Global perspective Human stories

UN reports on opium, women and post-conflict environments win US awards

UN reports on opium, women and post-conflict environments win US awards

Need recommendations on sustainable ways of eliminating Afghanistan's opium trade, or handling the environmental consequences of the war in Iraq, or assessing the social protection of women in Asia? United Nations reports on these topics have won awards from the American Library Association's (ALA) Library Journal.

A fourth winner of a "Notable Government Document Awards 2003" is a report on HIV/AIDS and migrant populations in southern Africa, compiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) publication, "The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem," records not only the cultivation, production, finance, trade and consumption that have built the illicit economy, but also "the dynamics, the reasons for its success, its beneficiaries and victims, and the problems it had caused both at home and abroad."

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa points out that the publication includes recommendations for breaking the economic hold of opium.

They are: "to help poor farmers decide in favour of licit crops; to replace narco-usury with a proper credit system and micro-lending; to provide jobs to women and to itinerant workers; to provide education to children, particularly girls; to turn opium bazaars into modern commodity markets; and to neutralize traffickers' and warlords' efforts to keep the evil trade alive," he says.

The UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) "Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq," extrapolating from earlier conflicts, recommends tackling the environmental effects of the war as soon as practicable. Of particular concern are water and power supplies, sanitation problems and pollution spreading from war-damaged sites.

"Social Safety Nets for Women," a study by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), looks at formal and informal social protections for women in China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.