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Drug activity widespread on World Wide Web, UN expert panel reports

Drug activity widespread on World Wide Web, UN expert panel reports

Quick to use new technologies, drug traffickers and criminal elements have started exploiting the Internet as a vehicle for trading illegal drugs, according to new report released by a panel of United Nations experts.

There are chat rooms that discuss recipes for making drugs and the World Wide Web has also become a vehicle for money laundering, the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says in its annual report, which this year deals with the theme of globalization and new technologies.

The INCB comprises 13 experts serving in their individual capacity and is responsible for promoting government compliance with the provisions of the drug control treaties. The panel also is mandated to ensure that adequate supplies of legal drugs are available for medical and scientific uses, and to identify weaknesses in the national and international control systems for illicit drugs.

Speaking at a UN press briefing in New York to launch the report, Board member Herbert Okun said the panel was not about to call for censorship but thought that the universality of the Web and of the drug control treaties demanded some kind of international and national responses to the problem. The Board, in its recommendations, called on governments, the information technology industry, advocacy groups and health professionals to help regulate the Web in a sensible way.

As for addressing the serious drug control situation in Afghanistan – which was closely linked to achieving peace, security and development – Mr. Okun said that nation needed the full support and cooperation of the international community, particularly the neighbouring countries. Global action was needed to help Afghan farmers cultivate alternative cash crops to replace the resumption of opium cultivation.

Since the change in administration in Kabul, Mr. Okun said the Board has been in steady contact with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and with the Security Council. Last December, and again two weeks ago, Mr. Okun and the President of the INCB Board, Hamid Ghodse, met with the President of the Council to raise consciousness on the drug cultivation problem in Afghanistan.

Besides a region-by-region analysis of the global drug situation, the Board’s report also deals with how the issue of cannabis control is dividing the world.