World Drug Report 2020Approx Read Time: 7 minutes
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently released the World Drug Report 2020.
About: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Vienna.
- It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and was renamed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2002.
- UNODC was established to assist the UN in better addressing the issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, crime prevention and criminal justice, international terrorism, and political corruption.
- These goals are pursued through three primary functions: research, guidance and support to governments in the adoption and implementation of various crime-, drug-, terrorism-, and corruption-related conventions, treaties and protocols.
- It also provides technical/financial assistance to governments to face their respective situations and challenges in these fields.
- Approximately 90% of the Office’s funding comes from voluntary contributions, mainly from governments.
About: World Drug Report
- The World Drug Report is published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
- The first such report was published in 1997, the same year the agency was established.
- The report is an annual publication that analyzes market trends and compiles detailed statistics on drug markets.
- Using data, it helps to draw conclusions about drugs as an issue needing intervention by government agencies around the world.
Summary of the World Drug Report 2020:
Increase in drug use:
- Drug use around the world has been on the rise, in terms of both overall numbers and the proportion of the world’s population that uses drugs.
- In 2009, the estimated 210 million users represented 4.8 % of global population aged 15‒64, compared with the estimated 269 million users in 2018, or 5.3 % of the population.
- Drug markets are becoming increasingly complex and plant-based substances such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin have been joined by hundreds of synthetic drugs. There has also been a rapid rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs.
Urbanization a driving factor:
- Drug use is higher in urban areas than in rural areas, in both developed and developing countries.
- More than half the world’s population now live in urban areas compared with 34 % in 1960. This mass movement of people from the countryside to towns and cities, partially explains the overall rise in drug use.
Drug use disorders and treatment:
- While more people use drugs in developed countries than in developing countries, and wealthier segments of society have a higher prevalence of drug use, people who are socially and economically disadvantaged are more likely to develop drug use disorders.
- Some 6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally and only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive treatment for it.
- One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment. People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people also face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.
- The opiates seized in the largest quantity in 2018 continued to be opium (704 tonnes), followed by heroin (97 tonne) and morphine (43 tonnes). Opiate is a term used to mean a drug derived from opium.
- The main opiate trafficking flows originate from three key production areas: Afghanistan, Myanmar-Laos and Mexico-Colombia-Guatemala.
- The maximum of 644 tonnes of opium was seized in Iran, followed by 27 tonnes in Afghanistan and 19 tonnes in Pakistan. India’s figure (at the fourth position) stood at only four tonne in 2018.
- Iran also reported the highest seizure of heroin (25 tonnes), followed by Turkey, United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In terms of heroin seizure (1.3 tonnes), India was at the 12th position in the world.
- Heroin is manufactured from the morphine extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants.
- Opium is illicitly produced in about 50 countries, however, close to 97% of the total global production of opium in the past five years came from only three countries.
- About 84% of the total opium was produced in Afghanistan, from where it is supplied to neighbouring countries, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
- As per the report, the global area under opium cultivation declined for the second year in a row in 2019. It went down by 17% in 2018 and by 30% in 2019.
- Despite the decline in cultivation, opium production remained stable in 2019, with higher yields reported in the main opium production areas.
Effects of covid-19 on drug markets:
- The report, expressed concern over the adverse impact of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic, which could lead to an increase in the number of people taking up illicit activities linked to drugs to make a living.
- As experienced during the 2008 economic crisis, it could result in reductions in drug-related budgets of the governments; overall increase in drug use, with a shift towards cheaper and more harmful drugs.
- Drug trafficking by air is likely to be completely disrupted by the restrictions on air travel but there are signs of increased use of maritime routes.
- Indications are that the lockdown is increasing demand for cannabis, given that its production often takes place near consumer markets and traffickers. The restrictions also seem to have resulted in increasing cannabis sales over the darknet.