Press Releases

    UNIS/CP/480
    30 April 2004

    United Nations Counter-Narcotics Chief Meets the Pope;
    Impact of Drug Abuse on Families Discussed

    VIENNA, 30 April (UN Information Service)  -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), had an audience with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in Vatican City, Rome, today. Mr. Costa thanked the Pope for his Message of Peace delivered on 1 January 2004, which stressed the importance of justice, the universal principle of UN work, and the contribution of the Church towards building peace.

    Following the audience with the Pope, Mr. Costa also met the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, for an exchange of views and prospective collaboration in the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and crime.

    Mr. Costa presented UNODC’s work in assisting the United Nations Member States in facing the challenges of drug abuse, organized crime and terrorism. The discussion focused on the impact of drugs on the life of individuals and families.

    “As anti-social behaviours undermine the fabric of the entire society, they can only be effectively addressed by the society as a whole, with the active involvement of families, schools and places of faith,” Mr. Costa said.

    In his meeting with Cardinal Sodano, Mr. Costa underlined the tremendous potential of the prevention and treatment of both drug addiction and crime. A possible cooperation between UNODC and Catholic charities around the world was discussed, as well as a need for strengthening the co-operation in drug abuse prevention, especially in relation to the increase in HIV/AIDS cases caused by injecting drug abuse. In addition, the problem of drug trafficking from Afghanistan through Central Asia, the legal framework regarding drug abuse in European countries, as well as the connections between drug trafficking and financing of terrorism were discussed.

    * *** *