Vienna, 26 June 2013 Press release

Lopatka: “Vienna is centre of international war on drugs”

Cocoa instead of cocaine: Austria supports alternative crops in Latin America

Vienna, 26 June 2013 – “As the location of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Vienna is definitely at the centre of the UN war on drugs. This is where the annual UN World Drug Report is drawn up, which constitutes the most important foundation of the fight against drug production, trafficking and consumption. The fact that UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson attended the first-ever presentation of the World Drug Report in Vienna highlights the importance of Vienna as a UN location“, said State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka today at the presentation of the report in the Vienna International Centre. 

Introducing alternative crops

The UN puts the number of drug addicts worldwide at 240 million. 211,000 drug-related deaths occurred in 2012 alone. “This reflects the necessity to intensify the fight against drugs. We must tackle the root of the problem. For this reason, Austria supports UNODC programmes to promote alternative crops in Peru, Bolivia and Columbia. ‘Cocoa instead of cocaine’ is an effective approach to push back drug production in a sustainable manner. Styrian chocolate manufacturer Zotter is one of the new partners in this project and will produce the first organic fair-trade chocolate from alternative crops in Columbia”, Lopatka continued. This summer, a first delivery of 10 tons of certified Columbian cocoa beans will arrive in Austria. In addition to contributing to UNODC anti-drug projects with 200,000 Euros a year, Austria is also sponsoring a regional programme to fight drugs, implemented by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with a contribution of 1.3 million Euros via the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).   

Targeted fight against drug trafficking

Illegal drug trafficking is not just a threat to individuals, but to entire societies, with the potential of destabilising states and regions. West Africa has long been a stop along the drug trafficking route from Latin America to Europe. ”Heroin from Afghanistan is increasingly brought to Europe via East Africa. For fragile nations on the African continent, drug trafficking is a serious threat. For this reason, Austria already broached the subject of the threat to international security posed by drug trafficking to the UN Security Council in 2009/10”, the State Secretary continued. “To put a stop to drug trafficking via the Western Balkans, we will extend the cooperation between the Austrian police force and the police in the region. The EU rapprochement harbours additional opportunities for cooperation in this context”, Lopatka said.  

Designer drugs on the advance

The UN is also worried about the global rise of designer drugs. The number of new psycho-active substances, as they are called, has increased from 50% within three years (2009-12), from 166 to 251. Worldwide, new drugs are most frequently found in Europe and North America. 5% of 15 - 24-year-olds in the EU have already come across such substances. “This is where I see a great challenge for the UN and the UNODC at the Vienna location. Austria has a federal law in place to control the new psycho-active substances, but what is lacking is an international monitoring regime. The UNODC plays a key role in creating an early-warning mechanism that could help countries exchange information on the production and distribution of new drugs. This is something we must work on together”, the State Secretary concluded. 

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