will be followed, in 2016, by the UN General Assembly Special Session on the issue. The 2013 World Drug Report (WDR) pointed to stability in the use of traditional drugs and

During a press conference held today at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, the attending journalists expressed concern about the lack of effectiveness and feasibility of the actions taken by UNODC to reduce the global marketing of drugs, demanding from the Office on Drugs and Crime to why the measures taken by the UNODC are not reducing the marketing of drugs. Journalists also asked how the UNODC deals with cases when UN member States are themselves involved in drug trafficking or do not control and monitor the drug market, or are legalizing drugs in their jurisdiction.

UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said: “We have agreed on a path for our ongoing discussion. I hope it will lead to an affirmation of the importance of the international drug control conventions, as well as an acknowledgement that the conventions are humane, human-rights centred and flexible. There must also be a firm emphasis on health and we must support and promote alternative sustainable livelihoods. It is also essential that we recognize the important role played by criminal justice systems in countering the world drug problem and the need for enhanced work against precursor chemicals.”

The (WDR) report highlighted the new psychoactive substances:
While new harmful substances have been emerging with unfailing regularity on the drug scene, the international drug control system is floundering, for the first time, under the speed and creativity of the phenomenon known as new psychoactive substances (NPS).

The number of NPS reported by Member States to UNODC rose from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012, an increase of more than 50 per cent. For the first time, the number of NPS actually exceeded the total number of substances under international control (234).

NPS are substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by international drug conventions, but which may pose a public health threat.

In this context, the term “new” does not necessarily refer to new inventions but to substances that have newly become available in specific markets. In general, NPS is an umbrella term for unregulated (new) psychoactive sub-stances or products intended to mimic the effects of controlled drugs.

Member States have responded to this challenge using a variety of methods within their legislative frameworks, by attempting to put single substances or their analogues under control.

It has generally been observed that, when a NPS is con-trolled or scheduled, its use declines shortly thereafter, which has a positive impact on health-related consequences and deaths related to the substance, although the “substitution effect” has inhibited any in-depth research on the long-term impact of NPS scheduling. There are of course, instances when scheduling or controlling a NPS has had little or no impact. Generally, the following kinds of impacts have been observed after the scheduling of a NPS:

(a) The substance remains on the market, but its use declines immediately. Examples include mephedrone in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, BZP in New Zealand, “legal highs” in Poland, mephedrone in Australia and MDPV in the United States of America;

(b Use of the substance declines after a longer interval, maybe a year or more (e.g. ketamine in the United States);

(c) Scheduling has little or no immediate impact on the use of the substance, e.g. 3,4-methylenedioxy- Nmethylamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as “ecstasy”, in the United States and other countries.

To read the Secretary General’s statement on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, click here.
To read the UNODC Executive Director’s statement on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Click here.

To read the World Drug Report, Click here.

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