United Nations World Drugs Report 2021


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    According to the World Drug Report 2021, around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the year 2020.



    • The report was released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna.
    • The report said that drugs referred to as substances controlled under international drug control conventions and their non-medical use.


    Key Findings Of The Report

    • Around 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.
    • About 5.5% of those between 15 and 64 have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13% of the total number of people who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders.
    • Many countries saw a rise in the use of cannabis during the coronavirus pandemic. 
      • In the last 24 years, cannabis potency has increased by four times in some parts of the globe.
      • In surveys of health professionals across 77 countries, 42% said cannabis use had increased.
      • Non-medical use of cannabis and sedatives has increased globally during the pandemic.
      • Cannabis is more potent but fewer young people see it as harmful.
    • Rising web-based sales could transform global drug use patterns.
    • The number of drug users in Africa is projected to rise by 40 per cent by 2030.
    • Covid-19 has triggered innovation in drug prevention and treatment services.
    • Drug markets quickly recovered after the onset of the pandemic, but some trafficking dynamics have been accelerated during Covid-19.
    • Covid-19 fallout is likely to be felt in drug markets for years to come.


    Major Concerns

    • The illicit drug trade also continues to hold back economic and social development, while disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable and marginalized.
    • Eliminating stigmatization and discrimination and providing adequate treatment, as seven in eight people who suffer from drug use disorders remain without the appropriate care.
    • Regulating cryptocurrency markets and monitoring electronic payments to detect suspicious transactions and illicit financial flows from drug trafficking is a difficult task.
    • Promoting science-based interventions is an absolute necessity if we are to reduce the demand and supply of drugs.


    Way Forward

    • Fostering international cooperation: Foster international cooperation for fighting the enduring problem of drug trafficking. The development of international accountability mechanisms and best practices would greatly increase interception capacity. 
    • Global monitoring: Enhance expert access to the dark web in order to take down online markets and platforms. Implement real-time data monitoring systems for promptly detecting and addressing drug market changes. 
    • People-centred Approach: Implement an integrated, people-centred and human-rights based approach to empowering African societies to develop sustainable solutions to drug use.
    • Adaptations: Maintain COVID-19 adaptations to the delivery of drug-related services in order to increase accessibility and coverage of services.  
    • Public-private partnerships: Improve government response to drug trafficking on the internet by forging public/private partnerships with internet service providers, tech companies, shipping and mailing companies. Prioritise public health over private business through a comprehensive ban on advertising.
    • Awareness-raising and communication: Use fact-based information to raise awareness of the potential harm from non-medical use of cannabis. Need to close the gap between perception and reality by educating young people and safeguarding public health.
    • Evidence-based prevention of drug use: Sufficient funding for drug use prevention and treatment responses needs to be allocated in national post-COVID-19 budgets to avoid an acceleration of the increase in the use of certain drugs observed during the pandemic. 


    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

    • Established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
    • HQ: Vienna
    • They are committed to achieving health, security and justice for all by tackling these threats and promoting peace and sustainable well-being as deterrents to them.
    • The Office is committed to supporting the Member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core. 
      • The 2030 Agenda clearly recognizes that the rule of law and fair, effective and humane justice systems, as well as health-oriented responses to drug use, are both enablers for and part of sustainable development.


    Sources: TH