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A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that Movement restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures, but the Pandemic will not have a real change in terms of supply in the East and Southeast Asia region

Details of the report

  • The report said that not every fluctuation in terms of drug seizures, prices, drug-related arrests or deaths in the coming months would be a direct or indirect consequence of the outbreak.
  • Trafficking in the lower Mekong region also takes place in a variety of ways across borders which are porous and difficult to control, and cross-border movements in many places will not be significantly hindered by COVID-19 measures.
  • Extreme levels of synthetic drug production take place in the Southeast Asian region, partially due to a limited government control in the Golden Triangle (the area where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet).
  • Due to social distancing and movement restrictions in several countries, street dealing of drugs might be significantly impacted and altered.
  • Additional efforts would be required at the national, regional and international level to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets in the wake of the pandemic.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations office that was established in 1997.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • It was established by merging the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention.
  • UNODC assists Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90% of its budget.
  • The World Drug Report is a yearly publication by UNODC that presents a comprehensive assessment of the international drug problem, with detailed information on the illicit drug situation.

Main themes that UNODC deals with

  1. Alternative Development, anti-corruption, Criminal Justice, Prison Reform and Crime Prevention, Drug Prevention
  2. Treatment and Care, HIV and AIDS
  3. Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, Money Laundering, Organized Crime, Piracy, Terrorism Prevention.

The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  2. Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
  3. Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023