Less Crime for More Development PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 18 April 2008

Photo: UNODC/Thomas HaileyBeing called the Office on "drugs and crime" is pretty sinister. It says what we are against, not what we are for. We are known as being the centre of the UN's fight against "uncivil society", and for battling the "dark side of globalization". But I would prefer to tell people what we are in favour of, namely security and justice for all.

We are half way through the 15 year period of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The rule of law is not one of those goals, and yet without it they will be hard to reach. 

Economic analysis has consistently shown that weak rule of law leads to weak socio-economic performance:  in countries ravaged by crime and corruption, and where governments have lost control of their land, the poor suffer the most, and the services provided to them get delayed, or never arrive. The poorest -- the so-called "bottom billion" -- have no access to justice, health and education and face rising food prices: how can such countries meet the MDGs?

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:09
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Baghdad diary PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 31 March 2008

On 17 March I took part in a Conference in Baghdad on good governance and anti-corruption, the first UN conference since the war. Over the three days I kept a diary which I want to share with you. The full text of my speech at the Conference is available here.

DAY 1 - Kuwait City

Spent Saturday at security briefings, learning what to do in case of IED (improvised explosive devices), ambush, kidnapping, sniping, rocket attacks. Real life situations, simulated. Plenty of gory videos as well. Most interesting. Remarkable the Marine who gets out of his bullet-proof car, looks around carefully, then suddenly drops dead - but only for a fraction of a second. He then gets up and screams "fire at 03 hrs", then runs to the other side of his Humvee. He was hit in the chest, but the flak jacket saved his life. Impressive.

I am sure there is a reason for spending hours looking at these reports on gruesome real-life details, though that reason escapes me. I'm constantly followed by security officers, even in the most private places. I have zero degrees of freedom, and no control at all of my life: should something happen, I don't think I'll be able to decide anything on my own.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:08
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Health: The First Principle of Drug Policy PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 18 March 2008

It is often forgotten that health is the first principle of drug policy.  Improving security (against drug traffickers and dealers) and promoting development (to enable farmers to find sustainable alternatives to growing illicit crops) are necessary, but not sufficient, measures. Because even if you eliminate the world's entire supply of cannabis, coca, and opium, and even if you could seize all drugs in circulation, you would still have 25 million drug users looking for ways to satisfy their addiction. So the key to drug policy is reducing demand for drugs and treating addiction - and that is very much a health care issue. 

Concern about the health effects of drug use was the chief motivating factor for the 1961 UN Drug Control Convention. Yet, over time, public security has taken priority over public health. This is reflected in resource imbalances (around 3:1 in favour of spending on security) and policy priorities. I fear this is political expediency:  to focus on quick wins, like seizures and arrests (that reduce the problem), rather than on agents of slow change, like prevention and treatment (that can solve the problem). 

It is also the result of the fact that the challenge of reducing demand for drugs has been left to individual states, whereas interdiction and reducing the world's supply of illicit drugs are the focus of multi-lateral agreements. There are Guiding Principles of Demand Reduction (1998), but they do not carry the same weight as an international convention. The practice is even more remote from the statements of principle.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:08
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The orphan protocol PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 6 March 2008

My Office is not an adoption agency. But I urgently need to find parents for the "forgotten protocol" of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, namely the Protocol which deals with the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms. 

The global availability of illegal firearms is a huge problem and has a profound effect on global security and sustainable development. Close to one billion guns are in circulation around the world, three quarters of which are in the hands of civilians. 8 million new guns are manufactured each year, along with billions of units of ammunition, enough to kill everyone in the world twice over.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:07
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Rebels without a clue PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 5 March 2008

Within Europe in recent years, a few influential pop stars and other fashion-conscious celebrities have been at the forefront of efforts to improve living standards in Africa. Bob Geldof's renowned Live Aid concerts and Bono's Drop the Debt campaign have been vital in raising political awareness and money to tackle the continent's economic crisis. Stopping the trade in blood diamonds and promoting fair trade with Africa have been two other favoured causes of the celebrity elite.

And yet for every rebel with a cause, there are ten others without a clue. While some well-meaning pop idols and film stars might rage against suffering in Africa, their work is being undermined by the drug habits of their careless peers. Because much of the cocaine used in Europe passes through impoverished countries in West Africa, where the drugs trade is causing untold misery, corruption, violence and instability.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:07
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Cultures of exploitation PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 22 February 2008

I was buoyed by the institutional impact, awareness building and policy pledges made in last week's Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, all of which went beyond my expectations. Nevertheless, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we will never end human trafficking until we change the way women are portrayed. I do not like to see women in burkas, nor do I appreciate seeing half-naked girls featured in provocative fashion ads, both of which may be a form of female exploitation.

The way that women are depicted in many societies today creates vulnerability towards the crime of human trafficking, be it for sexual exploitation or forced labour. Its manifestations are everywhere; in advertising, on television, in song lyrics and in a host of other expressions of popular - and not so popular - culture.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:06
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