The drug problem is one of the major challenges facing the international community. The annual turnover in the global narcotics industry is estimated to be 320 billion US dollars. The illegal drug trade bolsters organised crime, has a destabilising effect on the states most affected by it, endangers public health and is furthermore used to finance terrorist activities.
As one of the main donors to the fight against drugs in the United Nations, the German Government ‑ together with its partners in the European Union ‑ is working on a balanced strategy to combat drugs. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is an important contact point here. Based in Vienna, the UNODC coordinates all drug-related UN activities and plans and implements projects.
The main focus of Germany’s activities is on projects designed to foster alternative development, police cooperation and the establishment of institutions in Afghanistan, the Andean states and increasingly in Africa, especially in West Africa.
Central importance attaches to cooperation between donor countries, emerging economies and the developing world. At international level, Germany’s policy is aimed at reducing the quantity of drugs available while lowering demand for them.
Repressive measures against drug cultivation and trafficking alone do not help. Rather, viable alternatives to the narcotics industry in developing and emerging economies must be found, for people in these countries must have other means of earning an adequate living. Furthermore, the German Government is working to build and strengthen functioning state structures in order to ensure the sustainability of positive developments.
Alongside bilateral cooperation, joint initiatives in the European Union play an important role. Based on the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and the 2013-2016 EU Drug Action Plan, which contains detailed measures, an enhanced fight against drugs in Europe and the world is being pursued in the spheres of supply and demand reduction, international cooperation, information and evaluation.
Under the three United Nations drug control conventions, states undertake to control the production of and trade in narcotic drugs, reduce demand, combat drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, create the requisite institutions to enable them to do so and report on such action to the relevant international bodies. Compliance is monitored by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meets annually in Vienna.
As a reflection of the importance the international community attaches to the fight against drugs, a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) on the world drug problem was held in 2016. This meeting stressed the importance of a health-oriented approach to drug policy.
Find out more:
UNGASS 2016: www.unodc.org/ungass2016/
European Drugs Strategy: www.emcdda.europa.eu
International Narcotics Control Board: www.incb.org/incb/index.html