Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    UNIS/NAR/1302
    23 November 2016

    UNODC Chief's Vatican City speech calls for drug users not to be treated as criminals

    VATICAN CITY/VIENNA, 23 November 2016 (UN Information Service) - Drug use undermines communities and tears away at the social fabric that binds us together, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov said in a speech today in the Vatican City.

    Mr. Fedotov was speaking during the Pontifical Academy of Sciences event on "Narcotics: problems and solutions of this global issue" organized by Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo. Other high-level speakers included Queen Silvia of Sweden, as well as scientists and academics.

    Praising His Holiness Pope Francis' first address to the UN General Assembly in September, Mr. Fedotov said: "The words of His Holiness illuminated the wide-ranging negative impact that illicit drugs have on peace, security, development, health and human rights all over the world."

    He said April's UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem (UNGASS) was helping to strengthen the foundation for collective action against these threats based on shared responsibility. One of the main challenges Mr. Fedotov said was to "help free the many people, especially young people, trapped in downward spirals of poverty, drugs, lack of treatment and opportunities".

    Adopted at the UNGASS, the outcome document also affirmed the importance of the three international drug control conventions and underscored their flexibility. He said the document contained a number of operational recommendations on human rights, youth, children, women and communities; as well as emerging challenges such as new psychoactive substances.

    Mr. Fedotov also emphasized the strong links between the document and the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He said the 2030 Agenda made clear that, under goals three and 16, addressing drugs helps "ensure healthy lives, and promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, as part of overall efforts towards sustainable development".   

    UNODC supported these developments, he said, and was engaged in "advancing evidence-based prevention and treatment of drug use disorders and related problems of HIV and hepatitis. That means treating people suffering from drug use disorders not as criminals but as victims, as people in need of health and social services." 

    * *** *

           For further information please contact:

    David Dadge
    Spokesperson, UNODC
    Telephone: (+43 1) 26060-5629
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
    Email: david.dadge[at]unvienna.org