Vice Squad
Monday, June 28, 2004
For the UN, Use = Abuse

The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime -- gee, I wonder why these two are paired; do they have an Office on Ketchup and Athletics? -- released its World Drug Report 2004 last week. The Press Release begins thusly:
VIENNA, 25 June (UN Information Service) -- Approximately three per cent of the world population (185 million people) have abused drugs during the previous 12 months, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). A small percentage of the world population abuses cocaine (13 million people) or opiates (15 million abusers of heroin, morphine and opium). By far the most widely abused substance is cannabis (used at least once a year by over 150 million people), followed by the amphetamine-type stimulants -– ATS (38 million users, among them eight million users of ecstasy).
Fortunately, this problem of drug abuse can be tackled via a "holistic approach". To ridicule the bureaucratese that pervades the Executive Summary is shooting fish in a thimble. Here's an excerpt from page 13 of the Executive Summary, sans further commentary from moi:
The drug problem has a negative impact on the functioning of societies as a whole. It can hinder development programmes and compromise peacemaking and reconstruction efforts in countries torn by civil war. In turn, poverty, strife, and feeble governance are fertile ground for drug production, trafficking, and abuse. Those various dimensions can become so interlocked that getting out of the vicious circle they create can only be accomplished through a comprehensive approach. Confined for too long to special programmes handled by specialized agencies, drug control priorities are now finding their way into the mainstream of the socio-economic agenda.

Starting at community level, this broader understanding of the socio-economic dimensions of the drug problem must notably be reflected in a society-wide approach. Public institutions cannot do everything. Interventions are far more effective when they are joined by various actors in civil society (such as families, non-governmental organizations, and the media) in a common purpose and programme.

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