UNODC rewrites history to hide failure

26 June 2008

In the new 2008 World Drug Report the UNODC is trying to hide failures behind a bad history lesson. Instead of a clear acknowledgement that the 10-year UNGASS targets have not been met – on the contrary, global production of cocaine and heroin has increased – the WDR decided to go back 100 years into history claiming success in comparison with Chinese opium production and use in the early 20th century. Twisted logic is used to fabricate comparisons with higher production last century.

The UNGASS goals were "eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008." Instead global production of opium and cocaine has significantly increased over the last ten years. According to UNODCs own figures global illicit opium production doubled in the last ten years and cocaine production increased by 20%.

There is overwhelming evidence that the current approach to drug control has failed. In an attempt to draw attention away from this clear failure, the report reviews 100 years of history, claiming success in comparison with Chinese opium production and use in the early 20th century. The report is trying to rewrite history - and has done it badly.

TNI’s research shows that the World Drug Report:

  • Deliberately overestimates opium abuse in China in the early 20th century. Opium use in China was mostly moderate and relatively non-problematic, often for medicinal use.
  • Wrongly attributes reductions in global opium production to the international drug control system.
  • Mentions unintended consequences that have resulted from international drug control policies, but ignores the fact that to improve access to medicines, respect human rights, avoid militarisation and reduce current rates of imprisonment, fundamental changes in the treaty system are necessary.

See the full analysis in: Rewriting history. A response to the 2008 World Drug Report, TNI Drug Policy Briefing nr. 26, June 2008.

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