A United Nations expert panel is meeting in Vienna this week to examine the affect of globalization and new technology on drug trafficking.
"Just as electricity and the telephone changed lives in the 20th century, the Internet is revolutionizing lives today," Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said today. "However, as with many innovations, advantages go hand-in-hand with new problems and, with the Internet, there is a real danger that its benefits might be seriously undermined by individuals and criminal groups for illicit gain."
During its current session, scheduled through 15 November, the Board will review how modern technologies are changing the face of drug trafficking and what governments should do to address this problem, as the topic has been chosen by the INCB for special emphasis in its next Annual Report, which will be published early in 2002.
The report will also review global trends in drug abuse and trafficking, including drug traffickers' use of the Internet to finalize drug deals in cyberspace. Another issue the Board will consider is how prescription-only drugs are being sold over the Internet by some Internet pharmacies contrary to international law.
The Board will look at how governments are implementing the provisions of the international drug treaties, particularly in countries to which the Board has sent missions over the last year since its last session in May 2001 - Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Morocco, Myanmar, Norway, Syria and Ukraine.
In addition, the Board will examine the situation of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, particularly in the light of recent developments. "Any authority in power in Afghanistan, now or in future, must make full compliance with the international drug control treaties one of its core commitments," Mr. Ghodse stressed.
The Vienna-based INCB is an independent body established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to monitor Governments' compliance with the international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the UN Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.